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The 3 Best Samsung TVs of 2021 Reviews and Smart Features

Updated
Best Samsung TVs

We've tested over 20 Samsung TVs under the latest test bench. Samsung TVs, generally speaking, are very versatile and can provide good to very good picture quality. Samsung is known for its LED models that generally have great gaming features. Samsung introduced their new Neo QLED TVs in 2021, shifting their regular QLEDs down the lineup. So, while 2021's Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED replaces 2020's Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED and so on, there are now more high-end models to choose from with the Neo QLED lineup.

Updates

Best Samsung Smart TVs


  1. Best 4k Samsung TV

    8.6
    Mixed Usage
    8.5
    Movies
    8.6
    TV Shows
    8.5
    Sports
    8.8
    Video Games
    8.6
    HDR Movies
    8.8
    HDR Gaming
    8.8
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    VA
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

    The best Samsung TV we've tested with a 4k resolution is the Samsung QN90A QLED. It's part of Samsung's Neo QLED series, which improves on regular QLED TVs by using Mini LED backlighting behind the quantum dot technology. The full-array local dimming on this TV is great, improving the already excellent contrast ratio to produce deep, inky blacks. It also has fairly wide viewing angles, better than most VA panels, thanks to Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer that improves viewing angles at the expense of contrast, but the highlight by far is its peak brightness. It's one of the brightest TVs we've ever tested, can handle almost any lighting condition, and diffuses reflections very well. Impressively, it maintains exceptionally high brightness in HDR as well, and it has a wide color gamut, so HDR content looks fantastic.

    Unfortunately, you may notice a bit of blooming around bright objects, especially when viewing from off-center, but overall it's not too distracting. Gamers should be happy to know it has native FreeSync variable refresh (VRR) support and G-SYNC compatibility to reduce screen tearing, and it works at the full range up to the TV's max 120Hz refresh rate. It's compatible with the latest consoles and has Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and an HDMI 2.1 port. It also has an extremely low input lag and an excellent response time, so motion looks clear with minimal blur in fast-moving content like video games and sports. All in all, this is an amazing TV and one of the best Samsung TVs available.

    See our review

  2. Best 8k Samsung TV

    8.1
    Mixed Usage
    7.5
    Movies
    8.4
    TV Shows
    8.3
    Sports
    8.3
    Video Games
    7.6
    HDR Movies
    8.2
    HDR Gaming
    8.6
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    VA
    Resolution 8k
    Sizes : 65" 75" 85"

    The best Samsung TV we've tested with an 8k resolution is the Samsung QN900A 8k QLED. It's similar in features to the Samsung QN90A QLED because it has Mini LED backlighting and VRR support. It's a great overall TV, but it's still not as good as the QN90A, so it's only worth getting if you're going to watch the limited 8k content available. It has a VA panel with a low native contrast because of Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so blacks look gray if you don't enable the local dimming feature. The full-array local dimming feature helps improve the contrast for deep blacks, but it's mediocre overall and causes too much blooming around bright objects.

    As mentioned, it uses the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, so it has wide viewing angles making it a great choice for wide seating arrangements. If you want to use it in a well-lit room, it has excellent reflection handling and gets bright enough to fight glare. Even in HDR, it has fantastic peak brightness and, combined with its wide color gamut, HDR content pops the way the creator intended. It upscales lower-resolution content well, but native 4k content doesn't look as good as 4k TV, and there's some dithering with native 8k content. There's also the Samsung QN800A 8k QLED that you can get for cheaper, but the local dimming feature is even worse, and it doesn't display a wide color gamut. Overall, the QN900A is the best Samsung TV with an 8k screen.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Samsung TV

    7.1
    Mixed Usage
    6.8
    Movies
    7.7
    TV Shows
    7.4
    Sports
    7.1
    Video Games
    6.4
    HDR Movies
    7.1
    HDR Gaming
    7.7
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    VA
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 43" 50" 55" 60" 65" 70" 75" 85"

    The best Samsung smart TV in the budget category is the Samsung AU8000. It's the entry-level model in their North American Crystal UHD lineup in 2021, and although you won't get any of the same features found on the higher-end panels, it still offers decent performance for its price. It's available in a wide range of sizes, from 43 to 85 inches, so you can get the one you prefer; we tested the 65 inch model, and we expect all other sizes to perform the same. It features a VA panel with a great native contrast ratio to display deep blacks, but it doesn't have a local dimming feature to improve it. If you want to use it in a well-lit room, it has great reflection handling and okay SDR peak brightness, which should be good enough for a room with a few lights.

    Unfortunately, even though it supports HDR10 and HDR10+, it doesn't deliver the best HDR experience. It fails to display a wide color gamut and can't get bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR content. It's limited to a 60Hz panel and doesn't support VRR technologies, but it still has low input lag and an okay response time that casual gamers should enjoy. The built-in Tizen OS has fewer extra features than the higher-end models, but it's still easy-to-use, there are many apps available to download, and you get the smart remote with built-in voice control. All things considered, if you want a budget TV from Samsung, you should be happy with this one.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Well-rounded. Samsung's high-end models are some of the best TVs we've tested. They don't excel in just one category, but they're very well-rounded, and they offer great performance for a variety of uses.
  • Perform well in dark and bright environments. Their QLED TVs, especially those with VA panels, have high contrast and get bright, so they're good for dark and bright rooms.
  • Great gaming features. Samsung was the first major TV manufacturer to adopt new gaming technologies, including FreeSync and Auto Low Latency Mode.
  • Uniformity issues. Although gray uniformity varies between units, Samsung models typically don't have good gray uniformity, and they also have some dirty screen effect, which could get distracting during sports.
  • TVs can be costly, and may not offer good value. Samsung's high-end TVs can get costly, so while they provide the best performance, they don't provide the best value. There are often cheaper TVs that you can get with a few compromises. They also don't support Dolby Vision, which is disappointing.

Samsung vs Sony

Samsung TVs usually have more gaming features than Sony TVs and generally have a much more expressive and original design. Sony TVs, in comparison, are usually built a bit better, with a mostly metal construction. They also tend to have better color accuracy, but this varies between units.

Samsung vs LG

Samsung TVs generally have better picture quality than the average LG LED-backlit LCD TV, with LG's OLED TVs being an exception. Samsungs usually get a fair bit brighter and have better contrast. LG TVs generally have a much wider viewing angle and also have better smart features.

Samsung TVs provide a performance suitable for most buyers, but they can also be costly compared to some competing brands. They generally perform very well and are among the best TVs in the market. Currently, competition is tightening up, so Samsung LED TVs don't seem to provide as much value as they previously did. Their performance remains great, though.

Lineup

Samsung's lineup covers everything from budget to high-end models. As a rule of thumb, the higher the number, the better it is, although sometimes the improvements aren't worth it. The letter in their model number corresponds to the year:

  • A = 2021 
  • T = 2020
  • R = 2019 

Samsung uses the prefix Q* to denote their high-end QLED models, and the last letter of these models also demonstrates its year, corresponding to the list above (i.e., the Q90T is a 2020 QLED TV). New in 2021 is their Mini LED lineup, labeled with QN in the model name, like the Samsung QN90A.

Smart Features

In the infancy of smart TVs, Samsung was the leader in functionality and smart features. This isn't to say that they were very good, as it took quite a few years for Smart TV platforms to mature into something comparable to external set-top boxes. However, other companies have caught up to Samsung and offer similar all-around performance, like Roku TV or LG's webOS.

Samsung has constantly been updating its Tizen platform to make sure it competes with its competitors. In 2017, they added voice capabilities to their remote and smart platform, making it easier to navigate through menus. The 2020 update featured a new, sleeker look with a 'Dark Mode' that isn't as bright as the white theme in older versions.

In 2018, Samsung added their Bixby virtual assistant to most TVs except for some entry-level models. Bixby can integrate into Samsung's SmartThings smart home platform, allowing you to control compatible devices ranging from lights, outlets, door locks, and even your fridge.

Interface

Samsung Smart Interface

The interface is very simple and easy to navigate. Everything is along a toolbar that appears at the bottom of your screen. You'll find downloaded apps here as well, and you can quickly access the different inputs and settings. The interface works well, and there are many animations; on lower-end TVs, these can be slow.

Ad-free

Samsung Ads

Unfortunately, Samsung's Smart Hub also shows ads on the home screen. It shows up in the same row as the installed Samsung Smart TV apps, and they can't be disabled.

You can opt out of personalized advertising in the settings, but that, unfortunately, only means that you'll see very repetitive ads instead of targeted ones.

Apps & Features

The app selection is pretty extensive nowadays. All the popular video and music services are available and more. Fortunately, the search function is quite good, and results come up very quickly. Like LG's webOS and Google TV on Sony TVs, Samsung TVs have an excellent selection of apps, and the vast majority of streaming services are available.

Voice Controls

Voice Command was overhauled in 2017, and they're pretty good now. Other smart interfaces were updated in 2018 to search for content, apps, and change settings, something Samsung has been able to do for a few years. Even more in-depth stuff like calibration settings are only a button press away, which is quite nice.

  • Changing inputs
  • Launching apps
  • Basic online searches, including "What time is it?" or "How's the weather in New York?"
  • Change some settings

It's also possible to search within apps, but only a few apps are supported at this moment. It isn't possible to search Netflix, for example, but it's possible to search YouTube.

Remote

Samsung Smart TV Remote

Samsung updated their remote with the release of the 2021 TVs. It features the same buttons as remotes from previous years, except it has a redesigned body with brushed plastic on the bottom. There are quick-access buttons to popular streaming services and for your voice control. It's pretty minimal compared to traditional TV remotes, as you don't get a Numpad, but you still get navigation buttons. It's small and sleek-looking.
What sets this remote apart from others is that the QLED lineup comes with a solar-powered remote. This means that you can charge it via the solar panel on the back, and if that's not possible, you can still charge it via USB-C, but it doesn't come with a USB-C cable. The entry-level AU8000 from 2021 has the same remote, but it uses disposable batteries instead.

Known Issues

This is less common now than in previous years, but Samsung TVs often have issues with Wi-Fi connections. They'll randomly stop functioning after leaving the TV off for a while and require the connection to be set up again, which is quite annoying.

Recent Updates

  1. Oct 13, 2021: Added the Samsung QN900A 8k QLED as the Best 8k TV and removed the Samsung QN85A as Best for Wide Seating Arrangements to have 4k and 8k categories; updated text for clarity.

  2. Aug 17, 2021: Renamed the Samsung QN85A as 'Best For Wide Seating Arrangements'; updated text for clarity.

  3. Jun 18, 2021: Replaced the Samsung TU8000 with the newer Samsung AU8000; updated smart features section based on updated Tizen interface and new smart remote.

  4. Apr 20, 2021: Replaced Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED with the Samsung QN90A QLED and replaced Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED with the Samsung QN85A QLED.

  5. Feb 19, 2021: Verified picks for availability; updated text for accuracy.

Conclusion

Samsung, in general, makes very good TVs. Their range has somewhat crept up in price over time, but most people should still find a TV that suits their needs within it. Their smart features aren't the best out there, but they're still quite good, too. They're usually quite versatile and fit most uses. As long as you don't plan to watch them from an angle, which is a common shortcoming they have, it's hard to find major issues with them.

If you're interested in Samsung products, check out our recommendations for the best Samsung headphones, the best Samsung monitors, and the best Samsung soundbars.

Test results

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