Samsung’s first ‘W’ OLED TV has the same name as its QD-OLED, and that’s not alright

Samsung S90C QD-OLED TV
(Image credit: Future)

While Samsung undoubtedly has an impressive track record when it comes to the quality of its TVs, it also has form with deciding on ‘unhelpful’ names for some of its TV technologies – a habit that’s reared its head once again over the past year with the arrival of the company's new Quantum Dot OLED technology.

Given how good QD-OLED technology has the potential to be, with its pure RGB colours and brightness benefits, you’d have thought Samsung would have wanted to scream about it from every rooftop. Instead, though, upon launching its first S95B QD-OLED TVs in 2022, it decided to just describe them as plain old OLED TVs, inexplicably hiding the distinction between its new OLED-plus-Quantum-Dots tech and the so-called WRGB (or simply ‘W’) OLED approach rival TV brands had been using for years.

We wrote back then about our bafflement at this marketing decision, with our best guess being that Samsung thought it might be easier/better to capitalise on the long-established popularity of OLED TVs rather than trying to explain how its new QD-OLED approach was different. Recent surprise developments in Samsung’s 2023 TV range, though, have possibly belatedly given us another reason for Samsung’s odd decision to market QD-OLED as just OLED. Even though this new reason again seems certain to merely add to consumer confusion.

Taking the ‘QD’ out of ‘QD-OLED’

Samsung S90C 83 inch uses an OLED panel made by LG

(Image credit: Samsung)

When Samsung first announced its new S90C TV range, while it still insisted on just referring officially to it as using OLED technology, it was known that the 55, 65 and new 77-inch screen sizes actually all used Samsung’s latest QD-OLED panels. There was some confusion (of course!) over exactly how the more affordable S90Cs were going to differ from the 2023 QD-OLED S95C flagships, but at least we knew what core technology the S90Cs were using.

But now Samsung has thrown a spanner in the works again by announcing with little fanfare that the S90C range is being expanded through the addition of an 83-inch model that, it turns out, isn’t actually made using Samsung’s QD-OLED technology. Instead, the new 83-inch S90C uses regular OLED technology

That means it uses the very same W OLED technology manufactured by its arch-rival LG that Samsung has argued against for over a decade – and which QD-OLED was specifically developed to rival.

Different sizes, different performance

This sudden love for regular OLED technology doesn’t just pose some awkward questions for Samsung’s marketing teams as they reverse ferret on years of OLED abuse; it also makes things confusing for consumers. After all, despite every S90C model sporting the same range name, it is now the case that all four S90C TVs are very much not equal. The 83S90C’s regular OLED technology doesn’t enjoy the same RGB colour set-up that the other S90Cs do, and its brightness won’t be nearly as high as that of the other S90Cs. 

We haven’t had the chance to test the 83S90C and so can’t say precisely how much duller it might be, but our experiences of other S90Cs and other regular OLED TVs suggest that the QD-OLED S90Cs will be between 20 and 25% brighter than the regular OLED 83-inch version. In other words, by the time its colour and brightness performance differences have been taken into account, the 83S90C is essentially a completely different TV to the other S90C models and can be expected to produce a completely different picture performance. 

Yet it enjoys the same model designation, and it is sold under the same simple OLED name as its QD-OLED siblings. So unless a potential buyer is really paying attention to reviews or articles such as this one, they will likely have no idea of just how much of a performance difference they’re buying into if they decide to step up from the 77-inch S90C to the 83-inch.

Putting such a burden of research and knowledge onto consumers looking to spend thousands of pounds or dollars just doesn’t seem reasonable when Samsung could easily have simply released its 83-inch OLED with a slightly different model number to help make it clearer how different it is to all of Samsung’s other current OLED sets.

Causing confusion


(Image credit: Future)

To be fair to Samsung, it’s not alone in this sort of ‘different screen technologies in the same apparent range’ mess. We’ve been annoyed many times over the years, for instance, by the way many – actually most – brands use a mixture of VA and IPS panel types in their LCD ranges, despite these two panel types yielding entirely different levels of performance. 

The most direct comparison, though, can be seen with rival LG’s current G3 range, where only the 55, 65 and 77-inch models use the brand’s new Micro Lens Array technology, while the 83-inch model does not. This means the 83-inch model will be as much as 40% less bright than the other screen sizes, yet there’s no way of knowing this just by looking at the range’s model numbers. Panasonic, similarly, will only be using MLA technology on the 55 and 65-inch models in its upcoming MZ2000 OLED range, with the 77-inch model using a regular WRGB OLED panel. 

LG and Panasonic’s latest potentially confusing premium OLED ranges, though, do still at least use WRGB panel technology at their heart; the MLA technology refers merely to the application of light-focusing lenses just behind the screen. They don’t use completely different core OLED technologies in the way the Samsung S90Cs do. 

Samsung’s decisions – to fail to distinguish between QD-OLED and normal OLED in its naming conventions, and then to add a normal OLED to an otherwise QD-OLED range – make it seem that it isn’t regarding or marketing QD-OLED as new or ‘special’ in any way. All while seemingly wilfully confusing consumers in the process. But hey – what do we know?


Want a true QD-OLED? Here's our Samsung S95C review

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  • Chippy_boy
    Whilst I agree that using different tech and the same model numbers is an issue and is just wrong, I think the situation with LCD TVs in the past was FAR worse!

    Universally, the 32" LCD TV model - if it existed - would be a different and vastly inferior LCD panel to it's larger siblings of the same model. Samsung's Frame series being a prime example I had the misfortune of experiencing. I bought the TV for the bedroom, looking forward to the decent black levels afforded by the PVA panel type used in the rest of the range. As soon as I turned it on though, the silvery background glow immediately revealed it was an IPS. And a ver poor IPS panel at that, with dreadful clouding and backlight bleed. Presumably a cheap IPS panel. The level of performance difference between that and the e.g. 65" version is simply staggering, and WAY more than comparing a good W-Oled vs a QD-Oled.

    Panasonic are at it as well mind you. I bought a 50" top end Panasonic for my Mum and was blown away by how good the picture was. So much so, I decided to buy one for myself, for our breakfast room. But being for a small room, we needed the 40", obviously not an issue, right? Boy oh boy, no. The 40" is "ok" ish - whilst looking at it straight on. Nothing like as good as the 50 but not absolutely terrible. But off-axis by only a few degrees, the picture falls apart to the extent it is laugh out loud bad, with washed out colours and black levels so terrible you think the TV has broken. And yet again, these are marketed as the same TVs.

    I'll be honest, reviewers don't help either. Understandably they cannot test every TV size when testing a model. But they do nothing to explain to buyers that the review of the e.g. 65" might be wholly irrelevant for someone looking to buy the 40". Where's the disclaimer? The assumption all too often by the reviewer is that the review conclusions will be valid across the range, when absolutely this is not the case.

    What consumers need from manufacturers and reviewers is clear information about the panel type in each TV for each size. Clearly detailing which sizes use the same panels and which do not. Without such info, customers are unable to make an informed choice. Viewing them in the store offers little or no help either, with the bright lights and TVs in torch mode, hardly being a good test environment.