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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Samsung The Frame'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.
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".
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.
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.
The Samsung The Frame TV 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Samsung The Frame doesn't have a local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.
There's no local dimming feature. The video above is provided for reference only.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Samsung The Frame TV upscales 480p content like DVDs well with no issues.
Update 06/01/2021: We fixed an error that we originally scored it as 9, but it should be 8. The review has been updated.
The Samsung The Frame upscales 720p content, like from cable TV, without any issues or visible artifacts.
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.
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.
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.
The color volume is okay. It mostly has difficulty displaying bright colors due to its limited HDR peak brightness.
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.
There are no signs of temporary image retention; however, this can vary between individual units.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.
The Samsung The Frame TV supports FreeSync variable refresh rate technology to reduce screen tearing when gaming. It doesn't officially support G-SYNC compatibility, although some users have reported that it works. We tried it with our RTX 3070 at 60Hz and 120Hz; there was a lot of tearing in our pendulum demo, but none in Destiny 2. This is similar to the Samsung QN90A QLED's behavior.
Note: The 43" and 50" models have a 60Hz refresh rate and don't support VRR.
The Samsung The Frame TV has exceptionally low input lag to provide a responsive gaming or desktop experience. To get the lowest latency, enable Game Mode. You can use motion interpolation to make lower frame rate games appear smoother, but it increases input lag significantly and isn't recommended. To use motion interpolation, set Game Motion Plus and Picture Clarity to 'Custom'. Like the Samsung QN90A QLED, we can't test the input lag with VRR because we're getting incorrect readings of 1 ms, and VRR doesn't seem to be working properly with the RX6800 and RX580 graphics cards. We'll continue to investigate this issue and provide an update. We don't expect the input lag to increase with VRR enabled.
The Samsung The Frame TV supports most common resolutions. Except for 1440p @ 120Hz, it displays chroma 4:4:4 properly in all other supported resolutions, which helps with text clarity when using the TV as a PC monitor. To use chroma subsampling, set the input icon to 'PC', enable Input Signal Plus for the input in use, and you can set the connected PC to RGB or chroma 4:4:4. Enabling Input Signal Plus also unlocks the HDMI port's full bandwidth.
The Samsung The Frame has an HDMI 2.1 port and supports up to 4k @ 120Hz with HDR on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. It has an Auto Low Latency Mode that enables Game Mode when a game is launched from a compatible device. To use it, set Game Mode to 'Auto'. Like many 2021 Samsung TVs, there's now a Game Bar that shows current game settings like input lag, VRR, and HDR.
This TV supports eARC, which means you can pass high-quality, uncompressed audio to an external home theater system over an HDMI connection. To use it, set HDMI-eARC to 'Auto' and Digital Output Audio to 'Passthrough'.
The Samsung The Frame's built-in speakers are mediocre. They're reasonably well-balanced, but they lack bass extension to produce a deep, thumping sound. They get fairly loud, although there's some compression at max volume.
The distortion performance is okay. The amount of harmonic distortion is very low at moderate volume levels, but it increases when nearing max volume. That said, some people may not hear it, and it depends on the content.
There are ads and suggested content on the home screen and within the app store. There's no way to disable them.
There are many apps in Samsung's app store, and they run very smoothly for the most part. Like its predecessor, the highlight feature is its Art Mode, which displays artwork or photos when the TV isn't in use. You can learn more about it here.
Like other 2021 Samsung QLED TVs, the remote has been slightly redesigned. It now has a rechargeable battery instead of using disposable ones, and you can recharge it through the solar panel on the back or the USB-C port at the bottom. However, there isn't a charger or USB-C cable included in the box. There's still a microphone for voice control, which you can use to change some TV settings, launch an app, or ask for general info like the time and weather. However, you can't search for specific content within an app like Netflix.
There's a single button on the right backside of the TV. It lets you turn the TV On/Off, change the channel, the input, and adjust the volume.
We tested the 55 inch Samsung The Frame 2021 (QN55LS03AAFXZA), and we expect the results to be valid for the 65 inch and 75 inch models. The 43 inch and 50 inch models have a 60Hz refresh rate and don't support variable refresh rate. There's also a Costco variant, the QN65LS03ADFXZA, and it's only available in a 65 inch size.
If you come across a different type of panel or your Samsung The Frame doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update the review. Note that some tests, like gray uniformity, may vary between units.
Our unit was manufactured in February 2021; you can see the label here.
The Samsung The Frame is a good TV overall. However, unless you need its Art Mode feature and customizable bezels, there are much better TVs in its price range, like the Samsung QN85A QLED. For more options, check out our recommendations for the best 4k TVs, the best QLED TVs, and the best 4k HDR TVs.
The Samsung The Frame 2021 and the Samsung Q70/Q70A QLED perform very similarly overall. The Q70A edges out the Frame slightly because it has a better contrast ratio and higher peak brightness. That said, the Frame might be a better choice if you want a clean setup because it has the One Connect Box, and it comes with a no-gap wall mount.
The Samsung The Frame 2021 is the successor to the Samsung The Frame 2020. They perform similarly for the most part; however, the 2020 model has a much higher contrast ratio and a better color gamut. The 2021 model has slightly better response times, and its backlight flickers at a much higher frequency, resulting in less image duplication in fast-moving content. Although both TVs support HDMI 2.1, only the 2021 model supports 4k @ 120Hz with HDR on the PS5.
The Samsung Q80/Q80T QLED and the Samsung The Frame 2021 are very similar, but the Q80T is better for most uses. The Q80T has wider viewing angles because it has the 'Ultra Viewing Angle' layer. Its contrast isn't as good as the Frame 2021's, but it has a full-array local dimming feature to improve black level, which the Frame 2021 lacks. It has a better color gamut and volume to display a wider range of colors in HDR content, and it also gets brighter to make highlights pop. While both TVs have a 120Hz and HDMI 2.1 support, the Q80T has quicker response times.
The Sony X900H is better than the Samsung The Frame 2021 overall, especially for watching movies and HDR content. It's because it has a full-array local dimming feature, gets a bit brighter in HDR, and its gradient handling is much better. It has a slightly better response time than the Samsung, but its input lag is higher. Unlike the Sony, the Samsung doesn't support Dolby Vision; it supports HDR10+ instead.
The Samsung The Frame 2021 and the Samsung Q60/Q60T QLED are very similar overall. The main differences are that the Frame 2021 has a 120Hz refresh rate, much quicker response times, and VRR support, making it better for gaming. Also, its backlight flickers at a higher frequency, so there's less image duplication than on the Q60T. The Q60T has a higher contrast ratio to display deeper blacks, but it doesn't get as bright and has some frame dimming that isn't present on the Frame 2021, which means small objects in dark scenes tend to look dimmer.
The LG GX OLED is much better than the Samsung The Frame 2021 for most uses. The LG is OLED, while the Samsung uses a VA panel. The LG has better picture quality due to its near-infinite contrast ratio, and because it doesn't require a backlight, there's no blooming around bright objects. It also has wider viewing angles and better reflection handling. However, it doesn't get very bright, which means that if you tend to watch TV in a well-lit room, the Samsung might be a better choice. The LG has significantly faster response times to deliver a clearer image in fast-moving scenes, but it also stutters more in low frame rate content like movies. Both TVs have a 120Hz refresh rate and HDMI 2.1 support. The LG is compatible with NVIDIA's G-SYNC, whereas the Samsung isn't.
The Hisense H9G is much better than the Samsung The Frame 2021 for most uses. The Hisense has a higher contrast ratio, full-array local dimming, and a wider color gamut. It also has better reflection handling and gets significantly brighter. Its response time is faster, but unlike the Samsung, it's limited to a 60Hz refresh rate at 4k because it doesn't have any HDMI 2.1 ports. The Samsung has lower input lag, and it supports VRR to reduce screen tearing.