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Best 4K TV 2021: the Ultra HD TVs worth buying

Best 4K TV 2021
(Image credit: Panasonic)

What are the best 4K TVs to buy in 2021? While this year's new televisions are largely yet to release or be reviewed, this guide will be able to take you through the best 4K TVs currently on the market, and which each one is worth consideration.

Most new TVs these days are 4K TVs, and for good reason: 4K resolution is now a mass-market technology, thanks to a proliferation of 4K TV shows and films, 4K support on streaming services, and improved upscaling technologies to make low-res content look just as good as Ultra HD on a pixel-dense screen.

With over eight million pixels packed into the best 4K TVs, that's a lot of detail – four times the amount than on the Full HD panels you'll find in today's small TVs. (For our favorite televisions with any resolution, check out this guide to the best TVs overall.)

It isn't just the resolution that matters, though, and some of the best reasons to buy a 4K TV are all the other bells and whistles that are thrown in on mid-spec or high-end sets: HDR support, Dolby Vision and Atmos, OLED panels, and the like.

We know what you’re thinking: the best 4K TVs must cost a small fortune. But although they are, obviously, pricier than a budget set or HD screen, you don’t have to have a dizzying budget to afford them – not like the premium 8K TVs currently gaining momentum in the TV market.

We’ve selected a mix of sizing options that we hope will please everyone in the market for a new TV – even those with a more restrictive budget. (If you're looking for a good deal rather than top-notch visuals, though, you can head to our cheap TV sales guide for the best deals on offer.)

We'll be testing out their successors in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned to see which sets are knocked off their perch too – though keep in mind that the older models still in this list will likely be a decent amount cheaper than just-launched 4K TVs.

Check out our video below for an introduction to the world of 4K:

Best 4K TVs

Best 4K TV 2021

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Best 4K TV: Samsung QN95A Neo QLED

The arrival of Mini LED only enhances the best 4K TVs from Samsung

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: Neo QLED
Smart TV: Tizen
HDR: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Stellar picture quality+Impressive sound system
Reasons to avoid
-No Dolby Vision or Atmos-Freeview Play would be nice

The Samsung QN95A is the company’s new flagship Neo QLED 4K TV for 2021, and the first to embrace a Mini LED backlight, resulting in a significant increase in dimmable zones and thinner panels.

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. The inclusion of quantum dot technology delivers saturated and nuanced colours, and thanks to the Filmmaker Mode these images are also extremely accurate.

The QN95A can deliver over 2,000 nits in its Dynamic picture mode, and over 1,600 nits in the more accurate Filmmaker mode. This means that for a lot of HDR content the TV doesn’t even need to tone map, but when it does apply tone-mapping this is done correctly, ensuring detail is retained in the darkest and brightest parts of the image, and retaining creative intent. (Just keep in mind that you'll be making do with HDR10+ support rather than the more prevalent Dolby Vision HDR standard.)

The QN95A doesn’t just look good, it also sounds fantastic thanks to Object Tracking Sound Plus (OTS+), which somehow manages to cram a powerful 4.2.2-channel sound system into the TV’s ultra-slim chassis. This is another triumph of industrial design from Samsung, with a minimalist but elegant shape, solid metal stand, and nearly bezel-less screen. It's not just one of the best 4K TVs – it's one of the best-looking too.

Read the full review: Samsung QN95A Neo QLED TV

Best 4K TV 2021

(Image credit: LG)

2. Best 4K TV with OLED: LG C1 OLED Series

New for 2021, the LG C1 OLED is the current king of TVs

Specifications
Screen size: 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel type: OLED
Smart TV: webOS
HDR: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful 4K/HDR picture+Four HDMI 2.1 ports+WebOS is fantastic
Reasons to avoid
-Reflective glass surface-No HDR10+

The LG C1 OLED may be an iterative change on last year's LG CX, but it still outperforms huge swathes of the 4K TV market with its OLED images, excellent black levels, infinite contrast, and impressive feature set.

This 2021 doesn't up the stakes quite as much as the Samsung QN95A, with its inclusion of Mini LED – which takes the best 4K TV spot for that reason. But you're still getting a knockout screen and one of the very best 4K TVs on the market today.

The LG C1 uses LG’s latest Alpha a9 Gen. 4 processor for better upscaling and virtual surround sound audio, and with four separate HDMI 2.1 ports, it’s ready for the PS5Xbox Series XXbox Series S, and whatever next-gen consoles can throw at it. Gamers will also appreciate the new Game Optimiser menu that gives you the option to quickly adjust brightness, contrast and VRR on the fly.

The LG C1 isn’t flawless, as we did encounter issues around how the new Alpha a9 Gen. 4 upscales faces, and how reflective the all-glass screen is in the daylight, but the issues are few and far between – and do little to dent the cinematic experience of this 4K TV.

Read the full review: LG C1 OLED

Best 65-inch 4K TV

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Best 4K TV all-rounder: Sony X90J 4K TV

A great all-round 4K TV aimed squarely at the mid-range

Specifications
Screen size: 50, 55, 65, 75-inch
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Panel technology: LCD
Smart TV: Google TV
HDR formats: HDR, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Best-in-class image quality+Easy setup and Google TV
Reasons to avoid
-Lingering HDMI issues-Slight screen glare

The Sony X90J could be a good shout for those with a large enough budget who aren't bothered about a high-end OLED screen.

It has excellent image quality, thanks in part to a new Cognitive XR processor rolled out to Sony's top 2021 sets, making for excellent upscaling and contrast control. The X90J also sports the new Google TV smart platform, for easy setup and broad app support as well as the perks of Google Cast from Android devices. There's Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio packed in too.

When it comes to gaming, the X90J has a 120Hz panel with 4K resolution and two full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports for your Xbox Series X and PS5, with VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low latency mode, for sub-10ms lag) to really up your gaming experience. Just be sure to head into the picture settings and switch on 'Enhanced format' for your selected HDMI port, otherwise you won't get the benefit of its 2.1 specification.

There are still a few lingering issues, including middling off-axis viewing and struggles with direct daylight – and the X90J will no doubt be beaten by the capabilities of its step-up X95J model for a small uptick in cost. Still, the Sony X90J succeeds in delivering stellar performance for a reasonable price. 

Read the full review: Sony X90J 4K TV

Best 4K TV 2021

(Image credit: Hisense)

4. Best 4K TV on a budget: Hisense U7QF QLED

This affordable Hisense is great all-rounder, with a couple of notable flaws

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 3840 x 2160
Panel technology: Full Array LED Backlight LCD
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Crisp 4K picture+Sharp design
Reasons to avoid
-Half-baked smart features-Some motion judder

If you're looking to save some cash while getting one of the best 4K TVs out there, this Hisense U7QF could be a good fit for you. While it was a bit pricey for what it offered at launch, but now it's a great choice for the price after a sizeable discount on its RRP.

It's a real looker too, with a sleek TV stand design (with sharp accents on the bottom bezel) that's far more confident than the timid feet you'll find on the XH95.

You'll get universal HDR support, with HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG all thrown in to ensure all bases are covered. The crisp 4K picture also applies to upscaled HD content, meaning you'll never have to make do with grainy content, even when sourcing older DVDs or HD streaming content. While you're not getting true 10-bit HDR, the frame rate control used as workaround still shows off a decent amount of the HDR spectrum.

Our only real issue is with some motion judder, which won't make this the best set for action movies or sports matches. Some undercooked VIDAA U services attempting to replicate Samsung TV Plus and Art Mode fall short, but they're relatively easy to ignore.

Read the full review: Hisense U7QF QLED

Panasonic HZ1500 4K OLED TV

(Image credit: Panasonic)

5. Best 4K TV for sound: Panasonic HZ1500 OLED

A cinematic OLED TV with speakers to match the screen

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: OLED
Smart TV: My Home Screen 5.0
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Dolby Vision IQ+Dolby Atmos speakers
Reasons to avoid
-No Disney Plus-No HDMI 2.1

The Panasonic HZ1500's OLED panel and HCX Pro Intelligent processor work together beautifully, with deep and immense blacks that stop just shy of crushing dark areas of the screen. HDR images are truly vibrant too – all the better for Panasonic's universal HDR support, opting to include both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision (as well as HLG and HLG Photo Mode) instead of picking sides.

There are a couple of notable omissions that stop the HZ1500 climbing higher in the list – mainly the lack of the Disney Plus streaming service, as well as the absence of HDMI 2.1 ports. 

That last point, combined with unremarkable input lag, means this isn't a gamer's dream – but the crowd Panasonic is really out to please is cinephiles. You won't be disappointed with the picture, and the 80W Dolby Atmos speakers will ensure that the sound doesn't slack, either – even if it doesn't match the 140W output of the HZ2000.

You won't get this set in the US – despite Panasonic's cosy relationship with Hollywood colorists – but those of you in the UK, Europe, Australia and Canada can get it now. Starting at £2,499 for the 55-inch model, and going up to £3,499 for the 65-inch.

Read our full review: Panasonic HZ1500 TV review

Best 4K TV 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Best 4K TV for motion: Sony A8H/A8 OLED

Sony's new A8 is an outstanding 4K TV for the price

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: OLED
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-wide viewing angles+Bold, industrial design
Reasons to avoid
-Android TV can frustrate-No HDR10+

The Sony A8 OLED does the impossible – knocking the A9G OLED off its perch.

Sony's 2019 A9G model was everything we wanted in an OLED set, aside from its exceedingly high price. Well, Sony has finally given us what we wanted with a mid-price OLED model that offers a largely equivalent television at a more reasonable price point.

You're getting premium OLED picture performance, with Sony’s top-line X1 Ultimate processor, Sony’s Pixel Contrast Booster (for more intense image highlights), and a new OLED version of the X-Motion Clarity feature Sony initially developed for its FALD LCD TVs. 

The impressive sound system, too, combines a two-subwoofer bass system with screen-shaking Acoustic Surface Audio tech. If you can deal with the slightly low brightness, you'll get to experience some of the most refined pictures of any OLED to date.

You'll be paying £1,799 for the 55-inch model, or £2,799 for the larger 65-inch. Keep an eye out for the A85 variant, which switches out the feet below the set for what Sony calls a "premium stand".

Read the full review: Sony A8 OLED TV

Philips OLED 805 Ambilight TV

(Image credit: Philips)

7. Best 4K TV feature: Philips OLED 805 Ambilight TV

Three-sided Ambilight on an entry-level OLED

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: OLED
Smart TV: Android TV
HDR: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Great value+Lovely design and build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Android TV-Needs careful setup (see review)

There are a lot of good 4K TVs out there – which you'll know from this list! But if you're after something a little different, the Philips OLED 805 may be the way to go.

Philips TVs have a unique ambient light technology called 'Ambilight', which throws colorful light onto the wall around your television, upping the atmosphere and immersion. It's possible to overdo things, but you can calibrate it to exactly the amount of pomp you like – and there's no denying it helps to set the mood for movies in or long gaming sessions.

That said, you're still getting a brilliant 4K TV alongside this accessory feature. Philips' fourth-gen P5 processor is capable of vivid and lifelike images, with a renewed emphasis on making hues look bright and punchy – to ensure the picture isn't outdone by the light show surrounding it. Build quality is outstanding too – though the Android TV smart platform isn't as accomplished as the Tizen or webOS platforms used by Samsung and LG respectively.

In terms of price, it's a bit of a steal. You're paying £1,499 for the 55-inch, or £2,199 for the 65-inch.

Read our full review: Philips OLED 805

Samsung Q70T QLED TV

(Image credit: Samsung)

8. Best 4K TV on a budget: Samsung Q70T QLED TV

A bargain QLED that's worth its low price

Specifications
Screen size: 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch, 85-inch
Resolution: 4K
Panel technology: QLED (LCD)
Smart TV: Tizen
HDR: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Reasons to buy
+Razor sharp, rich images+Low image lag
Reasons to avoid
-Edge-lit LED TV-No Dolby Vision

The Samsung Q70T QLED isn't as accomplished as the Q95T higher up this list, but it is cheaper – which is as good a reason to buy a TV as any.

Samsung has shuffled its product names around a bit, meaning the Q70T is technically the direct successor to last year's Q60R. It's an edge-lit set, too, meaning you won't get as consistent brightness as on higher-end QLEDs.

What you do get, though, is crisp, razor-sharp images, with the terrific upscaling from HD that Samsung is known for. Motion is aptly handled, too, with intense action flicks managing to avoid screen judder or blur (unlike, say, the Hisense U7QF).

HDR performance is limited by the edge lighting – a 600 nit peak brightness – and black levels only get so dark on this mid-range LCD set. But you're still getting a lot for the price, as well as incredibly low input lag (9.1ms with Game Mode).

Keep in mind Samsung support HDR10+ (the dynamic HDR format used by Amazon Prime Video), rather than Dolby Vision (the one favored by Netflix) too when making your purchase. There's no Freeview Play either, which is a shame for UK buyers.

But when it comes to an affordable set that manages to perform beyond its price, the Q70T is a great choice.

Read the full review: Samsung Q70T QLED TV

Why a 4K TV?

Why should you buy a 4K TV? For starters, not only do 4K UHD screens have four times the amount of pixels as their 1080p predecessors, these 4K TVs also usually pack in screen technology like High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) that really make the most of those extra pixels.

The other reason 4K TVs have taken off is that game consoles, like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, have totally embraced the 4K future, as have the Blu-ray industry and streaming video player market. The incoming PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles are also expected to make even more of the latest display technology for enhanced gaming visuals.

Pretty much everyone is on board the 4K Ultra HD train these days – and all the best TVs will be 4K (if not 8K) these days – so what better time to get a set?

If you want to know more about the even-more-detailed 8K resolution, or the models really showing it off at its best, check out our 8K TV guide – but keep in mind that it's not really an essential technology just yet. You will usually find the best processors and specs coupled with companies' 8K screens, though, so they might still be worth a look.