Sony A9F OLED TV Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Oct 01, 2018 at 11:17 am
Sony A9F OLED Picture
8.6
Mixed Usage
Value for price beaten by
: no price info
9.4
Movies
8.1
TV Shows
8.5
Sports
8.2
Video Games
8.9
HDR Movies
8.1
HDR Gaming
8.2
PC Monitor
This TV was replaced by the Sony A9G OLED
Type OLED
Sub-Type
WRGB
Resolution 4k

The Sony A9F is an outstanding OLED TV, one of the best we have ever tested. Like all OLEDs, it delivers perfectly deep blacks, and has wide viewing angles. HDR looks great thanks to the excellent wide color gamut, and the best color volume that we've measured so far on an OLED. It has excellent motion handling, low input lag, and all four HDMI ports support HDMI 2.0 full bandwidth. Unfortunately, it isn't very bright with bright white scenes. The Android 8.0 smart platform is much faster than previous Sony TVs.

Our Verdict

8.6 Mixed Usage

The Sony XBR-55A9F is an excellent TV that can handle just about anything. It is an outstanding TV for watching movies or gaming in a dark room. It has excellent motion handling and low input lag, great for fast paced content or gaming. Like all OLED TVs, there is a risk of temporary image retention and even permanent burn-in, although we don't expect this to be an issue for most people.

Pros
  • Excellent dark room performance
  • Near-instantaneous response time
  • Image remains accurate when viewed at an angle
Cons
  • Could experience permanent burn-in (see here)
  • Brightness is limited in white scenes.
9.4 Movies

The A9F is outstanding for watching movies in a dark room. The OLED panel delivers a perfect dark room viewing experience, and the image looks great, even if you are viewing from the side. It has a near instantaneous response time, which may bother some people as 24p content stutters. It is also free from 24p judder.

8.1 TV Shows

The A9F is a great choice for watching TV shows during the day. The wide viewing angles make it a perfect choice for someone that likes to move about with the TV on. It has excellent reflection handling, but might not be quite bright enough to overcome glare if you have a lot of windows. If you're a fan of the soap opera effect, the 120 Hz motion interpolation is a great option.

8.5 Sports

The Sony A9F is great for sports fans. It has excellent gray uniformity with very little dirty screen effect. Fast moving objects appear clear, with very little motion blur thanks to the near-instantaneous response time. It has wide viewing angles and good peak brightness, good for watching the big game with a large group of friends.

8.2 Video Games

Excellent TV for playing video games. It has excellent low input lag and supports all common resolutions. Fast moving objects are crisp and clear, and it has an optional black frame insertion feature to further improve motion. It has excellent dark room performance, great for late night gaming. Unfortunately, the A9F does not support any variable refresh rate technologies, like FreeSync, and there is a risk of permanent burn-in.

8.9 HDR Movies

The Sony A9F delivers a truly remarkable HDR movie experience. The infinite blacks deliver a perfect dark room experience, and the wide color gamut and very good color volume deliver outstanding picture quality. Unfortunately, it has only decent brightness in HDR, so some really bright scenes clip, and pure white scenes aren't very bright.

8.1 HDR Gaming

The A9F is an excellent TV for playing games in HDR. The OLED panel is perfect for playing in a dark room, as it delivers true blacks and perfect black uniformity. It has excellent low input lag and a near-instantaneous response time. It has decent brightness in HDR, but large white scenes aren't very bright. There is also a risk of temporary image retention and permanent burn-in.

8.2 PC Monitor

The XBR55A9F is a very good TV for use as a PC monitor. The wide viewing angles ensure an accurate image, even when sitting up close. It supports all common resolutions, and chroma 4:4:4 is displayed perfectly. Unfortunately, there is a risk of permanent burn-in when displaying static content, like menu bars, for long periods of time.

  • 8.6 Mixed Usage
  • 9.4 Movies
  • 8.1 TV Shows
  • 8.5 Sports
  • 8.2 Video Games
  • 8.9 HDR Movies
  • 8.1 HDR Gaming
  • 8.2 PC Monitor
  1. Update 5/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Update 2/21/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Update 2/28/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  4. Update 10/3/2018: Retested the brightness after firmware PKG6.0348.0059NAA. All measurements are essentially unchanged, and the TV still aggressively dims when the screen isn't moving. You can read more here.

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Video

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
9.5
Design
Style
Curved No

The A9F has an outstanding design. It looks great, and is built with premium materials and an impressive attention to detail. The TV has excellent cable management, providing for an extremely clean look. Like the A1E, there are small rubber feet under the screen, so the screen itself is not resting on the table beneath it, and the screen tilts back slightly. Unfortunately, the design makes the A9F difficult to move, but most people are not going to be moving the TV often, so this shouldn't be an issue. 

Design
Stand

The stand design of the A9F is very similar to the Sony A1E. The stand is large and quite bulky, but supports the TV extremely well. Like the A1E, the stand causes the TV to lean back at a slight angle. The stand cannot be removed, as it contains the majority of the TV's electronic components.

There are two sets of feet underneath the screen portion of the A9F. The inner set of feet are larger, and appear to play a larger role in supported the TV. These feet require a surface at least 12.8" (32.5 cm) wide.

Footprint of the 55" stand: 11.5" x 48.3"

Design
Back
Wall Mount VESA 400x200

The back of the A9F looks extremely clean with the covers on, and has excellent cable management. The back panels have a fabric cover on them, similar to speaker panels.

Design
Borders
Borders 0.35" (0.9 cm)

The borders of the A9F are very thin. There is no noticeable gap between the border and the first row of pixels.

Design
Thickness
Max Thickness 3.62" (9.2 cm)

The display itself is quite thin, but the stand behind it is large. The stand can be folded in when wall mounted. The display portion of the screen is almost twice as thick as the LG OLED TVs, but still very thin.

The thickness measurement was taken with the stand folded in, as if the TV was wall mounted.

9.5
Design
Build Quality

Outstanding build quality. The A9F is well built using premium materials. There are no gaps or cracks in the framing that could cause issues down the road.

Picture Quality
10
Picture Quality
Contrast
Native Contrast
Inf : 1
Contrast with local dimming
N/A

The self-emitting technology of the OLED panel allows the TV to turn individual pixels on or off as needed. This delivers perfect blacks and an infinite contrast ratio.

10
Picture Quality
Local Dimming
Local Dimming
No
Backlight
No Backlight

Like all OLED TVs, since each pixel is self-emitting there is no local dimming as each pixel can dim individually.

6.5
Picture Quality
SDR Peak Brightness
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
284 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% Window
394 cd/m²
SDR Peak 10% Window
390 cd/m²
SDR Peak 25% Window
391 cd/m²
SDR Peak 50% Window
276 cd/m²
SDR Peak 100% Window
158 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 2% Window
318 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 10% Window
321 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 25% Window
318 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 50% Window
251 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window
158 cd/m²
SDR ABL
0.047

Good peak brightness in SDR on the A9F. Overall, it is similar to the A8F. Large white scenes aren't very bright due to the TV's ABL. When Peak Luminance is set to 'Off', the A9F displays at a constant luminance of ~140 cd/m², regardless of content. In any mode, the TV automatically dims after about 2 minutes of displaying static content, and this can't be disabled.

Update 10/03/2018: Retested the brightness after firmware PKG6.0348.0059NAA. All measurements are essentially the same as before (+/- 15 cd/m²). Notably the TV's aggressive dimming over time is unchanged; sometimes the TV dims after just two minutes of static content, as shown in the plot over time. The measurements in the review have not been changed.

Update 02/27/2018: Retested the brightness using a PC as the source, so we can automate testing; previously we were using a Samsung K8500 Blu-ray player as the source, but we found that it was sending a brighter signal than a PC (perhaps by sending 'brighter than white' stimuli). The A9F was retested with the PC as the source, and treated this signal differently, causing its measured brightness to be ~50 cd/m² less; however, we consider this to be more accurate to most sources. The test scores have been updated.

6.9
Picture Quality
HDR Peak Brightness
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness
634 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window
780 cd/m²
HDR Peak 10% Window
649 cd/m²
HDR Peak 25% Window
477 cd/m²
HDR Peak 50% Window
289 cd/m²
HDR Peak 100% Window
148 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 2% Window
438 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 10% Window
372 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 25% Window
402 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 50% Window
267 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window
142 cd/m²
HDR ABL
0.070

Decent peak brightness in HDR. Small highlights in some scenes get bright enough to stand out, but bright white scenes are dim. Overall, the A9F's HDR brightness is slightly worse than the A8F, as some small details in some scenes aren't as bright.

If you find HDR content too dim, you can adjust the Contrast and Gamma to your liking. If it is still too dim, increase the Adv. Contrast Enhancer setting to your liking.

Update 10/03/2018: Retested the brightness after firmware PKG6.0348.0059NAA. All measurements are essentially the same as before (+/- 15 cd/m²). Notably the TV's aggressive dimming over time is unchanged; sometimes the TV dims after only one minute of static content, as shown in the plot over time. The measurements in the review have not been changed.

8.6
Picture Quality
Gray Uniformity
50% Std. Dev.
1.406 %
50% DSE
0.125 %
5% Std. Dev.
0.384 %
5% DSE
0.102 %

The Sony A9F has excellent gray uniformity, similar to the LG C8 and Sony A8F. There is very little dirty screen effect, and there shouldn't be any issues watching sports. In dark scenes, as measured with the 5% gray, there are some noticeable vertical bands. This is commonly seen on OLED TVs but shouldn't cause any issues.

8.6
Picture Quality
Viewing Angle
Color Washout
49 °
Color Shift
28 °
Brightness Loss
62 °
Black Level Raise
70 °
Gamma Shift
66 °

The A9F has nearly identical viewing angles to the other 2018 OLED TVs, like the A8F and C8. Like all OLED TVs, the image remains very accurate even at wide viewing angles.

10
Picture Quality
Black Uniformity
Native Std. Dev.
0.357 %
Std. Dev. w/ L.D.
N/A

The Sony A9F has perfect black uniformity thanks to the OLED panel which can turn off black pixels completely.

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

The A9F has a glossy finish, nearly identical to the A1E. Like most high-end TVs, this TV is great in a bright room, and most reflections are significantly dimmed and have a slight purple tint.

8.2
Picture Quality
Pre Calibration
White Balance dE
3.06
Color dE
1.57
Gamma
2.14
Color Temperature
6351 K
Picture Mode
Custom
Color Temp Setting
Expert 1
Gamma Setting
0

Good color and white balance out of the box. Like most Sony TVs, the most accurate Picture Mode out of the box is 'Custom'. The color temperature is a bit on the warm side, but this likely isn't noticeable by most people. Sony 'MASTER' TVs, including the A9F and Z9F, appear to target a different gamma to the 2.2 standard. This is strange, because previous models followed our target of 2.2 accurately in the 'Custom' picture mode.

Update 02/27/2019: Retested with the 'Gamma' setting set to '0', rather than '2' as it is by default, so the TV better tracks the 2.2 target gamma; the score has increased as a result. All test scores and pictures have been updated.

9.6
Picture Quality
Post Calibration
White Balance dE
0.33
Color dE
0.78
Gamma
2.19
Color Temperature
6472 K
White Balance Calibration
10 point
Color Calibration
Yes
Auto-Calibration Function
Yes

The new Sony CMS is easier to use than LG's, and results in excellent color and white accuracy. Any remaining inaccuracies are not noticeable without specialty equipment. The gamma is flat at our target of 2.2, and the color temperature is close to our target of 6500 K.

You can see our recommended settings here.

8.0
Picture Quality
480p Input

480p content looks good, with no obvious artifacts.

8.0
Picture Quality
720p Input

720p content is displayed without any obvious issues.

9.0
Picture Quality
1080p Input

1080p content is displayed well, but when sent a 1080p signal with a 60 Hz or lower refresh rate, the A9F switches to nearest neighbor upscaling, like the Sony X900E. This type of upscaling looks more jagged than other methods, but retains the sharpness of the original image.

10
Picture Quality
4k Input

Native 4k content is displayed perfectly.

0
Picture Quality
8k Input
Picture Quality
Pixels

The A9F has a RGBW pixel structures, and all four sub-pixels are never on at the same time.

Alternate pixel photo

8.6
Picture Quality
Color Gamut
Wide Color Gamut
Yes
DCI P3 xy
97.57 %
DCI P3 uv
99.18 %
Rec 2020 xy
72.20 %
Rec 2020 uv
76.34 %

The A9F has an excellent wide color gamut; slightly better than the A1E and nearly identical to the A8F. The EOTF follows the input stimulus perfectly, but clips at the TV's peak brightness. The 'Game' and 'Graphics' EOTFs are nearly identical to the 'Custom' EOTF, which is great.

If you find HDR content too dim, you can adjust the Gamma, Contrast and Adv. contrast enhancer, all of which make the TV brighter. With everything at maximum, HDR content will be noticeably brighter.

Unlike previous Sony TVs, all picture modes on the A9F and Z9F follow the same EOTF. On older models, some picture modes would have a smoother roll off at the TV's peak brightness, so there would be less clipping.

You can see our recommended settings for HDR here.

7.9
Picture Quality
Color Volume
Normalized DCI P3 Coverage ITP
87.8 %
10,000 cd/m² DCI P3 Coverage ITP
42.9 %
Normalized Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
69.9 %
10,000 cd/m² Rec 2020 Coverage ITP
33.4 %

The A9F has very good color volume, by far the best color volume we've measured on an OLED TV. It can produce deep, dark colors across most of its color gamut, but can't produce colors as bright as pure white, especially blues.

9.2
Picture Quality
Gradient
Color Depth
10 Bit
Red (Std. Dev.)
0.068 dE
Green (Std. Dev.)
0.079 dE
Blue (Std. Dev.)
0.061 dE
Gray (Std. Dev.)
0.074 dE

Outstanding gradient performance, better even than the Z9F. There is slight banding in all colors, but no significant banding in any color. If you see any banding, the Smooth Gradation feature can help, but may also result in some loss of fine details.

9.6
Picture Quality
Temporary Image Retention
IR after 0 min recovery
0.15 %
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 is very slight image retention on the A9F. These results are better than all other OLED TVs we've reviewed so far, with the exception of the LG B8. Note that there is some variation in temporary image retention performance, even between units of the same model so this difference may just be panel variance.

This test is only indicative of short term image retention and not the permanent burn-in that may occur with prolonged exposure to static images. We are currently running a test to help us better understand permanent burn-in. You can read about our investigation into this here.

2.0
Picture Quality
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Permanent Burn-In Risk
Yes

Update 11/01/2019: Updated text to include our stance on burn-in.

Although we don't expect most people who watch varied content to have any issues, OLED TVs, such as the Sony A9F do have the possibility of experiencing burn in. There is a pixel-shift option on the A9F that will shift the entire screen by a few pixels (this is not very noticeable) to help reduce the risk of burn-in.

You can read more about our investigation into burn-in here.

Motion
9.8
Motion
Response Time
80% Response Time
0.3 ms
100% Response Time
2.5 ms

Like all OLED TVs, the Sony 55A9F has a nearly instantaneous response time. This results in almost no trail behind fast moving objects, but the lack of blur may bother some people.

10
Motion
Flicker-Free
Flicker-Free
No
PWM Dimming Frequency
0 Hz

The A9F is nearly flicker-free, like all OLED TVs, since there is no backlight. Similar to the A8F, there are small dips in brightness approximately every 8 ms that correspond with the TV's native refresh rate. These aren't noticeable under normal viewing conditions.

8.7
Motion
Black Frame Insertion (BFI)
Optional BFI
Yes
Min Flicker for 60 fps
60 Hz
60 Hz for 60 fps
Yes
120 Hz for 120 fps
No
Min Flicker for 60 fps in Game Mode
60 Hz

The A9F can insert black frames to simulate flicker, which can help motion appear clearer. It only supports 60 Hz flicker, which can bother some people.

Unlike the LG C8, when 24p content is displayed on the A9F with BFI enabled, the BFI frequency changes to 48 Hz.

BFI is enabled on the A9F by setting Motionflow to 'Custom', Smoothness to 'Min', and Clearness to 'High'.

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

The A9F can interpolate content to match the panel's native 120 Hz refresh rate. Like most TVs, this will introduce some motion artifacts, and in scenes of heavy action the TV will sometimes stop interpolating.

To enable motion interpolation on the A9F, set Motionflow to 'Custom', and increase the Smoothness slider. For 30 fps content, you must also set CineMotion to 'Auto'.

5.0
Motion
Stutter
Frame Hold Time @ 24 fps
39.2 ms
Frame Hold Time @ 60 fps
14.2 ms

Due to the near-instantaneous response time of the OLED panel, 24p motion in movies can look strange to some people and appear to stutter. This is especially noticeable in slow, wide-panning shots.

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 A9F is judder-free when watching 24p movies from any source. From a native 24p source, no special settings are required, the A9F will automatically play them without judder. To remove judder from a 24p signal embedded in a 60p/60i source, or from the native apps, set Motionflow to 'custom', Smoothness to 'min', and CineMotion to 'auto'.

When removing judder from a 60p source, enabling BFI causes extra judder.

0
Motion
Variable Refresh Rate
Native Refresh Rate
120 Hz
Variable Refresh Rate
No
HDMI Forum VRR
No
FreeSync
No
G-SYNC Compatible
No
4k VRR Maximum
N/A
4k VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1080p VRR Maximum
N/A
1080p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
1440p VRR Maximum
N/A
1440p VRR Minimum
No VRR support
VRR Supported Connectors
No VRR support

The A9F has a native 120 Hz panel, but like all Sony TVs, it does not support VRR.

Inputs
7.3
Inputs
Input Lag
1080p @ 60 Hz
27.6 ms
1080p @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
110.8 ms
1440p @ 60 Hz
28.1 ms
4k @ 60 Hz
27.6 ms
4k @ 60 Hz + 10 bit HDR
27.5 ms
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
27.5 ms
4k @ 60 Hz Outside Game Mode
94.2 ms
4k @ 60 Hz With Interpolation
86.7 ms
8k @ 60 Hz
N/A
1080p @ 120 Hz
19.9 ms
1440p @ 120 Hz
19.7 ms
4k @ 120 Hz
N/A
1080p with Variable Refresh Rate
N/A
1440p with VRR
N/A
4k with VRR
N/A
8k with VRR
N/A
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
No

The A9F has excellent low input lag, a significant improvement over the A8F, but worse than the LG C8 and Sony Z9F.

1080p @ 120 Hz has even lower input lag, great for gaming, and unlike previous Sony TVs it is no longer necessary to force the resolution.

9.6
Inputs
Supported Resolutions
1080p @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
1080p @ 120 Hz
Yes (native support)
1440p @ 60 Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
1440p @ 120 Hz
Yes (forced resolution required)
4k @ 60 Hz
Yes
4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4
Yes
4k @ 120 Hz
No
8k @ 30 Hz or 24 Hz
No
8k @ 60 Hz
No

The A9F supports all common resolutions without issue, including 1080p @ 120 Hz, which had to be forced on all previous Sony TVs. It displays 4:4:4 color perfectly, as long as either the 'Game' or 'Graphics' Picture Mode is used.

When sent a 1080p signal with a 60 Hz or lower refresh rate, the upscaling algorithm switches to nearest neighbor, similar to the Sony X900E.

Inputs
Input Photos

There are side inputs on both sides of the stand. The other side has a single USB input.

Inputs
Total Inputs
HDMI 4
USB 3
Digital Optical Audio Out 1
Analog Audio Out 3.5mm 1
Analog Audio Out RCA 0
Component In 0
Composite In 1 (adapter required, not incl.)
Tuner (Cable/Ant) 1
Ethernet 1
DisplayPort 0
IR In 1
SD/SDHC 0

There is also a pair of audio in plugs, see the Rear Inputs box.

Inputs
Inputs Specifications
HDR10
Yes
HDR10+
No
Dolby Vision
Yes
HLG
Yes
3D
No
HDMI 2.0 Full Bandwidth
Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
HDMI 2.1
No
CEC Yes
HDCP 2.2 Yes (HDMI 1,2,3,4)
USB 3.0
Yes (1)
Variable Analog Audio Out Yes
Wi-Fi Support Yes (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz)

The Sony A9F supports Dolby Vision, but external devices must be updated to support it. Like the Z9F, in our tests Dolby Vision worked on an Apple TV, but not from a Chromecast 4k. Like the Z9F, the A9F has four full bandwidth HDMI 2.0 ports, which is new for Sony TVs.

The A9F supports eARC and HDCP 2.3, but unfortunately we have no way to test this at this moment, and very few devices are able to take advantage of these new technologies.

Update 02/27/2019: eARC has now been tested, and is properly supported; see the Audio Passthrough box.

Inputs
Audio Passthrough
ARC
Yes (HDMI 3)
eARC support
Yes
Dolby Atmos via TrueHD via eARC
Yes
DTS:X via DTS-HD MA via eARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via ARC
Yes
5.1 DTS via ARC
Yes
5.1 Dolby Digital via Optical
Yes
5.1 DTS via Optical
Yes

Update 01/07/2020: DTS passthrough is working over a standard ARC connection as well as optical. It was discovered that system sounds must be disabled for it to work.

Update 02/27/2019: eARC has now been tested, and is properly supported.

Bravia Sync control must be enabled for ARC to work. There were also times during our testing when we had to set Dolby Digital Plus output to 'Dolby Digital' (and not 'Dolby Digital Plus') to make Dolby Digital work consistently with our receiver:
Settings > Sound > Sound adjustments > Advanced settings > Common > Dolby Digital Plus output > 'Dolby Digital'

Sound Quality
7.6
Sound Quality
Frequency Response