Samsung QN85A QLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Mar 25, 2021 at 09:12 am
Samsung QN85A QLED Picture
8.2
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.6
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.7
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: none
8.5
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.4
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.7
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Sony A8H OLED
8.3
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.9
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
IPS
Resolution 4k

The Samsung QN85A QLED is part of Samsung's Neo QLED series of TVs, which are a step up from regular QLEDs because they use Mini LED backlighting. It's an ADS panel, which is very similar to IPS, giving it a low native contrast ratio, but thankfully the local dimming greatly improves it in most picture modes. Unfortunately, glow from the panel and blooming may still be noticeable, especially when viewed off-center. On the upside, it has wide viewing angles, which makes it easy to watch with friends or family. It also has a great response time, resulting in smooth motion, and a low input lag that makes gaming feel responsive. Gamers should also be pleased that it has FreeSync variable refresh rate (VRR), an HDMI 2.1 port, and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The TV gets very bright and has exceptional reflection handling, so it's suitable for any lighting condition and glare shouldn't be an issue. Despite having a low low native contrast, it has incredible HDR brightness, so it's sure to make highlights in HDR content pop.

Our Verdict

8.2 Mixed Usage

The Samsung QN85A is great for mixed usage. It performs very well in bright settings thanks to its high brightness and exceptional reflection handling. It's less suited to dark room viewing or gaming, because its ADS panel has a low native contrast ratio, although it's improved by local dimming. The fast response time results in clear motion in sports or video games, and the low input lag makes the TV feel responsive. HDR content looks great as well due to its wide color gamut and high HDR brightness that makes highlights pop.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Bright enough to overcome glare.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
7.6 Movies

The Samsung QN85A is good for watching movies. While its native contrast ratio is only okay, it looks better with actual content thanks to the local dimming. That said, there's still noticeable blooming, especially when viewed at an angle. On the upside, it has no issues upscaling lower resolution content, and it's judder-free with 24p movies.

Pros
  • Completely judder-free.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
8.7 TV Shows

The Samsung QN85A is amazing for watching TV shows. It performs exceptionally well in bright environments thanks to its high brightness and outstanding reflection handling. It also has wide viewing angles, which ensures that the image stays accurate when viewed from the side. Lower resolution content, like cable TV, is upscaled well without artifacts.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Bright enough to overcome glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
8.5 Sports

The Samsung QN85A is an excellent TV for watching sports. It has a fast response time that makes motion look clear, and it includes a motion interpolation feature to further improve motion clarity. It also gets very bright, with exceptional reflection handling, so glare shouldn't be an issue. Its wide viewing angles are also great for watching the game with a group. Unfortunately, there may be a bit of dirty screen effect, which can be distracting.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Bright enough to overcome glare.
  • Great response time that results in clear motion.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
8.4 Video Games

The Samsung QN85A is an impressive TV for gaming. It has a fast response time for smooth motion, and its input lag is low, making gaming feel responsive. It supports FreeSync VRR, but unfortunately, G-SYNC doesn't work. It also has an HDMI 2.1 port for advanced consoles. While the native contrast ratio is just okay, it's improved when the TV is in Game Mode, but since it's an ADS TV, you may still experience panel glow or blooming.

Pros
  • Low input lag.
  • Great response time that results in clear motion.
  • Supports FreeSync VRR.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
7.7 HDR Movies

The Samsung QN85A is good for watching movies in HDR. It gets exceptionally bright in HDR, so highlights pop as they should, and the overall brightness of scenes is spot-on. Unfortunately, it has a low native contrast ratio, but the local dimming does a good job of making blacks look deeper. Thankfully, it has a wide color gamut for HDR, and it supports HDR10 and HDR10+, but like all Samsung TVs, it doesn't support Dolby Vision.

Pros
  • Bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR.
  • Completely judder-free.
  • Upscales lower resolution content well.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
  • Doesn't support Dolby Vision.
8.3 HDR Gaming

The Samsung QN85A is great for HDR gaming. It delivers on the gaming front thanks to its quick response time, low input lag, and FreeSync VRR support. It also gets bright enough to make highlights in HDR content truly pop, despite having a low native contrast ratio, which is significantly better with local dimming and in Game Mode. If you're gaming in a bright environment, glare shouldn't be an issue either, since it has exceptional reflection handling.

Pros
  • Bright enough to bring out highlights in HDR.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great response time that results in clear motion.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
8.9 PC Monitor

The Samsung QN85A is an amazing TV to use as a PC monitor. Its wide viewing angles ensure that content doesn't look too washed out at the edges, even when sitting up close or at an angle. It also displays proper chroma 4:4:4, which is important for text clarity, and it has an incredibly low input lag, making for a responsive desktop experience. Unfortunately, the backlight isn't flicker-free, which some people may be sensitive to, especially with long periods of use.

Pros
  • Wide viewing angles.
  • Displays proper chroma 4:4:4.
  • Low input lag.
  • Great response time that results in clear motion.
Cons
  • Low native contrast that can result in noticeable blooming.
  • Backlight isn't flicker-free.
  • 8.2 Mixed Usage
  • 7.6 Movies
  • 8.7 TV Shows
  • 8.5 Sports
  • 8.4 Video Games
  • 7.7 HDR Movies
  • 8.3 HDR Gaming
  • 8.9 PC Monitor
  1. Updated Apr 15, 2021: Confirmed the number of dimming zones.
  2. Updated Mar 25, 2021: Replaced response time graphs to include flicker.

Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung QN85A QLED is the mid-tier 4k model from Samsung's flagship Neo QLED lineup, which is new in 2021. Neo QLEDs differ from standard QLEDs because they use Mini LED backlighting. It sits just below the Samsung QN90A QLED, and it differs from previous Samsung flagship TVs because it uses an ADS panel, which is a very similar technology to IPS. Its main competitors are LG's Mini LED QNED TVs and Sony's 2021 4k TVs. To learn more about the broader 2021 TV market, see here.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The Samsung QN85A looks sleek. The stand looks a little basic, but the TV has thin bezels and should look good in any room. It has a very thin profile, which is great if you want to wall-mount it.

Design
Stand

The stand is a mix of plastic and metal. It's centered and not too wide, so you can place it on a smaller table to save space. There’s a bit of wobble, but overall it supports the TV well.

Footprint of the stand: 15.4" x 10.4"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 200x200

The back is plastic with a textured brushed metal finish. There are grooves along the back and a hole in the stand that serve as cable management.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)
Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.06" (2.7 cm)

The Samsung QN85A has a very thin profile, thinner than most TVs. It shouldn't stick out when wall-mounted.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

It feels well-built overall. It’s mostly plastic, aside from parts of the stand and the borders, which are metal. There’s some flex to the back panel, especially near the inputs and the center, but it shouldn’t be an issue with normal use.

Picture Quality
6.7
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
1373 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
1956 : 1

The native contrast ratio on the Samsung QN85A is okay, but this can vary between units. It’s much worse than previous QLEDs because it uses an ADS panel instead of a VA panel. When using our recommended settings in the 'Movie' Picture Mode, contrast is significantly worse than in other picture modes. For instance, in 'Dynamic', we measured a contrast of 9243:1, 9409:1 in 'PC' mode, and 20,019:1 with Game Mode enabled. It also looks better with actual content than it does with our test pattern because the local dimming works well in real scenes to hide the fact that it’s an ADS panel.

The 85 inch variant of this TV likely uses a VA panel, so we expect it to have a higher native contrast ratio. If you want a similar TV with a VA panel, then check out the Samsung QN90A QLED.

9.3
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
1156 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
968 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1124 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1144 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1129 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
622 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
950 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1120 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1139 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1124 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
620 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.034

The TV gets exceptionally bright in SDR. It’s more than enough to overcome glare in most lighting conditions, although it varies a bit depending on the content.

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

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

Update 04/15/2021: We confirmed the number of dimming zones.

The Samsung QN85A has a decent local dimming feature. Thanks to its Mini LED backlighting, it has 576 dimming zones. Compared with 2020's Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED, it pushes blacker blacks, resulting in a lot of small details being crushed. There's noticeable blooming around bright objects and subtitles, and our unit has some backlight bleed near the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, the blooming gets worse the more you move off-center. Haloing is tighter around bright objects but more pronounced on the than it is on the Q90T. This is because it has smaller dimming zones, while the Q90T has larger zones that are less bright and fade out more quickly. Transitions between zones, however, are quick with no visible light trail behind moving objects.

7.0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
Yes
Backlight
Full-Array

In Game Mode, local dimming scores about the same, although for different reasons. There's no significant black crush as there is when Game Mode is disabled, but uniformity issues are more noticeable and transitions between lighting zones are much slower, with a visible blooming trail behind bright moving objects.

9.1
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
1222 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
1170 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1193 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1243 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1144 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
673 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
1164 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1188 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1237 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1138 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
671 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.033

HDR brightness is exceptional. The overall brightness of scenes is spot on, as bright as intended, and very bright highlights pop. It's quite consistent across different content as well, but it tends to dim scenes with large bright areas.

We measured the HDR brightness before calibration in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode with Brightness and Contrast at max, Local Dimming set to 'High', and Color Tone set to 'Warm2'. All additional picture processing settings were disabled.

If you want to make HDR even brighter, as seen in this EOTF, then set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and ST.2084 to max.

8.9
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
1265 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
488 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
1066 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
1244 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
1073 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
677 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
486 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
1062 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
1239 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
1068 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
676 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.052

In Game Mode, HDR brightness is not as good as outside of Game Mode, but it's still excellent. That said, there's a lot more variation across different content, as it dims scenes with very small and very large areas of brightness. Highlights still pop, but dark areas of scenes appear a bit brighter than they should.

We took our measurements in the 'Game' Picture Mode, using the 'Warm2' Color Tone, with Brightness at max, Sharpness set to '0', and Local Dimming set to 'High'. We also turned off Motion Interpolation settings, set Color Gamut to 'Auto' and left Dynamic Black Equalizer at '2'.

7.2
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.373 %
50% DSE
0.218 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.352 %
5% DSE
0.028 %

Gray uniformity is decent, though this can vary between units. The edges and corners of the screen appear a bit darker, and there's a bit of dirty screen effect, but it shouldn't be especially noticeable. The uniformity is better in dark scenes.

6.0
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
2.859 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
0.336 %

The Samsung QN85A's black uniformity is mediocre, much worse than previous QLEDs due to its ADS panel. There's a lot of glow in the corners and edges and clouding throughout. With local dimming enabled, it's much better and you can see how it improves the contrast, but there's still noticeable blooming around bright objects. Note that black uniformity may vary between units.

7.9
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
38 °
Color Shift
54 °
Brightness Loss
38 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
53 °

The Samsung QN85A has very good viewing angles, but this is typical of ADS and IPS panels. There's not too much color and gamma shift as you move off-center, which is great for wider seating arrangements when you want the image to be as accurate as possible from the side. The 85 inch version comes with Samsung's 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer and likely uses a VA panel, so it's expected to perform differently.

9.3
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Glossy
Total Reflections
1.3 %
Indirect Reflections
0.1 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
1.2 %

The Samsung QN85A has exceptional reflection handling. Strangely, the reflections look less like the ones on other LED TVs and more like those on a typical OLED, like the LG CX OLED.

9.0
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
1.23
Color dE
1.61
Gamma
2.21
Color Temperature
6423 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

The Samsung QN85A has exceptional out-of-the-box color accuracy, although this can vary between units. Still, it's among the most accurate we've tested, which is great if you don't plan on calibrating your TV. Most colors are very close to perfect and white balance is fantastic. Gamma follows the target fairly well, though darker scenes are a bit too dark and lighter scenes are a bit too bright. The color temperature is a bit on the warmer side, but it's still close to our target.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.18
Color dE
1.27
Gamma
2.20
Color Temperature
6532 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes

After calibration, accuracy is remarkable. Any remaining inaccuracies shouldn't be noticeable without a colorimeter. Gamma follows the target very well, although dark scenes are still slightly darker than they should be. The color temperature is closer to our target but is now on the cooler side.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content, like DVDs, is upscaled without issues.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p content like cable TV is upscaled well, with no signs of upscaling artifacts.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content looks good and there are no issues with upscaling.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

Native 4k content is displayed perfectly.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

The Samsung QN85A doesn't support 8k.

Picture Quality
Pixels

The Samsung QN85A uses an ADS panel, like the Sony X800H, which is similar to IPS, but technically different.

8.2
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
91.04 %
DCI P3 uv
94.89 %
Rec 2020 xy
67.50 %
Rec 2020 uv
74.45 %

The Samsung QN85A has a great color gamut. It's wide enough for HDR content, with fantastic coverage of the commonly-used DCI P3 color space and decent coverage of the wider Rec. 2020.

7.6
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
85.8 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
53.0 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
65.2 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
40.3 %

Color volume is good, but it doesn't reproduce dark, saturated colors too well due to its lower contrast ratio.

8.0
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.110 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.124 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.093 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.105 dE

Gradient handling is great. There's some visible banding, especially in the reds, blues, and greens. If banding bothers you, set Noise Reduction to 'Auto', which should smooth out gradients, but may cause some loss of fine detail.

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
0.01 %
IR after 6 min recovery
0.01 %
IR after 8 min recovery
0.00 %
IR after 10 min recovery
0.03 %

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

Motion
8.1
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
5.2 ms
100% Response Time
10.5 ms

Update 03/25/2021: We replaced the response time graphs to include the flicker.

The Samsung QN85A has a great response time, with minimal blur trail behind fast-moving objects. There's some overshoot in the 0-20% transition, so you may notice some motion artifacts in darker scenes.

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

The Samsung QN85A uses Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to dim its backlight, but since it flickers at such a high frequency, it shouldn't be noticeable to most people. In 'Movie' mode, it flickers at 960Hz, but it drops to 120Hz when you have Picture Clarity enabled, or in the 'Dynamic,' 'Standard,' 'Natural,' or 'Game' picture modes.

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 QN85A has an optional Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature to help reduce motion blur. On Samsung TVs, this is called LED Clear Motion, which can be enabled in the Picture Clarity menu. To use it for 120fps content, enable Picture Clarity but set Judder and Blur to '0'. In Game Mode, the backlight always flickers at 120Hz, but for 60fps games, simply enable LED Clear Motion in the Game Mode Settings menu, which lowers the flicker frequency to 60Hz. Note that our scoring only reflects the range of flicker frequency and not how well the BFI actually performs.

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

The Samsung QN85A can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120Hz, a feature commonly known as the 'Soap Opera Effect.' For the most part, it works well, but there are some artifacts in very fast-moving scenes. To enable interpolation, set Picture Clarity to 'Custom' and set Blur Reduction to '10' for content that's 60fps or higher, and Judder Reduction to '10' for 30fps content.

6.9
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
31.2 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
6.2 ms

Because of the TV's fast response time, lower frame rate content can appear to stutter as each frame is held on for longer. If it bothers you, Picture Clarity settings can help.

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 QN85A can remove judder from any source without having to enable additional settings. If you do notice judder in 24p content like movies, you can try adjusting the Judder Reduction slider.

9.4
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
Yes
HDMI Forum VRR
Unknown
FreeSync
Yes
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum