The Samsung S95C takes quantum dot OLED to the next level and delivers stunning 4K HDR images but costs a lot more than its S90C stablemate
- Super-bright HDR for an OLED
- Incredible colour saturation
- Superb gaming support
- No Dolby Vision
The Samsung S95C is the brand’s second-generation quantum dot OLED and has a much brighter panel for HDR, a better screen filter for improved contrast, and adds a huge 77in screen size option.
It also includes Samsung’s One Connect box and Object Tracking Sound Plus, which adds height speakers and multiple bass drivers for a more immersive sonic experience. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with a highly effective and comprehensive smart platform and extensive gaming features.
As a result, this new flagship model tops last year’s S95B in every department and is superior to its S90C stablemate when it comes to picture quality, audio output and cable management. However, it’s significantly more expensive than the S90C so isn’t as accessible an entry point to QD-OLED technology.
Samsung S95C review: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:||55in QE55S95C|
|Resolution:||4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160)|
|HDR formats:||HDR, HLG, HDR10+|
|Audio enhancement:||Object Tracking Sound Plus, Dolby Atmos|
|HDMI inputs:||4 x HDMI 2.1|
|Freeview Play compatibility:||No|
|Tuners:||Terrestrial, cable, satellite|
|Gaming features:||4K at 144Hz, ALLM, VRR (FreeSync), Game Bar|
|Wireless connectivity:||802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.2, AirPlay 2|
|Smart assistants:||Bixby built-in; works with Alexa and Google Assistant|
Samsung S95C OLED review: What you need to know
The Samsung S95C is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart TV that uses the latest-generation quantum dot OLED (QD-OLED) technology. The range offers 55in, 65in and 77in screen sizes, and for the purposes of this review, Samsung provided the 65in QE65S95C for testing.
The panel still employs blue OLED to self-illuminate each pixel, with quantum dot layers used to generate the red and green sub-pixels, but this latest generation has been improved to deliver not just an incredibly wide colour gamut, but also boost the peak brightness by up to 40%.
The S95C’s imaging is the result of the latest 4K Neural Quantum Processor, while the smart platform continues to use the Tizen operating system. There’s also a Filmmaker mode, and support for HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+, but sadly still no Dolby Vision on Samsung TVs.
This OLED TV has an incredibly sleek design and includes Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound Plus audio system, along with onboard Dolby Atmos decoding. All the major content-streaming platforms are also present and correct, as well as a host of next-gen gaming-related features.
Samsung S95C OLED review: Price and competition
The Samsung S95C is the brand’s flagship QD-OLED TV for 2023, with corresponding features and pricing to match. As a result, the 55in QE55S95C retails for £2,699, the 65in QE65S95C reviewed here costs £3,599, while the new 77in QE77S95C will set you back £5,099.
The cheaper Samsung S90C is a tweaked version of last year’s S95B, which means no One Connect box, a less capable sound system, and brightness that caps out at 1,000 cd/m². The 55in QE55S90C costs £2,199, the 65in QE65S90C is £2,999, and the new 77in QE77S90C, which isn’t available in the UK at the time of writing, is £4,099.
The Samsung S95C’s obvious competitor will be Sony’s QD-OLED TV the A95L, which uses the same Samsung-manufactured panel but adds Sony’s proprietary image processing, Acoustic Surface audio tech, Dolby Vision support and the latest version of Google TV. Sony will also offer three screen sizes, but pricing and a release date have yet to be announced.
As an alternative, there’s LG’s new G3 OLED, which uses a more traditional WRGB panel combined with a Micro Lens Array (MLA) to boost the peak brightness to levels that match the S95C. There’s also a sleek design that’s primarily aimed at wall mounting, Dolby Vision support and the excellent webOS smart system. The G3 comes in four screen sizes: the 55in retails for £2,599; the 65in costs £3,499; the 77in is priced at £4,999; and the 83in will set you back £7,499.
If you’d prefer a non-OLED alternative, check out the Samsung QN95C. This 4K Neo QLED range-topper features an improved Mini LED backlight, quantum dot technology and neural network processing. It drops the One Connect box but has the same smart platform, gaming features and Object Tracking Sound Plus as the S95C. There’s also no danger of screen burn, and a choice of 55in (£2,799), 65in (£3,699), 75in (£4,999), and 85in (£6,999) screen sizes.
Samsung S95C OLED review: Design, connections and control
The Samsung S95C is an absolute stunner to look at, with a super sleek and stylish Infinity One design. Thanks to the One Connect box, the panel only measures 10mm from top to bottom, but despite these remarkably svelte proportions the construction is suitably robust.
The attractive all-metal stand provides solid support and sufficient clearance for a soundbar, while its small footprint makes positioning it on narrow surfaces easy. If you prefer, you can wall mount the TV using a standard 400 x 300mm VESA bracket or Samsung’s Slim Fit support.
The slim One Connect box is elegant, with its size and matte finish making it discreet and easy to hide away or attach to the rear of the stand. The four HDMI inputs all support HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, VRR, ALLM and 4K@144Hz, plus eARC in the case of the third HDMI port.
The other physical connections include a pair of USB connectors, an Ethernet port, dual satellite and terrestrial tuners, a CI (Common Interface) slot, a 3.5mm jack and an optical digital output. In terms of wireless connectivity, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2.
The S95C ships with two remotes: a standard zapper and a redesigned Solar Cell controller. The latter is made from recycled plastic, with a smaller shape and curved edges that might make it tricky to use if you’re clumsy or have big hands. It offers stripped-down controls that cover the main functions, plus direct access to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Samsung’s TV Plus.
Samsung S95C OLED review: Smart TV platform
The Samsung S95C runs the latest iteration of the Tizen-powered operating system, and the result is a well-designed, intuitive-to-use and highly responsive smart platform. The full-page homescreen is optimised for recommendations, but the layout can be customised if you wish.
The “Media” section contains every streaming video service imaginable and displays any connected HDMI devices, which makes switching between them a lot easier. In addition, there’s a dedicated Game Hub, which also curates all the latest streamed gaming services in one place, along with any connected consoles.
Searching for content and finding recommendations is simple, while Samsung’s TV Plus offers an expanded channel lineup, allowing you to access a wealth of content for free. The Smart Hub automatically detects and connects smart devices in a single location, while the HDMI ports will detect and set up any newly connected devices.
Whatever your preference when it comes to video streamers, the S95C has you covered with Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Now, Rakuten, YouTube and all the UK catch-up services. All these apps offer 4K, HDR10, HLG and Dolby Atmos where appropriate.
Samsung’s SmartThings app makes setup simple and provides a degree of control. The brand’s Bixby smart assistant is built in, but the S95C also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can even access Siri thanks to support for Apple’s AirPlay 2, if that’s your jam.
Smart Calibration Pro is a feature that enables you to calibrate any supporting Samsung TV with a smartphone (iOS or Android). Just run the app, which connects to the TV over Wi-Fi, hold the phone camera over the test patterns and follow the instructions – the software does the rest. It’s surprisingly effective, even using the faster Basic calibration, but probably unnecessary if our review sample is representative of the image accuracy of S95C retail units.
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Samsung S95C OLED review: Image quality
As with all of the brand’s TVs, the Samsung S95C ships in Eco mode, which is designed to reduce energy consumption and delivers an image with bluer whites, manipulated contrast and more saturated colours – all a far cry from the industry standards for video distribution.
Selecting the Filmmaker mode immediately addresses these issues, and the resulting images are incredibly accurate. Out of the box, the greyscale measures an average Delta E (error) of 0.3, colours have an average error of 1.34, and the gamma tracks around the target of 2.4.
These measurements are exceptional, and can’t really be improved in any noticeable way through calibration. The resulting SDR images are awesome, with deep blacks, well-defined shadow delineation, precisely rendered details, and deeply saturated but natural-looking colours.
The quantum dots certainly play their part, not only by increasing the brightness but also by expanding the colour gamut. All the usual self-emissive benefits of OLED also apply, with pixel-precise highlights, inky blacks and incredibly wide viewing angles.
The upgraded screen filter eliminates reflections and rejects ambient light in the room without raising the black floor, and compared to the S95B, it significantly improves the overall contrast performance when viewing content under these conditions.
The upgraded 4K Neural Quantum chipset uses AI-enhanced processing and 20 individual neural networks to bring out all the details in high-quality images, while also giving them added depth. New features such as perceptual colour mapping and object detection processing also play their part.
The upscaling and image enhancements are superb, ensuring that even lower-resolution content is eminently watchable, while better-quality material simply jumps off the screen. The processing is able to eliminate noise without scrubbing other picture details, producing images that are well-defined.
The motion handling is equally capable, producing moving images free of judder or other motion artefacts, even when the Picture Clarity setting is off. This is the best option if you want films to still look like film, but if you prefer smoother motion with sport, the Custom setting is effective.
Combine all these strengths and the result is a gorgeous picture that’s sure to please. Watching the third season of Star Trek: Picard reveals all the lovingly recreated details on the bridge of the Enterprise-D, while the spaceships pop with contrast, and the nebula are awash with bright colours.
Samsung S95C OLED review: HDR performance
The Samsung S95C might be impressive with SDR content, but it’s with HDR material that the new QD-OLED panel really comes into its own. We measured a massive 1,400cd/m² on a 10% window and 274cd/m² on a full-field pattern. This is incredible for an OLED, and not only makes an obvious difference but means HDR content at 1,000 nits requires the minimum of tone-mapping.
The quantum dot layers used for red and green also play their part, creating wider and purer colours with HDR. This is evidenced by the DCI-P3 coverage, which measures 100%, while the BT.2020 coverage hits an impressive 75%. Crucially, the saturation sweeps of DCI-P3 within BT.2020 are also very accurate, resulting in expertly rendered colours with HDR content.
The HDR greyscale measurements are equally as impressive in Filmmaker mode, tracking red, green and blue almost exactly, and the EOTF maps the PQ target precisely. This is important because it retains the original artistic intent, and was an area where the earlier S95B could be a little aggressive. It’s another area where the S95C clearly improves on its predecessor.
The S95C supports high dynamic range in the form of HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, with a choice of Static or Active settings for the first two formats. Static tracks the PQ target precisely, while the latter deviates to give HDR a brightness boost. The result is less accurate, resulting in a touch of clipping on some content, but is handy when there’s a lot of ambient light in the room.
The increased brightness is immediately obvious when watching HDR content, and the significant uptick in luminance on a full-screen image makes a noticeable difference compared to previous OLED TVs (QD or WRGB). This is evident watching The Revenant, where the icy and snowbound landscapes pop in a way we’ve never seen before on an OLED TV.
Of course, the S95C has only half the brightness measurements of a good LCD TV, but when you add the deep blacks and pixel-precise highlights, the results are often stunning. A bright and colourful film like The Greatest Showman is a revelation, with its native 4K visuals and impactful HDR bursting into life in a picture performance that’s as enjoyable as the film’s musical numbers.
To test the Samsung S95C we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.
Samsung S95C OLED review: Gaming
If you’re a serious gamer, the S95C is right up your alley, with support for every cutting-edge technology available. PC gamers can benefit from Freesync Premium and Motion Xcelerator Turbo Pro 144Hz, while the HDMI inputs support next-gen console features such as 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM.
The Game Hub offers a choice of streamed gaming apps, while a dedicated Game Mode delivers a lightning-fast input lag of 9.2ms. As a result, gameplay is smooth and highly responsive, with excellent motion handling free of tearing or other artefacts, even at the highest frame rates.
The Game Bar enables quick access to all the main gaming settings and information, as well as key game-related menus that users can adjust to personalise their gaming experience. So regardless of how you game, the S95C has you covered and can be optimised to your needs.
As with any OLED display technology, there’s always a danger of image retention or screen burn. While we haven’t experienced these issues while testing the S95C, it’s something to be aware of, especially if you have a tendency to game with heads-up displays for long periods of time.
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Samsung S95C OLED review: Sound quality
The Samsung S95C sounds amazing when you consider the ultra-slim dimensions of the panel; in fact, it borders on sonic witchcraft. There doesn’t seem to be enough room to squeeze a 4.2.2-channel speaker system and 70W of amplification inside this TV, and yet somehow Samsung has not only managed this near-impossible feat but has done so while producing a big soundstage.
The 65in screen size undoubtedly helps in this regard, with a presence that fills the wall behind the TV to match the grandeur of what’s on the screen. The height speakers also play their part, giving the audio more dimensionality, while the rear woofers help generate some bass, although there’s not the low-end depth you’d get from a soundbar with a separate subwoofer.
The width adds good stereo separation, the mid-range and treble are also impressive, and the inclusion of Object Tracking Sound Plus produces a more engaging sonic experience. Sounds are clearly moving around the screen to match specific objects, while the 70W of grunt has sufficient juice to ensure the sound remains coherent and composed, even at unsociable levels.
Onboard Dolby Atmos decoding, along with the ability to send Atmos back via ARC, is a welcome feature and works effectively. The combination of OTS+ and Atmos’s psychoacoustic processing adds a sense of height, width and depth to the audio. It will never be as immersive as a soundbar with actual rear speakers, but for a TV this thin it’s a remarkable sonic achievement.
Samsung S95C OLED review: Verdict
The Samsung S95C is a significant step forward for quantum dot OLED, addressing issues from last year’s S95B, building in new features, and pushing the display technology to new heights of peak brightness.
The result is some of the best HDR we’ve ever seen, and when combined with exceptional levels of accuracy and peerless processing, it redefines the capabilities of OLED. The S90C remains a better choice for most people owing to its lower cost, but if you want the best QD-OLED Samsung has to offer, this is the TV to buy.