2022 saw a new variation of OLED hit the market courtesy of Samsung Display. QD-OLED merges two of the most prominent TV display technologies, OLED and Quantum Dot, in order to boost the brightness and colour reproduction of standard OLED displays. Only two QD-OLED TVs hit shops last year, but both received rave reviews from us.
Samsung was obviously the first to throw its hat in the ring, with the S95B QD-OLED. It earned five stars from us, thanks to its excellent vibrancy and dynamism, as well as its comprehensive gaming support. Sony followed shortly after with the A95K QD-OLED, which also took home a five-star review thanks to its bright, yet supremely natural and authentic picture and excellent sound performance.
Considering how much we like these two QD-OLEDs, you can imagine how excited we were to find out about Samsung and Sony's 2023 replacement models, the imaginatively titled S95C and A95L respectively. While only the former has arrived in our test labs, earning itself a four-star review, we are yet to see the Sony set for any longer than our previous hands-on experience.
Consider this an early comparison based on what we have experienced thus far, what we know from the previous generation models and information that Samsung and Sony have released.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: price
Samsung has recently released pricing information for the S95C, and its unfortunately a substantial bump for customers in the UK and US. The 55-inch model comes in at £2700 / $2500, while the 65-inch model will retail for £3600 / $3300. There is also a 77-inch model, which is a new addition to the roster this year. It will cost £5100 / $4500.
As we mentioned, this is an increase over the previous generation model, which is frustrating but not unexpected considering the current economic climate; LG has also upped the price of its new G3 OLED, for example. But how much more expensive is the S95C vs S95B? Well...
|Size||Samsung S95B (2022)||Samsung S95C (2023)|
|55||£2399 / $2200 / AU$4079||£2699 / $2500 / AU$TBC|
|65||£3500 / $3000 / AU$5249||£3599 / $3300 / AU$TBC|
|77||No such model||£5099 / $4500 / AU$TBC|
Sony still hasn't revealed pricing for the A95L quite yet, so we just have last year's pricing to go from. Sony's QD-OLED was more expensive than Samsung's offering, coming in at £2699 / $3000 for the 55-inch model (which wasn't released in Australia), and £3499 / $4000 / AU$5995 for the 65-inch version. There is also a 77-inch model of the A95L on the way, but we don't have a point of reference as to how much that could cost. It would be easy to assume that Sony, like Samsung and LG, will put its prices up this year, but with the A95K already one of the most expensive mainstream TVs of 2022, the company may well be keen to not make the A95 L even pricier.
It's worth noting that while the A95L is Sony's only new QD-OLED offering, the S95C is not Samsung's only new QD-OLED. It has also revealed the S90C, a slightly cheaper QD-OLED set that isn't quite as bright, doesn't have a One Connect box and features a less powerful sound system.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: build
Both the Sony and Samsung feature the same second-generation QD-OLED that comes in the familiar 55- and 65-inch sizes seen last year, however, the 77-inch variant for both models is a new addition. Samsung Display is obviously eager to capitalise on QD-OLED and push development forward, so introducing new size options to expand the range is a good start.
Both models also feature thin bezels and include a stand in the box for convenient placement on a media unit, although they can both be wall mounted if you so desire. Samsung opts for a centre-mounted, low-profile square pedestal, whereas Sony has swapped its incredibly heavy stand from the A95K for a pair of angled feet (as seen above). The versatile stand from the A95K will be missed as it could be mounted in two ways to either sit flush against a wall or give the TV a floating appearance, but its deceiving mass could be a problem.
Samsung's TV features a strikingly thin design; in fact, the set itself is a uniform thickness of 1cm throughout. This is achieved through the use of Samsung's One Connect box, which is an external hub that houses the guts of the TV as well as all of the connections. This clever design means the TV itself remains clutter-free.
The Sony on the other hand is a little chunkier, partly because the internal components and connections are on the main body of the TV, but also because its innovative audio system involves actuators that vibrate the QD-OLED panel in order to generate sound. It's something of a case of function over form, although it must be said that the A95L, while thicker than most OLED TVs, is very stylish with it.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: features
As you'd hope for two 2023 flagship OLED TVs, both the S95C and A95L are absolutely feature-packed. Starting with HDR support, the Samsung and Sony both feature the standard HDR10 and HLG formats, but then Samsung adds HDR10+ while Sony opts for Dolby Vision. Samsung continues to choose HDR10+ over Dolby Vision, which is a continuing frustration, as more disc and streaming content from the likes of Netflix and Disney Plus supports Dolby Vision.
Gamers should feel right at home on either of these TVs as they feature 4K/120Hz support via their HDMI 2.1 ports. However, while Samsung uses its own, in-house chip, which features four of these HDMI 2.1 ports, Sony is using the latest MediaTek Pentonic 1000, which has just two (its other two HDMIs are of the older, 2.0 spec). What makes it worse is that one of these HDMI 2.1 sockets is also for eARC, so if you need that for a soundbar of AVR, you'll have just one HDMI 2.1 socket left. That isn't ideal if you're a serious gamer who owns multiple consoles. Back to the positive gaming features, both sets support VRR and ALLM.
Moving on from picture to sound, both TVs support Dolby Atmos via their own speakers and can output it via the HDMI eARC socket.
Finally, as you'd expect, both TVs have smart functionality, although both use different systems. Samsung is using its Tizen operating system found on many more of its prior TVs. Here you'll find all the streaming apps you'd expect such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV and Amazon Prime Video, as well as some Samsung-specific features such as Samsung TV Plus and Xbox game streaming.
On the Sony side of things, you'll find Google TV, the same as on the A95K. Google TV can be found on other TVs, as well as on the Google Chromecast with Google TV. It is a useful and intuitive smart platform with wide app compatibility, so we have no complaints regarding its return on the A95L. It also means you'll be able to use Google Assistant to navigate the smart system via voice commands.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: picture
While we want to stress again that we haven't put the Sony TVs through its paces in the same way we would for a full review, we have done so with the Samsung and it yielded some interesting results.
Starting with the Samsung S95C, we're immediately stopped in our tracks when we find that Filmmaker mode, our usual preset of choice for testing TVs, frankly looks too dull. Top Gun Maverick, a film that is frankly the dictionary definition of bold, looks too dull and subdued, with shadow detail taking a particularly bad hit.
Despite the S95C's dull picture, there is still a lot to like here, with its sharp, detailed and solid image that feels very three-dimensional. We even see improvements in the image's vividness when we switched it over to Movie preset or changed Dynamic Tone Mapping to Active. Here, colours had a nice vibrant pop, and despite not looking particularly accurate per se, they sure were punchy. However, we wouldn't call it subtle, as, despite colours looking balanced (if a little rich), we found the shading to be heavy-handed and crush details.
Finally, the Samsung S95C requires some hands-on adjustment when it comes to motion, as the Movie preset is overly processed, while the Filmmaker mode leaves the processing out which is ideal for purists, but some will be put off by the slightly noticeable judder. Delving into the Picture Clarity settings can remedy this to an extent, but Sony is still the one to beat when it comes to motion.
Moving on to Sony A95L, we were only shown a quick demo featuring a prototype model in the Vivid picture mode. It was flanked by the Sony A95K from last year as well as the Samsung S95B. The A95L looked fantastic, with a much brighter and more dynamic presentation compared to the A95K. Although not entirely cinematically authentic, the picture didn't look outrageously unnatural even with the boosted brightness of the Vivid preset.
The A95L also looks to offer crisper details and sharper defined edges alongside the aforementioned enhanced punch and dynamism, which all-in-all creates a deeper, more three-dimensional image. That being said, our time with the A95L was fleeting and the prototype unit may not be indicative of how this TV really performs, so take this hands-on experience with a pinch of salt.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: sound
This is where things get a little tricky to compare as our experience with these TVs didn't have an audio element. What we do know is the specifications of these TVs' speakers, which include a unique 2.2-channel system that consists of two actuators that vibrate the screen on the Sony. This is backed up by two regular woofers for bass. Sony has used this screen vibration-based system in many of its OLED TVs to great effect, so we're pleased to see it return on the A95L.
Samsung has upgraded the speaker arrangement for the S95C, with a 70W 4.2.2 sound system onboard. That's an upgrade over the S95B's 60W 2.2.2 system, which we weren't exactly enamoured with in the first place. However, this new speaker arrangement on the S95C is punchy and dynamic when compared to a rival LG G3 (we'll have to wait until we get the Sony A95L in for testing to directly compare). Vocal clarity is solid, however, the sound doesn't project particularly far into the room and the bass is lacking both weight and depth.
Samsung S95C vs Sony A95L: early verdict
It might be too early to call a winner quite yet, so we'll need to conduct full comparative reviews of both before we reach a proper verdict, however things aren't looking as evenly matched as we first anticipated. With a slightly disappointing picture from the Samsung, we're now looking to see how Sony responds with the A95L, as it could take the lead. We're eager to get the upcoming QD-OLED into our test lab to see how it stacks up next to the S95C, which is available to buy now.
Its also worth mentioning that QD-OLED isn't the only new OLED variant on the block, as LG Display has debuted its new OLED panels with Micro-Lens Array (MLA) technology, which boosts OLED brightness to levels that should rival even these new QD-OLED sets. We'll need to get a QD-OLED and an MLA-equipped OLED side-by-side to draw any conclusions, so watch this space.
The MLA OLED option: read our full LG G3 review
Read our full Samsung S95C QD-OLED review
As well as our Sony A95L QD-OLED hands-on
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