Best OLED TVs Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best OLED TVs you can buy in 2021.
The best OLED TVs offer some of the most impressive picture quality around at the moment. When they first hit the market, only those with exceptionally deep pockets could really entertain the thought of an OLED. Thankfully, prices have slowly come down and you'll find some excellent OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) TVs below that don't cost the earth.
So what is OLED? It's basically the next step on from LCD. Unlike LCD TVs, OLED flatscreen TVs don't need a backlight. This means they can be ultra-thin, and because each pixel can be isolated and switched off individually, they tend to deliver some of the best black levels in the TV business.
OLED is also a more efficient and eco-friendly technology than LCD. They are expensive to produce, though. Previously, this meant you didn't see OLED TVs under 55 inches, but 2020 saw a 48-inch set from LG hit the market and Sony followed with its own 48-inch model. More are on the way for 2021.
The very best OLED televisions combine 4K and HDR technology to devastating effect, so you'll find support for HDR10+ and/or Dolby Vision plus HDR10 and HLG as standard. We've rounded up the best OLED TVs out of all the ones we've tested below, including cheap OLED TVs from 2019, discounted models from 2020, and brand new sets from 2021.
LG’s C-series model has been the go-to pick of its OLED range for several years. It has always been the most affordable model with the company’s best panel and picture processing wizardry. Spending more would get you a fancier design and potentially better sound, but the picture would be no different.
That’s not the case in 2021. LG has introduced a new, brighter and sharper ‘OLED Evo’ panel, and the C1 doesn’t have it.
With so much of the focus on the upgraded G1, it’s perhaps predictable that the C1 isn’t much of an improvement on its predecessor, but there wasn’t much that needed improving. The picture performance and feature set were already exemplary, and LG has slightly improved the former with its new Cinematic Movement motion processing and enhanced de-contouring feature (which reduces banding), and slightly improved the latter with a better menu system and a more complete app selection (all UK catch-up apps are present).
The G1's picture is undeniably better in terms of brightness, sharpness and detail, but we're not talking huge margins and most people will struggle to justify the extra £500 ($500), particularly when the niche design and weaker sound are taken into account.
Ultimately, in performance-per-pound terms, the C1 is the better buy. In fact, it's the most recommendable TV available right now.
Read the full LG OLED65C1 review
Time was that getting an OLED TV under 55in was impossible, but then LG launched the world's first commercially available 48in OLED set. And now Sony has one of its own. It's a petite-looking OLED TV with tiny bezels and low pedestal stand. The enclosure bolted onto the back houses the speakers, processing hardware and connections.
Disappointingly, it lacks some next-gen HDMI features like 4K@120Hz (HFR), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM – basically automatic switching to the TV's game mode when appropriate). Which is bad news for gamers looking to hook up a PS5 or Xbox Series X.
But that's really the only fault we can find with this TV. Sony's X1 Ultimate processor produxes stunning images, there's plenty of dark detail on show, and you have access to virtually every streaming app you could hope for. Motion control sensational, and in terms of sharpness and detail, you won't find a better TV at this size. If you can stump up the funds, you will not be disappointed.
Read the full Sony KD-48A9 review
For the last few years, the C-class model has been the sensible choice of each new LG OLED range. Until now, it has been the most affordable model with the latest panel and picture processing tech: go further up the range and you might get better sound and a fancier design, but you won’t get a better visual performance.
For 2021, though, LG has introduced a new ‘OLED Evo’ panel that promises increased brightness and sharpness, and to get the Evo panel you have to step up to the G1. That’s slightly disappointing because you also end up paying extra for a rather niche design (the G1 is designed to be wall-mounted, to the extent that there's no stand or feet in the box) that you may not want.
Still, if the design works for you and you don't mind forking out the extra £500, the G1 is undoubtedly the best OLED that LG has ever produced. It takes the picture performance of last year’s GX and CX and improves upon it in almost every way, particularly in terms of brightness, sharpness and detail. That makes it a seriously stunning picture performer. It's also packed with apps and next-gen HDMI features, including 4K@120Hz on all four sockets.
Sound is less strong, but if you were always planning to combine your new TV with a separate sound system and the design works for you (and you've got deep pockets), the G1 should be seriously considered.
Read the full LG OLED65G1 review
The 55OLED805 is a Philips OLED as it should be; genuinely excellent. If you’re prepared to forego the odd next-gen feature, it's the best performance-per-pound OLED you can currently buy.
It produces stunningly crisp and detailed pictures from all sources, delivers far more accomplished audio than most rivals, adds awesome Ambilight (which extends the onscreen action onto the wall around the TV in the form of coloured light) to the mix, and has a lower price tag than its LG, Sony, Panasonic and Samsung equivalents.
If you're in the market for a bigger TV, there's also a 65-inch version available (the 65OLED805) and it's just as good.
Read the full Philips 55OLED805 review
Read the full Philips 65OLED805 review
You'll be blown away by the Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B. It’s a fantastic performer that delivers a beautifully balanced picture. It's punchy yet composed, sharp but not over-exaggerated, vibrant but subtle with it. This OLED TV makes the most of 4K HDR content but it also handles lower resolution, SDR content with aplomb. Its motion handling is excellent, too.
It’s a shame that none of the Dolby Vision presets feels quite right, and we would have liked to have seen some more advanced HDMI features such as VRR. The supplied remote really isn’t befitting a TV of this quality, either.
Those are fairly minor flaws, though. A slightly bigger one is that the HZ1000 is currently more expensive than all of its obvious rivals, and those TVs are all excellent, too.
Still, this is undeniably one of the very best TVs you can currently buy. If you’re in the market for a premium OLED, you really have to check it out.
Read the full Panasonic TX-55HZ1000B review
It might have taken a while, but you can finally buy a 4K OLED TV that's smaller than 55in. You guessed it, the OLED48CX is a 48in TV, and brings flagship OLED picture quality to this screen size for the first time.
Picture quality is superb. The perfect blacks and near-perfect viewing angles combine with bright, punchy whites and vibrant but natural colours. LG's motion processing was a big step up in 2020 and its upscaling of 1080p and standard-def content is among the best in the business.
On top of all that you get certified HDMI 2.1 sockets that support next-gen features such as eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HFR (High Frame Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), and all current formats of VRR (Variable Refresh Rate). All of these are useful if you're looking to upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X this Christmas.
It's just a shame that some UK catch-up apps (not BBC iPlayer) are still missing from LG's 2020 smart platform.
Read the full LG OLED48CX review
We've already covered the new 48-inch version of the CX above, but it's worth remembering that the 55-inch and 65-inch models are also still available and the bigger you go, the better value you get.
The picture performance is just as excellent on these bigger sets, and simply more cinematic to boot, and of course the next-gen HDMI feature set and smart platform is the same, too. What's more, the bigger sets sounds a little bigger and fuller, too, thanks to the bigger chassis, although it's worth bearing in mind that the CX isn't the best-sounding TV in its class and that you're well advised to also budget for a soundbar.
All told, this is a superb all-rounder in whichever size you buy it.
Read the full LG OLED55CX review
Read the full LG OLED65CX review
LG consistently delivers some of the best OLED TVs on the market and this GX model pics up from where the company left off in 2019. It manages to improve picture quality in a few key areas, with dark detail, colour richness and motion handling all getting a boost. The net effect is a beautifully realistic HDR and SDR picture, packed with detail. Sound from the downfiring speakers is surprisingly good too, its built-in Dolby Atmos decoding delivering a wide and expansive soundstage by TV standards.
The GX is an attractive set and one of the best OLED TVs for wall-mounting - there's no stand in the box, but there is a slim mount on which you can hang it. Inputs, which include four HDMI (2.1) sockets and a trio of USBs are all recessed on the back of the TV, so there's no external connection box. WebOS is LG's go-to operating system and the TV is a doddle to use. Streaming apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ are all onboard although, at the time of writing, all the key UK TV catch-up apps, including BBC iPlayer are missing. Hopefully, they'll be included at a later date.
Read the full review: LG OLED65GX
The Sony A8 is a real OLED all-rounder that combines a brilliant, natural picture with excellent audio.
HDR content (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision are supported) is bright, punchy and vibrant, and very realistic. Blacks are deep and packed with detail. It's even a great upscaler with faced with Full HD and standard-definition video.
Sound quality is similarly impressive. The Sony uses two actuators, which actually (and imperceptibly) vibrate the whole screen, essentially turning the whole panel into a big, flat driver. It's clever and does a great job of tying audio and video together. It's a dynamic and punchy performer by OLED TV standards.
The HDMIs are lacking next-gen features such as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), which might be of concern to gamers, particularly those planning to upgrade to a PS5 or Xbox Series X, but for everyone else the A8 is an excellent all-rounder that demands consideration.
Read the full Sony KD-55A8 review
The Philips 65OLED935 offers brilliant OLED picture quality, plus the added convenience of a built-in Dolby Atmos soundbar from Bowers & Wilkins. On paper, it's a solid combination and in practice, there's a lot to like about the pairing.
There's support for all major flavours of HDR and the Philips produces a suitably punchy picture, packed full of detail and boasting lusciously deep blacks. The soundbar spits out soundtracks with precision, depth and height although it could sound a bit more dynamic and dialogue a tad more expressive.
HDMI sockets total four in number, although HDMI features are thin on the ground, though: there's no support for 4K@120Hz (also known as HFR), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) or eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), although standard ARC and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) do feature.
The soundbar houses no fewer than ten separate drivers including up-firing height speakers to help you get that full Dolby Atmos effect. It even showcases B&W's tweeter-on-top design.
Philips uses Android OS to drive this set and it works well enough - there's a solid app offering too, which includes Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
All-in-all, the 65OLED935 is an elegant soution for those looking for convenience and who don't mind paying a premium for it.
Read the full review: Philips 65OLED935
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