Samsung QN85A vs Q80A: QLED TVs that couldn’t be more different

Samsung QLED TV
Samsung QN85A Neo QLED TV (Image credit: Samsung)

If you’re after a new Samsung TV this year, there are plenty of options to choose from. That’s par for the course for Samsung, which, as the world’s biggest TV maker, has a wide variety of screens from low-spec 4K displays to dazzling 8K behemoths. But if you’re opting for a 4K QLED TV, there’s a chance you may not get what you’re after.

The Samsung QN85A and Q80A QLED TVs are similar in name, but very distinct in their specification – and you’ll want to make sure you’re not opting for a model that doesn’t offer what you need.

So what are the differences between them? Read on to find out.

QN85A vs Q80A: an overview

The QN85A and Q80A are both QLED TVs in Samsung’s 2021 TV range. That ‘QLED’ moniker stands for ‘quantum dot light emitting diode’, referring to the quantum dot filter used to enhance contrast in the display. Samsung tends to package together its better, more premium processors and TV technologies in its QLED televisions, too.

These televisions sit next to each other in the 2021 range, meaning that the QN85A is the step-up model from the Q80A – and they do have a lot in common. The problem is that Samsung used to name its sets a bit differently, with 2020's Q95T, for instance, being an alternate version of the Q90T that came with the One Connect Box. The ‘80’ and ‘85’ terminology here, though, doesn’t do the same thing at all.

The main difference to note is in the Mini LED backlight that Samsung has brought to a number of its 2021 models. Mini LED tech packs in tens of thousands of tiny LEDs for precise brightness control and superior contrast, and it’s worth getting it in your QLED TV if you can – if the QN95A we reviewed is anything to go by.

You can tell which Samsung TVs have a Mini LED backlight by their name: so-called ‘Neo QLED’ models starting ‘QN’ have it, and regular QLED models starting with just ‘Q’ don’t.

Samsung QLED TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

To go with this improved backlight, Neo QLED models like the QN85A also feature an advanced Neo Quantum Processor 4K, rather than the Quantum Processor 4K used in the Q80A. You are getting the same level of motion smoothing technology, though a more limited Direct Full Array backlight on the step-down model.

Both feature the same 60W audio across a 2.2.2 channel sound system, and you’ll benefit from HDMI 2.1 ports on both sets too.

Only the QN85A of the two ships with the Slim One Connect Box, also.

QN85A vs Q80A: pricing and sizes

Both of these QLED TVs come in the same spread of 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch sizes, meaning there aren’t any options for those after a smaller screen.

The Q80A starts at $1,299 / £1,399 / AU$2,295 for a 55-inch size, whereas the high-spec QN85A starts at $1,599 / £1,799 / AU$2,895 for the same size.

That uptick in price scales with the other sizes, too. The Q80A will set you back $1,699 / £1,999 / AU$2,995 for the 65-inch, $2,599 / £2,799 for the 75-inch, and $3,699 for the 85-inch at launch. (The largest two sizes aren’t listed in Australia.)

The QN85A Neo QLED, meanwhile, costs $2,199 / £2,499 / AU$3,795 for the 65-inch, $2,999 / £3,799 / AU$4,495 for the 75-inch, and $4,499 / AU$6,495 (around £3,200) for the 85-inch.

It’s worth noting that both are available for pre-order in the US (to arrive by April 8) and Australia (releasing March 25), and set to launch in the UK imminently too.

Samsung QLED TV

Samsung Q80A QLED TV (Image credit: Samsung)

QN85A vs Q80A: which QLED TV should you buy?

Both of these QLED TVs should offer a capable picture and high specification compared to the average 4K TV. The only QLED TVs you should avoid are those with edge-lit panels that can’t reach the consistent brightness of Direct Full Array (like the Q80A) or Mini LED backlights (like the QN85A).

In our review of the Mini LED-sporting QN95A – this year’s flagship Samsung 4K TV – we said that “The results speak for themselves, with superb SDR and HDR images that benefit from deep blacks and brighter highlights, all of which are delivered without blooming or loss of shadow detail.”

As ever, opting for the more expensive model should net you a better picture, then. But that means the Q80A is the top QLED TV without Mini LED, and you should still get a capable performance – especially as last year’s Q80T QLED was one of our favorite screens and best gaming TVs, offering a lot of premium specs at a semi-reasonable price.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.