Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: two 8K TV flagships, but what's changed for 2021?

Samsung's QN900A 8K TV is its flagship 2021 model, but how much of an improvement is it over its 2020 equivalent, the Samsung Q950TS?

Samsung Q900A vs Q950TS 8K TV
(Image credit: Samsung)

If you're looking for the most astounding TV pictures you can get, Samsung's 8K TVs should top of your list. The Samsung QN900A is its most advanced LCD TV ever, and is brand new for 2021. The Samsung Q950TS is the equivalent model from 2020, and is incredibly impressive itself – and as come down in price compared to its cost at launch.

Both offer fantastic quality, and almost single-handedly justify the idea that the best 8K TVs are worth buying even when there's a lack of 8K content. The huge resolution makes them among the best 80+ inch TVs, but they're equally spectacular at smaller sizes.

The Samsung Q950TS topped our list of the best TVs of all kinds when it landed last year, and the QN900A is absolutely aiming to do the same, partly thanks to having a next-generation panel powering it.

If you're thinking of buy now, you might be wondering what the differences are between the sets, and whether it's better to save by buying last year's model rather than the 2021 bleeding-edge TV. So let's take a look at how they compare – and don't forget we also have our full Samsung Q950TS review.

Samsung Neo QLED Mini-LED TVs

The Neo QLED Samsung QN900A – it's a looker.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: Price & release date

The Samsung QN900A is brand new – released officially in April/May 2021 (depending on region). The Samsung Q950TS launched a year earlier, in spring 2020.

Being flagships, both are right up at the premium end of the TV spectrum, but there's still a big difference between them… and, oddly, that difference goes in both directions.

Being older, the Samsung Q950TS has come down in price considerably since its launch. You can now get the 65-inch version for £2,499, the 75-inch version for £3,999, or the 85-inch version for £5,999/$9,999.

(The Q950TS was only available in the US at 85-inches, though the very similar – but slightly cheaper – Q900T was available in more sizes.)

The Samsung QN900A's launch prices are much higher in the UK. The 65-inch version costs £5,999/$4,999/AU$7,579, the 75-inch version costs £7,999/$6,999/AU$10,499, and the 85-inch version costs £11,999/$8,999/AU$13,999.

However, in the US, that makes the new model a huge bargain compared to the old one at the equivalent 85-inch size!

Samsung Q950TS

The Samsung Q950TS is still one of the very best-looking TVs in the world, especially at larger sizes.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: Display

The Samsung QN900A uses Samsung's next-gen Neo QLED image technology, which mixes the QLED technology it's used for years with new mini-LED lighting. Mini-LED lighting means, literally, that the LEDs in the backlight are smaller (40 times, according to Samsung), which means its possible to have more of them in a thinner layer.

The thinner layer keeps the screen svelte, but having more of them is great because it means you can potentially have more dimming zones to control the contrast. Dimming zones are when the TV can literally dim the backlight in specific areas so that dark areas look truly dark, rather than grey (because they still have the backlight attempting to shine through the black pixels).

Having more dimming zones means the zones themselves are smaller, which in turn means you get more precision to this dimming effect, and less 'bloom' (which is when the backlight spills from lighter areas of the screen into dark areas, making blacks look uneven).

The exact number of dimming zones can vary by size, but it looks like larger sizes of the QN900A have around 2,000 dimming zones, whereas on the Q950TS, you have 480. That's a big difference to what kind of precision is on offer for fine lighting control, and it means that the QN900A is remarkably close to what the best OLED TVs can achieve.

The Samsung Q950TS is truly impressive for contrast control when compared to any other LCD TV – but the new technology takes it up a notch for the real image quality aficionados (and that's very much who these TVs are for).

However, good news for the Samsung Q950TS is that both TVs offer the same brightness levels. They can both theoretically peak at 4000 nits, which is COLOSSAL and broadly unnecessary. However, that's only in certain modes – realistically, you're looking at more like HDR peak brightness of 2000 nits, which is bright enough to really dazzle, and can make scenes look stunningly realistic when combined with the resolution.

So, let's talk about the 8K resolution. Both sets include Samsung's advanced AI upscaling technology, though the QN900A's is a naturally a bit more advanced than what you get on the Q950TS. But both are capable to taking high-quality 4K video and making it look sharper and better than you've ever seen, even if it doesn't look quite as good as 'real' 8K video.

Right now, the main idea of an 8K TV is that it can be the best 4K TV you've ever seen, and both of these sets deliver on that promise.

Samsung Neo QLED

Both of these TVs are astoundingly thin – and unlike OLED TVs, the whole body is pencil-thin, because the circuitry is elsewhere.

(Image credit: Samsung )

Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: Design & features

Both TVs stand at just 0.6 inches/15mm thick all the way across, and feature near-identical Infinity screens, which means the bezel on three sides is so thin it's effectively invisible, with a slightly thicker chin on the bottom (but only by millimetres). They both use a single central foot as a stand, or can be wall-mounted. They look effectively the same – extremely sleek, extremely futuristic.

Both TVs use Samsung's One Connect box for connections, which is a separate unit away from the main body (helping to keep the TV so thin). It contains all the processing and ports, and connects to the screen using just a single thin cable. This means you can hide the One Connect box away, keeping your TV stand neat and tidy, or making wall mounting even easier.

The Samsung Q950TS has two HDMI 2.1 ports, and two HDMI 2.0 ports. The QN900A has four HDMI 2.1 ports, so is slightly strong when it comes to future-proofing, but we wouldn't consider that a dealbreaker unless you are an extremely hard core gamer.

Speaker of gaming, both screens have extremely low lag times, but only the QN900A includes Samsung's new Game Bar, which is a great feature to help you customise exactly what the screen is doing while you play and displays important connection information.

Both screens support HDR10+, HLG and HDR10 forms of HDR, though sadly neither supports Dolby Vision. (No Samsung TVs do.)

They don't support Dolby Atmos audio either, but they can pass it through to soundbars or AV receivers.

Samsung's Tizen smart TV system provides the software for both sets, and this is great for comprehensive streaming app support, and for usability – it's clear and understandable.

The QN900A comes with a new solar-powered remote that shouldn't need batteries, too.

Samsung Q950TS

Both these TVs have speakers around the edges, to create big, directional 3D sound.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: Speakers

Both these TVs feature Samsung's Object Tracking Sound+ system, which basically means two things: 1) the screen has speakers around all of its edges, so that sound can be given lots of direction; 2) the built-in AI processing will analyse the image to make sure that these speakers actually add the correct directionality, no matter whether what you're watching is in Dolby surround or not.

It's an impressive system, and you can really hear the direction change of a car screaming across the screen, for example. It's also among the best-sounding systems actually built into a TV (admittedly, not the highest bar to clear) 

The QN900A's sound system is slightly more advanced, partly thanks to having the newest generation of processing, but mostly due to have 10 speakers in total compared to eight on the Q950TS.

Samsung QN900A vs Samsung Q950TS: Conclusion

The short answer here is that the QN900A is unquestionably the better TV – the difference isn't a massive transformation, but enough things add up to make it clearly superior.

However, you're looking at paying around twice the price for the new model compared to the old model, and while the new one may be better, we're not sure we could say it's twice as good.

If want a TV that's unquestionably top-of-the-line and, in particular, can be really big but still offer incredible detail, then either TV here is ideal – but we'd probably steer most people towards the Q950TS while stocks last when the price difference is this large.

Matthew Bolton
Matthew Bolton

Matthew runs T3's magazine side putting the best gadgets in ink every month, having worked across on many tech mags over the last decade. He's also our resident Apple expert, and you absolutely should not get him started about Lego or board games unless you have a free afternoon and endless patience.