Samsung QN95A (QE65QN95A) Neo QLED Mini LED TV Review
- Very good calibrated SDR image quality
- Mini LED backlight
- Excellent HDR peak brightness potential
- Very good calibrated colour accuracy
- Decent out of the box Filmmaker Mode
- Slim One Connect Box
- OTS+ sound
- HDMI 2.1 inputs
- 10ms input lag
- Very good smart TV system
The Not So Good
- Local dimming dims peak highlights in mixed scenes
- Some black crush
- Some dirty screen effect
- No Dolby Vision support
What is the Samsung QN95A?
The QN95A is Samsung’s flagship 4K LED LCD TV for 2021 and as such it launches with the new Mini LED Neo QLED panel which promises more LEDs, more dimming zones and better precision to the backlight and local dimming algorithm. This aims to produce better black levels, superior just above black shadow details and much more precise and detailed peak highlights with HDR10 content.
The revolution with Mini LED is the fact that larger LEDs usually have a protective packaging and lens around the diode, and this is removed with Mini LED allowing more space to pack in more of the incredibly small Mini LED diodes, giving you more options when it comes to dimming zones. As such, the QN95A sports 792 zones compared to the 480 zones on previous years 4K flagship TVs from Samsung. Added to this is a newly developed local dimming algorithm that can handle the extra dimming zones intelligently and also take energy away from areas that are supposed to be black and transfer that to the brighter areas of the image, allowing for much higher peak brightness and dynamic range.
Added to the Mini LED enhancements is Quantum Dot technology for even better accurate colour reproduction. Added to this are Samsung’s claims of a peak brightness of 2000 nits with HDR10 content, something we will measure later in the review, and colour gamuts thanks to the Quantum Dots that reach 100% of DCI-P3. The QN95A supports HDR10, HDR10+, HDR10+ Adaptive and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) high dynamic range formats. Once again, there is no support from Samsung for Dolby Vision HDR.
It is also great to see Samsung supporting the UHDA cause and adding FilmMaker Mode to the menu system, so you now have a one-button press option to see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen. This mode also switches off all unnecessary image processing and manipulation, including frame interpolation, so you can view content as it was supposed to be viewed. It’s a great feature and one we will be testing later in the review.
The Neo Quantum Processor 4K helps with the upscaling and video processing performance of the QN95A, with even more deep learning using 16 neural networks to fine-tune the upscaling prowess making sure that objects look as they should, without over the top edge enhancements or processing artefacts. Motion is also enhanced once again with the correct pulldown applied to 24fps material and better 50Hz broadcast performance with no frame skipping.
As this is a VA panel TV, viewing angles can be an issue when viewing off-axis, but Samsung has added its Ultra Viewing Angle Anti-Reflective screen to the QN95A which helps combat viewing angle issues, so you can sit further off-axis than with a normal VA panel LCD TV and not see the same colour shift or gamma drop. This makes it a more interesting proposition for living rooms. The Anti-Reflective screen is also excellent at stopping ambient lighting from washing out the image onscreen. If you get a direct light hitting the screen you can see rainbow coloured striping across the screen surface, but with careful placement, the screen can look incredibly non-reflective with content playing and deep black when switched off.
... much improved over previous years' models thanks to those Mini LEDs and better local dimming algorithms
The Neo Quantum Processor is also used for the audio performance on the QN95A with its superb Object Tracking Sound Plus (OTS+) system using multiple speakers around the screen to make sure that audio follows the action anywhere it is needed onscreen. There are additional processing tricks employed to take into consideration your viewing room and its effect on the sound, as well as adaptive technologies for volume, dialogue and more. Finally, in terms of audio, the QN95A also supports Q Symphony which allows you to hook up a compatible Samsung soundbar and use all the TV drivers to create a wide and immersive experience.
One area where LED LCD TVs have traditionally performed well is with gaming consoles and the QN95A is packed with the latest gaming technology to take advantage of the latest consoles. The QN95A supports 4K/120 as well as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), eARC, AMD Freesync Premium Pro and a low input lag of 10ms at 4K/60. There is also the new Game Bar feature which pops up with information on the frame rate, signal type, refresh rate and more.
The Smart TV and OS is the excellent Tizen system which is one of the very best on the market. Almost every major app is supported as well as the excellent Samsung digital butler which collates content based on what the TV thinks you will want to watch based on previous viewing habits. Image quality is excellent with support for HDR10+ via Amazon and 4K HDR10 content via the other platforms which support it. However, the one thing it doesn’t provide is Dolby Vision content as Samsung still refuses to support the format.
Finally, the QN95A comes with the new, slimmer One Connect box. This facilitates all of the source connections and supplies the TV with those signals, as well as power, through a single cable connection which keeps things neat and tidy.
So, does the Samsung QN95A offer a marked improvement in picture quality over previous 4K flagship models and does it offer picture quality to champion the LED LCD cause against OLED? Let’s find out…
Design, Connections and Control
The Samsung QN95A is a fantastic looking TV with a simple, minimalist design that incorporates excellent build quality, a neat one-cable solution in the One Connect Box and a sleek almost bezel-less look to the panel.
That One Connect Box has been redesigned to be slimmer and more compact, allowing you to place it easily away from the TV, or leave it in full view with its neat new design.
Around the back we have one cable connector for the one connect cable, all the source connections are on the One Connect Box. Connections wise we have the one connect slot, a USB, four HDMI 2.1 slots with eARC on HDMI3, along with two further USB ports, a CI slot, RF and two satellite antennas, digital audio out and a LAN port. The power socket is positioned on the right side of the One Connect Box. There is also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Apple Airplay 2 wireless connectivity.
The Samsung QN95A comes with two remote controls in the box. The first is a sleek One Remote in black with a solar panel on the rear for charging the batteries. This is a new feature for 2021 and it works well, keeping the remote charged during use. The second remote is the now-familiar traditional multi-key design covered in buttons.
Both remotes work well and sit neatly in the hand. It’ll depend on how much control you need, day to day, to decide which remote is best suited to your use case.
Out of the Box
As we do with all TV reviews we factory reset the panel and then measured the picture presets to find which is the most accurate to the industry standards, out of the box. The best preset is Filmmaker Mode (FMM) which switches off all unwanted processing with accurate colour and D65 white balance retained. It is a one-button press solution that has no video processing or motion interpolation applied and it follows the industry standards for SDR and HDR content playback
Looking at the greyscale results for Filmmaker Mode (FMM) we can see that red energy dips from the darkest part of the scale, towards the brightest part. Green is also a touch high through the same scale. This means that our DeltaE errors are slightly higher than the visible threshold of three from around 60% brightness and up, which means that a slight cyan colour shift can be seen in white. This is not ideal and we would expect better from FMM on such a premium TV, so Samsung has some work to do here. Our gamma is good with just a slight darkening at 10% brightness which does translate as a slight black crush with some test content we know well.
The Rec.709 results are also slightly disappointing for FMM with some hues issues with green, cyan and magenta as well as undersaturation of red at 50% and 75% saturation points. These do look worse on the graph than they do with actual viewing content on the QN95A, but it would be nice to see a little more accuracy, even with some panel variance expected. The results are reasonable and look accurate for an out of the box preset, but the measured results fall a little short of what we would expect from FMM. Certainly, the OLED results have been better from the competition at this price point.
We have sufficient calibration controls within the Samsung menus to dial in some accuracy with a full manual calibration of the QN95A.
Looking at the greyscale first we can see that the QN95A is capable of reference results with an excellent greyscale track and DeltaE errors well under one, which is below the visible threshold of three, so no errors are visible when watching TV and film content on the Samsung. Gamma still has a slight darkening at 10% brightness, but the result of the tracking is excellent.
Our Rec.709 results are also good with the issues of hue and undersaturation almost taken care of. We couldn’t do anything about the red saturation at 75% stimulus and magenta still has a slight hue issue, but these were invisible when watching actual film and TV content on the QN95A. Overall, the results were very good indeed for calibrated SDR image quality.
We measured the Samsung QN95A in the HDR Filmmaker Mode which aims to follow the PQ EOTF ST2084 standard with a D65 white point and DCI-P3 colour gamut within BT.2020 out of the box. Playing to LED LCD strengths, we’d expect this flagship Neo QLED set to produce accurate results with high peak brightness images.
Following measurements, we can see that the QN95A is able to produce a peak brightness of 1588 nits on a standard 10% window, with a full 100% window measuring in at 675 nits. This is lower than the advertised 2000 nits, but we are using the most accurate picture preset which aims at producing an HDR that is balanced and retains details in the peak highlights, rather than pushing for just peak brightness.
Unlike previous Samsung QLED flagships which have pushed the PQ EOTF brighter than the ST.2084 standard, the QN95A maintains the correct tracking of the standard with the right amount of brightness which results in a balanced HDR10 image in the HDR Filmmaker Mode preset. This is an improvement from the company given that previous flagships have pushed the brightness and required a contrast adjustment in the past; there is no need to do that here.
The DCI-P3 colour gamut saturation tracking is also very good with just a few instances of hue errors pushing some points a little off where we would ideally expect them to be. Red and blue are slightly undersaturated with hue errors seen in magenta, cyan and green. However, the gamut size is good with excellent colour volume and brightness on offer, producing a very nice colour performance with HDR10 content, even though it falls short of the claimed 100% gamut coverage.
We measured BT.2020 at 68% XY and 72% UV with P3 coming in at 92% XY and 95% UV.
With the Samsung QN95A introducing Mini LED to the QLED line-up and marrying it with Samsung’s usual high standard of local dimming algorithms, the performance on offer is very good indeed for an LED LCD TV. There is excellent image quality on offer in both bright rooms and darkroom environments with Samsung pushing this set for critical movie viewing in dim surroundings with an improved local dimming performance and the new Mini LED technology pushing this performance further than previous years.
Panel uniformity as a result of using Mini LED is not really improved that much over last year’s models with some light dirty screen effect visible, especially with areas of colour and panning shots, like football pitches. On a 5% slide we can see light edges and a darker middle to the panel, which is visible in dark viewing conditions on the slide, but less visible with actual dark screen content viewed in dim surroundings. Uniformity at other brightness levels is decent with just the odd instances of clouding being seen with slides. This is less visible with actual viewing content.
Colours are also excellent on the Samsung with calibrated SDR and HDR looking sublime and vivid, but with natural and accurate colour balance.
Black levels are also decent with a nice amount of shadow detail visible within most content and only slight black crush being noticeable when viewing in dim surroundings. The use of Mini LED has added some improvements to the black level performance with a noticeable shift in dynamic range performance and visible shadow detail also seeing a step up within tricky test scenes. We still see some instances of the blooming suppressions changing the light output within some scenes, such as the tricky Sandra Bullock tumble in Gravity showing up changes in an obvious manner and losing some of the star fields as the local dimming attempts to keep brightness constant. However, these instances of backlight brightness changes within scenes are rare and content dependent, with the vast majority of viewing material not highlighting any instances, even when viewing in dim surroundings.
Video processing is also very good with excellent upscaling of HD content to the UHD resolution of the QN95A, without any obvious signs of edge ringing or enhancements, and the image looking natural without any processing giving it a processed or digital look. Fine detail is retained with native 4K content in the Filmmaker Mode out of the box and motion is also very good indeed with no signs of trailing or judder. With Motion Clarity switched off we have the correct pulldown applied to 24fps content with no signs of induced judder or motion blur that shouldn’t be within the content naturally. Even 50Hz broadcast material looks good with no judder or frame skipping seen, even with fast cuts or difficult multi-camera programmes. Adding in Motion Clarity does introduce frame interpolation and the higher the settings, the more instances of soap opera effect and artefacts are seen. Some experimentation in the custom mode may help those looking for smoother motion with fast-moving sports, like football.
... there are instances of dirty screen effect with some content, and local dimming issues with some tricky low light and mixed scene content
SDR and HDR performance on the QN95A is very good and even in dark viewing environments, the Samsung manages to produce some excellent cinematic looking images. Blacks for the majority of our viewing were excellent with just the odd instance of the local dimming introducing noticeable brightness suppression to stop haloing or failing to suppress that blooming effect. But these were rare instances and very much content dependant in seeing them. Blacks and shadow detail retrieval is very good for an LED LCD set with only the odd instance of black crush being seen when viewing in dim surroundings. Black bars with 2.40:1 content are also solid in nature with no obvious light bleed being seen with the majority of content we viewed in this format. This adds to the dynamic range and perceivable contrast performance of the QN95A.
Colours are also excellent on the Samsung with calibrated SDR and HDR looking sublime and vivid, but with natural and accurate colour balance. Skin tones look life-like and natural with excellent detail seen within faces giving the QN95A a nice cinematic sheen. Contrast is also excellent allowing details to be easily picked out without images looking processed or over sharpened. Added to this is the very good motion performance with film-based content that looks filmic and natural with no added judder or motion blur, other than that intended to be seen. Film grain is also very well presented when present, with no backdoor noise reduction scrubbing away fine detail, or sharpening being added that exaggerates the grain structure. I was very impressed with the picture quality on offer from the QN95A in the majority of our testing. That’s not to say that issues don’t exist, as there are instances of dirty screen effect with some content, and local dimming issues with some tricky low light and mixed scene content, but for the majority of viewing these issues were non-existent.
... the overall HDR performance of the QN95A is very good indeed and will appeal to those looking for the best peak brightness and bright room performance.
Moving to HDR content really highlights the strengths of this Neo QLED TV with exceptionally bright and dynamic images mixed with very good black levels and an image that in the majority of cases doesn't require too much tone mapping to achieve a balanced and detailed image. Peak brightness performance is very good with detail being visible even in the brightest reaches of the image, as well as superb mid-tones and a decent black floor with visible shadow detail adding overall depth to the image. It can’t compete with OLED when it comes to pixel level on/off illumination and even with Mini LED there are still issues with large areas of the image bleeding light in tricky black scenes, or dimming the peak highlights to avoid blooming around bright objects against dark backgrounds, but the QN95A can also produce the goods within the peak highlights and brightness, that OLED simply can’t yet touch. So, you pick your poison when it comes to HDR10 performance and Mini LED from Samsung. It is a shame that the company still doesn’t support Dolby Vision as there is far more content available in that dynamic metadata system than HDR10+. However, the overall HDR performance of the QN95A is very good indeed and will appeal to those looking for the best peak brightness and bright room performance.
Gaming is also a strong point for the QN95A with an excellent input lag of 10ms added to HDMI 2.1 features such as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), eARC, AMD Freesync Premium Pro and 4K120. Plus, Samsung adds in the new Game Bar feature which pops up with information on the frame rate, signal type, refresh rate and more, giving gamers a much more immersive experience.
Sound quality is also superb with the Object Tracking Sound Plus (OTS+) system really beefing up the sound quality on offer from this TV. While it lacks real bass punch and weight as it doesn’t have a subwoofer attached or a separate soundbar, the overall performance is still impressive. Sound is directed around the screen to match the position of the actor speaking within a scene and the soundstage is also impressive and wide. Dialogue is always intelligible and stereo effects are wide and impressive when sat directly in front of the screen. There is no Dolby Atmos support and no real immersive audio capabilities present, the QN95A does still manage to give the feeling of height as well as width to its sound presentation which is impressive for TV-based audio.
Smart TV & OS
Finally, Tizen remains a strong contender for the best smart TV and OS experience on the market and just the lack of Dolby Vision and Atmos from the major apps brings down the mark slightly in comparison to LG’s WebOS, which in my opinion still reigns supreme because of its almost universal format support. But, saying that, the Tizen system has continually been improved and the apps and features on offer with the QN95A are excellent. The system is fast and responsive with almost every major app available to users.
Samsung QN95A (QE65QN95A) Neo QLED Mini LED TV Review
The Samsung QN95A is an excellent entry in the LED LCD TV line-up and introduces Mini LED for the first time to the Samsung QLED range, creating the NEO QLED TV. It offers excellent out of the box and calibrated images for SDR and HDR content as well as top-end support for gamers with HDMI 2.1 features and an impressive input lag.
Sound quality is also very good with the OTS+ system providing a wide and immersive performance for a TV set, with the option to improve it further by adding a Samsung soundbar and subwoofer. Plus, we have the always superb Tizen Smart TV and OS system which offers some of the best content available via almost every major application available in 4K and HDR10.
SDR and HDR picture performance is also good with excellent colour accuracy and greyscale tracking following calibration, and out of the box Filmmaker mode also offers good accuracy for movie viewing. Peak brightness is impressive with 1588 nits available in some scenes with smaller peak highlight areas and full-screen brightness is also bright at 675 nits. Blacks are strong and the local dimming for the majority is very good indeed with excellent suppression of blooming and halos. However, there are also some issues with dirty screen effect, blooming suppression dimming peak highlight areas in mixed scenes and some instances of black crush visible. But with that said, all of these issues are improved with the introduction of Mini LED and better local dimming algorithms over last year’s flagship 4K TV.
Overall, if you are looking for a TV with excellent peak brightness and bright room performance, mixed with very good video processing, gaming features, superb smart TV integration and decent sound quality then you should add the Samsung QN95A to your demo list as it comes recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
The games console used in this review was kindly supplied by our gaming partner Smyths Toys Gaming, the No.1 choice for next-gen Gaming