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Published Mar 22, 2023 11:15 AM

Samsung TVs run the gamut from massive prestige displays to affordable panels built to fly off the shelves on Black Friday. Choosing one can be tricky if you don’t know exactly what you want. What’s the difference between OLED and QLED? Do you really need 8K, or is it just a flex? Are the remotes really solar-powered? (They are!) I’ve had an early chance to experience many of the company’s latest and greatest offerings with my own eyeballs, and I’ve put together this list of the best Samsung TVs for just about any type of viewer or space. 

How we chose the best Samsung TVs

I have reviewed home theater gear (and gadgets of almost every kind) for nearly two decades. I was the digital editor at Sound & Vision for several years and have extensively covered TV and TV tech for PopSci.com and other publications. I typically rely on a PlayStation 5 with top-tier titles installed and 4K Blu-ray discs to get a feel for what these TVs can really do. To complete the research, I surveyed Samsung’s full lineup while comparing specs, reading customer reviews, and considering editorial opinions from colleagues at other publications. 

The best Samsung TVs: Reviews & Recommendations

From flagships to more achievable flatscreens, I’ve drawn from my own personal experience watching, testing, and reviewing to bring you the standout 2023 models from Samsung.

Best overall: Samsung S95C OLED 4K Smart TV

Stan Horaczek

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Why it made the cut: Samsung’s flagship OLED introduces Quantum Dots into the equation to add brightness and remedy OLED’s biggest shortcoming.

Specs

  • Sizes: 55”, 65”, and 77”
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz native (up to 144Hz in some situations)
  • HDMI ports: 4

Pros

  • Spectacular picture
  • Very bright for an OLED
  • Ports live on a box connected by a wire to make installation more flexible
  • Super-thin bezel and panel
  • Immaculate color

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited sizes

While Samsung has primarily made its mark on the TV market with its QLED TVs, its latest OLED offering is truly impressive. This is Samsung’s new generation of OLED TV, which integrates Quantum Dots to make the display brighter than a typical OLED. That makes it better for viewing in a room with lots of ambient light, a situation in which OLEDs typically struggle. 

The first time I turned on the S95C, I was truly impressed by the sheer amount of light it emits. I hooked up a PS5 and fired up a game of Returnal for the first test. With the overhead lights turned off, I didn’t need maximum brightness to make the image pop. With the overhead lights turned on, I was pleasantly surprised that the picture still looked vibrant and accurate without washing out. 

Some OLEDs aren’t ideal for gaming due to input lag, but that’s not a problem. The suite of four HDMI 2.1 ports also makes it simple to attach a modern gaming console and get the most out of it.

This is a high-end TV, so it offers a high-end suite of features, including a 120Hz refresh rate, which can go up to 144Hz when using a PC input. It has four current-gen HDMI ports, all of which live on a box connected via a wire, so it’s flexible in terms of installation. 

For the content part of the test, I fired up The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on streaming because that’s typical weekend fare for me. The movie looked excellent in the native Netflix app, with rich colors and tons of contrast. This is the best picture I have seen on a consumer-grade Samsung TV, regardless of the input. 

Best QLED: Samsung QN90C Neo QLED TV

Stan Horaczek

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Why it made the cut: Samsung married Mini-LEDs with Quantum Dots to create a bright, vibrant picture that definitely doesn’t skimp on the contrast.

Specs

  • Sizes: 43”, 50”, 55”, 65”, 75”, and 85”
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz
  • HDMI ports: 4

Pros

  • Excellent overall image quality
  • Bright
  • Anti-reflective coating improves performance in bright rooms
  • Tons of sizes available
  • AI-powered upscaling works very well

Cons

  • Inputs live on the back of the TV instead of in a connected box
  • Sound is just OK

The OLED price tag will be understandably prohibitive for many people, but Samsung’s Neo QLED offerings offer similar performance for less money. The Neo QLED displays employ Mini-LED backlighting. By shrinking the backlights, Samsung can be more precise about where the illumination lies underneath the screen. That allows the dark areas to stay, well, dark without looking washed out and gray. 

Samsung has given this TV a full suite of high-end features, including 4 HDMI 2.1 ports, but they’re oddly placed on the back of the TV instead of on a connected box. This is a departure from last year’s version of the same model and might feel like a slight downgrade if you wanted that flexibility during installation. 

When it comes to performance, however, there’s no downgrade in effect. As you’d expect from a Quantum Dot TV, the Q90C is bright and extremely vibrant. I typically only use game mode and Samsung’s Filmmaker Mode, which tones down the colors a little to more closely match the source material. 

I fired up some scenes from Godzilla Vs. Kong on Blu-ray as part of my testing. The contrast ratio had no problem rendering detail, even in dark scenes. The fast action scenes stayed together nicely without ugly artifacts or motion issues. 

This is a high-end TV, and it offers all the features you’d expect to go along with that. If you’re willing to spend more than what the Crystal-series TVs cost but don’t want to go all the way to the OLED level, this is a fantastic option. 

Best 8K: Samsung QN900C Neo QLED 8K Smart TV

Stan Horaczek

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Why it made the cut: If you’re going to flex 8K, you might as well get a lot of other fancy features to go with it. This is a very impressive TV if you have the cash.

Specs

  • Sizes: 65”, 75”, and 85”
  • Resolution: 8K
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz (up to 144Hz in some situations)
  • HDMI ports: 4

Pros

  • It has the most resolution, so it’s as futureproof as TVs get right now
  • Exceptional upscaling
  • Excellent picture quality
  • Ports live on an external box
  • Very slim
  • Anti-reflective coating fights glare

Cons

  • You’re paying for 8K when there’s almost no native 8K content

Native 8K content isn’t here yet, but it is coming down the road, so if you want a relatively future-proof TV, this is your pick—the screen resolution checks in at a massive 33 megapixels. Since there’s almost nothing in that resolution, you will rely on the TV to upscale your content. Luckily, Samsung (which has topped the 8K category for us before) put a ton of processing power into the QN900C for just that purpose. 

I hooked up my PS5 to the review unit and played a Blu-ray of Venom: Let There Be Carnage to see how the panel would hold up to a lot of fast motion, high contrast, and fine detail moving around the screen. That action can play havoc on a picture in its native resolution, but the Samsung handled it with aplomb, even while upscaling. The colors are bright, the action was smooth, and I didn’t notice an appreciable downgrade in the image when standing a few feet away. 

This is an expensive, high-end TV, so it comes with the bells and whistles you’d expect. It offers four HDMI 2.1 ports (essential for 8K content) and the Samsung One Connect box to house all connections. 

I would typically always use external audio gear with a TV like this (like one of our top soundbars, including the Samsung HW-Q990B), but I was pleasantly surprised by the built-in speaker system. It creates a fairly powerful sound stage with noticeable surround effects from the Dolby Atmos tech inside. 

That sound performance is especially impressive, considering how thin and sleek the panel is. I’m used to skinny TVs by now, but this nearly bezel-free design is really striking when you first see it. 

Do you absolutely need to step up to this 8K model yet? No, but if you have the means, it will look great for years to come.

Best outdoor: Samsung The Terrace Partial Sun Outdoor QLED 4K Smart TV

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Why it made the cut: Any TV can look good in a darkened room, but this one looks excellent outside on your patio in the elements and sunshine.

Specs

  • Sizes: 55”, 65”, and 75”
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • HDMI ports: 3

Pros

  • It can stand up to the elements
  • Bright enough to be seen even with outdoor light
  • 4K resolution is an upgrade for outdoor TVs
  • Tap-to-mirror content from your phone
  • Quantum dots provide excellent brightness and color

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The version meant for full-sun exposure costs $10,000

Most TVs aren’t meant to exist outside, even in a covered area. Moisture and dust can quickly cause all kinds of problems. And even indirect sunlight can cause enough glare to make the picture nearly impossible to see. The Terrace TV remedies those issues because it’s built for the outdoors. 

The Terrace boasts an IP55 (Ingress Protection) rating, which means it’s rugged enough to survive moisture, dust, and even some of the light impacts that may come with typical outdoor wear and tear. Because it’s hard to keep a streaming box or gaming console outside, the Terrace allows users to tap their phones on the screen to start mirroring the content they’re watching. That’s in addition to the smart TV tech already built into the TV itself. 

Despite its ruggedness, the Terrace also provides solid picture performance. It maxes out at 2,000 nits of brightness. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 14 typically runs at 800 nits with a 1,200-nit maximum. The Terrace isn’t always turned up to max, however. Samsung’s dynamic brightness automatically adjusts the picture to match your surroundings. Combined with the impressively effective anti-reflective coating, this TV looks surprisingly great for an outdoor display. 

Note, though, that it’s not meant to be fully exposed to the sun all day. Samsung does make a version that can stand up to full-sun punishment, but it’ll cost you a cool $10,000.

Best for interior design: Samsung The Frame QLED HDR Smart TV

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Why it made the cut: This 32-inch TV offers a truly impressive anti-reflective coating, tons of design options, and access to a library of art to display when you’re not streaming content.

Specs

  • Sizes: 32”
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • HDMI ports: 2

Pros

  • Unmatched anti-reflective coating
  • Ports live on a connected box
  • Frame options make it actually look like art
  • Art library lets you change up the look of your space

Cons

  • It’s not meant to be a main TV
  • Only two HDMI ports
  • 1080p resolution is low for content, but good for art

Samsung’s latest Frame-series TV looks even more like a piece of art than ever before. This 32-inch TV isn’t massive, and it doesn’t offer a cutting-edge 4K or 8K resolution. However, it offers a very vibrant picture and one of the most impressive anti-glare screens I have ever seen. The matte surface refuses to show glare or let ambient light ruin its contrast. 

You only get two HDMI ports and 1080p resolution, but at 32 inches, that’s also not a huge deal breaker. This is a relatively small TV by modern standards, so the relative lack of pixels shouldn’t be too huge a deal. 

When you’re not streaming content, the TV can display a wide variety of art from your collection or the Samsung online store. The TV frame looks, well, like an actual frame and grants users tons of aesthetic options for blending it into any decor. 

Best budget: Samsung AU8000 Crystal UHD Smart TV

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Why it made the cut: Samsung’s consumer-level TV gets you a ton of display for less money if you don’t need immaculate quality. The 85-inch regularly dips below $1,400 before special discounts.

Specs

  • Sizes: 55”, 65”, and 85”
  • Resolution: 4K
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • HDMI ports: 3

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Solid picture for the price
  • Maxes out at a huge 85 inches
  • Still includes useful features like Filmmaker Mode for accurate color

Cons

  • Picture quality can’t stand up to upgraded models
  • Only three HDMI ports

If you’ve been to a big box electronics store (or Sam’s Club) in the past year or two, you’ve probably seen this TV on display already. This is Samsung’s base-level TV offering that doesn’t include Quantum Dot tech but rather relies on a more typical backlight system. 

There are some advantages to buying a TV at this level. The 85-inch version regularly goes on sale for around $1,300. Because it’s a Samsung smart TV, that also gets you native streaming capabilities. That’s a ton of TV for a very reasonable price. 

There are some trade-offs, however. It offers a relatively low refresh rate and only comes equipped with three HDMI ports. If you’re just buying this TV to stream movies and TV shows, that should never really even come into play. But, if you’re looking for a killer gaming TV or silky smooth sports action, there are better (but more expensive) options out there. 

Even as a base model, the AU8000 offers solid picture performance, especially with a little tweaking. They tend to come out of the box too bright and aggressively sharpened. With a little tweaking, it’s possible to get very solid performance.

Things to consider when shopping for the best Samsung TVs

You can take our word for the specific models we recommend, or you can go out into the aisles yourselves. Here are some things to look for so you get the TV that’s right for you:

Backlight type

This is the most complicated part of the Samsung puzzle. In fact, it’s one of the trickiest parts of picking a TV in general right now. Here are Samsung’s backlight technologies unpacked: 

LED: Light-emitting diodes are the stock way to illuminate a TV, and this is what you’ll find in Samsung’s most affordable TVs in the Crystal UHD series. LEDs behind the display shine through an LCD panel with colored filters to create an image. It’s a familiar tech that works well but can have issues of light showing up where it shouldn’t and harming contrast ratios. 

QLED: Samsung took typical LED backlighting and added Quantum Dots into the equation. Quantum Dots emit light when current is applied, which makes QLED TVs some of the brightest and most vibrant around. QLEDs have represented the meatiest part of Samsung’s lineup for years now.

Neo QLED: Mini LEDs offer these higher-end displays more control over the parts of the screen that get illumination. These panels have more granular control over their backlighting, which leads to more contrast and less blooming and light leaks. While these are more expensive than the typical QLEDs, they offer a noticeable uptick in overall performance. 

OLED: This stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, and it means each pixel in the display provides its own light. This enables unmatched contrast thanks to the fact that pixels can turn completely off when not needed. There’s no chance a backlight will leak through the panel and cause blooming or other unwanted effects. Samsung’s flagship OLED is actually a QD-OLED, which merges Quantum Dots with OLED to address OLED’s typical lack of brightness. Samsung has a traditional OLED with a more affordable price coming down the line in 2023, but we haven’t had a chance to see it or get official pricing yet.

Resolution

Currently, 8K TVs have almost no native content to take advantage of all those pixels. That makes 4K the default TV resolution at this time. If you want to step up to 8K, you’re going to pay a lot of money, and it’s going to be quite a while before you have native content to watch on it. Even then, the streaming services likely won’t hit 8K for quite some time. We recommend going 4K and playing it safe unless you really want to show off. And even then, it will only impress nerds like us. We appreciate the gesture but save yourself some cash. 

Refresh rate

Your TV must refresh its on-screen image many times per second to fool your eyes into thinking they see continuous motion. The more times the screen refreshes, the smoother the motion looks … to a point. Most Samsung TVs we recommend max out at 120Hz, which means the on-screen image refreshes up to 120 times. That fast refresh rate is great for things like current-gen console gaming and sometimes watching sports. Some more basic TVs top out at 60Hz, which will actually be just fine if you’re mostly planning to watch movies or streaming content. 

Connectivity

Samsung smart TVs run on the company’s relatively robust Tizen smart TV platform, so you may not need to plug many devices into your TV. But we still recommend getting as many HDMI ports as you can manage. Most TVs on the list have four. That may sound like a lot, but you’ll likely hook a soundbar up to one, a gaming system up to another, and perhaps a streaming box. They can fill up quickly. 

FAQs

Q: Is QLED better than OLED?

The answer to whether QLED or OLED is better depends on your needs. QLED typically offers a brighter picture that’s easier to see in a room with a lot of ambient light. QLEDs are also almost always cheaper than OLEDs. Typical OLEDs, on the other hand, offer exceptional contrast and color but can’t match QLED’s brightness. Samsung’s S95C, however, integrates Quantum Dots to jack up the brightness of its flagship OLED without compromising on the color. That’s why it landed the top spot on this list.

Q: What size Samsung TV is best for my room?

There used to be complicated charts about how far you’d ideally want to sit from your TV to make the picture look its best. With 4K screens, however, the pixel density is so high that you can sit abnormally close to a huge screen without things getting, well, pixely. We recommend going big, but not so big that it’s impractical for your space. You want to VESA mount your TV, so your eyes fall basically right at the center line of the screen. That might be tricky if you’re trying to put an 85-inch TV where a 65-inch would be much more reasonable. Big TVs are awesome. 

Q: What’s the newest Samsung TV?

Samsung’s upcoming S90C OLED TV promises true OLED performance at a more affordable price. It’s coming this year, but we don’t have official release dates or pricing yet. We’re looking forward to finding out, though. 

Final thoughts on the best Samsung TVs

If you want a TV, there’s something in the Samsung lineup that fits your needs. Whether you want to ball out on a high-end flagship OLED or just get something big and cheap for watching movies, the lineup has all of it. The best Samsung TV, however, is the one that fits your space, budget, and viewing habits.

Why trust us

Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.

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