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Best Samsung TV: our top QLED picks for 2021

Best Samsung TV 2021
(Image credit: Samsung)

Which is the best Samsung TV of 2021? It's too early to say. But Samsung is the world's biggest TV manufacturer, which means there are a lot of options, and each new year brings a whole host of screen successors to consider with the top TV tech in the world built into them.

2021 is shaping up to be no different, with a new batch of 8K TVs and a Neo QLED overhaul to reflect the MiniLED upgrade some of these new Samsung TVs have received. (Check out our hands-on guides to the Samsung Neo QN900 8K QLED TV, the brand's top-of-the-line TV for 2021, as well as the lower-spec Samsung Neo QN800 8K QLED TV.)

There's also an update to Samsung The Frame TV, including a tripod TV stand for those not wanting to wall-mount or let their pretty television flounder on a counter – as well as renewed push into MicroLED displays with Samsung's The Wall TV, now available in 76-inch, 88-inch, 99-inch, and 110-inch sizes and set to start releasing in late March.

2020 wasn't without its changes, though, with a OTS audio system enhancing sound in its fancier sets, a rotating Sero TV for watching smartphone videos, and new 32-inch / 75-inch sizes for its stylish The Frame TV too. 

That's why we've brought together this guide to our top picks of 2021, to help you find which of the best Samsung TVs is right for your needs, and within your budget. You'll only find 2020 models in this list right now, but they're all worth your consideration, even if just to see what Samsung needs to beat in this year's range.

Keep in mind that only a few models will feature the Samsung OneConnect box, and it's worth checking to see if the cabling solution is included if it's something you're after.

Scroll down for our pick of the top models available to buy, along with a run-down of the Samsung brand and how to tell their TV product names apart.

Top Picks

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Best Samsung 4K TV: Samsung Q95T QLED TV

2020's flagship 4K is a smart trade-off of specs and price

Reasons to buy
+Superb picture quality and sound+Monolithic design
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision support-Aggressive backlight dimming

Samsung's flagship 4K QLED for 2020 is a highly-specified, gorgeously designed 4K TV.

It's with some reluctance we've put it at this top slot, given last year's Q90R QLED – largely sold out these days – was actually higher specified. But there's no denying that Samsung's Q95T/Q90T models offer a great example of 4K QLED technology.

It's a brilliant HDR performer, with the brightness and contrast to really make scenes shine. Peak brightness reaches 2,000 nits, which is far above common LCD or OLED TVs, giving colors a richness and vibrancy even in well-lit conditions.

Samsung's entire 2020 QLED range is afflicted with quite aggressive backlight dimming, though, which can rob individual HDR objects from their full potential – but it's still a great picture regardless.

Samsung's usual upscaling algorithms are doing great work, too, even when using low-resolution sources.

The Q95T and Q90T are essentially the same television, but the former also comes with the Samsung OneConnect box cabling solution. It's not exactly a bargain buy, but it is cheaper than last year's Q90R was, which makes the small trade-off of specification a bit easier to swallow. If you want the best Samsung 4K TV, you can rest assured that the Q95T will do you right.

Read the full review: Samsung Q95T QLED TV

Samsung The Frame (2020) TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Best designer TV: Samsung The Frame (2020)

A fashion-first QLED TV

Reasons to buy
+Beautifully crafted+Art Mode
Reasons to avoid
-Color issues-Low brightness

Samsung The Frame (2020) is the most accomplished iteration of Samsung's painting-inspired television we've seen so far. With a bold metal casing, customizable frames, and an Art Mode function that displays classic artworks and photographs, this is the closest any television gets to looking like an actual painting – and when it's wall-mounted your guests really might not tell the difference.

With an Ambient Mode offering more dynamic screensavers, clock faces, and weather or news updates, there's plenty of customization for how much attention you want your Frame TV to get when not in use. The QLED panel and Quantum Processor 4K upgrade doesn't go amiss either, with predictably above-par upscaling and an impactful picture – even if The Frame's brightness is surprisingly dim for a QLED television, and skin tones can occasionally seem a bit off.

But if you want a television that really puts appearances first, and will blend in seamlessly with the decor throughout the day – with a OneConnect box cabling solution to keep things tidy – Samsung The Frame (2020) is an excellent choice for your home.

Keep an eye out for the 2021 iteration, of course, which is even slimmer and comes with far more options for customization.

Read more: Samsung The Frame (2020) review

best samsung TV Q80T

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Best for gamers: Samsung Q80T QLED 4K TV

A low latency stunner

Reasons to buy
+Ultra-low image lag+Superior OTS sound
Reasons to avoid
-Not the prettiest QLED-No Dolby Vision

The Samsung Q80T QLED is a 2020 4K TV that does a lot to court gamers to the Samsung family. With ultra-low input lag of 8.7ms, you'll see little delay in competitive gaming, and the set supports 4K at 120Hz on its on HDMI 2.1 port too.

Add to that VRR (Variable Refresh rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), and FreeSync for PC AMD gamers too, and you have a medley of technologies making this a truly solid choice as a gaming TV.

You are sacrificing some image quality for this rock-bottom input lag, but there's also a smart halfway house in Game Motion Plus, which keeps the lag under 20ms but keeps some motion smoothing in for a clearer picture. For HD gaming you don't need razor-sharp reflexes for, Standard preset should do you just fine too.

Read our full Samsung Q80T QLED TV review

Samsung TU8000

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Budget pick: Samsung TU8000 4K TV

The TU8000 looks good and is a great choice for gamers

Reasons to buy
+Low input lag! +Solid motion handling
Reasons to avoid
-Narrow viewing angles-Lacks brightness

If your living room – and budget – can't handle a 65-inch TV, take a look at the truly spectacular TU8000 Series. You'll get an incredibly low input lag (just 9.7ms) as well as a motion handling technology to keep the action looking consistently smooth. What else could you ask for?

You're not getting all of the gaming technologies of some other sets in this list, as HDMI 2.1, VRR (variable refresh rate), or a 120Hz panel – but for the everyday gamer, this is a set that gets the basics very right.

You will need to watch out for the narrow viewing angles: content looks best straight on, with color draining from the sides, so it might not be the best choice for four-party Switch game sessions. On the whole, though, this is a solid choice. 

If you're in the US, you might still be able to find 2019's RU8000 – increasingly hard these days – which does offer up to 120Hz refresh rate (for 50-inch sizes and above) as well as VRR, and might be worth picking up on the cheap.

Read the full review: Samsung TU8000

best samsung TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Blowout option: Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED

An 8K marvel for 2020

Reasons to buy
+Extraordinary upscaling+Bright, detailed images
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive by any measure-No Dolby Vision

The Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED is the flagship 8K set from Samsung this year – and boy do we mean flagship. With a panel boasting 33 million pixels, and cutting-edge upscaling to make even low-quality sources shine, the Q950TS has plenty to recommend it.

The real change from 2019's Q950R, though, is the design. The Q950TS has an almost imperceptible bezel, giving the impressing of a floating display which – at 75-inch in the UK, and 82-inch in the US – is sure to make an impact in your home.

The OTS+ (Object Tracking Sound) audio technology certainly gives a sense and scale and height to the sound, too – as you'd hope with eight drivers and 70 watts of total power – even if our full tests found the sonic signature was a bit thinner than we'd hoped. 

Nonetheless, it's a step up from the 8K QLEDS of days gone by. You'll be paying for the privilege, certainly, and those looking for more reasonably-priced quality may still want to consider the Q80R QLED or its 2020 successor, the Q80T. But if paying £8,000 or $13,000 (around AU$21,400) doesn't put you off, this is one set to really show off with.

Read our full Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV review

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Best value: Samsung Q800T 8K QLED

8K pictures at a (somewhat) reasonable price

Reasons to buy
+Mid-priced 8K+Impressive OTS audio
Reasons to avoid
-Colours occasionally lack punch-No Dolby Vision

So, an 8K TV may seem an odd choice for best value, but hear us out! The Samsung Q800T is the brand's entry-level 8K model for 2020, and it's priced at around the level of last year's 4K flagships.

You're still paying $3,199 / £3,799 / AU$4,999 for its smallest 65-inch size, of course, but that pales next to the price tags of the Q950TS above. 

The 8K pictures are gorgeous, and upscale beautifully from even HD sources. The new OTS (Object Tracking Sound) audio system, too, gives an element of height and width to the sound that you won't get on cheaper 4K QLEDs.

There are some minor complaints, like how colors can occasionally lack punch, or the somewhat aggressive local dimming – which will temper bright HDR objects to prevent blooming. But as a more reasonably-priced alternative to the Q950TS, without all of the bells and whistles, the Q800T is a smart choice.

Keep an eye out for the new Samsung Neo QN800 8K QLED TV to see if Samsung manages to improve this well-judged set.

Read our full Samsung Q800T 8K QLED TV review

Samsung Sero

(Image credit: Samsung)

7. Weirdest choice: Samsung Sero TV

A rotating TV for TikTok users

Reasons to buy
+Rotates 90 degrees for vertical videos+Kindof interesting?
Reasons to avoid
-Unnecessary-Some input issues

Aimed at heavy social media users, this rotating TV is able to present both landscape and portrait content, meaning you can be watching a Netflix movie one minute and scrolling through Twitter or TikTok the next.

At the press of a button it will turn 90 degrees, and only takes 2-3 seconds to do so. If you want a TV for social media, it’s a bold – if imperfect – realization of that dream, and isn’t like anything else on the market.

60W speakers ensure you’re not craning to hear voices or soundtracks, too, and all in all it’s certainly an upgrade over the audio-visual output on a standard smartphone. You’re also getting Samsung’s excellent Tizen smart TV platform to boot.

That said, using the Sero as a smartphone monitor has its problems. Social media apps aren’t natively supported on Tizen, meaning you’re having to switch your gaze between the TV and the phone you’re casting from, and there’s no way to use the TV remote to navigate your scrolling feeds and timelines.

The Sero feels like a solution in search of a problem, and basically unnecessary whether you’re big on social media (a flagship smartphone might be better), or not (in which case you don’t need the Sero at all).

Some issues rotating with AirPlay 2, too, means this is a set best suited to Android (particularly Samsung) smartphone owners, rather than anyone with an iPhone.

Read our full Samsung Sero TV review

Why Samsung?

Considering you've landed on this page, we're assuming you had Samsung in mind – why else shop for the best Samsung TV? But maybe you’re still in that research phase where you’re not quite sure on Samsung, and would like to know why so many other people – reviewers and enthusiasts alike – ride Samsung’s hype train. 

Samsung holds such strong sway with these folks because its TVs are generally more colorful and much brighter than the competition, especially in the QLED range. 

Also important to the discussion: Samsung smart TVs typically do a great job with upscaling (turning HD into 4K), and usually perform better than LG sets when handling scenes with fast motion. They offer a technology called HDR10+ that makes colors look super vivid, and input lag is generally pretty low, too, which is great for gamers looking to use the TV with the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro.

On the downside, Samsung TVs are generally more expensive than those made by their rivals, and aren’t always incredibly long-lived. I’m not sure if you know this, but Samsung has a bit of a reputation for creating some... explosive products.

The other problem with Samsung TVs is that they don’t support Dolby Vision – an HDR format that delivers higher brightness and better colors than HDR10. 

All that being said, the good often outweighs the bad, and here at TechRadar we recommend Samsung screens to folks who have a little bit more to spend and are looking for the most picturesque TVs (though there are some good budget and mid-range options too, as you'll see in this guide).

Naming conventions

Still confused? Let’s spend a second taking apart Samsung’s naming convention. Once you understand how it works, you’ll be able to read the obfuscated labels just as well as any electronics employee – which is a huge advantage if you’re heading into Black Friday or Cyber Monday in search of some deals.

Let's use the Samsung UN55MU7000FXZA as an example. 

Samsung TV Guide Cheat Sheet

Here's a quick cheat sheet for reading a Samsung label:

Example: Samsung UN55MU7000FXZA 

1. UN: Territory that the TV is offered in (UN for America, UE for Europe and UA for Asia/Australia)
2. 55: Screen size (this is a 55-inch TV)
3. MU: Indicates what year the TV was made (MU indicates a 2017 model)
4. 7000: The last number is the series (higher is better but also more expensive typically)

The UN signifies that you’re talking about the American model of the TV. If you’re in the UK, you might be more familiar by seeing a ‘UE’ before all of the other numbers while Australian or Asian readers might have seen a UA prefix before. 

Of course, if you’re buying a new QLED TV from Samsung, you’ll find QN, QE or QA in this spot instead. 

If you buy a TV in one region and move to another, that could present some issues but as long as you buy a TV for your region you’ll be OK. 

The number after the UN/UE pr QN/QE prefix is the screen size. A ‘55’ means the TV is 55-inches. A Samsung UN49MU6500 is an American 49-inch TV, while a Samsung UN65MU6300FXZA is an American 65-inch TV. 

After the MU and the first two numbers come a second letter pair. This pairing helps indicate which year the TV comes from. An M- or an MU- means the TV is from 2017, as are all of the QLED TVs (the Q9F, Q8C, Q8F, Q7C and Q7F). 

If you see KS or KU in the title, the TV was made in 2016. JU and JS TVs were made in 2015. HU was 2014, the F-series from 2013, so on and so forth.

The last four numbers are the series. In 2017, Samsung produces TVs in five main series: the 5-Series, 6-Series, 7-Series, 8-Series, 9-Series, alongside QLED TVs and the more lifestyle-centric The Frame and Serif TVs. 

The higher up the series is, the more functionality it has. It’s pretty hard to break it down by series, as some larger screen sizes have different feature sets than smaller screen sizes, but the higher series TVs have features such as HDR, 4K, higher brightness settings, better motion handling and better operating systems. 

The typical rule of thumb is that higher is better, but also generally more expensive, too. 

Last but not least you have the FXZA – a letter combination that denotes region (the A stands for America) and, for some odd reason, inventory tracking. This last part largely can be ignored unless you’re entering the TVs into a database.

  • On the lookout for a secondary screen or bedroom TV? See our guide to the best small TVs