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 released their 2020 lineup, and we've tested most of this year's TVs. Samsung shifted their entire lineup in 2020, so 2020's Samsung Q90T QLED performs closer to 2019's Samsung Q80R QLED, but most people won't notice any differences, and it's hard to find 2019 models now.
The Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED is the best Samsung TV that we've tested. It offers everything you expect to find in a premium model, and it's packed with features. It's their flagship 4k TV, and even though it sits below the 8k Samsung Q800T QLED, it's not worth getting an 8k TV without much content available. It's very well-built, has a remarkable design, and its flat body won't stick out much when you wall-mount it. It's a versatile option that most people should enjoy, and it performs well in bright or dark environments. Its VA panel provides an excellent native contrast ratio, and the great full-array local dimming feature further deepens any blacks. It has Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer added to the panel, which improves the viewing angles and makes it suitable for fairly wide seating arrangements.
Not every TV is perfect, and this one isn't an exception. It has some uniformity issues with a visible dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports. The out-of-the-box color accuracy is only decent, but both the uniformity and accuracy may vary between units. Gamers should appreciate the variable refresh rate (VRR) support, incredibly low input lag, impressive response time, and Black Frame Insertion feature to improve the appearance of motion. HDR content looks great as it delivers a wide color gamut, gets extremely bright in HDR, and has excellent gradient handling. All things considered, this has excellent all-around performance, making it the best Samsung TV we've tested.
The Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED is the best Samsung TV for gaming that we've tested. It's a bit of a step down in terms of overall performance compared to the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED, but it's still decent overall and costs less. It's packed with gaming features, such as FreeSync support and G-SYNC to reduce screen tearing. It has an incredibly low input lag and a very quick response time to deliver a responsive and smooth gaming experience. It's a great choice if you have the PS5 or the Xbox Series X as it supports 4k @ 120Hz on one of its inputs, but we haven't tested the TV's compatibility with the new consoles yet.
It delivers a satisfying HDR experience as it gets bright enough in HDR to make highlights pop, displays a wide color gamut, and has good gradient handling. It has a great contrast ratio that's lower than most VA panels due to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer. It has fairly wide viewing angles and the full-array local dimming feature does a decent job at improving the contrast. Unfortunately, it has some dirty screen effect in the center, but this may vary between units. The 49 and 50 inch variants don't have VRR support and are limited to a 60Hz panel, so the gaming performance won't be as good. However, if you get the larger sizes, it's the best Samsung TV for gaming that we've tested.
The Samsung TU8000 is the best Samsung TV in the budget category that we've tested. It's a simple 4k model, and even though you won't get the same all-around performance and features as the other models in the higher-end QLED lineup, it offers good picture quality that should please most people. It has a VA panel with an outstanding contrast ratio and incredible black uniformity, making it a great choice for dark-room viewing. It doesn't have any issues upscaling lower-resolution content, it has a motion interpolation feature, and it removes judder from 24p sources, such as native apps. It also has decent out-of-the-box color accuracy, but this may vary between units.
Unfortunately, it's best to avoid using it in well-lit environments. It has decent reflection handling, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. Also, it doesn't deliver a satisfying HDR experience because it can't display a wide color gamut and doesn't get bright enough to make highlights stand out how they should. It's limited to a 60Hz panel, but it's still good for gaming thanks to its decent response time and incredibly low input lag. Samsung also released the Samsung TU6980 for Black Friday, which is even cheaper and offers similar performance but is only available in larger sizes and at certain retailers. All things considered, the TU8000 is one of the best Samsung TVs we've tested.
Samsung TVs will usually have better input lag than Sony TVs and generally have a much more expressive and original design. Sony TVs, in comparison, will usually be built a bit better, with a mostly metal construction. They'll also have a lot more motion settings and no judder issues.
Samsung TVs will generally have a lot better picture quality than the average LG TV, with LG's expensive OLED TVs being an exception. They'll usually get a fair bit brighter. LG TVs will 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. In 2020, 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. If you'd like to compare specific TVs, take a look at our side-by-side comparison tool.
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:
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).
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. Samsung's lead was quickly usurped by LG WebOS, which was launched in 2014 and remains one of today's best.
Samsung first responded in 2015 by updating its platform to Smart Hub, based on its Tizen operating system. This was a significant upgrade, but it still didn't match LG's consistently updated offering. They gave the platform a face-lift in 2017 by switching the color palette and updating their voice control capabilities.
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.
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.
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 different ones.
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 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 such as calibration settings are only a button press away, which is quite nice.
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.
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 such as advanced playback buttons and number keys (although the budget models like the RU7100, RU7300, and RU6900 are still packaged with a more 'ordinary' remote with many buttons and a full number pad). This is in line with their initiative from a few years ago and other remotes such as 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.
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.
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.
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.