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 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 we've tested so far. It's their flagship 4k model from 2020 and is packed with features. It delivers excellent picture quality and performs well whether you want to use it in bright or dark rooms or even if you have a wide seating arrangement. The Q90T has an excellent native contrast ratio and good black uniformity that are further improved by its great local dimming feature, allowing it to display deep and inky blacks when viewed in the dark. Thanks to its 'Ultra Viewing Angle', it improves the viewing angles so that the image remains fairly accurate when viewed from the side, making it a good choice for watching the big game or a show with some family and friends.
Visibility shouldn't be an issue even in the brightest of environments. It has outstanding reflection handling and easily gets bright enough to fight glare, even if you have direct sunlight on it. It's also great for watching HDR movies thanks to its wide color gamut and amazing HDR peak brightness, so highlights stand out the way the creator intended. Gamers should appreciate its variable refresh rate (VRR) support, impressive response time, low input lag, and HDMI 2.1 inputs. Samsung also has 8k options like the Samsung Q900TS 8k QLED, but it costs a lot more and actually performs worse overall than the Q90T, and not to mention there isn't much 8k content available. All in all, if you're looking for the best Samsung TV, you should be pleased with this one.
The best Samsung TV for gaming that we've tested so far is the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It's a lower-end model than the Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED but has many of the same gaming features for a lower cost. It provides amazing gaming performance thanks to its 120Hz panel, FreeSync support, and G-SYNC compatibility. It also has incredibly low input lag with support for Auto Low Latency Mode. In terms of motion, it has an excellent response time and a Black Frame Insertion feature, so you know fast-moving content looks smooth. It has HDMI 2.1 support, allowing you to play 4k @ 120Hz games, like from the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
In terms of picture quality, the Q80T is a great choice whether you're watching in bright or dark rooms. It has a VA panel, and even though it has a lower contrast ratio than most VA panels due to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer, it still displays deep blacks and has a decent local dimming feature that further deepens any blacks. It also gets bright enough to combat glare and has outstanding reflection handling if you want to use it in a well-lit environment. Unfortunately, our unit has some dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during sports, but this may vary between units. Note that the 49 and 50 inch variants of the Q80T are expected to have worse gaming performance than the 55 inch model we tested because they're limited to a 60Hz panel and lack VRR support. All things considered, it's an excellent gaming TV that's cheaper than the Q90T.
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', though, which turns on 'Game' mode when a game is launched from a compatible device. It supports most common resolutions and displays chroma 4:4:4 properly, making it a good option for use as a PC monitor. Overall, it's a decent TV that should please most people and is easy on the wallet.
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 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.
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. 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.
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 targeted 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 like 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 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.
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.
Feb 19, 2021: Verified picks for availability; updated text for accuracy.
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.