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Samsung QN90 review: Black Friday savings of £100 on the 55in model

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
999
inc VAT

The Samsung QN90 is an excellent entry point into Samsung’s Neo QLED range, delivering fantastic HDR images and impactful gaming features

Pros 
Excellent HDR performance
Comprehensive smart platform
VRR, ALLM and 4K at 120Hz
Cons 
No Dolby Vision
No Dolby Atmos
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Black Friday savings on this five-star Neo QLED

The 55in QN90A has had its price cut ahead of Black Friday. It cost £1,399 back in September but has been retailing for £1,199 at most outlets for the past month or so. That price has now dropped a further £100, making it well worth spending that little bit extra to upgrade from the 50in model.
Amazon
Was £1,199
Now £1,099

The Samsung QN90 is one of the most affordable entries in Samsung’s 2021 Neo QLED lineup and the first TV we’ve reviewed to incorporate Mini LED technology.

Mini LEDs are roughly one-fortieth of the size of regular LEDs, and therefore many more can be squeezed into a TV panel. With an increased number of LEDs and additional dimming zones, the QN90 delivers deeper colours, wider viewing angles and more precise local dimming than its QLED counterparts. HDR performance is on a par with more expensive OLED TVs, and the QN90 is safe from the screen burn that can affect organic LED-lit sets.

That impressive picture quality, coupled with the intuitive and comprehensive Tizen smart platform, make the QN90 an ideal general-purpose TV. But it’s also among the top TVs for next-gen gaming thanks to a host of useful gaming features and its low input lag.

READ NEXT: The best TVs to buy in 2021

Samsung QN90 QLED: Key specifications

Screen sizes available:50in QE50QN90A
55in QE55QN90A
65in QE65QN90A
75in QE75QN90A
Panel type:VA-type LCD
Resolution:4K/UHD (3,840 X 2,160)
Refresh rate:120Hz
HDR formats:HDR, HDR10+, HLG
Audio enhancement:Samsung Q-Symphony, OTS Lite (50in), OTS+ (55in, 65in, 70in)
HDMI inputs:1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x HDMI 2.0
Freeview Play compatibility:No
Tuners:Terrestrial, cable, satellite
Gaming features:VRR (FreeSync), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Game Bar
Wireless connectivity:Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.2
Smart assistants:Bixby, Amazon Alexa
Smart platform:Tizen OS

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: What you need to know

The Samsung QN90 is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart TV and a mid-range model in the company’s new Neo QLED lineup, which includes both 4K and 8K options. It uses a VA LCD panel boasting 10-bit colour depth, a quantum dot filter and a Mini LED backlight that increases the number of dimmable zones.

The QN90 range includes 50in, 55in, 65in and 75in screen sizes, all of which sport a refresh rate of 120Hz. Samsung plans to add a 43in screen size to the lineup later this year, but this will only use a 60Hz panel. For this review, Samsung sent us the 50in Samsung QE50QN90A.

The QN90 runs the latest version of Samsung’s Tizen-powered operating system, and supports HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. All the major content streaming platforms are present and correct, plus a host of gaming-related features.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Price and competition

The 50in Samsung QN90 reviewed here has a list price of £1,299 but is currently available for a very competitive price of £999. The 55in model will set you back £1,399, the 65in model £1,999, while the 75in version costs £2,799.

In terms of competition, there’s LG’s QNED91 range, which also uses quantum dot and Mini LED, but only comes in 65in and 75in screen sizes. Those models have list prices of £2,500 and £3,700 respectively, but had received sizable discounts at the time of writing.

Alternatively, there’s Sony’s X94J, which doesn’t use Mini LED but has the same screen sizes as the QN90. Prices start from £1,249 for the 50in model and cap out at £2,599 for the 75in version.

Buy Samsung QN90 from Samsung


Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Design, connections and control

The Samsung QN90 continues the company’s design trend from last year, with an attractive and minimalist look based around a slim chassis and an almost bezel-less screen. It’s a testament to the new Mini LED backlight that Samsung can cram a full-array backlight into a TV this svelte.

The sleek panel is surrounded by a brushed metal outer edge and is only 15mm deep. There’s a chamfered bezel around the screen that measures a minuscule 3mm, along with a 10mm border along the bottom sporting a matching brushed metal finish.

The overall build quality is excellent, with a solid metal stand that’s finished in what Samsung refers to as “sand black” and measures 465 x 205mm. You can also wall-mount the QN90 using Samsung’s “slim-fit” bracket, which is sold separately for £149.

Unlike Samsung’s higher-end Neo QLED models, the QN90 doesn’t come with a One Connect box, a handy accessory that functions as a connection hub for all your cabling. Instead, all the connection ports can be found at the rear of the TV, to the right as you face the screen. These all face sideways and are located 23cm from the edge of the panel.

There are four HDMI inputs, three of the 2.0 variety and one labelled “Game” that’s the latest 2.1 specification and capable of handling 4K resolution at 120Hz and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). The 2.1 port makes the QN90 a great choice for gamers lucky enough to own an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 but as there’s only one, those that have both consoles will have to choose which to hook up to the more capable port. If you want four HDMI 2.1 ports, you’ll need to fork out for the significantly more expensive QN95, which comes with a One Connect box housing a quartet of 2.1 inputs.

There are also two USB 2.0 ports, twin tuners for terrestrial and satellite broadcasts, a Common Interface slot, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port. In terms of wireless connections, there’s Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.2 and support for Apple AirPlay 2.

As for the remote control, there’s a choice of the standard Samsung zapper or the new sleek metal Solar Cell remote, which is comfortable to hold, intuitive to use and has a solar panel on the back that recharges the batteries.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Smart TV platform

The QN90’s user interface is powered by Tizen, a Linux-based, open-source operating system. It’s among the better smart TV platforms out there and is responsive, intuitive and easy to navigate. The interface features a launcher bar along the bottom of the screen, along with a second layer that provides faster access to the various streaming services and applications on offer.

These include Netflix, Amazon, Now TV, Disney+, Apple TV+, Rakuten, YouTube and all the UK TV catch-up services. Samsung also throws in its Universal Guide to help you keep track of this bewildering array of content.

In addition to the variety of third-party services supported, the QN90 comes with Samsung’s SmartThings app, which lets you view and control any smart devices you have in your home via your TV. There’s also support for a brace of built-in smart assistants – Samsung's own Bixby and Amazon’s Alexa – and you can even access Apple’s Siri via AirPlay 2 from your smartphone if that’s your preference.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Image quality

The QN90 is powered by Samsung’s Neo Quantum Processor 4K and uses a Mini LED backlight based on a newly designed microlayer containing smaller LEDs than previous generations. As a result, there are 448 independently dimmable zones, allowing for far more precise local dimming.

This, combined with the AI-powered processor’s ability to automatically adjust brightness, improve contrast and upscale non-4K content, sees the QN90 deliver first-rate image quality. All of those extra dimming zones are put to good use, and local dimming is orchestrated in a way that delivers a deeper black level response and brighter highlights without causing blooming or losing details in the shadows.

If you’re after image accuracy, Filmmaker Mode will be your mode of choice, as it delivers pictures that represent the content creator’s original intentions. It uses brightness and colour settings to match the industry standards and turns off any unnecessary processing or frame interpolation. Colour accuracy in this mode proved very reasonable. The QN90 achieved Delta E scores below the visible threshold of 3 when tested using SDR and HDR content, so the colours displayed aren’t discernibly different from the ideal colour value.

The screen has an anti-glare layer that effectively reduces reflections from ambient light in the room, while the TV does a solid job at reducing the colour and contrast drop-off typically experienced by LCD panels when viewed at extreme angles.

The motion handling is also impressive, with 24p content looking smooth and judder-free. The TV’s Picture Clarity settings apply frame interpolation, which can be useful when watching sport, while the LED Clear Motion option uses black frame insertion that darkens the image but reduces motion blur.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: HDR performance

The Samsung QN90’s 10-bit panel supports HDR and, while not as impressive as the higher-end Neo QLED models, does deliver measurements comparable with some OLED TVs. Peak brightness hits 750cd/m² in Dynamic Mode on a 10% window, and although the more accurate Filmmaker Mode maxes out at 650cd/m², this can be delivered on a full field white pattern.

The QN90 covers 94% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, and this combination of a bright overall image and saturated colours at increased luminance levels gives QLED an inherent advantage over OLED when it comes to delivering impactful HDR. The bright and colourful images in Pixar’s Luca really pop on 4K Blu-ray, revealing every pixel of detail in the computer-animated action.

The same is true of Pan, where the QN90 handles the film’s deliberately exaggerated pictures with no evidence of clipping. This shows HDR10 content is being accurately tone-mapped, thus retaining the original creative intent. The Samsung QN90 also decodes HDR10+ content such as Alita: Battle Angel correctly, retaining all the detail in the shadows and bright highlights.

Samsung has always employed a highly effective local dimming algorithm in its TVs, and the latest iteration continues that tradition. The results are genuinely impressive, with blacks appearing deep and inky, while highlights are free of blooming. The level of detail is often astonishing, especially on a top-drawer 4K transfer such as My Fair Lady.

To test the Samsung QN90 we used Portrait Displays’ Calman colour calibration software.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Gaming

The Samsung QN90 is a great choice for gamers and not just because there’s no danger of the screen burn that can affect OLED sets. It offers a host of features for next-gen consoles, including support for 4K at 120Hz, VRR to reduce tearing and support for AMD FreeSync Premium Pro.

There’s also Auto Low Latency Mode, which enables your games console to send a signal to the QN90 that will cause it to automatically engage the TV’s Game Mode when a console is connected and turned on. With Game Mode active, the QN90 produced a very low input lag of 9.8ms. Another of the QN90’s gaming options – Game Motion Plus – smooths motion without increasing the lag, and those that prefer an ultrawide view when gaming can make use of the 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratio options.

READ NEXT: The best TVs for gaming

New this year is the Game Bar, which provides all the key gaming info and features in one convenient location. This can be selected by simply holding down the play/pause button on your remote, and includes the HDR, frame rate and VRR status, as well as key gaming picture adjustments.

While this information is nice to have, how the QN90 performs is far more important and, fortunately, gameplay looks awesome on the screen. The 4K resolution and bright HDR produced dazzling ray-traced images while playing Call of Duty, and motion was artefact-free and super smooth at 120Hz. Additionally, the low input lag ensures responsive gaming that will delight fans of first-person shooters and other genres where every millisecond counts.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Sound quality

The QN90’s audio is delivered via Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound (OTS) technology, which tracks the movement of objects on screen and projects sound from their location using a combination of different speakers.

Samsung produces four versions of OTS – OTS Lite, OTS, OTS+ and OTS Pro – and each uses a more complex arrangement of speakers. The 50in QN90 reviewed here uses OTS Lite, which delivers stereo audio via two physical speakers at the bottom of the screen.

Despite being the most basic version of OTS, the Samsung QN90 sounds surprisingly good for an ultra-thin TV. Audio performance is impressive, with an open soundstage, plenty of bass, clear dialogue and powerful amplification.

If you buy one of the larger models you’ll be upgraded to OTS+, which adds two top speakers and two bottom tweeters into the mix to create a 4.2.2-channel system. Sadly, none of the QN90 models offers onboard Dolby Atmos decoding, but the TV can send Atmos back from its internal apps via eARC to a supporting soundbar or AV receiver.

Samsung QN90 Neo QLED review: Verdict

The Samsung QN90 is a fantastic TV that produces a cracking picture and surprisingly effective sound at a competitive price. Its smart TV software delivers pretty much every streaming service imaginable, while the optional slim-fit bracket allows for mounting flush against the wall.

That makes it a great choice for those in search of an affordable set for a medium-sized living room or second bedroom, but it’s also a perfect partner for next-gen consoles. Gaming performance is highly impressive and the various cutting-edge features on show are all impactful.

If you’re looking for a larger alternative to a gaming monitor, the QN90 delivers everything you need without breaking the bank and, unlike with an OLED set, you won’t have to worry about screen burn.