With an improved local dimming algorithm and fantastic video processing, the Samsung Q95T is a worthy successor to the Q90R
- Bright, impactful HDR
- Excellent video processing
- Ready for next-gen consoles
- No Dolby Vision or Atmos
- Fewer dimming zones than Q90R
- Minor stutter in 50Hz broadcast content
Undeterred by the lack of commercially available 8K content, Samsung continues to push its 8K televisions over its line of 4K QLED TVs. In fact, it hasn’t even bothered to make a replacement for last year’s top-of-the-line Q90R – instead, it’s delivered a supercharged version of last year’s Q85T. Behold, Samsung’s new 4K king of the hill: the Q95T.
Look a little closer at the Q95T’s pricing and specifications, however, and you’d be forgiven for being a little disappointed. With a price that puts it closer to last year’s Q85T and a similarly reduced number of dimming zones at its disposal, it all looks a tad underwhelming for a 4K flagship. Fear not, though, as Samsung has worked its technical wonders to create a TV that eclipses the Q85T and outperforms last year’s Q90R.
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Samsung Q95T: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:
|55in QE55Q95TATXXU (reviewed),
|Panel type and backlight:
|VA-type LCD LED (QLED), 120 local dimming zones
|4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160)
|HDR formats supported:
|HDR 10, HDR 10+, HLG
|Dolby 5.1, eARC
|3 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x HDMI 2.1
|Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Apple TV, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 etc.
|Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: What you need to know
The Q95T is the top of the line Samsung 4K QLED TV for 2020. In addition to the 55in QE55Q95T model on test here, you can buy the Q95T in 65in, 75in and 85in variants. It has a VA-type LCD LED-lit panel with a 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution and uses quantum dot technology to achieve a higher brightness than standard LCD TVs.
Samsung has equipped the Q95T with an updated version of its 4K chipset, the Quantum Processor 4K. The previous iteration appeared in its 2019 QLED lineup under the same name. The TV’s Tizen-based smart platform gives you access to all the major streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus as well as the usual UK catch-up apps.
There is actually a step-down variant of the Q95T called the Q90T. It lacks the Q95T’s external One Connect Box, which makes for neater and more flexible cable management, but otherwise, they are the same television; they share the same panel, video processor and software, so picture quality should be identical across both models.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Price and competition
Starting at £1,799 for our 55in model, the Samsung Q95T is much, much cheaper than last year’s 55in Q90R, which launched at £2,799.
Meanwhile, you’ll have to fork out £2,599 for the Q95T 65in, £4,199 for the 75in and a bank-busting £5,299 for the top-end 85in variant. If you’re not bothered about the One Connect Box, then you can pick up the Samsung Q90T from £1,599.
Before you browse the Q95T’s competition, you’d do well to consider buying one of last year’s discontinued Samsung 4K QLEDs instead. For instance, you can currently find the Samsung Q90R 55in for £1,379 – a £1,420 reduction on its launch price.
The LG CX OLED is the Q95T’s most likely rival in 2020. We reviewed the 55in model, awarding it our highest five-Star Best Buy rating. As it happens, the 55in LG CX costs £1,799, exactly the same as the 55in Q95T. QLED TVs like the Q95T may have the edge in brighter living rooms, but for high-contrast HDR and perfect black levels, OLEDs are unbeatable.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Design and features
With its ultra-slim bezels, the Samsung Q95T definitely looks the part of a modern high-end TV. Though the borders around this ‘Boundless’ panel aren’t as slim as those found on the ‘Infinity’ screens of Samsung’s latest 8K models, they remain impressively slender at just 2mm along the top and side edges. To accommodate Samsung’s logo, the bottom bezel is a tad thicker. Supporting the Q95T is a sleek, sloped central stand finished in carbon silver.
The Q95T’s chassis is a robust, rectangular block, also finished in carbon silver, with metallic outer edges and a textured rear panel. At 35mm deep, it isn’t the thinnest LCD we’ve ever seen, but unlike many of its rivals, it’s uniformly thick from top to bottom, which gives it a very distinct look. The back is completely flat, too, which means you can press it flush up against the wall – especially handy if you’re planning to mount the Q95T using the ‘no-gap’ bracket.
You’ll only find one input on the Q95T, and that’s for the lone ‘Near-Invisible’ cable that leads from the accompanying One Connect box – amazingly, this dainty cable carries all of the power, audio and video signals from the external box to the TV. The One Connect box houses all of the Q95Ts connections, from an optical digital output and LAN jack to the satellite/cable inputs and two USB 2.0 ports.
Of the four HDMI ports, three are HDMI 2.0 and one (HDMI 4) is HDMI 2.1 compliant, with a bandwidth of 40Gbps. That’s the one you’ll be wanting to plug your gaming console into for the latest HDMI 2.1 features such as Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and 4K at 120Hz. HDMI 3 does support eARC for lossless audio passthrough.
Bad news for audiophiles: the Q95T doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or DTS decoding. Some of Samsung’s 2020 soundbars can do both, but they don’t come cheap. Thankfully, the built-in speakers aren’t too shabby. Samsung has equipped the Q95T with eight speakers embedded around the frame at different heights and the sound is definitely a cut above your average in-TV speakers, with plenty of oomph and excellent dialogue clarity. Of course, it still can’t compete with an external soundbar or home theatre system, but it’s good enough for everyday use if you don’t want the extra clutter.
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Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Tizen OS
Like all of Samsung’s 2020 TVs, the Q95T runs the latest iteration of Samsung’s Tizen OS-based smart platform which is currently on version 5.5. It’s a slick, responsive and reasonably intuitive interface that features all the major streaming apps such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV. The free UK catch-up platforms are here too, from BBC iPlayer through to My5.
And for the first time on a Samsung TV, you’ll be able to get help from one of three voice assistants: Samsung’s Bixby, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Note that Google Assistant is not supported at launch but will be added in an upcoming firmware update. The Q95T’s remote has its own voice search button, along with shortcuts for Netflix, Prime Video and Rakuten TV.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Image quality
The VA-type LCD panel on the Q95T uses a viewing angle compensation film that allows viewers to enjoy the picture from a wider range of angles. Samsung has tweaked this film since last year’s 4K QLED lineup so that the Q95T’s panel can deliver deeper blacks than before, but the viewing angles have narrowed slightly as a result. Having said that, they are still wider than rival VA-type LCD TVs that don’t have a viewing angle film.
Meanwhile, the Q95T’s anti-glare filter suppresses reflections in bright rooms better than any non-Samsung TV on the market today. The filter does occasionally create a rainbow reflection across the screen, though this is dependent on the angle of the external light source, and it only becomes really obvious when the TV is off.
The 55in Samsung Q95T has 120 local dimming zones laid out on a 15×8 grid. This is significantly fewer than the 55in Q90R, which had 240, though it is a step ahead of the 96 found on the 55in Q85R. Don’t let the lack of zones put you off, though. In practice, the 120 zones of the Q95T aren’t much of a downgrade from the Q90R because Samsung has greatly improved its local dimming algorithm since last year.
Thanks to these algorithm changes, the Q95T exhibits clearer shadow detail in dark scenes, and it’s better able to differentiate the interface from the actual content, so subtitles can be detected and dimmed down to reduce blooming artefacts. Ironically, the reduced number of zones in the Q95T actually generates fewer luminance fluctuations than we saw on the Q90R since the algorithm doesn’t need to calculate and process as many independent lighting zones.
The Q95T’s colour accuracy is better than that of the Q90R, too. After calibration, we measured an average Delta E of 1.28, with only a couple of colours exceeding the humanly perceptible error threshold for moving video content. Most colours, including skin tones, look incredibly accurate and natural. Of the Q95T’s various picture presets, Movie Mode is the most accurate.
For an LED-lit LCD, the Q95T’s screen uniformity is rather good. During our testing, we observed mild ‘dirty screen effect’ (DSE), with only the slightest hints of banding in the darkest tones. There’s a sliver of magenta tint around the borders of the panel, which is quite a common issue on Samsung QLEDs, but in real-world viewing, this didn’t bother us.
The Q95T’s motion handling is one of its more impressive abilities. On 2020 Samsung TVs including the Q95T, 24p content is finally processed correctly, even with all of the motion settings in the Picture Clarity menu turned off. Now, slow pans in 24p movies look smooth and blissfully free of telecine judder.
By engaging Samsung’s motion interpolation settings it’s possible to achieve a high degree of motion clarity on the majority of content, although when these features are enabled the Q95T can present the odd stutter in 50Hz broadcast material. You can also engage black frame insertion (BFI) using the LED Clear Motion setting, but it’s best left alone: it causes flickering on brighter portions of the picture, and causes noticeable tearing artefacts in 50Hz content.
Thanks to Samsung’s latest Quantum Processor 4K, the Q95T is also capable of exceptional video upscaling. 720p and 1080p content are rendered in upscaled 4K with sharply defined details and minimal ringing. It manages to flatter even grubby standard-definition footage.
One new feature for 2020 is that overscan can be disabled for 720p content via a sneaky workaround. We’ve figured out that, when you disable overscan while displaying 1080p content, the setting carries over to 720p playback, even though the overscan option appears greyed out. This prevents the zooming in and cropping of 720p material, and makes it look much crisper as a result.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: HDR performance
As with all of Samsung’s 4K QLEDs, the Q95T supports the HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG (Hybrid-Log Gamma) HDR formats. Dolby Vision is left out of the picture, unfortunately, but with HDR10+ you can still enjoy dynamic HDR content on Amazon Prime Video and Google Play Movies.
Having witnessed the HDR prowess of the Q90R, we had high hopes for the Q95T. And our testing left us suitably impressed. The Q95T’s panel hit a peak brightness of 1,700cd/m2 on a 10% window after calibration and 750cd/m2 across the full screen. These kinds of brightness levels are far out of reach for the Q95T’s OLED rivals, and allow it to give tremendous impact to bright HDR scenes. It’s also notably brighter than last year’s Q90R, which had a peak full-field luminance of 550cd/m2. The Q95T’s colour palette is about on par with the Q90R’s, covering 93% of the DCI-P3 gamut and 73% of Rec.2020.
It’s not all perfect, mind you. Left on its default settings, the Q95T’s HDR picture is overbright compared with our reference standard. This can be dialled down by lowering the TV’s contrast value to around 40, after which the panel retains all specular highlight detail, even on HDR content mastered to 4,000cd/m2. And if you switch local dimming settings to ‘high’ (a new feature for 2020 QLEDs) the overbright effects of the Q95T’s dynamic tone mapping can be minimised.
There’s also some posterisation around bright elements during HDR playback, which can be eradicated by switching the Colour Space to ‘Native’ at the expense of some colour accuracy. Lastly, during quick cuts between very bright and very dark scenes, the Q95T tends to exhibit luminance instability due to the TV’s local dimming response. These latter two problems are only apparent in a pitch-black room, however, and shouldn’t bother most viewers at home.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Gaming
With Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X looming on the horizon, you’d think that every high-end 2020 TV would be equipped with the latest gaming features. That’s not the case for all TVs, but it is for the Samsung Q95T. Its HDMI 4 port is HDMI 2.1 compliant and supports 4K at 120Hz playback, Variable Refresh Rate for reduced tearing and Auto Low Latency Mode, a feature that engages Game Mode automatically when compatible consoles are connected.
Once Game Mode is activated, the Q95T dials down its picture processing in favour of faster response times. And they certainly are fast. On both a 1080p SDR 60Hz and 4K HDR 60Hz signal, we measured an input lag of only 10ms. That’s even speedier than the 17ms achieved by the Q90R, though still not as quick as the LG CX, which delivered a class-leading response time of 6ms on a 4K 120Hz signal.
Thanks to Samsung’s algorithm tweaks, local dimming in Game Mode is markedly more effective on the Q95T compared to last year’s Q90R, allowing for deeper blacks, greater contrast levels and a higher peak brightness when playing games. This is most noticeable in darker, shadow-heavy games, though specular highlights also have more impact in brighter sequences. And because this is a QLED TV, there’s no risk of screen burn-in, something you’d have to remain wary of if you went for an OLED like the LG CX.
Samsung Q95T/Q90T review: Verdict
Despite having half the local dimming zones, the Samsung Q95T still manages to improve on last year’s flagship Q90R. Its video processing is more impressive than on the Q90R and its refined motion handling is a joy to behold.
The changes to the local dimming algorithm have really paid off too, and the improvements are obvious across the board; movies have clearer shadow detail than before, and games look even punchier. And with its HDMI 2.1 capabilities, the Q95T is one of our top picks for partnering with the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X.
The LG CX is the better gaming TV, however, with faster response times, four HDMI 2.1 ports as well as additional VRR support – it covers AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync. What’s more, being an OLED, the LG’s black level and contrast ratio are vastly superior. But due to its Auto Brightness Limiter, the LG CX is nowhere near as bright as the Q95T. For bright, impactful HDR in even the brightest living rooms, Samsung’s 4K flagship is the clear winner.