Samsung S95B vs LG C2: Is QD-OLED the real deal?
The Samsung S95B and LG C2 battle it out for OLED supremacy.
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It’s an exciting time to be in the market for an OLED TV. While LG just released its follow up to our favorite TV of 2021, Samsung is releasing its first OLED TV in nearly a decade. Indeed, the LG C2 and the Samsung S95B are likely to be two of the best TVs of the year. So how do you go about choosing between the two?
We spend hours testing TVs to help our readers shop with confidence, so we’re well equipped to point you in the right direction. Here’s how the LG C2 and the Samsung S95B compare in the all-important categories of price, design, performance, and features.
The Samsung S95B QD-OLED is available in just two size options. Due to its elevated display technology (which we’ll get into shortly), the S95B 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
Folks who yearn for a Samsung QD-OLED in smaller or larger size options will have to wait for future releases. If you’re in the market for a TV under 55 inches or above 65 inches, the LG C2 has you covered.
- 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 42-inch C2 is sure to be a hit with gamers.
Critically, when comparing these TVs’ shared screen sizes, the C2 is significantly cheaper, especially if you intend on buying a 65-inch model. Between the added flexibility of the lineup and the friendlier pricing, the C2 takes this category easily.
Our pick: LG C2
OLED TVs are known for their ultra-thin panels, which are often thinner than most smartphones. The S95B and C2 are no exception; when viewed from the side, the top half of their panels almost disappear. Both TVs have a bit of bulk around their midsection, but at their thickest point, they're still narrower than most TVs.
That said, the S95B’s panel is thinner than the C2’s—so thin, in fact, that you'll need to be quite careful when picking the TV up, as it's liable to bend. If you’re after the thinnest possible panel, the S95B is the way to go.
Panel dimensions are not the only thing worthy of consideration, however. This year, LG OLEDs are significantly lighter than they have been in years past, and the C2 is a prime example thanks to its lightweight, composite-fiber material and a lighter-than-average stand.
Speaking of stands, if you don’t plan on wall-mounting one of these OLEDs, it’s worth noting the differences between their respective stand designs. Except for the 42-inch version of the C2, both forgo a pair of feet in favor of a centered, pedestal-style stand. The S95B’s stand sits flat on its surface, allowing a fair amount of space for a soundbar—about 2.5 inches, to be precise.
The C2’s stand, meanwhile, is set at a downward-facing angle, so most people will place their soundbar in front of the stand rather than on top of it. While not a major difference, the C2's 2.1-inches of clearance leaves even less soundbar space than Samsung’s model, giving the edge to the S95B.
Both of these premium TVs play the part well, but if you don’t mind the extra weight, the S95B is the more flexible option for most people.
Our pick: Samsung S95B
Features and smart platform
As premium OLED TVs, the S95B and the C2 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)
- Display type: OLED
- 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, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa
Whether you’re an A/V enthusiast, a gamer, or both, you’re looking at two TVs that are well equipped to meet most if not all of your needs.
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 the C2 and S95B offer their own interpretation of a dedicated gaming settings menu: LG’s Game Optimizer and Samsung’s Game Bar. These menus act as a gaming command center of sorts, relaying frame rate information, offering genre-specific picture adjustments, and giving folks easy access to each TV’s VRR settings.
Audio- and picture-based enhancements are where these two TVs begin to diverge. Both TVs can decode Dolby Atmos audio natively, and both TVs can pass it via eARC to Dolby Atmos soundbars—either in the uncompressed format (Dolby TrueHD) or the compressed format (Dolby Digital Plus). Both TVs do not support DTS audio, though, so if you own a fair share of Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks and you’re looking for a premium OLED TV that supports DTS passthrough, we recommend checking out the Sony A90J.
While the C2 supports Dolby Vision (considered by most to be the strictest HDR benchmark), the Samsung S95B supports HDR10+, a royalty-free version of HDR that operates in largely the same manner. Despite the similarities between Dolby Vision and HDR10+, titles that are mastered for Dolby Vision (including select Xbox Series X games) won’t look quite the same on the S95B.
Lastly, let’s discuss smart platforms. The C2 comes with the newest version of LG’s webOS baked in, while the S95B is running the newest version of Samsung’s Tizen-based smart platform, Smart Hub. Both platforms are laid out in a similar manner, with a dedicated home screen acting as the starting point for selecting content. Each platform emphasizes sponsored content, too, which can be irritating.
But when it comes to navigation, webOS has a considerable edge. I may not appreciate either platform’s overemphasis on sponsored content, but at least I can jump around from app to input with relative ease on the LG C2. The S95B, on the other hand, is prone to slowing down, and it often takes more than one button input for a selection to register.
Each of these TVs is among the best in their class for A/V- and gaming-related enhancements, but the C2’s dedication to Dolby Vision is a considerable benefit. The C2’s software, too, is a better fit for most people who intend on using a built-in smart platform as their dedicated streaming center.
Our pick: LG C2
Contrast is the bread and butter of both the C2 and the S95B. Since OLEDs 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.
But 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-dot TVs typically offer a brighter, more-colorful picture, but until now, all quantum-dot TVs have been LED TVs, which means they 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 benefits of QD-OLED are immediately apparent when looking at the Samsung S95B side by side with the LG C2. While both TVs offer an incredible, world-class picture quality, the S95B is significantly brighter in HDR, with added depth and clarity resulting from these souped-up highlights.
Colors on the S95B, too, are greatly improved by the addition of quantum dots. During HDR content in particular, colors on Samsung’s QD-OLED feature a bright, bold expression that you don’t quite get on the C2. I was quite impressed with the S95B’s ability to handle skin tones, light blue skies, and color gradients in general.
That said, folks who are looking for a more accurate, restrained picture right out of the box might want to consider the C2, as both its Cinema picture mode and its Filmmaker mode are closer to reference standards than the S95B’s respective Movie and Filmmaker picture modes. You obviously have the option of hiring a professional calibrator for whichever TV you decide to go with, but if what you desire is an accurate picture, the C2 requires less tweaking out of the box.
It’s also worth noting that the C2 offers a brighter real-scene picture during SDR content, so if you intend on watching basic cable, over-the-air channels, or most streaming content during daylight hours, the C2 has a slight edge over the S95B—at least when it comes to standard viewing.
When the dust finally settles at the end of the year, both of these OLED TVs will almost assuredly end up on our list of the best TVs of the year. From a picture quality standpoint, you really can’t lose. But the S95B’s impressive, hybrid-style display technology is an undeniable revelation. In fact, I would argue that the TV’s quantum dots are the main reason that the S95B is significantly pricier than the C2. As the adage goes, you get what you pay for.
Our pick: Samsung S95B
And the winner is…
This one is simply too close to call.
Samsung’s first OLED in years is an absolute triumph—perhaps the best-looking TV of the year. It’s stuffed to the gills with gaming-centric features and rocks a superb, high-end design. But it’s only available in two sizes, shutting out folks who might be looking for a more modest, 42- or 48-inch model, as well as the people in the market for a larger-than-life, 75-to-85-inch TV.
In addition to offering these size options, the LG C2 is also a better choice for home theater aficionados who don’t want to miss out on Dolby Vision support. The C2’s built-in smart platform, while not perfect, is quicker to navigate than Samsung’s.
Lastly—and perhaps most importantly—the C2 is significantly cheaper than the S95B; at the time of publishing, its 55-inch model is about $400 cheaper, and its 65-inch variant is about $500 cheaper.
Performance-wise, these are two of the best-looking TVs we’ll see all year. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether or not the brighter, bolder look of the S95B’s quantum dot-enhanced display is worth the extra dough, and that’s not a decision I can make for you. For these reasons, we’re calling this match-up a tie. Both of these TVs are among the best we’ve ever seen, and they’re sure to look incredible for years to come.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.