The Samsung Q9F QLED is a great 4k LCD TV with very good picture quality and exceptional rendition of colors. It can display a very wide range of colors and gets bright, making it quite good for HDR. Its input lag is quite low, and fast moving content shows very little blur, making it a good choice for both gaming and sports watching. Unfortunately though, picture quality steeply declines when the Q9F is viewed from an angle, and its screen isn't the most uniform.
Note that the Samsung Q9FN is a different 2018 model, despite the similar name.
The design of the Q9F is excellent. It does appear much bulkier than other Samsung TVs without thinning at the borders but also feels much sturdier and the build quality is a big improvement. From the front, the stand is small so the display really stands out. Note that two power cables are required, one for the display itself and one for the OneConnect box which contains all of the inputs.
The TV sits only 1.3" above the table, supported by two T-shaped legs. The foot of the T provides a very stable base, and the stand isn't too visible which is great.
There is an option for two alternative stand designs, the 'gravity stand' and the 'easel stand' which may be purchased separately.
Footprint of the 65" TV stand: 12.0" x 38.5"
The rear of the TV is very simple, as only the fiber-optic OneConnect cable and the power cord is plugged into the TV. As a result, inputs can be kept hidden away and the back of the TV appears very clean. As seen in this photo, it is possible to route the cables through a plastic cover at the back of the TV and down through the stand, but, unfortunately, it appears to be more of an afterthought. The plastic cover sticks onto the back of the TV with double sided tape.
The Q9F is edge lit from both sides so its sides get a little warm to the touch, as do some places on the back. The One Connect box, on the other hand, gets quite warm to the touch, up to 46 ºC, though this isn't warm enough to cause any issues.
The Samsung Q9F LED TV has a very good picture quality. The excellent contrast ratio, paired with the good black uniformity, make the Q9 a very good choice for a dark home theater setting. It can display very deep blacks and can reproduce dark scenes very well. When set in a bright room, the Q9 is as good as it gets, since it can get very bright to fight glare from a bright lamp of a near sunny window and it can deal with reflections amazingly. Unfortunately, the Q9F's gray uniformity is sub-par and dirty screen effect is visible on wide panning shots or when watching some sports like football or hockey. The viewing angle is also poor and as a result, the Q9's best picture quality is restricted to a narrow zone in front of the TV. Finally, the Q9 can really make HDR content shine with its high HDR peak brightness and large color volume. Small highlights can get very bright and the colors it can reproduce are really a step ahead of the competition. The only downside here is the limitation of the local dimming, which is poorly implemented and can't really help to make black deepers.
The Q9F TV has an excellent native contrast ratio. It is not as high as the 2016 KS Series like the KS8000, but it is still a very good result. This means the TV can produce deep blacks and great dark scene performances, especially when the TV is set in a dark room.
When the local dimming is set to maximum, the contrast ratio is in the same ballpark. This is a bit disappointing from the top Samsung TV of 2017, since it is a sign that the local dimming cannot really make blacks looks deeper than what they already are.
The local dimming feature of the Q9F is bad. The only real advantage over the 2016 KS Series line of TVs, is that on the Q9F, the backlight LEDs are situated on each side of the screen, which means that the local dimming can turn off the whole black bars when watching movies. Besides that, the performance is relatively the same as the 2017 Q7F or 2016 KS8000.
Great SDR peak brightness. Highlights in dim scenes are shown quite bright, thanks to the TV's local dimming. However bright scenes such as our real scene clip are dimmed significantly, and a pure white image is dimmed even more so, which is not good. Many other high end LED TVs such as the X930E are brighter in SDR, though OLEDs like the C7 are dimmer. A plot of brightness over time is shown here.
The Q9F is brighter in SDR than OLEDs like the LG C7, but not as bright as many other high end LED TVs like the Sony X930E, or even the X900E in real scenes.
Great HDR peak brightness. The TV's local dimming is very effective at brightening small highlights in dark scenes, and also brightens the highlights in our real scene test to well above the TV's worst case brightness. The 'Dynamic' picture mode is even brighter than the 'Movie' mode we test, as shown in this plot, but has less accurate picture quality. When shown a static image, the TV's brightness cycles, but this shouldn't be a problem when watching moving content.
Though this brightness is outstanding, and better than OLEDs like the LG C7, it isn't quite as bright as the Sony X930E, X940E and Z9D, mostly because of the larger difference between the best case brightness and the real scene brightness.
The Q9's overall gray uniformity is sub-standard. Looking at our 50% gray uniformity picture, it is very easy to see that the the borders of the screen are a bit darker than the rest, which in turn is affecting the standard deviation number. This is the main reason why the gray uniformity score is so low. As for the dirty screen effect, even though the DSE number is not that high, dirty screen effect was visible when watching sports like football or hockey.
Looking at our 5% gray uniformity, the result is much better and not many uniformity issues can be noticed, which is good.
Bad viewing angle, but fairly typical for a VA panel. Blacks turn gray and colors shift when the TV is viewed from even a small angle, while brightness decreases more gradually. An OLED TV like the LG C7 and Sony A1E, or an IPS TV like the LG UH8500 will be better suited for a room where people often view the TV from the side.
The Q9 has an average overall black uniformity and it is very similar to the Q7F Uniformity. The only visible blooming on the native black uniformity test pictures is horizontal blooming at the same level as the white cross. This is due to the fact that the local dimming zones span horizontally rather than vertically. The black uniformity with local dimming is very similar to the native one.
Note that usually for the native black uniformity test, we turn off the local dimming feature to really show the true black uniformity of the panel used in the TV, but like we saw on the Q7F, the local dimming can't be completely turned off on the Q9F. Instead, you can only put the local dimming to the 'Low' setting for the native black uniformity picture and 'High' for the black uniformity with local dimming. This is one of the reasons why the native black uniformity results is about the same as the one with local dimming.
The Q9 has a slightly different screen finish to the Q7. This is still excellent at handling reflections but has much less of a purple tint. Reflections are smeared somewhat horizontally, but this isn't very distracting. Even in a bright room the performance is superb.
The out of the boxes accuracy is good for the Q9. Looking at the grayscale part of the accuracy test, we can see that the TV is a bit warmer overall. With a white balance dE of 3.91, this is a region where true enthusiasts could start to noticing some small imperfections, but for anyone else, it is still pretty accurate and should not be a problem.
Looking at the gamma, here it is a bit more problematic since the gamma is not tracking our target very closely, especially in the low end. This could cause problems like black crush in darker images.
After calibration, which is relatively easy to perform, most of the issues we had out of the box were fixed. The white balance dE was brought down to a mere 0.33 with the gamma being flattened and tracking much closely our target.
The color dE was also cut by half, which is also very good. All the colors are tracking the target pretty well. Overall, this is a great result.
You can see our recommended settings here.
When viewed from up close, some minor artifacts are visible in some scenes. This is mostly noticeable with the 'Warm' color temperature for PC use and is the same result as the Q7F. It is caused by the sub-pixel dimming algorithm and occurs with images of low APL but some bright areas. This video of the sub-pixels of the Q7F showing the effect was taken by increasing the brightness of a static image.
Excellent wide color gamut, wider than its competitors, the Sony Z9D, A1E and LG C7. The deep green performance is especially notable, which is something most TVs struggle with. The accuracy of the colors is excellent too, so colors in HDR content should be well represented.
The TV's EOTF follows the PQ curve almost perfectly until it clips at its peak brightness, when in the Movie picture mode at our recommended settings. The EOTFs in Game and PC mode are also fairly accurate, with the game mode EOFT noticeably brightened, possibly to make HDR games more playable in bright rooms.
Good color volume, only really limited by the TV's color gamut and black level. The TV can show its wide color gamut throughout almost its entire brightness range, though its gamut narrows slightly for extremely dark colors.
The Q9F has an excellent result in our test gradient. No banding normally seen on 8-bit panels is visible and overall, even if there are some small imperfections in the darker shades, this is a good result. We did not notice any problematic banding looking at normal content and here one again, those results are in line with the rest of Samsung high-end TVs.
Perfect result for the Samsung Q9F on the image retention test and in line with other Samsung TVs tested recently. This is a good result, especially for gamers.
Note that the strange pattern of the vertical lines is more obvious on this test picture than what you really see in person, because of the longer 1/2 time exposure needed to correctly take this picture.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
The motion handling of the Q9 is excellent. It has a fast response time, resulting in only a short trail of motion blur following fast moving objects. The backlight uses PWM to dim so motion isn't quite as smooth as some other TVs but this isn't much of an issue. Unfortunately, the backlight is not able to lower the flicker frequency to clear up persistence blur in fast-paced content. Movies played from any source are smooth which is great, and the 120Hz panel is able to interpolate lower refresh rate content.
When in the 'Movie' picture mode, the backlight uses PWM dimming to limit the backlight, even at the maximum backlight setting. As a result the oscilloscope results above are using the 'PC' icon, which doesn't limit the backlight. The Q9F uses PWM at 120Hz to dim the backlight, starting at 20/20 backlight setting. Lowering the setting shortens the duty cycle, while amplitude remains constant until very low backlight settings.
Update 03/30/2018: Scaled the 'Luminosity' axis of the plots; now the Flicker-Free plots and the new BFI plot have the same 'Luminosity' axis.
Although the 'LED Clear Motion' option exists in the TV menu, it doesn't actually reduce the flicker frequency of the backlight. The backlight off time increases and the peak brightness increases to avoid reducing overall screen brightness, but the backlight continues to flicker at 120Hz. This is a similar result as the Q7F from 2017 and the KS9000 from 2016. Samsung models from 2017 that we have tested so far all exhibit this behavior, but the KS8000 from 2016 uses BFI that reduces the backlight flicker frequency, resulting in clearer motion when using the 'LED Clear Motion' option.
Update 03/30/2018: It was discovered that many 2017 Samsung TVs change their BFI frequency to 60 Hz when a lot of 60 Hz motion is detected on screen. The score, photo and plots have been updated.
The Q9F has a 120Hz panel which is able to interpolate lower frame rate content. Add the soap opera effect by setting 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom' and increasing the sliders. The 'De-judder' slider works on 30fps and lower content, and the 'De-blur' slider works on 60 fps content. Note that any motion interpolation will introduce artifacts, so use a small value unless you really like the soap opera effect.
The X9F is decent at displaying 24p movies and 60p content without stutter. Due to the fast response time, the image won't appear completely smooth for long panning shots in movies though. This is because there is not much blur to smooth the transition between frames.
The Q9F can play 24p movies without judder from 24p, 60p, and 60i sources. For this, you need to set the 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom' and leave the sliders at 0 for both the 'Blur Reduction' and 'Judder Reduction'. Note that when both sliders are set to 0, no soap opera effect is added.
The Q9F doesn't have the ability to adjust it's refresh rate on the fly to match the input signal.
The Q9F QLED can play almost any content, including HDR. It has low input lag that should please all but the most competitive gamers.
Most common resolutions are supported. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 color are only supported when 'HDMI UHD color' is enabled for the port used. 4:4:4 color is only properly displayed when the input's icon is set to 'PC' (aka PC mode). HDR is played properly in PC mode.
Note that PC mode is not supported for some input refresh rates, such as 24 Hz. The input's icon may show PC, but the settings that are normally disabled in PC mode are not disabled, and 4:4:4 color is not shown properly.
The OneConnect box requires a separate power cable and is much larger than the OneConnect mini found with 2016 models such as the KS8000.
Only one of Dolby Digital or DTS can be enabled at a time. The TV will not change between the two automatically.
The Samsung Q9F sounds quite poor, which is unfortunate for a TV of this status. While it isn't unbearable, it is worth spending on a set of speakers for an upgrade to the audio experience.
The Q9F's frequency response is sub par. It isn't particularly flat, and it suffers from a great amount of dynamic range compression at higher volumes. Strangely, the response changes depending on the volume even up to 80dB.
Poor distortion performance. While THD is acceptable at a lower volume, it steeply rises with the levels. Fortunately, it is free of aliasing artifacts.
The Q9F uses Samsung's 2017 Tizen platform, also called Smart Hub, which is very simple and easy to navigate and has a powerful voice command feature. The TV's remote has a built-in microphone for these voice commands, which can do many things like changing inputs and settings and searching for content. The center of the TV's interface is the Smart Hub itself, which provides access to apps and settings in an easy to navigate fashion. Menu animations sometimes have frame drops and lag, worse than last year's Smart Hub. The remote unfortunately has very few buttons, requiring the user to use voice commands or navigate the Smart Hub to do most things.
The TV did not show ads during our testing. However, ads on Samsung TVs are often inconsistent. It can be assumed that the TV has ads because every Samsung TV we tested since 2016 had ads. If anyone finds ads on their Q9F, please email us a photo and we'll update the review.
The TV comes pre-loaded with many popular apps like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video. More apps can be downloaded from the App menu. Apps run fairly smoothly with minimal lag or frame drops.
There is a Samsung Smart View app that can launch the TV's apps and act as its remote, but it's very basic compared to the sophisticated apps for the Roku and Vizio SmartCast platforms.
The remote is fairly simple but has an amazing metal build. There are very few buttons so most actions require the user to navigate the Smart Hub or use voice commands.
The voice commands are a very powerful tool and can do many things in the interface, more than on any other smart platform we've tested. Apps, settings, inputs, content and text entry can all be handled by voice.
The remote can be used as a universal remote for other devices, even if they do not support HDMI CEC, using Samsung's OneRemote feature.
We tested the 65" (QN65Q9F) version AA01. For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 75" version (QN75Q9F).
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Samsung Q9 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.
The Q9F is a very well performing LED TV, but it is very difficult to justify at its price range. Better TVs can be found for cheaper, some of them at a significantly larger size.
The 2018 Samsung Q9FN is much better than the 2017 Samsung Q9F. The Q9FN has significantly improved dark room performance, thanks to the much better local dimming feature and much better black uniformity. The Q9FN is brighter with all types of content and has new features geared for gamers, including a variable refresh rate and auto game mode when used with a supported console or PC.
The Sony X900F is better than the 2017 Samsung Q9F. The X900F has a much better local dimming feature and better black uniformity, great for dark room viewing. The Samsung Q9F has a more advanced black frame insertion feature which can clear up motion at the expense of some brightness, and has lower input lag for gamers or for use as a monitor.
The LG C8 OLED TV is much better than the 2017 Samsung Q9F. The LG C8 has perfect dark room performance thanks to the infinite contrast and perfect black uniformity, as well as the perfect local dimming feature. The C8 has a much wider viewing angle and excellent gray uniformity, great for sports fans with wide seating areas. As an OLED panel, the LG C8 is susceptible to image retention and burn-in. The Samsung Q9F does not have the risk of burn-in as it is a VA panel.
The 2017 Samsung Q7F and 2017 Samsung Q9F offer very similar performance. The Q9F is brighter than the Q7F in SDR and HDR. The Q7F has better gray uniformity, which is good for sports fans. The Q9F uses a different edge-lighting system, with the LEDs on the side of the TV. This allows the Q9F to turn off horizontal bars, good when watching widescreen movies.
The Sony Z9D is better than the 2017 Samsung Q9F. The Sony Z9D has significantly better local dimming and a bit better black uniformity that allows it to display deeper blacks in darker rooms and this is great when watching movies or HDR content. Also, the Sony Z9D has marginally better SDR peak brightness which is good if you watch TV shows in a brighter room. On the other hand, the Samsung Q9F has a better response time and a bit better input lag which makes it very responsive, and you will enjoy it if you play video games.