The Samsung Q90R is an excellent 4k LED TV with impressive picture quality. It has a high native contrast ratio, great local dimming support, and excellent black uniformity that allow it to deliver deep blacks in a dark room. The TV can get very bright both in SDR and HDR and has a wide color gamut that allows it to deliver HDR content full of vivid colors and highlights that pop. Although the TV has a VA panel, the viewing angles are decent thanks to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology. Motion handling is excellent and the image is crisp thanks to the very fast response time. The Q90R supports FreeSync for tear-free gaming and has a very low input lag that makes it very responsive.
The Samsung Q90R is a high-end QLED TV. It is Samsung's 4k flagship, just under the 8k model Samsung Q900R. It is the replacement of last year's Samsung Q9FN. The Q90R is comparable to most other high-end 4k models like the LG C9, the Sony A9G, or the LED Vizio P Series Quantum 2019.
The design of the Samsung Q90R is excellent. It has a very sturdy metallic stand, that supports the TV very well, and allows only minimal wobbling. Just like other high-end Samsung TVs, some electronic components are encased in the One Connect box which connects to the TV through a single cable. This allows Samsung to create a very thin TV that you can wall mount flush to the wall using a special wall mount, making the TV look more like a frame. The build quality is remarkable and you should have no issues.
The stand is metallic and very sturdy. It supports the TV well and does not allow much wobbling.
The footprint of the stand of the 65" model is: 11.2" x13.4"
Note: The reflection depicted on the above picture is the result of the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer explained here.
The back of the TV is plain. It is made of plastic and has a similar textured finish like last year's models.
The Q90 has a One Connect box that sends all necessary signals (including power) through a single cable to the TV. The back of the TV and the stand have grooves that serve as cable management to guide the One Connect cable, as you can see here.
The Q90R doesn't get too warm as you can see in our thermal image, and thus you should have no issues with it.
The max temperature of the One Connect box is a little warm at 103F, but this shouldn't be an issue, either.
The Samsung Q90R has an impressive picture quality. It is suitable for a dark room as it can display deep uniform blacks thanks to the high native contrast ratio, great local dimming, and excellent black uniformity. It is also great for a bright room as it can easily fight glare and can handle reflections well. The TV has a wide color gamut, can get very bright in HDR, and it displays HDR content full of rich colors and bright highlights. The gray uniformity is just decent, but the image remains accurate for wider viewing angles thanks to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology of the Q90R.
The native contrast ratio of the Q90R is great. The native contrast ratio is lower than most TVs with VA panels. This is because of the TV's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer that improves the viewing angles at the expense of contrast ratio. This is very similar to what we observed with the Samsung Q900R or the Sony Z9F and the 'X-Wide Angle' technology. However, the native contrast ratio of the Q90R is by far the best when compared to the other TVs we've tested that supported similar viewing angle boosting technologies.
Unfortunately, just like the Q900R, the TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. In order to measure the native contrast ratio, we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time.
The local dimming on the Q90R is very good. It is very similar to the Q900R and just slightly better than the Q9FN. The local dimming algorithm allows very little blooming, which is great; however, it has the same trade-offs found on the Q900R:
When you look at the TV from the side, the good black level viewing angle prevents blooming from getting worse. This is significantly better behavior than most TVs with VA panels and explains why the local dimming video (which is shot at an angle) looks better than it actually is.
Unfortunately, just like all the latest Samsung TVs, you can't completely disable the local dimming on the TV. Even when set to 'Low' it can be distracting. If you watch movies with subtitles, this can be a problem.
Just like with the Q900R, Game Mode uses a slightly different local dimming algorithm which doesn't react as fast to changes in a scene and lingers longer. This can create visible blooming in some cases. We are not sure why this is the case. It is, however, less noticeable than on the Q900R.
We performed our testing with Local Dimming set to 'High'
Note: There is a 55" variant of the Q90R available only in Europe that is advertised as having a weaker local dimming feature, but we have not tested it and can't give further details.
Excellent SDR peak brightness for the Q90R, in the same ballpark figure as last year's high-end QLED Samsungs. Smaller highlights in dark scenes are very bright as our 2%, and 10% windows show. However, brighter scenes are also quite bright. The TV can easily fight glare and will perform very well in a bright room.
We performed our measurements after calibration with picture mode set to ‘Movie,’ Local Dimming set to ‘High,’ Auto Motion Plus set to 'off,' and Backlight set to 'Max.' Different settings may produce a brighter picture.
The setting that controls the brightness of the backlight is called Backlight.
The Samsung Q90 has excellent HDR peak brightness. This TV can deliver very bright highlights when displaying HDR content.
We performed our measurements without any calibration, picture mode set to ‘Movie,’ Local Dimming set to ‘High,’ and Auto Motion Plus set to 'off,' which are also our recommended settings. Some settings may produce a brighter image. For example, the 'Dynamic' picture mode can get brighter but has much worse picture accuracy.
The gray uniformity is decent. The image is slightly darker at the edges and at the corners of the screen but it is more uniform in the center, and this is good for sports fans. When the TV is displaying gray content, like older black and white movies, some people might notice a slight blue tint at the edges.
In much darker scenes, the uniformity is much better.
The viewing angle is decent. As you move off center, the image remains accurate for wider angles. The contrast stays relatively constant and this prevents the image from looking washed out.
This behavior is usually found on IPS panel TVs. The Q90R uses a VA panel, but it also has an optical layer that Samsung calls 'Ultra Viewing Angle.' This optical layer greatly improves the viewing angles at the expense of lower native contrast ratio, which in the case of the Q90R is not diminished as much as on the Q900R. The 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology appears to work similarly to the 'X-Wide Angle' technology found on the Sony Z9F.
Unfortunately, the TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. So in order to measure the lightness viewing angle we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time, which finally allowed us to measure with local dimming 'off.' This is exactly the same as in the case of the Q900R.
The black uniformity is excellent. The little blooming that you can spot in our overexposed image is not really noticeable in normal content unless you watch a very dark scene in a dark room. Local dimming makes black uniformity nearly perfect in some very dark scenes.
Unfortunately, the TV's local dimming can't be completely disabled using the normal settings menu. Just like in other measurements, in order to measure the native black uniformity, we had to disable PC Mode Dimming in the TV's service menu, and then activate PC Mode and Game Mode at the same time, which allowed us to turn local dimming off.
The TV has excellent reflection handling, better than the Q900R. The glossy finish greatly diminishes reflections. However, the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer has the downside of scattering light across its surface, producing rainbow reflections across the screen. This is similar behavior to the 'X-Wide Angle' of the Z9F, and it is not noticeable in normal use.
You should have no issues placing the Q90R in a bright room with a lot of windows.
The out of the box accuracy is decent. We obtained the best results using the 'Movie' Picture Mode. The White Balance dE and Color dE are low but some people might notice inaccuracies. When the color temperature is set to 'Warm 2' the color temperature is fairly warm and the image has a slight red-yellowish tint. Finally, the gamma follows the target reasonably well, thus the image has mostly the right brightness.
The accuracy is excellent after calibration. The White Balance dE is almost perfect and the Color dE is so low that even enthusiasts will need a colorimeter to spot any remaining inaccuracies. The gamma tracks the curve almost perfectly and the color temperature is closer to the target of 6500K. There is an auto-calibration function, but this still requires a colorimeter and specialized software.
You can see our recommended settings here.
The Q90R has a wide color gamut. Very similar to the Q900R and the Q6FN and a bit less than the Q9FN and Q8FN. It is possible that the TV's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' optical layer is reducing its color gamut.
The 'Movie' EOTF is a little brighter than the input stimulus until it starts to roll off near the TV's peak brightness. If you find HDR too dim, you can raise the PQ curve by setting Brightness to '5,' and, Contrast Enhancer to 'High.' This will produce this PQ curve.
This is the PQ curve for Game Mode.
Update: 04/23/2019 In the review of the Q9FN we observed that for lower brightness HDR infoframes (such as 1000 nits) the TV produces scenes which are brighter than intended. You can read more about it here. We have not measured the 1000 nits infoframe for this TV but we expect it to be similar ro the Q9FN.
The Samsung Q90R has very good color volume with a good coverage of the DCI P3 color space. Unfortunately, the coverage of the wider Rec 2020 is just okay.
Like most LED TVs, it can produce bright and dark colors across most of its gamut, but can't produce very bright blues.
This performance is close, but not as good as last year's high-end QLEDs, as you can see here and here. This is most likelly the result of the not so wide color gamut when compared to last year's Q9FN and Q8FN.
The gradient of the Q90R is great. There is very little banding visible in the darker grays and in the medium greens. Setting the Digital Clean View to 'Auto' can effectively remove most of the banding but can lead to a loss of fine detail.
Unfortunately, during testing, the TV's local dimming (that can't be disabled) interfered with our gradient test, tampering with the data and making it score a bit worse than it should. However while not perfectly accurate, the score is still within the same ballpark as our subjective impression. We had the same issue with the Q900R.
We also compared the Q90R (top) with the Q9FN (bottom) and confirmed this.
There is no temporary image retention on the Samsung Q90.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
The Samsung Q90 has excellent motion handling. It has a very fast response time that delivers a crisp image with minimal blur trail behind fast-moving objects. The backlight flickers at 960Hz most of the time, and this is excellent as it is almost impossible to perceive. The TV has an optional Black Frame Insertion feature that can help make the image crisper, can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120Hz, even in Game mode, and can remove judder from any source. Finally, the TV supports FreeSync variable refresh rate for tear-free gaming.
The Q90 has an extremely fast response time. There is only a very small blur trail behind fast-moving objects and the only transition with significant overshoot is the 0-20% transition, which corresponds to very dark shades.
The Q90R uses PWM dimming to dim the backlight. Flicker is always present but becomes more severe at lower brightness. However, since the flicker frequency is 960Hz most people won't see it.
We tested the TV in 'Movie' mode with Auto Motion Plus disabled. There are, however, many instances where the flicker rate changes to 120Hz. For example, in 'Movie' mode the flicker changes to 120Hz if you set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom' or 'Auto.' In 'Standard' and in 'Game' modes the flicker is always at 120Hz, similar to the Q900R.
The Q90R has an excellent black frame insertion feature that helps make the image crisper. Just setting Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom' changes the flicker to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box. If you do not want to add any soap opera effect you should set Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction to '0.' If you enable LED Clear Motion, the flicker changes to 60Hz.
In 'Game' mode, the flicker frequency is always 120Hz, and enabling LED Clear Motion in Game Motion Plus changes the flicker frequency to 60Hz.
The Q90 can interpolate content up to 120fps. To enable motion interpolation you must set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom.' The Blur Reduction slider affects only high frame rate content (ex. 60 fps). The Judder Reduction slider affects low frame rate content (ex. 30 fps). To obtain the best possible results you should adjust those sliders to your liking. For our test, we kept both at max. Motion interpolation looks okay although some artifacts can be noticed at times. When the action becomes too intense the TV stops interpolating.
In 'Game' mode, there is a Game Motion Plus option, which, however, doesn't look as good, but adds far less input lag. You can read more about it in the Input Lag box.
Note: When Auto Motion Plus is enabled, the TV's flicker changes to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box.
Due to the very fast response time of the Q90, low frame rate content is held on screen for longer periods of time, which can cause the image to appear to stutter. If you find this stutter bothersome, you can reduce it by enabling motion interpolation or the optional black frame insertion feature.
The Samsung Q90R can remove judder from any source. To remove judder set Auto Motion Plus to 'Custom,' and Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction to '0' (if you don't want motion interpolation).
Note: When Auto Motion Plus is enabled, the TV's flicker changes to 120Hz, as explained in the Flicker-Free box.
The Q90R supports FreeSync, which is great for those gamers with compatible hardware or an Xbox One. The TV does not have a DisplayPort and this does not allow FreeSync to work with current NVIDIA drivers. The TV won't display 4k @ 120Hz properly in 'Game' mode or 'PC' mode. This is why we mention the 4k VRR maximum to be 60Hz.
We tested the TV on 'Game' mode, and we used FreeSync set to 'Ultimate' to obtain the widest possible range.
The Samsung Q90R supports the most common resolutions without any issue. It has a very low input lag in all supported resolutions and when in PC mode it can display chroma 4:4:4 perfectly except when in 1440p @ 120Hz. It has a good selection of inputs but doesn't support eARC.
Excellent low input lag, lower than last year's high-end QLEDS. The Q90R reacts almost immediately to your actions and this is great if you're a gamer. To get the lowest input lag you must set the TV to 'Game Mode,' even when you are in 'PC Mode.' Chroma 4:4:4 is properly shown only when in 'PC Mode.'
Note: The TV supports 4k @ 120Hz only on HDMI 4. However, it can't properly display 4k @ 120Hz in 'Game' and 'PC' mode as it is skipping frames, but it works fine in 'Movie' Mode. This seems like a bug that could be fixed in a future firmware update. The input lag for 4k @ 120Hz in 'Movie' mode varies slightly over time. The result of 18.4 ms is the average we measured. This varying input lag is subtle and shouldn't be noticeable to most people.
Just like the Q900R and the premium 2018 models from the Samsung lineup, the Q90R has low input lag with motion interpolation in Game Motion Plus. When the Judder Reduction slider is increased, the TV interpolates up to 60 fps, and the input lag becomes 38.6 ms which is higher than without Game Motion Plus, but still lower than what it is if you do not enable Game Mode. If the Blur Reduction slider is increased, the TV interpolates up to 120 fps and the input lag increases slightly to 41.2 ms, which is still a good value.
The Q90R supports most common resolutions and refresh rates. Most high bandwidth signals require Input Signal Plus to be enabled for the port in use. Input Signal Plus is the new name for HDMI UHD Color.
The TV supports 4k @ 120Hz only on HDMI 4. However, it can't properly display 4k @ 120Hz in 'Game' and 'PC' mode as it is skipping frames, but it works fine in 'Movie' Mode.
The TV can display chroma 4:4:4 or RGB content properly in all supported resolutions except in 1440p @ 120Hz. To properly display chroma 4:4:4 you must set the input label to 'PC.'
We could not test for HDMI 2.1 as we have no way to send a 4k @ 120Hz @ 4:4:4 signal. We will retest once an HDMI 2.1 source is available for us to buy.
Just like the Q900R and 2018 Samsung TVs, the Q90R does not support DTS, nor does it support eARC. It likely does support lossy Atmos passthrough from Dolby Digital Plus sources, including the native Netflix app.
The sound quality of the Samsung Q90R is decent. The TV can get loud enough for most use cases, has decent punch and body to its bass, and will deliver well-balanced and clear dialog. However, the TV won't be able to produce any thump or rumble in the sub-bass region. For a better sound, a dedicated sound system is recommended.
The frequency response of the Samsung Q90R is decent. Low-frequency extension (LFE) is about 76Hz which is okay. This means that the TV has a good amount of body and punch to its but lacks thump or rumble. The response above the TV's LFE is well-balanced and can deliver clear dialogs. Also, the Q90R can get reasonably loud, but may not be loud enough for large and noisy environments.
We tested the TV with Samsung's room correction feature called 'Adaptive Sound' enabled. However, we left the 'Adaptive Volume' and 'Auto Volume' features disabled, as 'Auto Volume' drastically limits the max volume. This feature can be useful if you find that commercials play at a higher volume than the content you are watching.
The Q90R has decent distortion performance. The overall amount of harmonic distortion produced is within decent limits. Also, there is not a big jump in THD under heavier loads either, which is good.
The Samsung Q90 has great smart features. It runs Samsung's Tizen smart interface that is very easy to use and has one of the widest collection of smart apps available. The remote control is similar to the one found on the Q900R and works well with Bixby, Samsung's smart assistant. Unfortunately, the Samsung SmartThings remote app does not include any improvements since the last version.
The Samsung Q90R runs the latest version of Samsung Tizen smart interface, which is very easy and intuitive to use.
We noticed that sometimes when you change the input from 'PC' to something else the edges of the screen are cut off due to overscan. Just navigating into the Picture Size setting fixes the issue, even if you don't change anything.
Unfortunately, the Q90R comes with ads and suggested content, and you do not have the option to opt out. There is a small ad on the home bar (see pic above) and a large one in the app store similar to the one we depicted in the photo of the Apps and features box of the RU7100.
Samsung's app store has an abundance of apps to choose from. The apps run well on the Q90R, although they are not always very smooth.
The remote control that comes along the Q90R is very similar to the remote that is included with the other premium Samsung QLEDs. The remote integrates well with Bixby and allows you to control some TV settings with your voice, like changing the backlight. You can also ask the TV to answer basic questions like what the weather is like, and you can even launch apps with your voice. Unfortunately, it is not obvious which apps support voice search. 'Search Netflix for Marco Polo' did not work, but 'Search YouTube for Marco Polo' worked. Samsung's OneRemote feature allows the remote to control other devices, even if they don't support HDMI CEC.
The remote app is mediocre. The Samsung SmartThings app can connect to a lot of Samsung smart devices, but unfortunately, it does not have many features when using it with a TV.
The TV controls are located on the underside. The keypad allows you to change channels and volume and you can open the input list, the settings, or even the home menu. The controls serve as a D-Pad to navigate the interface without a remote and since you can open the home menu, you can do just about anything.
If you need to launch the Home menu while you are in an app, press and hold the center button. To close the Home menu, do the same; press and hold the center button.
We tested the 65" (QN65Q90RA) version AA01/QRQ90. For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 75" version (QN75Q90RA) and the 82" version (QN82Q90RA). There is also a 55" model available only in Europe that we expect to perform similarly, except for local dimming.
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Samsung Q90R doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.
The 65" Q90R we tested was manufactured in Feb. 2019.
The Samsung Q90R and the Samsung Q80R have very similar performance. The Samsung Q90R has a slightly faster response time, which some enthusiasts might notice when watching sports. Also, the Q90R has more effective local dimming thanks to the greater number of local dimming zones than the Q80R. Although our Q90R test unit was a larger variant, we expect this to be true for the same size variants of the Q80R. All of the other differences are mainly in the design. The Q90R has a One Connect box, supports a no-gap wall mount, and its stand has a smaller footprint.
The Samsung Q90R performs very similarly to the Samsung Q9FN. The Samsung Q90R has wider viewing angles thanks to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology and has a faster response time that delivers fast-moving content with less blur trail. The Samsung Q9FN, on the other hand, has a higher contrast ratio that can deliver deeper blacks.
The Samsung Q90/Q90R and the LG C9 use different panel types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The C9 looks much better in a dark room, as the OLED panel delivers a nearly infinite contrast ratio and near-perfect black uniformity. The Q90R is significantly brighter, and the brightness doesn't change as much with different content (ABL). The C9 has better gray uniformity and better viewing angles. The C9 has a risk of permanent burn-in when exposed to static content, but the Q90 does not.
These are two different types of TVs. The LG B8 OLED is more suitable if you want perfect blacks in a dark room and you are not concerned about the risk of burn-in, whereas the QLED Samsung Q90R is a better choice to fight glare in a bright room. The image remains accurate for wider viewing angles on the LG. On the other hand, the Samsung supports FreeSync and has low input lag with motion interpolation, which is great for gamers and is more suitable for use as PC monitor since it has no burn-in risk.
The Samsung Q90R is a bit better than the Samsung Q900R. The Q90R can handle reflections better in a bright room and has a higher native contrast ratio that allows it to deliver deeper blacks in a dark room. The Samsung Q900R, on the other hand, has slightly wider viewing angles and supports 8k resolutions.
The Samsung Q90R is a bit better than the Sony Z9F. The Q90R can deliver a slightly better dark room performance thanks to the higher contrast ratio and better black uniformity. Also, the Samsung Q90R has lower input lag and supports FreeSync, which are great if you enjoy video games.
The Samsung Q90R is slightly better than the Vizio P Series Quantum. The Samsung Q90R has wider viewing angles thanks to the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' technology, whereas the Vizio P Series Quantum has a higher contrast ratio and can deliver deeper blacks in a dark room. The Q90R supports FreeSync, which is great if you enjoy playing video games and have compatible hardware, like an Xbox One.