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Samsung Q9FN review: Samsung’s best ever QLED TV is now cheaper

Christopher Minasians Vincent Teoh
20 Nov 2018
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,499
inc VAT

The finest high-end TV you can buy for gaming and daytime viewing

Pros 
Impressive HDR
Great for gaming (Low input lag, no burn in, VRR and ALLM support)
Brilliant in bright rooms
Cons 
Viewing angles still not as wide as OLED TV
Shadow detail slightly crushed by local dimming
Intermittent microstutter with interlaced video
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Deal update: Now just £1,799

Since its release, the Q9FN has been steadily dropped in price. Samsung's flagship QLED TV is now available for just £1,799, that's significantly cheaper than the price we reviewed it at, and it's the lowest price we've ever seen for this magnificent TV.
Amazon
Reviewed at £2,499
Now £1,799

We’ve seen some of the best 2018 TVs Sony and LG has to offer, and now it’s Samsung’s turn to throw its hat into the ring. The Samsung Q9FN QLED TV is the South Korean brand's highest-end TV at the time of writing, and comes in three screen sizes: the 55-inch Samsung QE55Q9FN (which we're reviewing today), the 65-inch QE65Q9FN and the 75-inch QE75Q9FN. It’s up against stiff competition, particularly given the strength of new competition from LG, Panasonic and Sony, not to mention aggressive price cuts on LG’s stellar 2017 B7 OLED series. Does Samsung’s new line have what it takes to slug it out?

Samsung Q9FN (QE55Q9FN) review: What you need to know

In case you don't already know, Samsung's 2017 and 2018 QLED TVs are still traditional LED LCD televisions, only enhanced with quantum dot technology to deliver an even wider colour gamut. However, this year’s models have a new trick up their collective sleeve. Whereas 2017's Q9F used an edge-lit LED backlight system, the 2018 Samsung Q9F or Q9FN has received a significant upgrade. The new line features full-array local dimming or FALD direct-lit LED backlighting, which is widely accepted as the pinnacle in LCD backlight technology.

Other features include a UHD screen, Ultra HD Premium certification, HDR support for HDR10, HLG and the open-standard HDR10+ dynamic metadata formats, as well as the company's latest Tizen OS Smart TV platform.

Samsung Q9FN (QE55Q9FN) review: Price & Competition

Samsung sees QLED as an alternative to OLED TVs, so the 55Q9FN's current street price of £2499 (June 2018) puts the television right among similarly-sized OLEDs such as the LG OLED55C8  (£2699 before a £300 cashback offer), the Panasonic TX-55FZ952B (£2299) and Sony’s KD-55AF8 (£2499). 

Samsung Q9FN: Design & connections

By any yardstick the Q9FN is a gorgeous-looking TV, but while from the front the bezel looks impressively slim, from the side the chassis is among the thickest on the market. This is the price you pay for the advanced backlight system. Since we watch TV from the front and not from the sides, this isn’t something that bothers me – especially if it translates to better picture quality. It’s only worth keeping in mind if you plan to mount your set as flush as possible against a wall.

The LCD panel is supported on a stand with a cylindrical T-base – which is finished in polished black – to create that sought-after "screen floating in air" appearance, but it can be a bit wobbly as a result. The back of the TV is made up of textured plastic and looks very clean, mostly because the connection ports have been farmed out to an external One Connect Box.

The 2018 One Connect Box supplied with Samsung Q9FN is larger than previous years', mainly because it also houses the power supply, and so can get a bit hot after prolonged use. You only need one cable running from the TV to the One Connect Box, and this year's semi-transparent fibre optic cable is also thicker to carry both power and AV signal, making it less fragile than last year's version. The supplied cable is 5m in length, but if for whatever reason that's still not long enough, you can purchase a 15m one from Samsung separately.

Among various other ports, the One Connect Box packs in four HDMI inputs, all compatible with the HDMI 2.0b and HDCP 2.2 standards. The Samsung QE55Q9FN also ships with two remote controls: a traditional one and a silver Smart remote whose main shortcoming is the lack of a source button to easily switch to a different video source.

Samsung Q9FN: Picture quality

The Samsung QE55Q9FN uses a VA-type LCD panel which delivers deep blacks by LED LCD standards, though not quite as deep as the best OLED screens. Traditionally, VA panels have suffered from narrow viewing angles, but Samsung has worked hard to improve those on its 2018 QLEDs, and from our testing, the Q9FN indeed hung onto its contrast and saturation slightly better than your typical VA panel when reviewed from above or far to the sides, though self-emissive OLED displays still have the edge here.

The big question, of course, is the FALD direct-lit LED backlighting holds up. Well, there are 320 independently dimmable zones and the local dimming algorithm works extremely well to maintain deep blacks and reduce blooming, though the aggressiveness of the dimming means that some shadow detail may be lost, and some bright detail may look darker in low-lit scenes. However, most viewers wouldn’t even notice this outside of a comparison beside a reference display.

Bolstered by Samsung’s quantum dot technology, colours are bright and rich – especially in HDR. Samsung offers both frame interpolation and black frame insertion to reduce motion blur, although you might want to avoid the latter, as the undefeatable frame interpolation leads to soap opera effect and visible artefacts with 50Hz content in the UK. We also spotted intermittent microstutter with an interlaced video signal (e.g. from the internal Freeview tuner) after engaging Samsung's Auto Motion Plus interpolation technology. This set works best with a progressive video signal, such as the 2160p from a Sky Q box.

Screen uniformity is very good on our review sample, with only the slightest dirty screen effect affecting panning shots across a uniform background, like a football field. For HDR, peak brightness reached 1150 nits on a 10% window after calibration to D65 white point, and DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage came in at 98%. Owing to how the Samsung QE55Q9FN converts the input signal to light output on screen, HDR material will look brighter and more saturated than specced in industry standards, but most owners will likely prefer the increased impact and not care.

Samsung Q9FN: Gaming and audio

The Samsung Q9FN is a gaming beast, and unlike OLED, there's zero risk of burn-in even with prolonged gaming sessions. Input lag comes in at a mere 15ms in Game Mode regardless of whether the incoming signal is 1080p SDR or UHD HDR, and you’ll struggle to get anything less from any flagship TV. The Q9FN also supports variable refresh rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency mode (ALLM) when paired with the Microsoft Xbox One X. If you’re looking for ultra-responsive, tear-free, immersive gaming. this TV is a console owner's dream.

Otherwise, the Samsung QE55Q9FN offers an Ambient Mode which allows you to display some preset pictures, or even take a photo of your wall then upload it to the TV so it blends into your home (though it’s surprisingly difficult to match the colours perfectly). The anti-reflective filter on the Samsung Q9FN is undoubtedly the most effective on the market. It's basically a black hole, swallowing up any reflections and making the picture appear more lucid, so that it’s like looking out of a window even in the presence of ambient light. And when you combine this with the profuse light output that the TV is capable of, the 2018 Samsung Q9F is a daytime viewing tour-de-force.

In fact, the only reason to be disappointed is the sound. It’s loud and clear for day-to-day viewing, but don't expect miracles; you’ll still want speakers or a high-end soundbar to watch blockbuster movies or play games.

Samsung Q9FN review: Verdict

The Q9FN is comfortably the best LED LCD TV Samsung has ever built, with more local dimming zones than previous models giving deeper blacks, better contrast and more impressive HDR pictures. It's by far the best gaming TV on the market, courtesy of 15ms input lag and no risk of burn-in, not to mention variable refresh rate and auto game mode switching support. It's also the best choice for watching TV in a very bright room, thanks to class-leading anti-reflective filter and high brightness output. Sure, the competition is fierce and LG’s OLED sets are hard to ignore, but if you want a beautifully rich, bright screen for viewing at all hours of the day, the Q9FN is just about ideal.

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