Samsung S95D vs S95C: which flagship OLED TV should you buy?

It's what's known in the journalism trade as a 'reverse ferret', but in the TV business, maybe it should be called 'doing a Samsung'. For years, the brand extolled the virtues of its own QLED technology, saying how much better it was than OLED. Then three years ago, it launched its first QD-OLED TV – and it hasn't looked back.

The third-gen S95D is one of the best OLED TVs we've tested so far this year and a notable improvement over 2023's S95C. But it is quite pricey. Do the improvements justify the higher price? Or would you be better off picking up last year's model?

Samsung S95D vs S95C: price

The 65in S95C launched in 2023 for £3599 / $3300 / AU$4999 – that's the same price as this year's S95D (except in the US, where the S95D launch price was $100 higher).

The 55 and 77-inch models are also cheaper than their predecessors' launch prices in the UK. See the table below for an in-depth comparison.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SizeSamsung S95CSamsung S95D
55in£2699 / $2500 / AU$N/A£2499 / $2599 / AU$2995
65in£3599 / $3300 / AU$4999£3599 / $3400 / AU$4999
77in£5099 / $4500 / AU$6495£4599 / $4599 / AU$7995

But that's only half the story. With TVs – especially Samsung models – launch prices don't hold for long. Right now you can pick up the 65-inch S95D for £2650 and the equivalent S95C for an astonishing £1629. So do shop around.

** Winner: Samsung S95C **

Samsung S95D vs S95C: design

An low-angled view of the back corner of the Samsung QE65S95D QD-OLED TV on a white TV cabinet.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

In terms of design, there's not much to choose between them. Both are incredibly slim, as they outsource their connections and processing power to an external One Connect box. This can be attached to the stand if you like, or kept separate if you're wall-mounting.

As we say, there's not much between them, but the S95D is a tiny bit slimmer – 1cm thick, compared to the S95C's 1.1cm. Its bezels are also incredibly slim, which really draws your eye to the screen, making for a more immersive viewing experience. As we said in our S95D review: "It's one of the slimmest, most lip-lickingly wall-hangable TVs there has ever been. A slinky monolith that has no right to be capable of delivering the powerhouse pictures we’re going to be describing later."

Both TVs also benefit from an anti-reflective coating that suppresses reflections, which is especially handy if you're watching summertime sport with bright sun coming through the window.

** Winner: Samsung S95D **

Samsung S95D vs S95C: features

The Samsung QE65S95C TV on a wooden TV cabinet. On screen are brightly coloured clouds or plumes of smoke.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Netflix, Entergalactic)

OLED TVs have been getting brighter of late, and no more clearly is this illustrated than with these two Samsung TVs. The S95C is about 30 per cent brighter than the S95B that preceded it, and the S95D about another 30 per cent brighter than that. These are Samsung's numbers, and it's tricky to put an exact figure on a feature like this. But around a 60 per cent boost in brightness in just two years is phenomenal. We can confirm that to the eye, the S95D is noticeably brighter than the S95C.

Both TVs use Samsung's QD-OLED panel tech, which shines a blue organic light through red and green Quantum Dot layers to produce its pictures, resulting in a 'pure' RGB colour reproduction without the additional brightness-boosting white element used by standard WRGB OLED (often referred to as ‘WOLED’) screens.

They share a lot of the same features, too. Both support the HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+ formats of HDR, but not Dolby Vision. That means no Dolby Vision gaming for either, but otherwise, gamers are very well catered for, with 4K/120Hz (144Hz for PC), VRR and ALLM, across all four 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 inputs.

The S95D has a newer processor (the Neo Quantum 4K AI Gen 2), which boasts the combined power of 20 neural networks. This powers the TV's picture processing features like better upscaling of sub-4K content, the Real Depth Enhancer, and the new OLED HDR Pro system to deliver more accurate colour mapping (with results validated by Pantone). It also powers Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound+ system, which places sound effects around the room. This system now works with Dolby Atmos sound mixes too.

The S95D also runs the latest version of Samsung's Tizen TV OS. It's a little slicker and more stable than on the S95C, and has some new features (a profile system, and a For You content accumulator that brings together everything you've been watching and recommends content).

** Winner: Samsung S95D **

Samsung S95D vs S95C: picture

The Samsung QE65S95D QD-OLED TV from the front showing a close-up of the side of a bird's face.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

The S95C is a solid four-star performer, which gives you an idea of its picture quality. Surprisingly, we found Filmmaker Mode a little dull and lacking in dark detail, though its general detail is very good. The image is still sharp as well, making for a solid image with plenty of depth. 

Fiddle with the settings, and the dullness is soon banished, revealing a brightness and contrast that are nothing short of glorious. The richness and vibrancy of the colours can't be matched by many OLED TVs, and the stunning brightness with inky blacks is a killer combination.

If only it was more subtle. Colours are a little richer than what could be described as authentic, but overall the balance is good. It's just that any sense of nuance has gone out of the window. There's some black crush combined with some over-exaggerated light that's trying a bit too hard. Skin tones suffer in particular. 

The S95D is noticeably brighter than the S95C. Films like Mad Max: Fury Road really show off what it can do, with blazingly bright white highlights and beautifully saturated colours. Typically for an OLED TV, the black levels are suitably deep. That means contrast is through the roof. But unlike the S95C, subtlety isn't sacrificed at the altar of punchiness.

Add its anti-glare filter to its exceptional brightness, and you've got the best TV for watching in bright rooms. 

There’s less clipping of subtle colour and peak light details in the brightest of bright shots than you get with the S95C, meaning the picture looks more consistently detailed and three-dimensional. The Real Depth Enhancer does its job, adding a sense of depth to make the picture more lifelike, while the finer mapping of tones across a wider colour volume means the picture often looks sharper and crisper than that of its predecessor.

But it's not perfect. The anti-reflection filter can make black levels look a little raised in bright rooms, with faint traces of blooming visible around brighter objects. Standard mode contains some minor variations in the base brightness level between cuts. And there's some loss of subtle shadow detail in dark areas. But these are very minor niggles in what is a superb TV.

** Winner: Samsung S95D **

Samsung S95D vs S95C: sound

A shot of four circular speakers on the back of the Samsung QE65S95D QD-OLED TV.

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

We praised the S95C's sound as punchy and dynamic, and hence more engaging, than a lot of OLED TVs. There's a decent sense of space, but it lacks any real weight and depth. The upside to this is that it doesn't have the kind of low-end distortion common to most of its rivals, but it also makes the audio a little underwhelming. Its upper-mids can sound a bit harsh, too, and the overall sound lacks projection. Not great.

But the S95D isn't much better. Samsung's Object Tracking Sound places sounds with decent accuracy, and details are clean and distinct. Dialogue is pretty clear, too.

But it again lacks decent projection, making it sound a bit flat instead of enveloping you in the action. Even cranked up, the S95D lacks a cinematic level of noise, while the limited dynamic range and muddled bass don't add much impact.

** Winner: Draw **

Samsung S95D vs S95C: verdict

The S95D is clearly the better TV. Samsung's QD-OLED tech has come on leaps and bounds in just a year, with a stunningly bright picture and more detail. It's a shame Samsung hasn't invested similarly in the sound department, but a soundbar will soon fix that.

However, the S95C can currently be picked up for around £1000 less than its successor, so you'll have to decide how much these improvements are worth to you...


Full reviews: Samsung S95C and Samsung S95D

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LG G4 vs Samsung S95D: which 2024 flagship OLED TV is better?

Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.