Best 50-inch TVs 2023: great options for every budget

Best 50-inch TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best 50-inch TVs you can buy in 2023.

50-inch TVs are one of the most convenient sizes for most small to medium-sized homes, which is why you’re likely on this page hunting for the best one to get right now.

And while there are plenty of options, it’s a good thing you found your way to What Hi-Fi?’s best 50-inch TV page as we can personally tell you, there are plenty of terrible sets this size doing the rounds at the moment.

Jump over to our reviews page and you’ll find plenty of examples of 50-inch TVs that may look impressive, but failed to deliver in key areas such as picture and sound quality when we got them into our test rooms and properly put them through their paces.

Which is why we’ve created this guide to help you find the best 50-inch TV for your specific needs and budget. We’ve personally tested every set in this guide to make sure it delivers in all of the areas you’d expect from a TV, only then making a judgement on whether it’s actually good value for money. In short, you can really trust our advice.

You can see a breakdown of the key things we look out for when testing TVs below, or scroll down a little further to see our picks of the best 50-inch TVs.

How to choose the best 50-inch TV for you

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

But what if a 50-inch screen is the maximum size of TV that you want or are able to fit in your room? We've got good news: while a true flagship TV might once have been out of the question, the arrival of 48-inch OLEDs means that's no longer the case. At the same time, competition is extremely fierce at these sizes and that means there are also lots of aggressively priced mid-range marvels available.

When it comes to picture technology, almost all models at this size are now 4K, and there's no need to look for a Full HD model, because these 4K TVs are already very affordable indeed. 

Without a doubt, OLED has become the premium TV technology of choice, thanks to its perfect blacks, extraordinary contrast and exceptional viewing angles. QLED, which combines LED (or Mini LED) backlighting with ultra-vibrant Quantum Dots, is a strong alternative, though, largely thanks to being capable of greater brightness and punchier colors. Standard LCD TVs (often, confusingly, sold as 'LED' TVs on account of their LED backlights) are more variable in overall quality but, if you shop carefully, can offer excellent bang for your buck.

Are you planning to combine your new TV with a dedicated sound system? You probably should, because most TVs sound passable at best, particularly at this sort of size. But if you are determined to keep things neat and rely on the in-built speakers, check our reviews to make sure that they are good – there's no point in a great picture if the accompanying sound is rubbish.

If you are a gamer, it's also worth considering the next-gen gaming features of your prospective new TV. Xbox Series X and PS5 gamers can gain a competitive advantage on certain games if their TV supports 4K 120Hz, while VRR support can result in a smoother gameplay experience. ALLM, meanwhile, simply ensures that you automatically get the best visual experience from both games and movies / TV shows. If you are a more casual gamer or not a gamer at all, you can pretty much disregard these features, and it's likely that doing so will save you a lot of cash.

The best 50-inch TVs you can buy

Best 50-inch TV: LG OLED48C2

(Image credit: LG)

1. LG OLED48C2

The best 50-inch TV for most people


Screen size: 48-inches
Type: OLED
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Operating system: WebOS
HDMI inputs: 4x HDMI 2.1
Gaming features: 4K/120fps, VRR, ALLM
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 1220 x 745 x 203

Reasons to buy

Bright and punchy but natural picture
Unbeatable gaming specs
Engaging sound

Reasons to avoid

Some OLEDs are brighter
Slight bass rattle

LG’s C2 range is going to be replaced by the LG C3 family of TVs later this year, but the new sets haven’t launched yet and we’ll need to get them into our test rooms before we can recommend them. In the meantime, the C2 models are just as brilliant as they’ve ever been and are currently more affordable than ever. This is why, for now, the LG OLED48C2 remains our most recommended 50-inch set. 

LG’s 2022 C2 range proved to be near perfect during all our tests last year. Featuring a vibrant OLED panel, every bit of content we threw at it looked amazing, with great tonal details and an all-round punchy, engaging performance, despite the distinctly mid-range price tag.

We were particularly impressed when we ran No Time To Die in HDR10, with which the C2 proved to be an even better performer than the G1 – LG’s 2021 flagship 4K OLED. This makes the C2 one of the best performance-to-cost options we’ve ever tested. You simply can’t get better performance at this price.

As an added incentive we also loved its gaming features. Unlike a lot of sets in this size bracket, the C2 features four HDMI 2.1 sockets with support for  4K/120Hz gaming, VRR and ALLM. In other words, it is fully equipped to take advantage of all the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s next-generation features, and the gaming performance was flawless during our tests. 

Read our full LG C2 review

OLED TV: Sony XR-48A90K

(Image credit: Future)
An astonishingly good ‘small’ OLED TV


Screen size: 48 inches (also available in 42in)
Type: OLED
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Operating system: Google TV
HDMI inputs: 4 (2 x 48Gbps HDMI 2.1)
Gaming features: 4K/120, VRR, ALLM
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 24.6" x 42.1" x 2.4"

Reasons to buy

Extraordinarily sharp, solid, detailed
Effortless naturalism
Good HDMI 2.1 feature set

Reasons to avoid

Not as bright or insightful as some
LG C2 has even better gaming specs

For reasons unknown, Sony didn’t launch a new 48-inch OLED TV last year. Instead, 2020’s A9 (A9S in the US) was tasked with holding the fort against increasingly large ranks of rivals for almost two years.

Thankfully, relief is finally at hand in the form of the Sony XR-48A90K – Sony’s flagship OLED for those who don’t have the space for its new A95K QD-OLED (above), which isn’t available below 55 inches.

Has the A90K been worth the wait? And does it deliver a true flagship performance? It’s a resounding yes to both questions.

The 48-inch Sony A90K OLED is a force to be reckoned with. It might not quite have the flawless gaming feature set of an LG OLED, but it’s close, and a very good gaming TV in its own right, particularly if you’re a PS5 player.

Where the A90K is almost flawless is in its picture quality. We have never before tested a TV this size that’s this good, and while we are yet to test the new 48-inch LG C2, it’s really going to have to go some to beat this Sony on pure picture quality.

Read the full Sony XR-48A90K review

QLED TV: Samsung QE50QN90B

(Image credit: Future / Netflix, The Mole)
The best 50-inch Mini LED TV


Screen size: 50 inches
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
Operating system: Tizen
HDMI inputs: x4 (40gbps HDMI 2.1)
Gaming features: 4K/120, VRR, ALLM
Optical output?: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 64 x 111 x 2.7 cm

Reasons to buy

Impressive black levels
Superb brightness
Excellent game-friendly connectivity

Reasons to avoid

Dimming system occasionally distracts
Unhelpful operating system
No Dolby Vision

When it first entered our test labs in September last year, the 50-inch Samsung QN90B quickly earned a place as one of the best Mini LED sets available.

Unlike the LG C2 OLED, it features a Quantum Dot display with an advanced Mini LED backlight that has 448 dimming zones for more precise contrast control than traditional backlit TVs can manage. OLED TVs still boast even greater precision here as every one of their pixels can be switched on or off individually, but the Samsung QN90B went noticeably brighter than the C2 in our tests and still produced very deep blacks. In fact, our reviews went so far as to report:

“Dark scenes enjoy black tones pretty much as inkily deep as those achievable with OLED TVs, providing a fantastically cinematic foundation for the many other picture strengths the TV provides.”

This aside what really set the QN90B apart was how much better it presented colours compared to past Samsung sets we’ve tested at this size and price. Images held wonderful subtlety and the TV was able to manage an amazingly wide colour palette with great finess. This was especially true when we watched basic TV content, which often looks a little washed out on similarly priced LCD sets.

The Samsung also ticks all of the boxes gamers will expect, with all four of its HDMI 2.1 sockets handling 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM correctly during our tests.

The only significant downside to the TV is that its speaker setup isn’t the best we’ve tested on a TV this size. Playing films, orchestral scores, and explosions didn’t have the impact we would have liked, and the TV’s max volume was noticeably lower than that of many of the other sets on this list. All of the TVs here would benefit from being partnered with a soundbar, but that’s true of the Samsung more than most.

Read the full Samsung QN50QN90B review

50-inch 4K TV: Sony XBR-50X90J

(Image credit: Sony / Lost In Space, Netflix)

4. Sony XR-50X90J

Charge of the bright brigade


Screen size: 50in (also available in 55in, 65in and 75in)
Type: LCD
Backlight: Direct LED
Resolution: 4K
HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision
Operating system: Google TV
HDMI inputs: 4
Optical output: Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 26" x 44" x 2.8"

Reasons to buy

Very punchy HDR
Good value
Sounds impressive for its size

Reasons to avoid

Blacks could be deeper
Some backlight blooming

The X90J’s pictures aren’t exactly shy and retiring – and that’s fine by us. Exceptional amounts of brightness make it onto the screen with startling consistency, delivering some of the most flat-out punchy and bright HDR pictures we’ve ever seen on a 50-inch TV.

It’s not just brightness for brightness sake, either. Sony is unashamedly using it to deliver as uncompromising an HDR experience as it can within its backlight limitations. So daylight HDR scenes look more natural and realistically bright by far than they do on any other current TV in its size and class.

Even more impressively, the XR-50X90J has enough headroom with its brightness to ensure that the brightest highlights of already bright HDR images enjoy that extra step up in intensity that usually only the most premium TVs provide.

The price you pay for this superb brightness is slightly elevated black levels and occasional backlight blooming, but neither issue is a huge deal-breaker, and you can also add excellent motion processing, natural colors and decently dynamic sound to the list of the Sony's strong points.

It's also got two HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K at 120Hz, making it a good option for next-gen gamers. VRR support is due to be added, too, although this has been promised for a while. On the subject of promised features, apps for BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 are currently missing from the X90J's smart platform. Will they ever be added? Sony has always said 'yes', but we're not so sure.

Still, if you've already got a dedicated streamer and you like the sound of Sony's brightness-first approach, the X90J is a strong option at its size and price.

Read the full Sony XR-50X90J review

How we test TVs

How we test TVs

Testing a TV is a long and complex process because a modern TV simply does so much. Not only does it need to handle a variety of content resolutions – standard-def, 1080p, 4K and sometimes 8K – and both standard dynamic range and high dynamic range (the latter in a number of formats), all of which need to be specifically tested, it also has a sound system with various advanced settings and a full smart platform. A TV is an all-in-one device in the best sense, but that also makes it a challenging review proposition.

As part of our testing process we manually check that every major app – from Netflix to All 4, Prime Video to Spotify – is not only present, but also outputting in the video and sound formats that it should. Just because there's a Disney+ app doesn't necessarily mean it's working in Dolby Vision and/or Dolby Atmos. In fact, in many recent cases it hasn't been.

We also connect both a PS5 and Xbox Series X in order to establish which advanced gaming features are and aren't supported, and on which of the TV's HDMI ports. Is 4K 120Hz supported? How about VRR? Is there a Dolby Vision game mode? Is there an HGiG preset for more accurate HDR tone mapping? We check all of these things, and measure input lag using a Leo Bodnar device.

We then test the TV's picture quality using a huge variety of content, from old DVDs to the latest 4K Blu-rays and plenty of streamed movies and TV shows in between. Every TV is tested against the best model at its price and size – we have a stockroom packed full of Award-winners for this very purpose.

We don't accept the out-of-the-box settings that a TV comes in either. While we intentionally don't go down the route of professional calibration (you shouldn't have to have your TV professionally calibrated in order to get the best out of it), we do spend hours adjusting settings using a mixture of test patterns and real-world content until we are sure we're getting the best out of a TV so that it has the best chance to shine.

While we almost always advise that a new TV is combined with a dedicated sound system such as a soundbar or AV amplifier, many people still prefer to stick with their flatscreen's built-in speakers, so we thoroughly test these too, using a wide variety of movie and music content and with great attention spent to the TV's many processing modes and individual settings.

We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Bath and Reading, where our team of expert reviewers do all of our testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. What's more, all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than an individual reviewer, again helping to ensure consistency and avoid any personal preference.

The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.

From all of our reviews, we choose the best products to feature in our Best Buys. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can be assured you are getting a What Hi-Fi? approved product.

How to choose a TV

How to choose the best 50-inch TV

Should you buy a 4K or Full HD TV?

This question is pretty much moot now, as the vast majority of TVs are now 4K. It's actually rather hard to find Full HD (1080p) models, even at sizes 50-inches and smaller.

If you're buying a TV below 32 inches and can save a lot of money on a Full HD model, by all means go for it (4K won't be a huge benefit at that sort of size anyway), but otherwise 4K is both worthwhile and, in all likelihood, your only option.

Should you buy an HDR TV?

High Dynamic Range is a really big deal, and certainly something you should consider before buying your next TV.

Essentially, the higher the dynamic range (brightness and colors), the more lifelike the picture. HDR offers greater subtlety and depth of gradations of colors, plus stronger contrast.

There are various types of HDR out there, and with different TV brands backing different variants, it can be a minefield trying to find the best option. Allow us to explain.

First up is HDR10, which is essentially the core HDR format that every HDR TV should support.

HDR10 is a static HDR format that applies the HDR values on a scene-by-scene basis (i.e. whenever the camera cuts to a new scene). Dolby Vision, on the other hand, applies this image information (called metadata) on a frame-by-frame basis. This dynamic form of HDR, when implemented properly, has the potential to improve upon the standard HDR10 presentation.

HDR10+ is a rival format to Dolby Vision. Created by Samsung, it also uses dynamic metadata but, whereas Dolby Vision is licensed, HDR10+ is a free, open format that any company can deploy as it sees fit.

Of these two 'dynamic' HDR formats, Dolby Vision is by far the most prevalent, both in terms of TVs and content, and if you have to choose between one and the other, that's the one we'd recommend. That said, you can now buy TVs from the likes of Philips and Panasonic that support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+.

Finally in our rundown of HDR formats is HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), which was developed specifically for broadcasting by the BBC and Japan's NHK. It's used to deliver all of the HDR content offered by the BBC and Sky, so can be considered very important. Luckily, it's now almost as common as standard HDR10 in TV spec lists, so you should have little problem finding a model that supports it.

What inputs and outputs does your TV need?

These days, it's all about HDMI, which is used to connect everything from set-top boxes to video streamers, Blu-ray players to games consoles. Thanks to ARC/eARC (Audio Return Channel / Enhanced Audio Return Channel), a single HDMI connection can even be used to output sound to an AV receiver or soundbar at the same time as it receives a video signal.

Currently, three HDMI connections is standard on budget and mid-range TVs, while four is the norm for premium models.

The specification of the HDMI connections tends to differ depending on the price of the TV, too, with premium models now commonly getting at least one or two HDMI 2.1 sockets. These have greater bandwidth than their HDMI 2.0 counterparts and can support advanced formats such as 4K@120Hz. Fancy gaming features such as Auto Low Latency Mode and Variable Refresh Rate are often supported via HDMI 2.1 sockets, too, though not always. It's sensible to check the specs thoroughly if there are particular features you're after.

After HDMIs, USB ports are the most abundant on modern TVs. You can use these to keep devices charged (often particularly useful for stick- or dongle-style streamers), and some TVs allow the connection of flash drives and hard drives for the recording of live TV content.

Other useful connections include optical and stereo outputs, which can be used in lieu of HDMI ARC to connect legacy audio equipment. Physical headphone outputs are still relatively common, too, though Bluetooth is slowly killing them. Samsung TVs have done without headphone jacks for a while now and Sony is beginning to follow suit.

Lastly, while some TVs feature composite inputs (often via an adapter), most – even at the budget end – have phased out legacy connections such as SCART. So those clinging on to old video cassette recorders, for example, should be aware of that.

Which TV smart features and streaming apps do you need?

As with 4K, it's now hard to buy a TV that doesn't have a smart platform packed with streaming apps. Almost every TV will have Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on board, and Disney+ is fast approaching a similar level of ubiquity. Apple TV (which is great for pay-as-you-go movies as well as the Apple TV+ subscription service) is becoming increasingly common, too.

Beyond those, you're going to want to look out for services such as HBO Max, Hulu, Paramount+ and Peacock, with priority given to those services to which you already subscribe.

Should you buy an OLED, QLED or LCD TV?

LCD TVs, which require a backlight usually made up of white LEDs to show a picture on the LCD panel, are available in a wide variety of screen sizes and, thanks in part to the technology's low cost of production, at affordable prices.

OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) is a panel technology that uses self-emissive particles – so there's no need for a backlight. This allows OLED TVs to be unbelievably slim, while also offering convincing pitch-dark blacks, strong contrast and superb viewing angles. LG, Sony, Panasonic and Philips are the big brands with OLED TVs in their line-ups and, broadly speaking, they're excellent.

QLED (Quantum-dot Light-Emitting Diode), meanwhile, is Samsung’s response to OLED. A QLED TV is an LCD TV but with a quantum dot coating over the backlight. However, the quantum dots (tiny semiconductor particles) in current QLEDs do not emit their own light. So QLED TVs, like conventional LCDs, rely on a backlight. The advantages of a QLED TV? You tend to get brilliantly vibrant colors, plus bright, sharp and crisply detailed images. Samsung's QLEDs have got better and better over the years, existing as a fine alternative to OLEDs TVs. Interestingly, though, Samsung is set to launch its own OLED TVs in 2022.

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.