Hands on: Philips OLED908 review

Can Philips' 2023 flagship TV deliver on its 2100-nit promise?

What is a hands on review?
Philips OLED908 hands-on
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

While it needs significantly more testing, at first glance the OLED908 looks just as impressive in person as it does on paper


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    Brilliantly bright and dynamic

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    Lovely design

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    Slightly improved gaming specs


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    Still only two HDMI 2.1 sockets

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In the past, Philips has split each new TV range into two launches, announcing its core models at the start of the year and its flagship sets around September. Not so this year, as the company has just announced what it says is its entire 2023 TV range.

What’s notable is that said new range is missing replacements for the flagship OLED986 and OLED937 models. That’s not a huge surprise in the case of the former, as Philips’ free-standing TV-cum-B&W hi-fi has previously been on a different update cycle to its siblings, but no OLED938 (Philips has confirmed that there definitely won’t be one this year) is something of a shock.

That leaves the OLED908 as the company’s flagship model for 2023 and, to jump ahead somewhat, we believe that could be a good thing. That’s because it features the very latest and most exciting OLED technology – including a Micro Lens Array and a heatsink for a claimed peak brightness figure of 2100 nits – but with a more discreet speaker system. This speaker system is still a Bowers & Wilkins design and will in all likelihood sound good, but it’s fair to say that this is a TV that has most of its eggs in the picture quality basket.

The OLED908 is still a long way off and we’ll reserve final judgement until it’s been into our labs for comprehensive, comparative testing, but we have seen it briefly in action and think Philips could have a hit on its hands here.


The Philips OLED908 isn’t due to go on sale until the second half of 2023 and we won’t get official pricing until much closer to the time. Its predecessor, the OLED907, launched at a price of £2100 (around $2675 / AU3825) for the 55-inch version, which potentially gives us a ballpark figure for the OLED908, but it is worth bearing in mind that the new model involves brand-new panel technology that could push the price up.

That said, rumour has it that LG isn’t planning to charge significantly more for its new G3 than it did last year’s G2, despite it having similar panel upgrades to those that Philips is bringing with the OLED908. Should that prove correct, perhaps Philips will follow suit. Only time will tell.

We do know that the OLED908 will be available in three sizes; 55 inches, 65 inches and 77 inches. It’s worth noting, though, that the 77-inch model will not feature the MLA technology of its smaller siblings.


Philips OLED908 hands-on

(Image credit: Future)

Unlike the OLED930- and OLED980-series TVs, which have large (very large in the case of the latter) speaker sections, the OLED908 has a slim, subtle speaker bar mounted directly to the bottom edge of the TV. It’s got a slight angle to it so that it juts out a bit at the bottom, and it’s wrapped in very smart-looking, acoustically transparent Kvadrat fabric. The very compact stand doesn’t only look smart – it also gives the set a very small footprint, thereby making it easy to find a home for.

Philips has also redesigned its remote for 2023, finally joining its rivals in ditching the button-heavy approach of old with a much smaller, smarter-looking and stripped-back controller. This new remote is very thin, too – something that’s made possible by the ditching of replaceable batteries in favour of a built-in battery that charges via USB. Samsung-style solar charging unfortunately doesn’t feature here.

No Philips OLED TV would be complete without Ambilight, which uses LEDs dotted around the set’s edges to extend the on-screen action onto the wall around the TV in the form of coloured light. The OLED908 gets the ‘Next Gen’ version of Ambilight that Philips introduced at the end of last year, but only on the sides and top: there’s no Ambilight strip along the bottom, which is a real surprise when you consider that all of the company’s 2022 OLEDs from the OLED807 upwards have four-sided Ambilight.


Philips OLED908 hands-on

(Image credit: Future)

While a number of brands (most notoriously LG) avoid discussing the hardware used in their sets and the sort of figures of which they should be capable, Philips is refreshingly upfront. It’s announced that the OLED908 uses one of LG Display’s so-called 'META OLED' panels, which feature MLA (Micro Lens Array) technology. You can read our MLA explainer for the full lowdown on the new tech, but the short version is that it’s a thin layer of tiny lenses that help focus the light being emitted by the OLED materials, resulting in a brighter picture without the need for the OLEDs themselves to be pushed any harder.

The OLED908 also features a heatsink which, thanks to its heat dissipation properties, does allow the OLEDs to be pushed harder without any added risk of image retention or degradation. Heatsinks have been seen before on premium OLED TVs such as the G2 and OLED907, but 2023 is the first time MLA panels have become available. Philips says that this combination of technologies, plus LG Display’s META algorithm and Philips’ own picture processing, results in a peak brightness figure of 2100 nits for the OLED908.

That’s a huge number, particularly for an OLED TV. Until now, even the brightest OLED and QD-OLED TVs have maxed out at figures just slightly north of 1000 nits. In truth, Philips’ 2100-nit figure will almost certainly be achievable in only the most aggressive ‘Crystal Clear’ picture preset, but if it drops by even 20 to 30 per cent in the more natural presets, such as Filmmaker Mode, it will still be an exceptionally bright TV by OLED standards.

The set is powered by a new 7th Gen P5 AI processor and features an updated and apparently more intuitive Philips user interface that will work in tandem with the Google TV operating system.

The HDMI chipset, meanwhile, is the brand-new MediaTek Pentonic 1000, about which there’s been much buzz on account of the extra gaming features it brings to the TVs that use it. There are a lot of those, too: MediaTek chips are found in TVs from Sony, Panasonic, TCL and Philips, among others.

Unfortunately, while the new chip has enabled Philips to add Dolby Vision gaming at up to 4K/120Hz to its already comprehensive gaming-feature arsenal, it doesn’t come with extra HDMI 2.1 sockets, so the OLED908 is, like its predecessor, limited to two of these. That will be an immediate turn-off to hardcore gamers who have multiple games machines, particularly as one of the two HDMI 2.1 sockets also handles eARC duties and so will in many cases be occupied by a soundbar or AV receiver.

Those people who are less hardcore in their gaming habits or who have just one serious games consoles will be less concerned, especially as the OLED908’s gaming spec is otherwise comprehensive: 4K/120Hz (with and without Dolby Vision), VRR (in the standard, FreeSync Premium and G-Sync formats) and ALLM are all supported, and we anticipate that there will again be an HGiG setting for more accurate HDR with games that support it.

On the subject of HDR, the aforementioned Dolby Vision support is joined in the Philips’ locker by HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+, so all bases are covered. You don’t get that from an LG, Samsung or Sony TV.


Philips OLED908 hands-on

Here's the OLED908 (left) against the current OLED907 (Image credit: Future)

The OLED908 is a long way from hitting shops, so it’s little surprise that we had very limited time with it during Philips’ February launch event. We were, though, assured that the pre-production version being demonstrated was very close to final production, so the performance should be fairly representative of what you’ll be able to get at home.

And what a performance. While all we got to see was a series of still images, there was a clear uptick in brightness in comparison with the current OLED907. The white of a waiter’s shirt popped far more punchily, ditto the wall of the seaside cafe.

Interestingly, there was no obvious loss in colour vibrancy in the brightest parts of the picture. The white OLED materials have to do most of the heavy lifting when a standard OLED TV is at its brightest, so colours tend to be less well saturated in the extremes of the picture, but the OLED908 appeared to suffer no more in this regard than its OLED907 predecessor. A QD-OLED TV will likely boast even greater saturation, but the OLED908 certainly didn’t look in any way pale.

Philips TVs are well known for the sharpness and detail they offer, sometimes in an exaggerated way, and the OLED908 looked brilliantly crisp in our demo session. That said, the images used for the demo are exactly the type that looks great when everything is turned up to 11. What we really want to know is how well the new TV can combine subtlety and naturalism with its obvious zing and pop, but that’s something that we won’t know until we can get the TV into our test labs for an extensive review. The same is true of other aspects of its performance, such as its upscaling and motion handling.

One thing that struck us as instantly impressive, though, was the quality of the new anti-reflective element of the panel. This Vantablack element reduces reflections to a startling degree that makes dark content significantly more impactful. Our understanding is that this will be a feature of all TVs that feature META OLED panels, but this was the first time we'd seen it in action and we came away seriously impressed.


Philips OLED908 hands-on

(Image credit: Future)

Disappointingly, we didn’t get to hear the OLED908 at all during the launch event, so all we’ve really got to go on here is the spec sheet.

As mentioned, this is a Bowers & Wilkins-designed sound system, the drivers of which are housed in a thin, Kvadrat-covered bar that’s mounted to the TV’s bottom edge. These drivers are arranged in a purely front-firing 3.1 configuration, and the whole system is rated to 80W.

That might all sound pretty rudimentary compared to the 95W, 5.1.2 sound system of the OLED937, but LG’s G2 has a 60W, 2.1 system that’s very much not been tuned by B&W. In other words, there’s every chance that the OLED908 will have a sonic upper hand on the TVs that it actually goes up against.

Of course, we won’t know that for sure until we’ve had a final production sample into our test labs for a full review.

Initial verdict

Philips OLED908 hands-on

(Image credit: Future)

While the full verdict on the OLED908 is going to have to wait a while, there’s no denying that all of the ingredients of a very tasty dish are there, particularly when it comes to OLED panel technology.

Hardcore gamers will still be drawn to the additional HDMI 2.1 sockets of the G3 or C3, but Philips’ 2023 flagship TV looks very strong on paper and in person. We’re looking forward to putting it through our full test process as soon as possible.


Here are the best TVs that the Philips OLED908 needs to beat

The competition: check out our hands-on LG G3 review

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.