Samsung S95B vs QN90B: Which TV tech is best?
Two of Samsung’s best TVs of the year face off.
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If you’re in the market for a top-shelf TV this year, there’s a good chance you’ll be considering one from Samsung, as two of the most talked-about TVs of the year belong to the South Korean company. The QN90B Neo QLED and the S95B QD-OLED are ultra-premium TVs that deliver top-tier picture quality and a bevy of A/V- and gaming-related extras.
Despite their many similarities, there are a host of differences—including two very different display technologies—that you ought to familiarize yourself with. We’ve spent a great deal of time testing each, and we’re well equipped to break it all down for you.
Performance and display technology
The QN90B and the S95B are two of the best 4K TVs Samsung has to offer this year. Whichever one you buy will look fantastic across all content types. However, these TVs use completely different panel types, which means they excel in very different areas of performance. Your viewing habits will play a major role in determining which is the best option.
Let’s start with the S95B QD-OLED TV. Since OLED TVs don’t rely on a backlight like traditional LCD/LED TVs, their self-illuminating pixels are able to shut off independently, producing perfect black levels. This has cascading, positive impacts on several other areas of performance, including color, clarity, and off-angle viewing.
As a QD-OLED, the S95B is one of the first TVs of its type: an OLED TV that also features quantum dots, which are microscopic nanocrystals that emit red or green light when struck with blue light.
Quantum-dots help TVs produce a brighter, more colorful picture, but until now, they’ve only been utilized on LED TVs. LED TVs with quantum dots, aka QLED TVs, can get brighter than OLED TVs but lack the many other advantages OLED provides. The S95B attempts to blend the best of both technologies.
The QN90B, on the other hand, features a blend of display technology that Samsung has dubbed Neo QLED—mini-LED backlighting with quantum dots. Its mini-LED display isn’t capable of delivering perfect black levels like the S95B, but it features one huge advantage over the S95B’s QD-OLED technology: high-octane brightness.
The QN90B is capable of rendering specular highlights (smaller, intensified areas of brightness) with more intensity than just about every other TV on the market today. Its full-picture brightness is also higher than the S95B by an order of magnitude, which means the QN90B will hold up better in a bright room.
That said, while the QN90B’s bright display creates some dazzling color, it can’t hold a candle to the S95B’s color, particularly during HDR content. While the QN90B covers about 91% of the wide HDR color gamut (DCI-P3), the S95B sits at around 98%. This means the S95B displays colors that are more true to life—blue skies and trees that look closer to what we see outside. Reds and greens practically leap off the S95B's screen. I was particularly impressed with the S95B’s handling of skin tones, skies, and color gradients.
So, while the QN90B offers an intensely bright picture with show-stopping highlights, the S95B and its perfect black levels produce an image with incredible depth and superior color. Determining which of these is right for you may come down to the state of your living room and your viewing habits. The S95B will hold up to sunlight better than most OLED TVs, but nowhere near to the QN90B’s Neo QLED display, which is arguably the [best bright-room TV on the market right now.
Nevertheless, the S95B wins by a decent margin; its contrast and color production puts it over the top.
Our pick: Samsung S95B
Being brand new models at the time of publishing, you’re not guaranteed to see these two TVs on sale for a significant amount anytime soon.
The Samsung S95B QD-OLED is available in just two sizes—55- and 65-inch options. People shopping for a Samsung QD-OLED in smaller or larger size options will have to wait for future releases. Because of its elevated display technology, it is priced at a premium—comparably higher than most of its OLED competitors this year.
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55S95BAFXZA), MSRP $2,199.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65S95BAFXZA), MSRP $2,999.99
If you’re in the market this year for a TV under 55 inches or above 65 inches, the Samsung QN90B Neo QLED has you covered.
- 43-inch (Samsung QN43QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,199.99
- 50-inch (Samsung QN50QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,599.99
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $1,899.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $2,599.99
- 75-inch (Samsung QN75QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $3,499.99
- 85-inch (Samsung QN85QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $4,699.99
- 98-inch (Samsung QN98QN90BAFXZA), MSRP $14,999.99
Not only is the QN90B available in five more size options than its QD-OLED compadre, it’s also priced considerably less per inch; the 55-inch model is about $300 less than 55-inch S95B, and the 65-inch model about $400 less.
The QN90B’s additional size options along with its lower price make this category an easy win for the Neo QLED.
Our pick: Samsung QN90B
Samsung tends to dress even its entry-level TVs to the nines, so it’s no surprise that these are sporting sleek, premium designs, too. Regardless of which model you go with, you’ll be landing a head-turning living room centerpiece.
Due to the nature of the QN90B’s display hardware, its panel isn't saddled with a bulky midsection, and it’s among the narrowest you’ll see in its class. It features a heavy, metallic stand that props the TV up from its center. The stand’s flat shape provides ample room for a soundbar, but it’s worth noting that the TV’s height only allows for around 2.5 inches of soundbar clearance.
If a narrow panel is what you’re after, however, the S95B is the way to go. Its razor-thin OLED panel is slimmer than most smartphones, and easily one of the slimmest I’ve ever seen. It’s so thin, in fact, that you'll need to be quite careful when picking the TV up, as it's liable to bend.
The S95B’s stand design is similar to that of the QN90B: a rounded metallic slab that sits flat on its surface, allowing about 2.5 inches of soundbar clearance.
There’s plenty to love about the QN90B’s look and feel, but the S95B goes beyond “good-lookin’ TV” and settles right into “marvel of engineering” territory.
Our pick: Samsung S95B
Features and smart platform
Unsurprisingly, these top-shelf Samsung TVs are quite similar from a hardware and software perspective. Before we dive into what sets them apart, let’s take a look at the features they have in common.
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- HDMI 2.1: Yes (all four HDMI ports)
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Other features: Game Bar, Gaming Hub, Multi View, Tap View, Samsung TV Plus, Samsung Health, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Bixby
Both TVs offer an array of hardware- and software-related enhancements that ought to satisfy gamers and A/V enthusiasts alike. Let’s start with the gaming benefits.
Gamers will love that both sets support 4K gaming at 120Hz across all four of their respective HDMI 2.1 ports, with VRR, ALLM, and FreeSync available right out of the box. In addition, both come equipped with Samsung Game Bar, a dedicated gaming settings menu that relays frame rate information, offers genre-specific picture adjustments, and gives folks easy access to each TV’s VRR settings.
If that wasn’t cool enough, both the QN90B and the S95B come with Samsung Gaming Hub, a software package that offers a number of cloud gaming services, including Nvidia GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. Essentially, Gaming Hub lets you stream video games right to your TV—no console required.
We had our reservations about the current state of Samsung Gaming Hub when we tested the service, but it’s nevertheless a cool feature to have in your back pocket, especially if its performance improves with time.
Both TVs can pass a Dolby Atmos signal from onboard apps via Dolby Digital Plus over ARC to a soundbar or receiver, and in high-resolution Dolby TrueHD with eARC. Although both the QN90B and the S95B can decode Dolby Atmos natively, neither TV supports DTS audio (which is worth keeping in mind if you own Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks).
As is the case with all Samsung TVs, neither the QN90B nor the S95B supports Dolby Vision, a popular, proprietary version of HDR. Dolby Vision titles can be streamed on platforms like Netflix and Apple TV, and Blu-rays are often mastered for Dolby Vision, too.
Instead of Dolby Vision, the QN90B and the S95B support HDR10+. Think of HDR10+ as a royalty-free version of Dolby Vision, in that it optimizes the picture using metadata in largely the same manner.
Despite the similarities between Dolby Vision and HDR10+, there are currently more titles mastered for Dolby Vision (including select Xbox Series X games) than there are HDR10+ titles. Some UHD Blu-rays and streaming platforms master content for HDR10+ (Amazon Prime being one of them), but Dolby Vision is nevertheless the more prolific format.
Both TVs deliver a near-identical smart platform experience. The newest version of Tizen OS isn’t my favorite, but it’ll get the job done for most people. My biggest issue with this year’s version of Tizen is how slow the software can be, and how many clicks it takes to get to very basic menu options (like input selection). Folks who are considering one of these two TVs ought to consider designating an HDMI port for an external streaming device.
No matter how you cut it, the QN90B and the S95B are similar competitors in the features department: Both offer a top-shelf gaming experience, both lack Dolby Vision, and both house the same so-so smart platform. This one’s a tie.
Our pick: Draw
And the winner is…
This one is too close to call. Depending on your needs, a strong argument can be made for both TVs.
If all you care about is landing the best performance, the S95B is the way to go. Its QD-OLED display expertly blends the incredible contrast of self-lit pixels with the rich, ultra-saturated color of a premium quantum-dot TV. It’s also brighter than just about every other OLED TV on the market.
But if you want something bigger than 65 inches or smaller than 55 inches, or simply want to spend a bit less, the QN90B is the pick for you. Crucially, if your living space is drenched in sunlight or artificial light, the QN90B is going to do a much better job in that environment. You’ll be able to enjoy any type of content during the day without having to worry about the picture.
Since both TVs offer a near-identical selection of A/V- and gaming-related features, the choice comes down to how much money you’re willing to spend and the type of picture you think will look best in your home.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.