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Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

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 OLED65C1

(Image credit: Future / Them, Amazon Prime)

1. LG OLED65C1

The C1 isn’t much of a step-up from the CX, but it didn’t need to be – this is a superb TV at a competitive price

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 65in (also available in 48in, 55in, 77in, 83in) | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: webOS 6.0 | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 33" x 57" x 1.8"

Reasons to Buy

Superb all-round picture quality
Near-flawless feature set
Better remote and menu system

Reasons to Avoid

Marginal gains on last year’s CX
Unengaging audio

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.

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, particularly when the niche design and weaker sound are taken into account.

Ultimately, in bang-for-buck terms, the C1 is the better buy. In fact, it's the most recommendable TV available right now.

Read the full LG OLED65C1 review

Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

(Image credit: Sony / The Boys, Amazon Prime)

2. Sony XBR-48A9S

Sony’s first 48-inch 4K OLED TV is extraordinarily good.

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 48in | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: Android TV 9 | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 62 x 107 x 5.8cm

Reasons to Buy

Striking picture
Bold sound
Solid app selection

Reasons to Avoid

Expensive
Lacks next-gen HDMI features

Time was that getting an OLED TV under 55in was impossible, but then LG launched the world's first commercially available 48-inch 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 such as 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 produces 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 is 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 XBR-48A9S review

Best TV 2021: the best 4K Ultra HD TVs

(Image credit: Future / Coming To America 2, Amazon Prime)

3. LG OLED65G1

LG’s new 'OLED Evo' TV is a stunner

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 65in (also available in 55", 77") | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: webOS 6.0 | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 83 x 145 x 2cm

Reasons to Buy

Brighter, punchier and sharper
Beautiful when wall-mounted
Improved remote and app offering

Reasons to Avoid

No feet or stand in the box
Sound lacks excitement

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

Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

(Image credit: LG / The Boys, Amazon Prime)

4. LG OLED48CX

The first 48-inch OLED of the 4K era – and it's an absolute stunner.

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 48in (also available in 55in, 65in, 77in) | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: webOS | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 62 x 107 x 4.7cm

Reasons to Buy

Flagship-level OLED performance
Dramatic but natural picture
Forward-looking feature set

Reasons to Avoid

Missing UK catch-up apps
Pricey for its size

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 sometime soon.

Prefer something bigger? We've also reviewed the 55in and 65in versions of the CX series, both of which are just as impressive as their smaller sibling.

Read the full LG OLED48CX review

Best TV 2021: the best 4K Ultra HD TVs

(Image credit: LG / Paatal Lok, Amazon Prime)

5. LG OLED55CX

The core model in LG’s 2020 OLED TV range is an astonishingly capable all-round performer.

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 55in (also available in 48in, 65in and 77in) | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: webOS | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 28" x 48" x 1.8"

Reasons to Buy

Picture is exciting but natural
Improved motion and dark detail
More future-proofed than most

Reasons to Avoid

Missing some catch-up apps

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

Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

(Image credit: LG / Bosch, Amazon Prime)

6. LG OLED65GX

Another year, another brilliant LG OLED TV from LG.

SPECIFICATIONS

Resolution: 3840x2160 | Operating system: webOS | HDR formats: Dolby Vision, HLG, HDR10, Advanced HDR by Technicolor | HDMI: 4 | USB: 3 | Optical: 1 | Dimensions (HWD): 83 x 145 x 2cm (w/o stand)

Reasons to Buy

Consistent, natural performance
Improved motion and dark detail
Lovely design

Reasons to Avoid

No feet or pedestal in the box

LG consistently delivers some of the best OLED TVs on the market and this GX model picks 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 down-firing 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, too.

Read the full LG OLED65GX review

Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

(Image credit: Sony / Absentia, Amazon Prime)

7. Sony XBR-55A8H

This 55in set is Sony's best OLED TV to date.

SPECIFICATIONS

Screen size: 55in (also available in 65in) | Type: OLED | Backlight: not applicable | Resolution: 4K | HDR formats supported: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | Operating system: Android TV 9 | HDMI inputs: 4 | ARC/eARC: eARC | Optical output: Yes | Dimensions (hwd, without stand): 71 x 123 x 5.2cm

Reasons to Buy

Natural and authentic picture
Superb motion handling
Crisp, involving sound

Reasons to Avoid

High-contrast images lack punch
Lacking next-gen HDMI features

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 when 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 XBR-55A8H review

Best OLED TV 2021: the best budget and premium OLED TVs

8. Sony XBR-65A9G

A good-looking and impressive-sounding OLED TV, if a bit pricey.

SPECIFICATIONS

Resolution: 3840x2160 | Operating system: Android | HDR formats: HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision | HDMI: 4 | USB: 3 | Optical: 1 | Dimensions (HWD): 84 x 145 x 4cm

Reasons to Buy

Stable, insightful, natural pictures
Impressive with SDR content
Excellent sound

Reasons to Avoid

HDR lacks wow factor
Tricky to tweak
Processing can be intrusive

The KD-65AG9 is an impressive OLED TV and one of the best in class. Picture and sound quality are both excellent, as is the TV's motion handling. It also boasts a fabulous upscaler for Full HD content. Where it falls down slightly is with native 4K HDR pictures. In our opinion, rivals such as the LG C9 and Samsung Q90 QLED boast superior processing and HDR handling. The Sony is also significantly more expensive than its close rivals, but if your budget can stretch...

Read the full Sony XBR-65A9G review

Read the full Sony XBR-55A9G review

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  • yholmes
    Hi, I’ve read several of your reviews (extremely helpful thank you) and I’m looking for some expert advice. Out of these three options which would you choose: Panasonic TX-55HZ1000 (£1899), Panasonic TX-55GZ2000B (£1499 clearance price), LG OLED55CX (£1599). The TX-55GZ2000B I found in a local shop seems to be a bargain price but I’m wondering if I should go for a 2020 model. Thank you.
    Reply
  • gel
    yholmes said:
    Hi, I’ve read several of your reviews (extremely helpful thank you) and I’m looking for some expert advice. Out of these three options which would you choose: Panasonic TX-55HZ1000 (£1899), Panasonic TX-55GZ2000B (£1499 clearance price), LG OLED55CX (£1599). The TX-55GZ2000B I found in a local shop seems to be a bargain price but I’m wondering if I should go for a 2020 model. Thank you.
    I would go for the GZ2000 if you can get it at that price brand new. It won’t have HDMI 2.1 though if you are a gamer I would go for the LG OLED.
    Reply
  • yholmes
    Thank you so much for your quick reply! I’m not a gamer but my partner likes to play every now and then so I will look into the LG OLED a bit more. I’ll make sure check whether the Panasonic is brand new at the shop as well. Thanks again!
    Reply