Everything you need to need before splashing out on the best smart TV you can afford
If you’re after a user-friendly television offering a comprehensive range of content options, you need the best smart TV you can afford. The best smart TVs on the market are intuitive to use, incorporate useful AI features and grant access to a whole host of streaming services.
If you’re buying a new TV today, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s a smart one with some kind of smart platform – often referred to as an operating system (OS) – and the ability to connect to the internet. Some manufacturers have their own smart platforms, while others use variants of an OS made by another company, such as Google. Smart TV platforms don’t all come with the same range of features and applications, though, so you do need to choose carefully to make sure you get the features you need, such as support for your preferred streaming services.
In this guide, we’ll outline the best smart TVs around and highlight the advantages of the operating systems they run. If you require more information about smart TVs before diving into our list of the best around, our buying guide will arm you with everything you need to know.
How to choose the best smart TV for you
Do you need an internet connection to use a smart TV?
Smart TVs connect to your home’s internet connection over Wi-Fi or through a wired ethernet connection. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your smart TV offline, though. You’ll still be able to watch normal TV if you have Freeview reception, and Blu-ray players and gaming consoles will operate just as they would on a non-smart TV, but you’ll miss out on all the features that rely on an internet connection.
Those features include access to streaming apps like Netflix, which is available on pretty much all smart TVs, BBC iPlayer, Now TV and YouTube to name a few. Some of these require a paid subscription, while others like BBC iPlayer are free to enjoy assuming you have a TV licence. TV catchup apps like Freeview Play also depend on an internet connection, so these will remain unavailable to you when you’re offline.
Keeping your TV online also guarantees that you’ll automatically receive the software updates sent out by the manufacturer, helping to keep your TV up to date with the latest bug fixes and features that may improve your user experience.
What other features do smart TVs offer?
Smart TVs have a few other tricks up their sleeve to make your life easier. A smart TV’s Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) provides a full schedule of what’s on the huge number of television channels available, which proves very useful if you’re deliberating what to watch or simply want to plan your evening’s entertainment.
Some smart TVs have smart assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant built-in, allowing you to execute commands by speaking into the TV’s remote or directly at the TV. Others offer voice assistant support via a connection to a compatible smart speaker. If you’re already invested in a specific smart ecosystem, it’s worth trying to find a television that’ll fit into it seamlessly.
If you want to be able to view content from your tablet or smartphone on your TV, another feature worth looking out for is screen mirroring or screen sharing. Sometimes this is done via third-party technology like Google Chromecast, while some manufacturers have their own software, such as Samsung’s SmartView app.
Finally, some smart TVs are able to operate as a control hub for smart devices. Once connected to your TV, you can manage devices like thermostats, lights and video doorbells.
How does Expert Reviews test TVs?
All of the televisions listed below have undergone rigorous testing using the Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software. We test numerous aspects of SDR and HDR performance to bring you data-led reviews designed to help you make informed buying decisions when splashing out on your next TV.
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The best smart TVs to buy in 2023
1. TCL RC630K: The smart TV with the biggest selection of apps
Price: From £299 (43in) | Buy now from Currys
This affordable TV from TCL runs the Roku OS, which offers an enormous range of apps and streaming platforms. All your key services are present and correct, including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV, plus there’s support for Freeview Play and Roku’s ad-supported Roku Channel, which serves up an ever-growing menu of movies and TV shows. The Roku interface is both user-friendly and highly intuitive, and you can customise the grid of large, colourful tiles to ensure you know exactly where your favourite channels are and access them quickly.
It’s not just the Roku OS that makes the RC630K an appealing TV, however. It uses a quantum dot LED LCD panel – a real rarity at this kind of price point – and this helps elevate its picture quality above its countless budget competitors. Colours and greyscale are delivered with impressive accuracy when watching SDR content in Movie mode, while support for HDR10+ and Dolby Vision enables the TV to eke out a welcome extra bit of detail from supported content.
The RC630K’s in-built sound system impresses too, as does its input lag of just 10ms when in Game Mode. Sadly, the panel only has a refresh rate of 60Hz so this TV isn’t a great choice for next-gen gamers, but as far as smart, affordable televisions go, the RC630K is unmatched.
Read our full TCL RC630K review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: Roku TV OS; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now, Apple TV, Roku Channel, Freeview Play, BT Sport, YouTube; Smart assistants: Roku voice control; Screen sizes: 43in, 50in, 55in (tested) and 65in; Display type: VA-type LCD LED direct-lit; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 3 x HDMI 2.0
2. LG C2 OLED: The best smart TV for gaming
Price: From £1,099 (42in) | Buy now from John Lewis
The LG C1 was our favourite TV of 2021 and the 2022 model is another major success for LG’s TV department. Picture quality is fantastic regardless of whether you’re watching SDR or HDR content and audio quality is surprisingly good given how slimline the TV is. Four full-fat 48Gbps HDMI 2.1 inputs mean the LG C2 is as well-equipped as any TV to handle next-gen gaming, with all four supporting 4K at 120Hz, Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate (both Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync).
Input lag goes as low as 5ms, ensuring the C2 is supremely responsive, and the updated Game Optimiser – one of a number of tweaks made for the new webOS 22 – is excellent. There’s a new Dark Room mode for gaming at night, a new Sports genre setting and support for wider 21:9 and 32:9 aspect rations in addition to all the great options found on last year’s model.
The 55in model and above use OLED evo panel and are brighter than their predecessor as result, but sadly the new 42in variant and 48in options are too small to benefit from the evo technology. They’re still amazing options for gaming, however, and feature all the same smart functionality as their bigger siblings.
Read our full LG C2 OLED review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: LG webOS; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now, BT Sport, Apple TV, Freeview Play, YouTube; Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Screen sizes: 42in, 48in, 55in, 65in (tested), 77in and 83in; Display type: OLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 4 x HDMI 2.1
3. Panasonic LZ2000: The best smart TV for audio quality
Price: From £1,700 | Buy now from John Lewis
While we typically recommend pairing a smart TV with the best soundbar you can afford, the Panasonic LZ2000 delivers phenomenal audio without the need to make a separate purchase. Its built-in 360° Soundscape Pro sound system consists of an up-firing speaker located behind the panel, two side-firing speakers and a speaker array that runs all the way along the bottom of the panel, and the results are extremely immersive.
With a total sonic output of 150W, it’s able to deliver bombastic film soundtracks with suitable grandeur and Panasonic’s Space Tune calibration ensures audio is balanced to take into account the dimensions of your living space. The LZ2000 also offers a range of audio customisation options that use beam-forming technology and these can be tweaked to direct audio to certain areas around the room at different volumes.
But this isn’t a TV that relies on audio alone: picture quality is top-notch, two HDMI 2.1 ports support next-gen gaming features, and there’s support for the majority of the key streaming platforms, with Now and BT Sport the only notable absentees. Bright, accurate and immersive, the LZ2000 is a smart OLED TV to be reckoned with.
Read our full Panasonic LZ2000 review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: My Home Screen 7.0; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Freeview Play, YouTube; Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Screen sizes: 42, 48in, 55in, 65in (tested), 77in and 83in; Display type: OLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x HDMI 2.0
4. LG G2 OLED evo Gallery Edition: The best smart TV for wall mounting
Price: From £1,500 (55in) | Buy now from John Lewis
LG’s 2022 flagship, the G2 evo Gallery Edition is the company’s brightest-ever OLED and delivers amazing HDR pictures, impressive sound quality and extensive gaming features in a gorgeous package. It’s specifically designed for wall mounting so you won’t find a stand included in the box, but it does come equipped with the newest iteration of webOS – webOS 22.
WebOS remains the most comprehensive and responsive smart platform around thanks to its extensive selection of streaming services that includes Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and the TV supports voice controls via both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Aside from the lack of a stand, our only other sticking points are the lack of HDR10+ support and how much the G2 costs. The former isn’t a dealbreaker given how most streaming services seem to prefer the Dolby Vision format, and while the G2 is undeniably pricey, it more than justifies the outlay with its sensational performance.
Read our full LG G2 review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: LG webOS 22; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now, Apple TV, Freeview Play, BT Sport, YouTube; Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant; Screen sizes: 55in, 65in (tested), 77in and 83in; Display type: OLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 4 x HDMI 2.1
5. Samsung QN95C: The best smart TV for smart home control
Price: From £2,799 (55in) | Buy now from Samsung
The QN95C is Samsung’s flagship 4K Neo QLED and runs the latest version of Samsung’s Tizen smart platform. The homepage fills the entire screen and places an emphasis on recommended content, though you’re able to customise it so that all your favourite apps can be found in the easy-to-access “Media” section.
Samsung has continued to expand the channel lineup on offer via Samsung TV Plus and the Samsung SmartHub remains a fuss-free way of managing your smart device connections. New this year is an in-built module that allows you to control Zigbee and Thread smart devices without the need for a dongle. This, and new SmartThings features ConnecTime and 3D Map View, which make it easier to take video calls from connected smart devices and conveniently monitor devices in your home, only strengthen the QN95C’s position as a smart home powerhouse.
On top of all that, the QN95C also delivers superb picture quality, excellent next-gen gaming support and impressive audio. It’s a brilliant all-rounder that’s right up there with the best smart TVs going.
Read our full Samsung QN95C review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: Tizen; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Rakuten TV, ITV Hub, BBC Player, All 4, My 5; Smart assistants: Bixby built-in, works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; Screen sizes: 55in, 65in (tested), 75in and 85in; Display type: Neo QLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+; HDMI inputs: 4 x HDMI 2.1
6. Philips 807: The best smart TV for a unique viewing experience
Price: From £1,399 | Buy now from Currys
The Philips 807 stands out from the smart TV crowd thanks to its four-sided Ambilight. For those that aren’t familiar with Ambilight, it’s a Philips innovation that sees coloured LEDs built into the rear of the panel. These light up the wall behind the TV and can be set to match the colour of what’s happening onscreen or to a neutral white to act as a bias light, improving perceived contrast and helping reduce eye strain in darker viewing conditions.
Ambilight may be the ace up the 807’s sleeve, but it’s no one-trick pony. It’s attractively designed, and delivers impressive SDR and HDR performance, enjoying all of the benefits of OLED technology along with Philips’ top-notch AI-led picture processing. Motion handling is excellent, upscaling is effective and the panel is bright enough to do justice to HDR content regardless of its format.
There’s also decent gaming provision thanks to a pair of HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM, and the Android TV operating system serves up plenty of choice in the streaming and voice assistant department. The 807 even manages to deliver a robust sonic performance from its in-built 70W 2.1-channel sound system – some feat given the slender nature of the chassis.
Read our full Philips 807 OLED review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: Android TV 11; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Apple TV, Rakuten TV, ITV Hub, BBC Player, All 4, My 5; Smart assistants: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; Screen sizes: 48in, 55in (tested), 65in, 77in; Display type: OLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x HDMI 2.0
7. Sony A80J: The best smart TV for voice controls
Price: £999 (55in) | Buy now from Currys
The Sony A80J is our pick of the Google TV options available and is a great choice if you want a telly that doubles up as a fully functioning smart assistant. Google Assistant is built-in, allowing you to use voice commands to execute numerous handy household actions. There’s also support for Alexa if you’d rather use a compatible Amazon smart speaker for voice controls.
The Google TV platform was designed for TVs from the ground up and it shows: it’s well-designed, intuitive to use and highly responsive. Key apps and features are easy to access and there’s a decent amount of customisation available, too. App support is extensive, with all the UK TV catch-up services present along with Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube and lots more.
Picture quality on the A80J is fantastic and the telly sports a stylish design that features a multi-position stand enabling it to be installed in one of three ways. Sound quality is excellent too, with Sony’s Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology transforming the TV’s panel into a speaker to deliver room-filling, immersive sound. A pair of HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K at 120Hz and a couple of “Perfect for PlayStation” gaming-specific modes make the A80J a great choice for gamers.
Read our full Sony A80J review for more details
Key specs – Operating system: Google TV; Streaming services: Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Now TV, YouTube; Smart assistants: Google Assistant built-in, works with Alexa; Screen sizes: 55in (tested), 65in and 77in; Display type: OLED; Resolution: 4K/UHD (3,840 x 2,160); HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision; HDMI inputs: 2 x HDMI 2.0, 2 X HDMI 2.1