The 3 Best Samsung TVs of 2021 Reviews and Smart Features

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Best Samsung TVs

We've tested over 20 Samsung TVs in the last two years. Samsung TVs, generally speaking, are very versatile and can provide good to very good picture quality. Samsung is known for their LED models that generally have VA panels, and their highest-end models are great for gaming. Samsung introduced 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 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 : 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

    The best Samsung TV we've tested 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. 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 angle at the expense of contrast, but the highlight of the QN90A 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. Some gamers may be disappointed that it doesn't support G-SYNC, but it does have native FreeSync VRR 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 Samsung TV For Gaming

    8.2
    Mixed Usage
    7.6
    Movies
    8.7
    TV Shows
    8.5
    Sports
    8.4
    Video Games
    7.7
    HDR Movies
    8.3
    HDR Gaming
    8.9
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    IPS
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 55" 65" 75" 85"

    If you want the best Samsung TV for gaming, we recommend the Samsung QN85A QLED. This Neo QLED also uses Mini LED backlighting; however, unlike the Samsung QN90A QLED, the QN85A uses an ADS panel. ADS panels are similar to IPS panels, and they tend to have lower contrast ratios and wide viewing angles. While this TV does have a low native contrast ratio, its full-array local dimming does a good job of improving black levels, and the contrast is significantly higher when the TV is in Game Mode, so blacks should still look deep and inky. The benefit of an IPS-like panel is that it has very good viewing angles, which is great if you're going to use it for PC gaming or co-op gaming since the image won't look washed out from the side or at the edges if you sit up close. Like the QN90A, it also gets exceptionally bright in both SDR and HDR.

    It has an incredibly low input lag and a great response time for clear motion. Like the QN90A, it has an HDMI 2.1 port and supports the most common resolutions for advanced gaming consoles. It also supports FreeSync VRR and ALLM to switch to the lowest latency picture mode for gaming. New to 2021 Samsung TVs is the Game Bar, a handy feature that pulls up quick access to game-related settings like aspect ratio and shows you the frame rate and VRR status. Unfortunately, because it uses an ADS panel, there's noticeable blooming and backlight bleed, especially when viewing off-center. The local dimming helps reduce it, but you might still notice it. Despite that, this is still among the best Samsung TVs for gaming, and most people should be satisfied with it.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget Samsung TV

    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    7.0
    Movies
    7.2
    TV Shows
    7.0
    Sports
    7.2
    Video Games
    6.6
    HDR Movies
    7.1
    HDR Gaming
    7.6
    PC Monitor
    Type LED
    Sub-Type
    VA
    Resolution 4k
    Sizes : 43" 50" 55" 65" 75" 85"

    The best Samsung TV in the budget category that we've tested is the Samsung TU8000. It has an excellent design with thin borders on all sides, and its slim profile means it doesn't stick out when wall-mounted. Like most Samsung TVs, it has a VA panel with a high contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, making it ideal for dark room viewing. However, visibility might be an issue in well-lit rooms because it doesn't get very bright. The viewing angles are narrow, which means that images look washed out when viewed from the side, so it isn't the best for wide seating areas. It runs on Tizen OS just like all other Samsung TVs, but it doesn't operate as smoothly as higher-end models.

    The picture quality is decent. It displays lower-resolution content well without any artifacts, great for watching content from cable boxes or DVDs. Unfortunately, it can't display a wide color gamut for HDR content and doesn't get bright enough to deliver a true HDR experience. The input lag is incredibly low, and the response time is decent, but there's no VRR support to reduce screen tearing. Additionally, it has a 60Hz panel and doesn't support HDMI 2.1. It does have an Auto Low Latency Mode, which turns on Game Mode when a game launches from a compatible device. It supports most common resolutions and displays chroma 4:4:4 properly, making it a good option for a PC monitor. Overall, it's a decent TV that should please most people and is easy on the wallet.

    See our review

Compared to other brands


  • Well-rounded. Generally, Samsung TVs won't be the very best for a single specific usage. They instead tend to be very versatile TVs that'll do well in a wide variety of uses.
  • Very good upscaling. Lower quality content, like broadcast TV or DVDs, is scaled up to the 4k resolution well.
  • 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 is something that varies between units, Samsung models normally don't have gray uniformity and they also have some dirty screen effect.
  • Mediocre build quality. Samsung TVs, especially the lower-end options, don't have stellar build quality. A lot of plastic is used, and it isn't unusual for some parts of the TV to come off after some use.

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 a lot better picture quality than the average LG TV, with LG's expensive 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 much better smart features.

At every price range, Samsung TVs provide a performance suitable for most buyers. They generally perform very well and are among the best TVs in the market. Currently, competition is tightening up a bit more, so Samsung LED TVs don't seem to provide as much value as they previously did. Their performance remains comparable, 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:

  • T* = 2020 Low to mid-range models
  • R* = 2019 Low to mid-range models
  • N* = 2018 Low to mid-range models
  • M* = 2017 Low to mid-range models
  • K* = 2016

Samsung also uses the prefix Q* to denote their high-end QLED models, and the last letter of these models also denotes its year, corresponding to the list above (i.e., the Q90T is a 2020 QLED TV).

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 been constantly updating their Tizen platform to make sure it competes with their 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 the 2019 and older versions.

In 2018, Samsung added their Bixby virtual assistant to Samsung's entire line of Q* and most N* models except the NU7100. The same was the case for the 2019 lineup, as the RU7100 still lacked the feature. 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 located along a toolbar that appears at the bottom of your screen. Downloaded apps are found here as well, and you can quickly access the different inputs and settings. The interface works well, and there are a lot of animations, but on lower-end TVs, these animations 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, just 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 Android TV on Sony and Hisense 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 two 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

The Samsung smart remote included with the high-end QLED series is excellent. It's very comfortable to hold and features craftsmanship unlike anything else currently on the market. The controls are intuitive and straightforward, and it's easy to pair with the TV and other devices.

You may notice that current Samsung TVs have done away with expansive controls like advanced playback buttons and number keys, although some entry-level models still come with more basic remotes that have number keys. This is in line with their initiative from a few years ago and other remotes like the ones found with Roku TVs. This isn't a big deal nowadays, but people using the TV tuner might prefer ordering a cheap universal remote to easily access TV channels.

Remote App

Samsung Smart TV Remote App

The Samsung Remote App is very limited. It has recently been updated to a universal app for all Samsung smart home products, called SmartThings. The app functions mainly as a replacement remote control. It can't stream files from your device to your TV, but some apps can stream video to your device. It can also be used for voice commands.

Known Issues

This is less common now than it was 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 will require the connection to be set up again, which is quite annoying.

Recent Updates

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

  2. 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 and the best Samsung soundbars.

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