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Samsung TV vs LG TV: which TV brand is better?

A large samsung tv in a white room with a swimming polar bear on the screen.
(Image credit: samsung)

If you’re currently trying to choose between a Samsung TV and LG TV, we’re here to help. These top TV brands have had their fair share of innovations, setbacks and successes, with many of their televisions sets making our best TVs list year after year. 

The most significant differentiating factor between a Samsung TV vs LG TV was QLED and OLED technology for a long time. Samsung had QLED, and LG made OLED. But now, things aren’t so clear cut. 

Samsung launched its first OLED TV in a decade – check out our hands-on: Samsung S95B QD-OLED TV review – and LG says it’s putting serious effort into its QNED TVs with quantum dot technology. Read our what is QNED guide to find out more.

Although both brands might be branching out into new territories, there are still plenty of similarities between what they offer and key differences between their TV sets. 

This Samsung vs LG TV guide should help you decide which one is right for you. If you get to the end of the guide and know which brand you want to go for but not which specific TV, check out our best Samsung TV and best LG TV guides.

Samsung TV vs LG TV: overview

Samsung and LG are two large-scale tech manufacturers that sell some of the best smart TVs you can buy today for both high and low price points, though with somewhat different panel technologies for many of their high-end sets. You don’t need to know what these differences are right now, but they might be deal-breakers.

Both are South Korean manufacturers that sell televisions globally and have a significant presence in the UK and US – unlike Panasonic or Philips, who don’t have licenses in North America – with a large install base and a broad range of televisions launched each year.

It’s hard to compare pricing, given how many sets Samsung and LG launch each year, running from some of the best 32-inch smart TVs and the best 4K TVs through to some of the best 8K TVs for super-sized sets that run you thousands of dollars or pounds. Whatever size, shape, resolution or budget you’re looking for from your new TV, either brand will have you covered.

A screenshot of LG's WebOS smart TV platform.

LG's WebOS smart TV platform (Image credit: LG)

Samsung TV vs LG TV: smart TV platform

Both Samsung and LG use their own proprietary smart TV platform, and each has its own personal flavor.

LG has been leading with webOS – a minimal, stripped back smart TV interface – since 2014. It uses a horizontal menu bar for commonly-used apps, streaming services, and inputs, with customizable placement so you can pick and choose where your favorite apps sit on the dashboard. 

Samsung’s Tizen platform doesn’t differ hugely in its layout (you could say it was influenced by the former), though it doesn’t have as impressive a search algorithm as LG’s ThinQ AI software. 

But what of voice assistants? LG’s OLED and Super UHD sets come with Google Assistant built-in and some limited compatibility with Alexa-controlled devices. Samsung uses its own (somewhat worse) first-party Bixby assistant, though again only for mid-range or premium sets – and with the option to use Google Assistant or Alexa through third-party devices.

A large TV on a cabinet in a green room.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung TV vs LG TV: panel tech

Today’s premium television market is divided into two panel technologies: OLED and QLED.

OLED, which stands for ‘organic light-emitting diode’, is a TV panel that can emit its own light instead of having light shone through it. This enables brilliantly thin TV displays and the ability to control the brightness of individual pixels. OLEDs are known for their vibrant colors, deep black levels, and low brightness. 

There’s often talk of ‘burn in’ images on OLED screens, but much of this is anecdotal, and you’d probably need to be working the set very hard for this to become a problem.

All OLED panels are manufactured by LG Display, so you have LG to thank even if you’ve got a Sony OLED in your home.

QLED, on the other hand, is a proprietary technology developed by Samsung. QLED uses a filter of quantum dots to enhance color and contrast and make do with several dimming zones to vary brightness across the screen – rather than being able to do so with each pixel individually. QLED TVs are also a lot brighter than OLEDs (thousands of nits versus hundreds) though they can struggle to show both light and dark images as effectively at the same time as a result.

We’ve gone into this debate in more detail in our QLED vs OLED guide. It’ll be enough to say that OLED is generally suited to high-quality video formats in dark viewing environments, while Samsung’s sets lag on contrast (comparatively) but make up for it with a bright and impactful display. 

A screenshot showing the power of Dolby Vision by comparing two images of a glacier side-by-side.

(Image credit: Dolby)

Samsung TV vs LG TV: formats

Both TV brands back a slightly different format for high dynamic range (HDR), with LG packing Dolby Vision into its premium range of OLEDs and Super UHDs, while Samsung favors HDR10+ for its premium TVs. 

Both formats use what’s called dynamic metadata to tailor the output of the television to the content being displayed, so scenes of dark underground caverns or well-lit drawing rooms vary the levels of brightness, contrast, and picture processing accordingly.

Dolby Vision is really the more advanced format, with 12-bit color gamut instead of the 10-bit HDR10+, and is also more commonly found (both the Google Chromecast with Google TV and Apple TV 4K take advantage of Dolby Vision).

Admittedly, the preferred HDR format is only really a concern at the higher end of the price range, but those spending big should think carefully about which services they’re likely to want HDR content on.

it's also worth mentioning that Panasonic has no loyalty to one HDR format or the other, and even the affordable Panasonic GX800 LED TV supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

An image of a Samsung TV mounted on a wall in a grey room showing a mountain range on the screen.

(Image credit: LG)

Samsung TV vs LG TV: which should you choose?

During the pandemic, both TV manufacturers have a difficult time due to production delays and a drop in demand. 

Samsung is the market leader, and could entrench that position with its new QD-OLED TVs, quantum dot-OLED hybrids, which might take on LG's OLED tech. 

Both companies are focusing on their current display technologies, and aren’t going to suddenly stop supporting any of the new TVs they’re currently bringing to market. So which set you pick should really just be down to what you want in your living room.

If you're looking for the most impressive picture quality out there, regardless of price, nothing currently beats LG's OLED panels for color and contrast (read our LG C1 OLED TV review). But the best Samsung TV can sure light up a room, and offers a higher (if slightly unnecessary) boost in pixel density, take a look at our Samsung QN900A 8K QLED TV review.

However, if you’re happy with your current television but might want to upgrade in another few years – well, it could be a whole different story by then.

Henry is a freelance technology journalist. Before going freelance, he spent more than three years at TechRadar reporting on TVs, projectors and smart speakers as the website's Home Cinema Editor – and has been interviewed live on both BBC World News and Channel News Asia, discussing the future of transport and 4K resolution televisions respectively. As a graduate of English Literature and persistent theatre enthusiast, he'll usually be found forcing Shakespeare puns into his technology articles, which he thinks is what the Bard would have wanted. Bylines also include Edge, T3, and Little White Lies.

With contributions from