Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Apr 13, 2021 at 11:04 am
Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED Picture
7.7
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.1
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.2
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
8.0
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG CX OLED
7.8
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.1
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Vizio OLED 2020
7.8
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.7
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
IPS
Resolution 4k

The Samsung Q80/Q80A QLED is a good overall TV. It's a replacement in name to 2020's Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED but performs differently because it uses an ADS panel. This panel type performs similarly to IPS panels, so it has wide viewing angles and a low contrast ratio. Blacks look gray when viewed in the dark, and combined with its mediocre local dimming feature, it's not the best choice for dark room viewing or watching HDR content. Still, this TV is a great choice for use in well-lit environments as it easily gets bright enough to combat glare and has good reflection handling. It has many of the same gaming features found on most Samsung TVs, like HDMI 2.1 and FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR) support, and a quick response time and low input lag for a responsive gaming experience.

Our Verdict

7.7 Mixed Usage

The Samsung Q80A is good overall. Due to its ADS panel, it's great for watching TV shows or sports as it has wide viewing angles, and the image remains accurate when viewing from the side. It's also good for gaming thanks to its quick response time, low input lag, and extra features like VRR support. However, it's not the best for watching movies or HDR content because it has a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray. It has a full-array local dimming feature, but it doesn't perform well and causes blooming around bright objects.

Pros
  • High brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • 120Hz panel and VRR support.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.
  • Mediocre local dimming feature.
7.1 Movies

The Samsung Q80A is decent for watching movies. With its ADS panel, it has a low contrast ratio. Its local dimming feature is also mediocre, so blacks look gray when viewed in the dark. Luckily, this TV has no issues displaying 1080p and 4k content, and it automatically removes 24p judder from any source.

Pros
  • Upscales lower-resolution content without any issues.
  • Automatically removes 24p judder.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.
  • Mediocre local dimming feature.
8.2 TV Shows

The Samsung Q80A is great for watching TV shows. It has wide viewing angles, great if you tend to watch shows with the entire family. It easily gets bright enough to combat glare and has good reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be an issue in well-lit rooms. It also upscales 720p content, like from cable boxes, without any problems. Unfortunately, our unit has some uniformity issues that may be distracting.

Pros
  • High brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Wide viewing angles.
Cons
  • Our unit has uniformity issues.
8.0 Sports

The Samsung Q80A is great for watching sports. It has excellent peak brightness and good reflection handling, so visibility shouldn't be a problem in a room with a few lights. You can easily watch the game with a few friends, thanks to its wide viewing angles. Motion looks smooth as it has a quick response time. However, you may be distracted by its dirty screen effect in the center, which can be noticeable in sports with large areas of uniform color, like in hockey, football, or basketball.

Pros
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Quick response time results in smooth motion.
Cons
  • Our unit has uniformity issues.
7.8 Video Games

The Samsung Q80A is good for gaming. It has the gaming features most people are looking for, like VRR and HDMI 2.1 support. It also has a quick response time and low input lag for a responsive gaming experience. Sadly, it has a low contrast ratio, and its local dimming feature in 'Game Mode' is bad, so blacks look gray, and it's not the best choice for dark room gaming.

Pros
  • Quick response time results in smooth motion.
  • 120Hz panel and VRR support.
  • Very low input lag.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.
  • Mediocre local dimming feature.
7.1 HDR Movies

The Samsung Q80A is decent for watching HDR movies. It displays a wide color gamut and gets bright enough to make highlights stand out. Sadly, it has an ADS panel with a low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray. It has a mediocre local dimming feature, and there's noticeable blooming around bright objects, so it isn't suggested for dark room viewing.

Pros
  • High brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.
  • Mediocre local dimming feature.
7.8 HDR Gaming

The Samsung Q80A is good for HDR gaming. It has good gaming performance thanks to its low input lag, quick response time, 120Hz panel, and VRR support. However, it's not the best for watching HDR content. Even though it has good HDR brightness and displays a wide color gamut, it can't display deep blacks due to its low contrast ratio and bad local dimming in Game Mode.

Pros
  • Quick response time results in smooth motion.
  • 120Hz panel and VRR support.
  • Displays wide color gamut.
Cons
  • Low contrast ratio that makes blacks look gray.
  • Mediocre local dimming feature.
8.7 PC Monitor

The Samsung Q80A is an excellent choice to use a PC monitor. It has wide viewing angles, so the image remains accurate if you're sitting up close. Thanks to its high peak brightness and good reflection handling, you can easily use it in a well-lit environment. It displays proper chroma 4:4:4, which is important for reading text, at any resolution except for 1440p. Sadly, our unit has some uniformity issues.

Pros
  • High brightness in SDR and HDR.
  • Good reflection handling.
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Displays proper chroma 4:4:4.
Cons
  • Our unit has uniformity issues.
  • 7.7 Mixed Usage
  • 7.1 Movies
  • 8.2 TV Shows
  • 8.0 Sports
  • 7.8 Video Games
  • 7.1 HDR Movies
  • 7.8 HDR Gaming
  • 8.7 PC Monitor

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung Q80A is an upper-mid range TV in Samsung's 2021 lineup. It's the high-end model of their QLED lineup, and it sits behind the Samsung QN85A QLED, which is part of the new Neo QLED TVs. It replaces the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED in name, but it uses a different panel type. We expect its main competitors to be the Sony X90J, LG NANO90 2021, and the Vizio P Series Quantum 2020.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The Samsung Q80A has a sleek yet simple design. It looks very similar to 2020's Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED with its center-mounted stand. The back panel is made out of textured plastic, and there are tracks for cable management. Overall, it looks like a premium TV and should look good in any setup.

Design
Stand

The square-based stand is typical of high-end Samsung TVs, and it supports the TV well.

Footprint of the 55 inch stand: 15.4" x 10.3".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 200x200

The back of the Samsung Q80A looks exactly like the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It has textured plastic, and there are tracks for cable management. You can also remove the back of the stand to run cables through it.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 2.44" (6.2 cm)

The panel itself is thin, but it may stand out a bit when wall-mounted because the power plug sticks out, as you can see in this photo.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Samsung Q80A's build quality is excellent. It wobbles a bit, but it's not too noticeable. It's mainly made out of plastic, but it still feels solid and there isn't any noticeable flex. It feels sturdy overall, and you shouldn't have any issues with it. Unfortunately, our unit has three pixels that display purple during a dark scene (see Black Uniformity). We've seen other people online experience the same thing, but this is a quality control issue, and your experience may be different.

Picture Quality
6.7
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1449 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
1560 : 1

The Samsung Q80A has a low contrast ratio, which is typical of ADS panels. This is a major decrease from the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED, which uses a VA panel. However, the contrast with local dimming enabled is lower than expected because the local dimming seems to turn on all the zones in our checkerboard pattern, which results in this low contrast ratio and blacks that look gray. We expect real content to have higher contrast, but blacks may still look gray. The contrast with the checkerboard pattern is similar in other picture modes as it is in our recommended 'Movie' mode. However, with a full-white and full-black screen, we measured a contrast of 12,390:1. If you want a similar TV with a better native contrast ratio, check out the Sony X90J.

8.7
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
653 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
597 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
858 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
785 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
583 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
520 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
590 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
836 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
778 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
581 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
519 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.028

The Samsung Q80A has excellent SDR brightness, which is a nice improvement from the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. Although its brightness varies based on different content, it easily gets bright enough to combat glare.

We measured peak brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with Local Dimming on 'High', Color Tone set to 'Warm2', and Brightness at its max.

If you want an even brighter image and don't care about image accuracy, then set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and Color Tone to 'Warm1'. We achieved 910 cd/m² in the 10% window.

6.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The Samsung Q80A has a mediocre local dimming feature. It crushes blacks, causing a loss in details from bright objects. There's also visible blooming around bright objects, and the screen doesn't look uniform as entire horizontal zones light up at times. There's noticeable blooming around subtitles, and it gets worse when viewed at an angle. The dimming zones are slow to turn off when there are fast-moving objects, but it also turns on zones prematurely, so overall, fast-moving objects don't look good. All things considered, it's typical for an IPS-like panel to have bad local dimming like this, which is a bit disappointing for a high-end model.

5.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

The local dimming in Game Mode is bad. It's similar to outside of Game Mode, except the entire screen seems to light up more, meaning blacks look gray. There's less blooming, but that's because entire zones light up when there's a bright object on the screen. Small highlights are actually over-brightened now, to the point where it loses details. Zone transitions are still visible, although it's better than outside of Game Mode.

8.3
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
869 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
713 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
962 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
824 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
603 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
571 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
707 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
944 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
818 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
602 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
569 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.029

The Samsung Q80A has great HDR brightness. Small highlights really stand out the way they should, but large areas are less bright due to the Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL). The EOTF follows the target fairly well, but most scenes are brighter than they should be.

We measured the HDR brightness before calibration in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode with Brightness and Contrast at max, Local Dimming set to 'High', Color Tone set to 'Warm2', and we disabled all other image processing options.

If you want to make HDR even brighter, set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and ST.2084 to '+3'. This results in a noticeably brighter image, as you can see in this EOTF.

7.9
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
832 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
297 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
886 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
773 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
597 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
558 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
293 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
873 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
768 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
595 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
556 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.059

The HDR brightness in Game Mode is very good, and it's a significant improvement over the Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED. It's a bit more dim than outside of Game Mode, and small highlights are significantly less brighter due to its frame dimming. EOTF does a better job at following the target PQ curve, except some bright scenes are still over-brightened.

We measured HDR brightness with Game Mode enabled, Brightness at its max, Local Dimming on 'High', Color Gamut set to 'Auto', Color Tone to 'Warm2', and Dynamic Black Equalizer to '2'. We also disabled Picture Clarity.

6.8
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
4.746 %
50% DSE
0.208 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.580 %
5% DSE
0.115 %

The Samsung Q80A has okay uniformity. The edges are visibly darker, and there's dirty screen effect in the center. Uniformity is much improved in near-dark scenes. Surprisingly, you can only see the dead pixels on an all-black screen, so we expect it's just an issue when displaying black. Keep in mind that uniformity may vary between units.

4.6
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.193 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
5.207 %

The Samsung Q80A has bad black uniformity, but this could vary between units. Without local dimming, the entire screen looks blue, there's backlight bleed along the edges, and noticeable clouding throughout. With local dimming, entire horizontal zones are lit up around the center cross, so the screen is actually less uniform.

You can visibly see the dead pixels in these photos. There are two below the center cross on the right side, and the other one, while less visible, is directly below the left arm of the cross. We expect this to be an issue with our panel, and your experience may be different. We also noticed they're just visible with dark scenes. If you see the same thing on your panel, let us know.

7.9
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
38 °
Color Shift
60 °
Brightness Loss
38 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
47 °

This TV has wide viewing angles, which is expected from an ADS panel. It looks very similar to the Samsung QN85A QLED. Although you may notice the screen is darker when viewing at an angle, the image remains accurate, and it's suggested for wide seating arrangements.

7.5
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.1 %
Indirect Reflections
0.2 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.9 %

The Samsung Q80A has good reflection handling. Unlike other high-end Samsung TVs, it has a semi-gloss finish. This results in more reflected light; it should be good enough for a room with a few light sources, but you shouldn't put it opposite a window with direct sunlight.

6.4
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
4.38
Color dE
3.36
Gamma
2.07
Color Temperature
7154 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

The out-of-the-box accuracy is unremarkable. White balance and most colors are inaccurate, but it still may be hard to notice for most people. Color temperature is on the cold side, resulting in a blue tint. Sadly, gamma does a bad job at following the target as most bright scenes are too bright.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.40
Color dE
1.04
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6516 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes

After calibration, accuracy is incredible. Any remaining inaccuracies shouldn't be noticeable to the naked eye. Color temperature is extremely close to the 6500K target, and gamma does a much better job at following the 2.2 target.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content like DVDs is upscaled without any issues.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The Samsung Q80A upscales 720p content like cable TV well.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

This TV displays 1080p content almost as good as native 4k.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

The Samsung Q80A displays native 4k content perfectly and without any issues.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This is a 4k TV that can't display an 8k signal. If you want an 8k TV, then check out the Samsung QN800A 8k QLED.

Picture Quality
Pixels

Like the Samsung QN85A QLED, this TV uses an Advanced Super Dimension Switch (ADS) panel. It's an IPS-type panel with many of the same characteristics, but it's technically different. It has an RGB subpixel layout, which is different from the BGR layout on most VA panels like the Samsung Q70/Q70A QLED. Although this doesn't affect picture quality, it could render text more clearly when using it as a PC monitor.

7.8
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
86.54 %
DCI P3 uv
92.14 %
Rec 2020 xy
63.28 %
Rec 2020 uv
70.44 %

The Samsung Q80A has a very good color gamut. It has excellent coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space, but it has more limited coverage of the wider Rec. 2020.

7.1
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
77.2 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
42.0 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
64.0 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
34.6 %

The color volume is decent. Due to its low contrast ratio, it can't display dark colors, but it displays bright colors well thanks to its high peak brightness.

8.2
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.109 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.112 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.087 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.105 dE

The gradient handling is great. There's a bit of banding, but it's limited to dark grays and greens, and not everyone may notice it. Setting Noise Reduction to 'Auto' does a good job at removing any banding, but that comes at the cost of losing details.

10
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 2 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 4 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.00 %

There are no signs of temporary image retention, but this may vary between units.

10
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
No

Although some IPS-like panels can suffer from temporary image retention, this doesn't appear to be permanent as seen in our long-term test.

Motion
8.2
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
4.4 ms
100% Response Time
11.3 ms

The Samsung Q80A has a great response time. For the most part, motion looks smooth, but you may notice some motion blur in dark transitions due to overshoot. This is very similar to the Samsung QN85A QLED.

9.9
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
960 Hz

The backlight of this TV flickers at such a high frequency of 960Hz that you shouldn't notice it. However, it flickers at 120Hz in the 'Dynamic', 'Standard', 'Filmmaker', and 'Natural' Picture Modes. It also flickers at 120Hz with Picture Clarity set to 'Auto', and it can go down to 60Hz with LED Clear Motion enabled. Normally, it should also flicker at 120Hz with Game Mode enabled, but it still flickers at 960Hz on this TV. We believe this is a bug that may be fixed in a firmware update, and it flickers at 120Hz with Game Motion Plus enabled.

10
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker For 60 fps
60 Hz
60Hz For 60 fps
Yes
120Hz For 120 fps
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

The Samsung Q80A has a Black Frame Insertion feature to try to reduce motion blur. It flickers at 120Hz with Picture Clarity enabled and 'Judder Reduction' and 'Blur Reduction' both set to '0'. You can make it flicker at 60Hz by enabling LED Clear Motion.

The settings for BFI in Game Mode are a bit more complicated. Normally on Samsung TVs, the backlight should flicker at 120Hz with Game Mode enabled, but it doesn't do that with this TV; we believe it's a bug that should get fixed with a firmware update. Instead, it only flickers at 120Hz with Game Motion Plus enabled, but that's the motion interpolation feature, and not everyone may like it. The BFI still flickers at 60Hz in Game Mode by enabling LED Clear Motion. Keep in mind that the BFI score is based on its flickering abilities, and not its actual performance.

Motion
Motion Interpolation
Motion Interpolation (30 fps)
Yes
Motion Interpolation (60 fps)
Yes

There's a motion interpolation feature, known as the 'Soap Opera Effect'. It doesn't look that good overall as there are artifacts in fast-moving scenes, which could be distracting.

See here for the settings that control the motion interpolation feature.

7.0
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
30.4 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
4.4 ms

Due to the quick response time, lower-frame rate content can appear to stutter as each frame is held on longer. You can try enabling the motion interpolation feature if it bothers you.

10
Motion
24p Judder
Judder-Free 24p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60p
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via 60i
Yes
Judder-Free 24p via Native Apps
Yes

The Samsung Q80A automatically removes judder from all sources, and there aren't any settings you need to enable.

9.4
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate