We've tested over 20 Samsung TVs under the latest test bench. Samsung TVs, generally speaking, are very versatile and can provide good to excellent picture quality. Samsung is known for its LED models that generally have great gaming features. Samsung introduced their new Neo QLED TVs in 2021, which is an improvement on their more traditional QLED lineup because it introduces Mini LED backlighting, and combined with the quantum dot layer, their high-end TVs provide great picture quality.
The Samsung QN90A QLED is the best overall Samsung TV we've tested for watching movies. It's an excellent TV with many features and amazing all-around performance that should please most people. It's Samsung's flagship 4k TV in their 2021 lineup, and it's part of the Neo QLED lineup alongside the Samsung QN85A QLED and a few other 8k models. What makes this one of their best TVs is that it has a VA panel with a very high contrast ratio, and the Mini LED backlighting helps provide a great local dimming feature. It means that blacks look black when viewed in a dark room, with minimal blooming around bright objects, but there's still some. Combined with its wide color gamut and high peak brightness in HDR, it's excellent for watching HDR movies, as highlights pop.
No TV is perfect, and sadly, this one is no exception. It has some uniformity issues with dirty screen effect in the center, which could get distracting during movie scenes with slow, panning shots. Also, while its local dimming feature is great for watching movies, it performs worse in Game Mode because it raises the black levels more. It has a bunch of gaming features like HDMI 2.1 bandwidth, a 120Hz panel, and variable refresh rate (VRR) support to reduce screen tearing. It also has low input lag, so gaming feels responsive. Overall, if you don't mind a couple of minor issues, it's the best Samsung smart TV for movies.
The Samsung QN85A QLED is the best Samsung model for watching shows that we've tested. It sits below the Samsung QN90A QLED in their Neo QLED lineup, so it still uses the same Mini LED backlighting, but it has a different panel that makes it a better choice for watching TV shows or even sports in a wide seating area. Its IPS-like panel has a wide viewing angle, so the image remains accurate when viewed from the sides, which is great if you tend to walk around while watching shows or want to catch up on the latest sitcom with the entire family. Combining its remarkable peak brightness and its outstanding reflection handling, glare won't be an issue even in the brightest rooms.
The main downside to having an IPS-like panel is the low contrast ratio. Without local dimming, blacks look gray when viewed in the dark. It isn't ideal if your shows tend to have dark scenes and you watch them in a dark environment, but it's less noticeable in a bright room. With the local dimming enabled, the contrast is much better as blacks look as they should, but there's more blooming around bright objects. If you want to stream your content instead of getting a cable box or external streaming device, the built-in Tizen OS has a ton of apps available to download, and it's easy to use. If you're looking for the best choice from Samsung for watching TV shows, you can't go wrong with this one.
The Samsung AU8000 is the best budget Samsung TV we've tested. Although Samsung isn't known for their budget models, and you can get better value with other companies like Hisense or TCL, this TV still offers decent overall performance at a low cost. It's available in a wide range of sizes, from 43 to 85 inches, and they all perform like the 65 inch model we tested. Unlike the Samsung QN90A QLED and Samsung QN85A QLED, it doesn't use quantum dot technology to display a wide color gamut. Even though there's an entry-level QLED TV, the Samsung Q60/Q60A QLED, the difference between that TV and this one is minimal; if you're on a budget, go for this one instead.
It performs well in dark rooms because it has a high native contrast ratio, so blacks look deep, and it has excellent black uniformity with minimal blooming. However, it doesn't have a local dimming feature to improve the contrast. It comes with the same Tizen OS smart platform, and even if it has fewer features than on the higher-end TVs, you still get the same remote with a built-in mic and a ton of apps available to download. Unfortunately, it's not good for watching HDR content because it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop, and it doesn't display a wide range of colors in HDR. However, that's somewhat normal for a budget TV, and it's still the best Samsung smart TV if you're on a budget.
Samsung TVs usually have more gaming features than Sony TVs, like VRR support, and they also have a lineup with more TVs. Sony TVs, in comparison, are usually built a bit better, with a mostly metal construction. They also tend to have better color accuracy, but Samsung isn't far behind in that regard.
Samsung TVs generally have better picture quality than the average LG LED-backlit LCD TV. Samsung TVs usually get a fair bit brighter and have better contrast, while LG TVs generally have much wider viewing angles and have better smart features. However, LG's OLED models are better for dark rooms than Samsung TVs because they have a near-infinite contrast.
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 on the market, especially if you want gaming features. However, competition is currently tightening up, so Samsung LED TVs don't seem to provide as much value as they previously did.
Samsung's focus this year is mainly on improving the software that powers their smart TVs, with mainly incremental improvements to most of their lineup. The obvious exception is their new QS95B, which is their first Quantum Dot OLED display (QD-OLED), which uses blue OLED panels combined with quantum dot color filters to achieve a brighter image and more accurate colors. Gaming is a definite priority for Samsung this year, as most premium models have new gaming features, including an all-new Gaming Hub, a 144Hz refresh rate, and HDMI 2.1 bandwidth on all four ports. They've also refreshed their Lifestyle TVs, including the Frame, Serif, and Sero. All three models now feature matte finishes to reduce glare, and there are new mounting options for the Frame, including a rotating slim mount.
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 suffix letter in their model number corresponds to the year:
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). They introduced the Mini LED lineup in 2021, labeled with QN in the model name, like the Samsung QN90A. As for their non-QLED models, the prefix letters denote the year. For example, the AU8000 is the 2021 entry-level model.
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. In 2018, they added Bixby virtual assistant, so you can use voice control to control other Samsung devices in your house, like lights, fridges, and door locks. The 2020 update featured a new, sleeker look with a 'Dark Mode' that isn't as bright as the white theme in older versions.
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, and you can quickly access the different inputs and settings. The interface works well, and there are many animations, but these can be slower on lower-end TVs.
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.
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 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.
It's also possible to search within apps, but only a few apps are supported. It isn't possible to search Netflix, for example, but it's possible to search YouTube.
Samsung updated their remote with the release of the 2021 TVs. It features the same buttons as remotes from previous years, except with 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 is that the QLED lineup comes with a solar-powered remote. It 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.
It's 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.
Apr 08, 2022: Updated text for clarity.
Feb 07, 2022: Added the Samsung QN85A QLED as the 'Best For TV Shows' and renamed the Samsung QN90A as the 'Best For Movies' to reflect user needs; removed the Samsung QN900A 8k QLED.
Dec 09, 2021: Verified picks for availability and updated the text for accuracy.
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.
Aug 17, 2021: Renamed the Samsung QN85A as 'Best For Wide Seating Arrangements'; updated text for clarity.
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, but they're still quite good. They're usually quite versatile and fit most uses. You might have to pay a premium for their TVs, but you'll be getting excellent picture quality, especially with the higher-end models.