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  • About the Samsung S95B

  • What we like

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy it?

Pros

  • QD-OLED is a game changer

  • Excellent gaming TV

  • Superb design

Cons

  • No Dolby Vision

  • Might need to be calibrated

  • Minor color artifacts

The S95B could change the landscape of premium TVs for years to come.

Editor's Note June 16, 2022: Since this review was published, Samsung released a firmware update (1211.2) that addressed certain aspects of the S95B's performance. The review has been updated to reflect our new findings.

Easily the brightest OLED we’ve ever tested, the S95B’s hybrid design is also responsible for incredibly rich, indelible color—perhaps the best hues I’ve seen on a TV to date. Aside from a predictable lack of Dolby Vision (Samsung doesn’t support the tech), the S95B offers just about every feature a gamer or cinephile could ask for.

As far as flaws go, there’s not much to report here aside from an uninspiring smart platform and some quirky picture artifacts that quite literally need to be magnified in order to be seen. Picture purists who don’t want to deal with the hassle of hiring a professional calibrator might be squeamish about the somewhat-inaccurate state of Samsung’s Filmmaker mode, but my guess is that most folks will love what they see.

The Samsung S95B is, in all likelihood, the beginning of a new era for high-end consumer televisions. There’s another quantum dot-equipped OLED TV on the way this year from Sony, but unless it outperforms Samsung’s efforts, the S95B is the frontrunner for the best TV of the year.

About the Samsung S95B

A close-up of the Samsung Solar Cell remote control resting on the surface of the S95B's stand
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Samsung S95B is available in just two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches. We don't expect there to be any major differences in performance between these two models.

The Samsung S95B is available in just two sizes: 55 inches and 65 inches. Our review unit is a 55-inch model that we purchased ourselves.

Here’s how the lineup shakes out in terms of pricing:

  • 55-inch (Samsung QN55S95BAFXZA), MSRP $2,199.99
  • 65-inch (Samsung QN65S95BAFXZA), MSRP $2,999.99

Different sizes within a TV series tend to perform similarly, and this has been especially true for OLED TVs due to the nature of their display hardware. Therefore, we don’t expect there to be major differences in performance between the 55- and 65-inch versions of the S95B.

With sizing and pricing out of the way, let’s take a look at the TV’s specs:

A close-up of someone's hand holding the Samsung Solar Cell remote control
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The S95B ships with Samsung's Solar Cell remote, which charges by way of indoor and outdoor lighting. Users can also charge the remote via USB-C.

The S95B ships with the newest version of Samsung’s Solar Cell remote control, which uses indoor/outdoor light to charge its internal battery. The remote also features a USB-C charging port for emergency charging, and its battery level can be checked in one of the TV menus.

Connectivity

A close-up of the ports on the back of the Samsung S95B's panel
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

All four of the S95B's HDMI ports support 4K content at 120Hz.

The Samsung S95B is loaded with connectivity options that ought to satisfy dedicated home theater enthusiasts and gamers alike. Here's what you'll find in an L-shaped compartment on the back of the TV's panel:

  • 4x HDMI 2.1 (4K @ 120Hz, 1x HDMI ARC/eARC)
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • RF connection (cable/antenna)
  • Ethernet (LAN) input
  • Digital audio output (optical)
  • 3.5mm audio output (headphone jack)
  • RS-232C

Two of the four total HDMI ports face the side of the TV, while the remaining two HDMI ports face downward.

Performance data

Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 55-inch S95B received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.

For both SDR and HDR tests, we’re using the S95B’s Filmmaker picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you might experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.

For additional context, I also conducted both SDR and HDR tests in the TV’s Movie and Standard picture modes, but these test results are not reported below. For folks who are looking for a cooler, slightly punchier look, the S95B’s Movie mode might be a better fit for SDR content. During HDR content, our measurements indicate that the Movie preset is slightly dimmer than Filmmaker, but not to a degree that most people would notice.

To get a sense for the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.

Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.

All of our tests are created with a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software.

I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:

• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 294.7 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 128.9 nits/0.001 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness (sustained): 1,110 nits (2% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 98%
• SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 100%

These readings were taken with the S95B’s Picture Clarity settings turned off and Intelligent Mode disabled. In addition, Peak Brightness was set to High, the Color Tone was set to Warm2, and both Film Mode and Contrast Enhancer were disabled. For SDR tests, the TV’s Gamma was set to 2.2.

What we like

QD-OLED is the real deal

The Samsung S95B displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The S95B is one of the first TVs of its kind, blending an OLED display with the power of quantum dots. The results speak for themselves.

Advancements in TV technology tend to cause a stir in the A/V community, but rarely have I seen the level of excitement surrounding the advent of QD-OLED, which combines two of the most successful display technologies available today: quantum dots and OLED. Samsung is one of the first major brands to unleash QD-OLED into the market, with Sony releasing its own QD-OLED TV in the coming months.

OLED TVs are coveted for their self-illuminating pixels, which allow for perfect black levels and, in turn, world-class contrast. OLED TVs have other benefits, of course—excellent color production and ultra-wide viewing angles, just to name a few—but their real bread and butter is their ability to turn each pixel on and off independently. But OLED TVs are also known for their relative dimness when compared to high-end LCD/LED TVs, particularly those that employ quantum dots to enhance brightness and color volume. For that reason, if you’re shopping for a TV in a high price bracket and you intend on using it in a bright, sunny living room, we tend to recommend quantum-dot LED TVs over OLED TVs.

It's the brightest OLED we’ve tested and its color production is staggeringly good.

As you might expect, quantum-dot OLED displays seek to improve the OLED experience by delivering a brighter picture with wider, purer color. With its added layer of quantum dots, the Samsung S95B doesn’t need a traditional OLED color filter, nor does it rely on an added white subpixel to recoup some of the brightness lost in color filtering. And while the S95B doesn’t get as bright as some of the brightest LCD/LED TVs we’ve tested in recent years, it's nevertheless the brightest OLED we’ve tested to date, and its color production is staggeringly good.

In HDR, the S95B’s full-field brightness is higher than most of its OLED competitors, and even more impressive, its specular highlights (small, bright picture elements) are significantly brighter than any I’ve measured on an OLED TV. On a 2% white window in the TV’s Filmmaker mode, the S95B produced a sustained brightness reading of 1,110 nits. On the LG C2, that very same 2% white window produced a result of around 743 nits.

One caveat here is that the S95B’s real scene brightness in SDR is dimmer than what you’ll see on the LG C2, so for casual, daytime viewing (like cable TV and most streaming content), the C2 has a bit of an edge.

The Samsung S95B displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The S95B's perfect black levels are complimented by brilliant HDR color and punchy highlights, creating a remarkable sense of depth and clarity.

Coupled with OLED’s perfect black levels, the S95B’s added brightness has an incredibly powerful impact on HDR content, be it a movie, a video game, or otherwise. Tiny pockets of bright light (car headlights, reflections, and sunbeams, for example) practically sizzle on the screen. When I reviewed the LG C2, I made sure to emphasize the sheer depth of its picture, thanks in part to the sheer brightness of its specular highlights. The S95B is even better in this regard—the sense of depth here is unparalleled.

The S95B is also better equipped to maintain the clarity of near-black picture elements, and I suspect it’s good enough in this department to win over agnostics who, until now, have rightfully been concerned about OLED’s tendency to crush near-black detail.

But perhaps the most significant improvement brought to the table by quantum dots is their effect on the S95B’s color reproduction. Watching the same content side by side with the LG C2 is a revelation; the C2, which is a world-class TV all its own, lacks a certain colorful expression next to the S95B. The effect is almost like looking at the C2 through polarized glasses.

The incredible contrast of OLED with the crackling highlights of QLED

During my time with the S95B, reds and greens totally stole the show, and I found myself drawn toward nature documentaries mastered in HDR, just because I had a higher chance of encountering those bold, beautiful primary colors. But the truth of the matter is that the TV’s quantum dots are having a positive effect on its secondary color production, too. I was very impressed with the S95B’s ability to handle skin tones, light blue skies, and color gradients in general.

The S95B is the closest I’ve ever seen a TV come to achieving the best of both worlds: the incredible contrast of an OLED with the crackling highlights of a QLED. In a word, it’s staggering.

Chock-full of features for gamers and A/V enthusiasts

It would certainly be a disappointment if a TV of this caliber was ill-equipped for next-gen gaming, and thankfully, that’s not the case. For one thing, all four of the S95B’s HDMI ports support 4K gaming at 120fps, which means you won’t have to swap around cables if you own a PlayStation 5, an Xbox Series X, and an eARC-enabled soundbar.

The S95B is one of the most gaming-friendly TVs on the market.

Like some of Samsung’s premium offerings last year, the S95B is equipped with the company’s Game Bar feature—albeit a slightly new version. Think of it as a gaming control that can be accessed whenever a console is detected. It offers frame rate information, a toggle for VRR/FreeSync Premium, and various input lag reduction settings. Like LG’s Game Optimizer hub, Game Bar also features picture presets for different game genres. These features—combined with the TV’s 120Hz refresh rate and stellar motion handling—catapult the S95B to the top of the list of the most gaming-friendly TVs on the market.

Being a Samsung TV, the S95B lacks Dolby Vision support, but its Dolby Atmos functionality is ahead of the curve. The S95B is capable of delivering Dolby Atmos audio wirelessly to select Samsung soundbars. We’ve yet to test this feature, so we’re unable to confirm whether or not this feature supports the lossless version of Atmos (we’d be surprised if it did), but we’ll be sure to update this review with more information in the near future.

Superb design

A close-up of the Samsung S95B's ultra-thin OLED panel, as seen from the side
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The S95B's razor-thin OLED panel is sure to turn heads.

The S95B is dressed to the nines, borrowing elements from Samsung flagships of years past with new design flourishes made possible by the nimble nature of OLED technology.

Aside from the chassis, the panel itself is obscenely thin; more of a whisper than the LG C2’s ultra-thin panel, if you can believe it. Its squared-off corners counterbalance the more rounded edges of its brushed metal-style stand, and the display’s bezels are narrow enough to dissolve into the backdrop of a dimly lit room.

A close-up of the Samsung S95B's pedestal-style stand
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The S95B's stand offers room for a soundbar, but the TV sits low enough to its surface that bigger soundbars might obstruct the view.

The S95B sits higher off the surface of a table or TV cabinet than the LG C2, but like the C2, the pedestal-style stand might get in the way of a taller-than-average soundbar.

What we don’t like

Out-of-the-box settings might need calibrating

As far as picture accuracy goes, the best out-of-the-box picture modes on the S95B are Movie and Filmmaker, the latter of which is intended to deliver content in a way that preserves the creator’s intent; ostensibly, close to the reference standards a colorist or filmmaker would use.

Movie and Filmmaker are quite similar, and neither are as accurate out of the box as the LG C2’s most accurate picture modes (Cinema and Filmmaker). Fortunately, a recent firmware update ironed out some of these issues. Before we updated the S95B's software to version 1211.2, there were errors across the grayscale (essentially, a blue-green tint to neutral tones), and this could be tracked in both SDR and HDR.

The Samsung S95B displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Samsung's Filmmaker picture mode is supposed to preserve the content creator's artistic intent, but it's not as accurate as it ought to be for this endeavor, and calibrating the mode's 20-point white balance is not currently possible.

For many people—myself included—the S95B passes the eye test with flying colors, even before receiving a firmware update. Initially, it looked a touch oversaturated during side-by-side comparisons with the LG C2, and at times gave scenes a more blown-out look. After receiving the update, our tests revealed that the Filmmaker mode now tracks HDR brightness closer to reference standards. In real-world viewing, Filmmaker mode appears less blown out than it did before the update. We also measured much less color error across the grayscale and slightly better color accuracy overall.

Most of the lingering issues can be hammered away with a professional calibration. Initially, 20-point white balance adjustments weren’t available in the Filmmaker mode, but we're happy to report that the firmware update unlocked this functionality.

If accuracy is all that matters to you, but you don’t want to deal with the costs of hiring a professional calibrator, the LG C2 might be a better choice for you. Even with the added benefit of Samsung’s 1211.2 firmware update, the S95B still isn’t quite as accurate as the LG C2 in their respective out-of-the-box states. Both TVs will improve with calibration, but the S95B will improve more. There are other factors to consider, of course (the S95B offers better screen uniformity and brighter highlights), but if you don’t intend to calibrate your TV, the C2 is more accurate out of the box.

While we haven’t yet reviewed the LG G2, it’s safe to assume that, given LG’s track record with its OLED TVs, the G2 will also be a more-accurate alternative, at least in its Cinema and Filmmaker picture modes. If Sony's track record is any indication, the company's own QD-OLED, the A95K, will probably adhere to reference standards stringently, too.

The smart platform could be better

The Samsung S95B displaying the Smart Hub home screen in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

You'll spend a lot of time hanging out on the Smart Hub home screen. The layout is a bit chaotic, and we found both the software and the remote control to be not quite as responsive as they should be.

If you’ve known and loved Samsung smart platforms in recent years, you’ll likely feel right at home, as the Tizen-powered smart TV experience is quite similar this year. The biggest difference is that the majority of Smart Hub’s viewing options are now located on a dedicated home screen and can’t be easily accessed via a quick menu option.

Truth be told, I find the Smart Hub home screen to be rather chaotic. Sponsored content flows freely in the form of big, chunky titles, and load times between various menu options can feel a bit slow. Until you’ve pinned various inputs onto the Smart Hub home screen, it can take more than a few clicks to jump to a connected source. If this is your first foray into Samsung’s Smart Hub, expect a moderate learning curve.

Along with other folks on the team, I also noticed that the remote control often takes two or three separate button clicks before an input is registered. This didn’t happen all the time (and it very well could’ve been the result of a faulty remote control), but it’s worth calling out.

If you’re hesitant about Smart Hub, the easiest way to bypass any potential frustration is to pair the TV with a great steaming device.

QD-OLED is a little rough around the edges (literally)

Let me start by saying this: The visual artifacts I’m about to describe are very difficult to notice. In fact, at a normal viewing distance, your eyes probably won’t pick them up—you have to get up close and personal with the S95B in order to see this stuff. As a result, this section shouldn’t weigh as heavily as the others in this review.

That’s right: I’m downplaying my criticism before I even explain its nature. I am, in fact, nitpicking, and you ought to keep that in mind.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about pixels. In very specific cases, green and magenta color fringing can be observed, typically along the edges of white or near-white picture elements. I first noticed the phenomenon while studying a black-and-white checkerboard pattern on the S95B, where rows of black pixels met rows of white pixels. I wanted to see if this was evident during real-world scenarios, so I studied standard-sized subtitles on the S95B and compared them to the very same subtitles on the LG C2.

A side-by-side comparison of the pixels found on the LG C2 and the Samsung S95B

On the left is a close-up of closed captioning on the LG C2. On the right is the very same piece of text on the Samsung S95B. While not ideal, this phenomenon is really only noticeable when you're very close to the S95B's screen.

Sure enough, subtitles on the S95B exhibited this color fringing, while subtitles on the C2 did not. I also noticed the effect along the edges of letterboxes, typically while the top of the picture displayed lighter colors.

It’s difficult to say for certain what forces are causing this, but the primary cause is likely to do with the S95B’s proprietary pixel structure, which reportedly arranges its red, green, and blue subpixels in an unconventional formation.

And in fact, Samsung Display recently responded to concerns over the matter, pointing out that this phenomenon can also be observed in LCD and OLED displays that feature a more conventional subpixel layout. In addition, Samsung Display proposes that the effect is accentuated by the S95B’s wide color gamut and contrast control. In other words, the only reason it’s observable is because of how good the TV looks otherwise.

While we’re not currently in a position to confirm or refute these claims (particularly with another QD-OLED TV on the way from Sony this year), it’s worth noting that the LG C2 we reviewed, with its traditional OLED display, suffered from some funky color issues when viewing white picture elements from an off-axis position—a more prominent issue that the S95B manages to avoid completely. Perhaps it’s as simple as this: Whether equipped with quantum dots or not, OLED TVs of all stripes will continue to exhibit some modest quirks here and there, depending on their hardware and the philosophies of their engineers.

I must reiterate that the S95B’s color artifacts are nearly invisible from just four feet away; I had to go out of my way to find them. In other words, the display does not turn random picture elements into something that resembles the TikTok logo. Despite how egregious those subtitles might look up close, the S95B is plenty bright to offset the color fringing at a normal viewing distance.

That said, if you intend on sitting close to the S95B for whatever reason—or if you’re particularly eagle-eyed—you might have a harder time letting go of this minor issue, especially given the TV’s cost. Whether the fault of the S95B’s subpixel structure or not, there’s always the possibility that these quirks will be ironed out in future generations of QD-OLED Samsung TVs.

No Dolby Vision

Like all Samsung TVs, the S95B does not support HDR content mastered for Dolby Vision. Instead, in addition to general HDR and HLG, the S95B supports HDR10+, a royalty-free version of HDR that deals in its own dynamic metadata.

While it’s nice to have HDR10+ in your back pocket, Samsung’s universal lack of Dolby Vision support continues to disappoint. There are plenty of HDR10+ Blu-rays available, and HDR10+ content isn’t too hard to track down on certain streaming platforms (like Amazon Prime Video), but services that offer a wide range of Dolby Vision content (like Netflix, for example) are bound to feel a bit closed off.

Should you buy it?

Yes, it’s one of the best TVs ever made.

The Samsung S95B displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Samsung S95B is easily one of the best TVs of the year—and one of the best TVs I've ever seen, period.

The Samsung S95B is one of the best-looking TVs I’ve ever seen—and I’ve seen my fair share of TVs. It so effectively blends the best elements of OLED display technology with quantum dot color that I’m having trouble imagining a far-off future where QD-OLED doesn’t become the standard OLED TV experience.

Admittedly, that statement is more than a little navel-gazey, as it’s impossible to predict the ebbs and flows of the market; production costs, potential shortages, and consumer demand will ultimately steer the ship. All I know is this: there’s nothing the TV industry loves more than improving upon old technology, and the S95B shows that you can improve OLED TVs—to a significant degree.

The question on a lot of folks’ minds is whether the S95B is better than the LG C2. Well, to this reviewer’s eyes, yes, it is. Despite the C2’s excellent out-of-the-box accuracy in LG’s Cinema picture mode, the S95B produces a brighter, bolder picture with the type of color volume I’ve previously only seen on high-end QLED TVs. The added brightness is what makes this possible, in addition to its positive impact on specular highlights.

That said, the S95B is also a fair bit more expensive than the C2, and it lacks Dolby Vision, to boot. In any case, if you’re already committed to spending money in this price bracket, the similarly priced LG G2 is the LG OLED more worthy of a head-to-head comparison. It doesn’t have quantum dots, but it’ll likely outpace the C2 in performance and wind up closer than its sibling to the S95B once the numbers are crunched and the dust settles. The upcoming Sony A95K, another QD-OLED flagship, will almost certainly give the S95B a run for its money, too, given Sony’s penchant for of incredible image processing and high-end hardware.

This is usually around the time I start going through my “bright living room” spiel, wherein I remind folks that OLED TVs are at a disadvantage in bright-room settings compared to a high-end LED TV with considerable horsepower. And while those TVs are still primed to hold up in bright rooms better than the S95B, the gap here is significantly smaller—at least when it comes to HDR content. If most of your TV time is spent watching cable TV in a sunny living room, however, the S95B is probably not the best use of your resources.

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade waiting for someone—anyone—to improve upon the tried and true OLED formula. After all this time, I was beginning to think we’d bumped into the ceiling of OLED technology’s capabilities. Rarely have I been this excited to be wrong about something. The Samsung S95B is a game changer, and I’m eager to see what other brands—including Samsung—do with future QD-OLED TVs.

Meet the tester

Michael Desjardin

Michael Desjardin

Senior Staff Writer

@Reviewed

Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.

See all of Michael Desjardin's reviews

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