Samsung The Frame 2021 TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Apr 15, 2021 at 09:48 am
Samsung The Frame 2021 Picture
7.6
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.1
Movies
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.8
TV Shows
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung QN85A QLED
7.8
Sports
Value for price beaten by
: LG CX OLED
7.9
Video Games
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
7.1
HDR Movies
Value for price beaten by
: Sony A8H OLED
7.8
HDR Gaming
Value for price beaten by
: LG BX OLED
8.2
PC Monitor
Value for price beaten by
: Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED
Type LED
Sub-Type
VA
Resolution 4k

Samsung's The Frame 2021 is a good QLED TV and the successor to The Frame 2020. Like its predecessor, it showcases artwork or photos when the TV isn't in use, and the bezels can be customized so that they blend with your existing decor. It uses a VA panel with an outstanding contrast ratio, making it great for dark room viewing, but its viewing angles are sub-par, so it's not the best choice for wide seating areas. It has a great response time and a Black Frame Insertion feature to deliver clear images in fast-moving scenes, and it can interpolate lower frame rate content to make motion appear smoother. It has low input lag, VRR support, and it can display a 4k @ 120Hz signal thanks to its HDMI 2.1 port. Unfortunately, it lacks local dimming, and its HDR brightness isn't enough to make highlights stand out the way they should.

Our Verdict

7.6 Mixed Usage

The Samsung The Frame TV is a good TV overall. It's well-suited for watching TV shows and sports due to its high peak brightness and decent reflection handling. It has a great response time, 120Hz refresh rate, low input lag, and VRR support, making it a good option for gaming and use as a PC monitor. It has a high contrast ratio to produce deep blacks, which is great for watching movies in the dark, but sadly, it lacks local dimming, and it doesn't get very bright in HDR, so highlights don't pop the way they should.

Pros
  • Displays deep blacks.
  • Great response time.
  • Gets bright enough to fight glare.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
7.1 Movies

The Samsung The Frame TV is decent for watching movies. It has an outstanding contrast ratio that makes it a great choice for dark rooms. It upscales lower resolution content without any issues, and it removes judder from all sources. Unfortunately, it doesn't have local dimming, and low frame rate content like movies might stutter a bit due to its quick response time.

Pros
  • Displays deep blacks.
  • Upscales lower resolution content without issues.
  • Removes judder from all content.
Cons
  • No local dimming.
  • Stutters a bit in low frame rate content.
7.8 TV Shows

The Samsung The Frame TV is good for watching TV shows. It has decent reflection handling and gets pretty bright, so visibility shouldn't be an issue in well-lit rooms. It upscales lower resolution content without any issue, and it has excellent smart features with plenty of apps available. Unfortunately, it has narrow viewing angles, which isn't ideal if you like walking around while watching.

Pros
  • Gets bright enough to fight glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content without issues.
  • Excellent interface with lots of apps.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
7.8 Sports

The Samsung The Frame TV is good for watching sports. It has a great response time to deliver a clear image in fast-moving scenes, and it has a Black Frame Insertion feature to further improve motion clarity. It handles reflections decently well and gets bright enough to combat glare. However, it has narrow viewing angles that cause the image to appear washed out when viewed from the side, so it's not the best for watching with a big group of people.

Pros
  • Great response time.
  • Gets bright enough to fight glare.
  • Upscales lower resolution content without issues.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
7.9 Video Games

The Samsung The Frame TV is good for gaming. It has an HDMI 2.1 port, so it supports 4k @ 120Hz and variable refresh rate technology. It has a great response time to deliver clear motion, and its low input lag makes gaming feel incredibly responsive. It has an outstanding contrast ratio to display deep blacks, making it great for dark rooms, but it doesn't have a local dimming feature to further improve black level.

Pros
  • Displays deep blacks.
  • Great response time.
  • Can display 4k @ 120Hz.
  • VRR support.
Cons
  • No local dimming.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
7.1 HDR Movies

The Samsung The Frame TV is decent for watching movies in HDR. It upscales lower resolution content well and can remove judder from all sources. It has an outstanding contrast ratio and a wide color gamut, but sadly, it lacks local dimming, and it doesn't get bright enough to make highlights pop.

Pros
  • Displays deep blacks.
  • Upscales lower resolution content without issues.
  • Removes judder from all content.
Cons
  • No local dimming.
  • Stutters a bit in low frame rate content.
  • Not bright enough for a true HDR experience.
7.8 HDR Gaming

The Samsung The Frame TV is good for gaming in HDR. It has low input lag, a 120Hz refresh rate, and VRR support, resulting in smooth and responsive gameplay. However, even though it has an outstanding contrast ratio and a wide color gamut, it doesn't have local dimming, and its HDR brightness is just okay.

Pros
  • Displays deep blacks.
  • Great response time.
  • Can display 4k @ 120Hz.
  • VRR support.
Cons
  • No local dimming.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
  • Not bright enough for a true HDR experience.
8.2 PC Monitor

The Samsung The Frame TV is great for use as a PC monitor. It has low input lag to provide a responsive desktop experience, and it supports most common resolutions as well as chroma 4:4:4. Visibility is good in well-lit rooms due to its decent reflection handling and high peak brightness. However, like most VA panel TVs, it has narrow viewing angles, so the image looks inaccurate at the sides if you sit up close.

Pros
  • Great response time.
  • Supports most common resolutions and chroma 4:4:4.
  • Gets bright enough to fight glare.
Cons
  • Narrow viewing angles.
  • Doesn't handle direct reflections well.
  • 7.6 Mixed Usage
  • 7.1 Movies
  • 7.8 TV Shows
  • 7.8 Sports
  • 7.9 Video Games
  • 7.1 HDR Movies
  • 7.8 HDR Gaming
  • 8.2 PC Monitor

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Market Context
Market Context
Market Context

The Samsung The Frame 2021 is the Samsung The Frame 2020's successor. It's from Samsung's Lifestyle TV lineup, which includes other models like The Serif, The Terrace, and The Sero. Its unique features make it difficult to compare to other TVs on the market. The closest competitor is LG's GX Gallery Series TV; however, that's a significantly more expensive OLED TV. Performance-wise, it sits between the Samsung Q60/Q60A QLED and the Samsung Q70/Q70A QLED.

Design
Design
Style
Curved No

The Samsung The Frame 2021's design is very similar to its predecessor, the Samsung The Frame 2020. It still features the One Connect box so that there's only a single cable leading to the TV, but the TV itself is much thinner than the 2020 model, and the feet have been slightly redesigned to allow for height adjustment. The picture shown is with the feet at their lowest position. The borders are customizable. The TV comes with black ones, and you can change them to beige, brown, or white, although you have to purchase them separately and install them yourself.

Design
Stand

The feet aren't reversible, but they're height-adjustable so that you can fit in a soundbar or a flat console like the Xbox Series S without obstructing the screen. They lift the TV by about 3.5 inches. They're very sturdy, and the TV doesn't wobble much. You can also mount the TV on a studio stand, like a painting on an easel, although the stand is sold separately.

Footprint of the 55" stand: 35.2" x 9".

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 200x200

The back is plastic and has etched horizontal lines that feel more prominent than on the 2020 model. There are cable management tracks to guide the One Connect cable towards the feet or down the middle. The no-gap wall mount is included.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.43" (1.1 cm)

The borders are slightly thicker than other 2021 Samsung QLED TVs but are still very thin. You can customize the bezels so that they fit in better with your existing decor. However, you have to purchase the white, beige, or brown ones separately, and you have to install them yourself.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 1.10" (2.8 cm)

The Samsung The Frame 2021 is much thinner than the 2020 model, which is great because if you use the included no-gap wall mount, it doesn't protrude as much from the wall, making the TV look more like a piece of art.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

The Samsung The Frame TV's build quality is excellent. It feels well-built overall, and it doesn't flex or wobble much. However, it requires a lot of force to push the plastic piece covering the One Connect port on the TV inwards enough to plug the cable. Also, the borders seem to scratch easily, and they feel loose, as if they might fall off. That said, these might be issues that are only present on our unit. If you have this TV and experienced the same issues, let us know in the discussion below.

Picture Quality
9.0
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
5633 : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The Samsung The Frame TV has an outstanding contrast ratio to display deep blacks, making it a great choice for dark rooms. However, it isn't as good as its predecessor, The Frame 2020, and there's no local dimming to further improve black level. Note that contrast can vary between units.

8.3
Picture Quality
SDR Brightness
Real Scene Peak Brightness
471 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
517 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
520 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
517 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
510 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
510 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
513 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
518 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
515 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
508 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
508 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.001

The Samsung The Frame TV has impressive SDR brightness. It's very similar to The Frame 2020, but without any frame dimming in the 2% windows. It's bright enough to overcome glare, even in well-lit, sunny rooms.

We measured the SDR brightness after calibration in the 'Movie' Picture Mode with the Color Tone set to 'Warm 2' and Brightness set to max.

If you want a brighter image and don't mind losing a bit of image accuracy, set the Picture Mode to 'Dynamic' and Brightness to max. We reached 590 cd/m² in the 10% with these settings.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

The Samsung The Frame doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.

0
Picture Quality
Local Dimming In Game Mode
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
Edge

There's no local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.

6.8
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness
Real Scene Highlight
503 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
534 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
543 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
542 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
542 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
543 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
533 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
542 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
541 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
541 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
541 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.001

The HDR brightness is okay. It's not quite as bright as The Frame 2020, but unlike its predecessor, it's more consistent as there's no dimming in the 2% windows. It's bright enough to bring out some highlights, but not for a true cinematic HDR experience.

We measured the HDR brightness in the 'Movie HDR' Picture Mode with Contrast and Brightness set to max, Color Tone set to 'Warm 2', and all other processing disabled. We reached 633 cd/m² in the 10% window using the 'Dynamic HDR' Picture Mode, with Contrast and Brightness at max, and Contrast Enhancer set to 'High'.

The EOTF follows the PQ curve well until the roll-off, with only some scenes appearing slightly over-brightened. If you find HDR content too dim, set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and ST.2084 to max. These settings result in a much brighter image, as you can see in this EOTF plot.

6.8
Picture Quality
HDR Brightness In Game Mode
Real Scene Highlight
533 cd/m²
Peak 2% Window
245 cd/m²
Peak 10% Window
559 cd/m²
Peak 25% Window
557 cd/m²
Peak 50% Window
557 cd/m²
Peak 100% Window
557 cd/m²
Sustained 2% Window
241 cd/m²
Sustained 10% Window
556 cd/m²
Sustained 25% Window
555 cd/m²
Sustained 50% Window
554 cd/m²
Sustained 100% Window
555 cd/m²
Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL)
0.053

The HDR brightness in Game Mode is a bit brighter than outside of Game Mode, but there's frame dimming in the 2% windows, which means small highlights in dark scenes appear dimmer. The EOTF doesn't follow the curve as well as outside of Game Mode; most scenes appear darker than they should. If you want to make HDR brighter in Game Mode, set Contrast Enhancer to 'High' and ST.2084 to max.

We measured the HDR brightness in Game Mode with Brightness and Contrast at max, Color Tone set to 'Warm 2', Color Gamut set to 'Auto', and all other processing disabled.

7.7
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
3.005 %
50% DSE
0.169 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.781 %
5% DSE
0.098 %

Gray uniformity is good; however, this varies between individual units due to manufacturing tolerances. The corners and edges on our unit appear darker, but there isn't much dirty screen effect in the center. Uniformity is much better in near-dark scenes.

9.6
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.491 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

Black uniformity is fantastic. There's only some minor clouding at the corners and around the test cross, which shouldn't be noticeable in most content. Note that black uniformity varies between units.

5.7
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
27 °
Color Shift
31 °
Brightness Loss
33 °
Black Level Raise
19 °
Gamma Shift
22 °

As is expected of most VA panel TVs, the Samsung The Frame TV has sub-par viewing angles. It's better than the Frame 2020, but the image still looks inaccurate when viewed from the side, not ideal for wide seating areas.

7.3
Picture Quality
Reflections
Screen Finish
Semi-gloss
Total Reflections
5.3 %
Indirect Reflections
0.5 %
Calculated Direct Reflections
4.8 %

The Samsung The Frame TV has decent reflection handling. It should be fine for most lighting conditions, but it best to avoid placing it opposite bright lights because it doesn't handle direct reflections all that well.

6.9
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.25
Color dE
4.09
Gamma
1.91
Color Temperature
6825 K
Picture Mode
Movie
Color Temp Setting
Warm 2
Gamma Setting
2.2

The Samsung The Frame TV has okay accuracy out of the box. Most colors and shades of gray are visibly inaccurate. The color temperature is on the colder side, which gives the image a blueish tint. Gamma doesn't follow the 2.2 target at all, resulting in most scenes appearing brighter than they should. Note that accuracy varies between units.

9.5
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.66
Color dE
0.78
Gamma
2.21
Color Temperature
6598 K
White Balance Calibration
20 point
Color Calibration
Yes

Accuracy is exceptional after calibration. The remaining inaccuracies with most colors and shades of gray aren't visible to the naked eye. The color temperature is closer to our 6500k target but still slightly on the cooler side. Gamma is nearly perfect; the minor deviations in very dark and very bright scenes shouldn't be noticeable.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

The Samsung The Frame TV upscales 480p content like DVDs well with no issues.

9.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

The Samsung The Frame upscales 720p content, like from cable TV, without any issues or visible artifacts.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

Upscaling of 1080p content looks almost as good as native 4k.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

This TV displays native 4k content perfectly. There's a little bit of subpixel dimming causing a crosshatching pattern in the 4k test image, but it's in extremely small areas and difficult to spot.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input

This TV can't display an 8k Signal.

Picture Quality
Pixels

The Samsung The Frame TV uses a BGR subpixel layout. This has no noticeable impact on picture quality, but it can cause blurry text in some applications when using the TV as a PC monitor. You can read more about it here.

7.8
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
86.60 %
DCI P3 uv
92.77 %
Rec 2020 xy
62.90 %
Rec 2020 uv
70.12 %

The Samsung The Frame TV has a good color gamut. It has excellent DCI P3 coverage, the color space used in most HDR content. Its Rec. 2020 coverage is okay, but it seems to have issues with reds, making them look pink.

6.8
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
77.8 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
37.9 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
57.6 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
28.0 %

The color volume is okay. It mostly has difficulty displaying bright colors due to its limited HDR peak brightness.

7.3
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.127 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.152 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.110 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.132 dE

Gradient handling is decent. The most noticeable banding is in the grays, reds, and greens. Enabling Noise Reduction helps, but it doesn't remove all banding and may cause the loss of fine details in some scenes.

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; however, this can vary between individual units.

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

We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.

Motion
8.2
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
4.3 ms
100% Response Time
11.8 ms

The Samsung The Frame TV has a great response time. It's very similar to the Samsung The Frame 2020, but there's less image duplication because its backlight flickers at a much higher frequency than its predecessor. However, there's still a fair amount of overshoot in the 0-20%, which might result in some motion artifacts in dark scenes.

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

The Samsung The Frame TV uses Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) to dim the backlight. It flickers at 960Hz in the 'Movie' Picture Mode, which shouldn't be visible to most people. It drops to 480Hz in Game Mode and 120Hz in the Dynamic, Natural, Standard, and Filmmaker Picture Mode. It also flickers at 120Hz when Picture Clarity or Game Motion Plus is 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 The Frame TV has a Black Frame Insertion feature to improve motion clarity. It's backlight strobing, to be more precise. The timing isn't bad, but there's still a bit of image duplication when enabled. To use BFI in 60Hz content, set LED Clear Motion to 'On'. For 120Hz content, set Picture Clarity to 'On' but leave everything else in the Picture Clarity Settings menu disabled.

You can use BFI while gaming. For games that run at 60Hz, set LED Clear Motion to 'On' in the Game Motion Plus Settings menu. For 120Hz games, enable Game Motion Plus.

Note that the BFI score is based on its flicker frequency, not the BFI's performance.

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

The Samsung The Frame TV can interpolate lower frame rate content up to 120Hz to make motion appear more fluid. To use it, set Picture Clarity to 'On', then adjust the Blur Reduction slider for 60fps content or the Judder Reduction slider for lower frame rate content. It looks okay when enabled, and it doesn't stop interpolating in busy scenes. However, there are a fair amount of artifacts in fast-moving scenes, and even some in quiet scenes.

7.1
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
29.9 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
4.9 ms

There's some stutter in low frame rate content due to the TV's relatively quick response time. If stutter bothers you, enabling motion interpolation may 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 The Frame TV can remove judder from all sources. To do so, set Picture Clarity to 'On' but leave the Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction sliders at '0'.

9.4
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate