LG C2 vs Samsung QN90B: OLED or Neo QLED?
Two of the year's best TVs have arrived. Which is right for you?
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
The year’s best TVs are beginning to hit the market, and for many people, the time has come to upgrade their living room setup to a premium, top-shelf experience. Similar to recent years, the high-end price bracket can be broken down into two subcategories: OLED TVs and LED TVs, with both display types offering their own tradeoffs.
Among this year’s offerings, the LG C2 OLED TV and the Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV are sure to be among the most popular. They’ve got big shoes to fill; the C2 follows the C1, our favorite TV of 2021, and the QN90B follows the QN90A, our pick last year for the best bright-room TV. To help you decide between these new contenders, we’ve broken them down based on price, design, features, and performance.
Both the C2 and the QN90B feature premium hardware and an array of cutting-edge features, so it stands to reason that both models are priced higher than most TVs. They’re also brand new at the time of writing, so significant discounts are probably still several months away.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how both TVs compare in terms of cost and size availability.
- 42-inch (LG OLED42C2PUA), MSRP $1,399.99
- 48-inch (LG OLED48C2PUA), MSRP $1,499.99
- 55-inch (LG OLED55C2PUA), MSRP $1,799.99
- 65-inch (LG OLED65C2PUA), MSRP $2,499.99
- 77-inch (LG OLED77C2PUA), MSRP $3,499.99
- 83-inch (LG OLED83C2PUA), MSRP $5,499.99
The C2 is available in six sizes: the standard 55- and 65-inch models, along with a couple of smaller models and a pair of larger models. The 77- and 83-inch options are great for those looking to deliver a theater-like experience, while the 42- and 48-inch sizes are sure to satisfy gamers and folks with smaller living spaces.
Next, let’s take a look at the QN90B.
- 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
While the QN90B has one extra size option, the standout size is a gargantuan, prohibitively-expensive 98-inch model, so it’s tough to give the QN90B credit there. The remaining variants are comparable to what’s represented in the C2 series: a 43-inch option instead of a 42-inch option, an 85-inch option instead of an 83-inch option, and so on.
With sizing being more or less equal, let’s turn our attention to pricing. The most popular size options (55 and 65 inches) are slightly cheaper from LG, while the smallest option of each series is slightly cheaper from Samsung. If you’re shopping for an 83- or 85-inch TV, the 85-inch QN90B is also significantly cheaper than the 83-inch C2.
Until these TVs start to see some significant discounts, the price category is essentially a wash depending on which size you choose.
Our pick: Draw
Here’s some good news: Regardless of which TV you grab, you’ll be looking at a beautifully designed piece of tech that’s sure to turn heads. LG and Samsung have clearly poured a ton of thought and care into these high-end models, and that much is clear on sight.
Like most OLED TVs, the C2’s panel is razor-thin; only slightly thicker than most smartphones. When approached from the side, the top half of the TV almost disappears from view. It widens out among the TV’s midsection, where the internals are housed, but compared to most TVs on the market, the C2 is impressively svelte.
This year, LG OLEDs are significantly lighter than they have been in years past. The C2 is a prime example thanks to its lightweight, composite-fiber material and a lighter-than-average stand. The stand itself is set at a downward-facing angle with roughly two inches of clearance between the bottom of the C2’s screen and its surface, so taller soundbars may obscure your view. The 42-inch C2 swaps the series’ pedestal-style stand for a pair of wide-set, angular feet that meet the display close to its corners.
The QN90B’s stand design offers a bit more soundbar clearance (about 2.5 inches), and soundbars can be situated directly on top of the QN90B’s flat, metallic stand. Its panel is not as wafer-thin as the C2’s, but it’s impressively narrow nevertheless, with no bulky midsection to speak of.
I also want to shout out Samsung’s Solar Cell remote control, which ships with every QN90B size option. In addition to running on a solar-powered rechargeable battery, the remote is easier to hold than LG’s Magic Remote, and its button layout is less cluttered.
I much prefer the look and feel of the C2; its super-thin panel is a marvel to behold and its lightweight build makes it easy to move and wall mount. That said, the QN90B is better suited for a soundbar pairing and its Solar Cell remote is quite convenient.
This one comes down to personal preference.
Our pick: Draw
Features and smart platform
These top-shelf 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, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes (native decoding)
- eARC support: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120Hz
- HDMI: 4x HDMI 2.1
- Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Yes
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
- Other features: Filmmaker Mode, Free Sync, G-Sync, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Both TVs offer a bevy of hardware- and software-related enhancements that ought to satisfy gamers and A/V enthusiasts alike, but there are some critical differences to take into account.
Let’s start with gaming. Both the C2 and QN90B support 4K gaming at 120Hz across all four of their respective HDMI 2.1 ports, with VRR, ALLM, and FreeSync, and G-Sync available right out of the box. That said, the C2 supports FreeSync Premium while the QN90B supports FreeSync Premium Pro, and the latter is capable of delivering performance benefits during HDR games.
Both TVs offer a dedicated gaming settings menu: LG’s Game Optimizer and Samsung’s Game Bar. These menus will be heavily used by gamers, as they relay frame rate information, offer genre-specific picture settings, and deliver immediate access to each TV’s VRR controls. These features—along with their low input lag and excellent motion handling—make the C2 and QN90B two of the best gaming TVs you can buy this year.
Audio- and picture-based enhancements are where these two TVs begin to diverge. While the C2 supports Dolby Vision, the QN90B—like all Samsung TVs—skips the popular HDR format for HDR10+.
Think of HDR10+ as a royalty-free version of Dolby Vision: both optimize the picture using metadata in largely the same manner. Despite the similarities between Dolby Vision and HDR10+ (both offer scene-by-scene and frame-by-frame Dynamic Tone Mapping), there are currently more titles mastered for Dolby Vision (including select Xbox Series X games). Some UHD Blu-rays and streaming platforms master content for HDR10+ (Amazon Prime being one of them), but Dolby Vision is more abundant.
Both the C2 and the QN90B can decode Dolby Atmos natively and pass Dolby TrueHD (necessary for the uncompressed version of Atmos) directly to a receiver or soundbar, (so long as the chosen device also supports eARC). Neither TV supports DTS audio, though, which is worth keeping in mind if you own Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks.
The C2 offers the newest version of LG’s webOS, while the QN90B is running the newest version of Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform. Both interfaces are laid out in a similar manner, with a dedicated home screen acting as the starting point for selecting content. Unfortunately, both software suites emphasize sponsored content, which can be irritating if you’re just trying to navigate from one app to another.
As far as content goes, webOS and Tizen offer a similar collection of preinstalled apps, with more available to add as you see fit. Each platform is roughly the same when it comes to loading times and occasional slowdown—neither is frustratingly slow, but a dedicated streaming device might offer smoother navigation. If I had to give the edge to one, I’d say I prefer webOS, though I’d much prefer to do my streaming by way of Roku.
A lack of Dolby Vision on a lesser, more affordable TV might not be much of a pain point, but for a flagship TV in the QN90B’s price range, it really hurts. Samsung has its reasons for backing HDR10+, but these reasons are mostly business-related. From a features perspective, the C2 and QN90B are mostly neck and neck, but the C2’s Dolby Vision support puts it over the top.
Our pick: LG C2
The C2 and QN90B both feature world-class performance, but they do so with different philosophies. Because of these varying approaches, each TV has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Being an OLED TV, the C2’s foundational asset is its contrast. Like all OLED displays, the C2 is capable of producing perfect black levels, which creates a level of depth and clarity that non-OLED TVs can’t quite compete with. There is no light bloom to speak of, so the illumination from brighter picture elements won’t spill into their surroundings.
The self-emissive nature of OLED displays offers benefits beyond black levels, too; the C2’s viewing angles are far more accommodating than the QN90B’s.
When it comes to color, the C2 features one of the most robust palettes available today. It covers about 98% of the DCI-P3 HDR color space, so film content and next-gen games look every bit as vibrant as their creators intended. In addition, the C2’s Cinema and Filmmaker picture modes require very little calibration out of the box—at least compared to the alternatives. Not only does the C2 look fantastic, but it should also satisfy picture purists who don’t necessarily want to hire a professional calibrator.
While the C2 is one of the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever seen, its peak brightness has nothing on high-end, quantum dot-enhanced LED TVs like the QN90B. Samsung’s Neo QLED lineup might not be able to recreate OLED's perfect black levels, but they get about twice as bright on average. Basic, everyday content (broadcast TV, cable programming, and most streaming content) are far brighter on the QN90B than the C2, and in HDR, the QN90B is able to deliver searing highlights that the C2 can’t match. You’re most likely to notice the difference between the C2’s OLED display and the QN90B’s and mini-LED backlighting during HDR content—reflections of sunlight, fiery explosions, and twinkling stars are all much brighter on the QN90B.
As impressive as the QN90B’s highlights are, they’re not without some drawbacks. Because the combination of mini-LEDs and quantum dots allows for brightness levels in the 2,000-nit range (compared to a ceiling of around 800 nits on the C2), the QN90B often struggles to rein in its light, which leads to some minor blooming whenever bright picture elements clash with darkness.
It’s also worth noting that, while the QN90B’s incredible brightness allows for some super-saturated colors, our lab tests indicate that it doesn’t cover as much of the DCI-P3 color gamut as the C2 (about 91%). Like the C2, the QN90B features a dedicated Filmmaker picture mode (intended to deliver content in a way that preserves the creator’s intent), but it’s not nearly as accurate as LG’s. As we’ve seen in the past with Samsung TVs, the QN90B’s out-of-the-box picture settings don’t adhere to reference standards as closely as some of its competitors. If you’re looking for accuracy, a professional calibration might be in order.
So what does this mean for you? Well, out of the box, the C2 is a better-performing TV—at least when it comes to black level, color, and a wider viewing angle. That said, if you’re planning on placing your new TV in a room that gets plenty of sunlight, the QN90B may be preferred. It doesn’t matter what sort of content you’re watching, the QN90B is brighter 100% of the time.
On the other hand, the C2 is a better fit for dark- or dim-room viewing, as its deep, inky black levels tend to reveal more detail during dark scenes, all while remaining free of light bloom. Unless you’ve got a bright living space and plan on doing a fair amount of daytime viewing, the C2 is the better performer.
Our pick: LG C2
And the winner is…
For the vast majority of shoppers, the LG C2 is the best option between the two. The two most popular sizes are marginally cheaper than the QN90B counterparts, its out-of-the-box picture quality is stronger, and although both of these TVs offer a bounty of extra features, the C2 will net you Dolby Vision support.
But there’s a rather big caveat here, and it has to do with the nature of your home. If you plan on doing a lot of viewing during the day in a brightly lit room, the QN90B is probably a better use of your money. You won’t be getting perfect black levels, extra-wide viewing angles, or Dolby Vision support, but the QN90B’s performance is tailor-made for your needs.
Both of these TVs are on pace to land on our list of the best TVs of the year, but the C2 is more of an all-around crowd-pleaser.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.