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Samsung QN90B review (hands on) — the best TV you can buy just got better

The Samsung QN90B continues to be the flag bearer for Neo QLED

The Samsung QN90B QLED TV showing Planet Earth II
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Samsung QN90B QLED TV appears to have a few soft spots, but it’s an improvement on its predecessor and will likely continue to be the gold standard in 4K HDR TVs.

Pros

  • +

    Vivid brightness and colors

  • +

    Powerful upscaling

  • +

    Mini-LED backlight

  • +

    Sub-10ms lag time

Cons

  • -

    No Dolby Vision

  • -

    No OneConnect Box

  • -

    Motion smoothing is the default

  • -

    Requires Samsung account for downloads

Samsung QN90B QLED TV specs

Starting price: $1,199
Model number: QN90BAFXZA
Screen sizes: 43, 50, 55, 65, 75, 85 and 98 inches
Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160
Ports: 4 HDMI (1 eARC)
HDR: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Refresh rate: 120 Hz
Audio: 60W, 4.2.2 channel sound
Smart TV software: Tizen

The Samsung QN90B QLED TV holds the distinction of being one of the company’s flagship series in 2022, and potentially one of the brightest TVs we’re going to see this year. 

As a follow-up to last year’s Samsung QN90A, that last bit might not be all that surprising — we measured the QN90A’s peak brightness to be around 1,800 nits with this year’s model reaching even higher highs of above 3,000 nits in its brightest mode.

To help control the TV’s luminosity, Samsung has developed a technology called Light Adaptive Shaping that uses the Neo Quantum Processor to analyze lines, shapes and surfaces of images on the screen to control the amount of light from the Mini-LEDs.

We won’t know how all this technology will stack up against LG’s 2022 OLED TVs until we can spend some more time with it, but for now we’re cautiously optimistic that the Samsung QN90B will be one of the best TVs, if not the brightest, that we’re going to see in 2022.

Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV price and availability 

The Samsung QN90B is part of the Samsung 2022 TV lineup that also includes models like the The Frame (2022), S95B OLED, QN95B, QN80B, Q70B and Q60B alongside 8K models like the Samsung QN900B and QN800B. It’s available in stores now. 

In terms of pricing, the Samsung QN90B is one of the more expensive models in Samsung’s lineup and is typically priced well above the competition. For example, the 43-inch Samsung QN90B starts at $1,199 while the industry average 55-inch size comes in at $1,899. Alongside those two models, there’s a 50-inch ($1,599), 65-inch ($2,599), 75-inch ($3,499), 85-inch ($4,999) and a jaw-dropping 95-inch ($14,999). Good luck getting that in your house.

With pricing that high, the Samsung QN90B is in a somewhat tough position — it’s stuck between last year’s models that are significantly less expensive and other manufacturers' models that are just slightly more expensive. Last year’s Samsung QN90A, Tom’s Guide’s best TV of 2021, only costs $1,199 for a 55-inch QN90A and $1,699 for the 65-inch version. That’s almost half of the price of this year’s models. 

Similarly, the LG C2 OLED, the sequel to the award-winning LG C1 OLED, comes in at $1,999 — only $100 more than the Samsung QN90B. If Samsung wants to sway users to ditch OLED, it wouldn’t hurt to have a wider price gap between these two models.

Samsung QN90B QLED TV
Model numberSizePriceAvailability
QN43QN90BAFXZA43 inches$1,199Available now
QN50QN90BAFXZA50 inches$1,599Available now
QN55QN90BAFXZA55 inches$1,799Available now
QN65QN90BAFXZA65 inches$2,599Available now
QN75QN90BAFXZA75 inches$3,299Available now
QN85QN90BAFXZA85 inches$4,799Available now
QN95QN90BAFXZA95 inches$14,999Available now

Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV design 

The Samsung QN90B QLED TV showing Planet Earth II

(Image credit: Future)

Samsung hasn’t changed all that much in terms of design on the QN90B — at least not on the outside. What you’ll see by looking at it is a near bezel-less screen that stands on a pedestal base a few inches off the table. 

This lower profile look makes the TV appear to be floating in a dark room — which, admittedly, is pretty eye-catching when you first see it — but it does mean that you’ll want a lower-profile soundbar to go with it so you don’t block the IR receiver on the lower right corner of the screen.

Speaking of remotes, the Samsung QN90B comes with the solar-powered remote Samsung introduced last year. It charges simply by being placed on a window near the sun, which is a nice alternative to scrambling around looking for new batteries when the old ones run out.

Probably the biggest disappointment in terms of design is that the TV doesn’t use Samsung’s OneConnect box that hosts all the inputs and outputs and connects to the TV using a small thin wire. Instead, you’ll have to connect all your HDMI ports directly to the back of the TV and use grooves on the back of the TV to hide the cables. The good news? You’ll find a plethora of HDMI 2.1 inputs in the back — which will be helpful to connect the latest consoles like the Xbox Series X and PS5.

Samsung QN90B Neo QLED TV performance 

While there isn’t a ton to say about the design of the QN90B, there’s a great deal to say about its performance — in terms of brightness, this is a tough TV to beat. 

When we measured it, the Samsung QN90B came in at around 3,500 nits in a 10% window in its brightest HDR mode. That’s not only a big jump from last year, but it’s a number that trumps a number of other LED-LCD and OLED TVs from other manufacturers.

So how is Samsung doing this? Well, it’s a combination of the Mini-LEDs that power the TV, Shape Adaptive Lighting that we talked about earlier and the Neo 4K Processor that can reroute power to boost 10% windows of light. In less technical terms, the TV’s processor sees which pockets of Mini-LEDs need to be turned on to display the given content and then distributes extra power to those pockets. 

Brightness of the Samsung QN90B at different window sizes.

(Image credit: Future)

In practice, this all looks great. We spent close to an hour watching Planet Earth II in 4K HDR on an Oppo 4K Blu-ray player plugged into the QN90B. Colors, as you’d imagine, looked vibrant as we toured the jungles of Asia and Africa and the high peaks of South America. Details on the myriad creatures looked crisp and clean, thanks in no small part to the processor and Light Adaptive Shaping technology, while the contrast in night scenes looked good as well.

It was hard to tell if some darker details were getting lost due to black level crushing, but that’s something we’ll continue to test once we have a final review unit. As for bright scenes, however, the QN90B absolutely crushed it.

Now, no one is expecting you to need 3,500 nits of brightness each and every time you turn on the TV — that would be blinding, especially if the TV is placed in a dark room. What the extra brightness is there for are moments where the extra brightness is needed — shots of say the desert at high noon and flashes of color. It’ll also help counter glare during the daytime in rooms that have uncontrollable ambient light, though, not as well as The Frame’s anti-glare coating.

In terms of motion handling, the Samsung QN90B has a 120Hz native refresh rate. That helps to make it one of the better TVs for sports and action movie lovers. If you don’t fall into those categories, however, that’s fine too. Much of Samsung’s motion smoothing technology is turned on by default, however placing the TV into Filmmaker Mode or going into the advanced settings and manually adjusting the motion settings. 

Finally, while we didn’t have as much time to spend with HD/SDR content as we did with 4K/HDR content, Samsung’s 4K upscaling algorithm seemed to be working with aplomb in any of the content we did see in HD. We’ll continue to put it through its paces when we have a final review sample, but cable TV watchers will hopefully see a big improvement in their picture when upgrading from an older 4K TV.

Samsung QN90B QLED TV audio 

Audio performance on the Samsung QN90B can go one of two ways — either you’ve got soft and spacious when you set the audio mode to Amplified, or direct and loud when you have it set to normal. Both modes worked well for their intended purposes, but a TV this nice needs audio to match and for that reason you’ll probably want a soundbar.

The good news there is that Samsung is currently making some of the best soundbars on the planet in its California-based audio lab. These ‘bars all support Dolby Atmos via eARC — as does the QN90B — which means getting great sound from the TV is as simple as picking up an extra piece of gear at checkout. 

For folks who don’t want to spend extra on a separate soundbar, the TV’s sound is fine and out of the box you won’t hate it, but we do feel there’s a bit of room for improvement here.

Samsung QN90B QLED TV interface 

An image of Samsung's new Tizen smart platform.

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung’s trusted Tizen smart platform got a bit of an overhaul in 2022, and the new look is a bit… well, polarizing. The latest version of Tizen has a tile design and a left-hand navigation bar, helping it feel a lot more modern than before. The tiles can represent streaming services or content from various services, making it easy to simply turn on the TV and jump back into your favorite show or movie.

The content-first presentation is certainly nice, but it can feel a bit cluttered and overbearing when you’re just starting up the TV and want to go to one streaming service as fast as possible. You’ll also need to sign in to a Samsung account if you want to download any apps — which can be another speed bump in the setup process.

Speaking of the best streaming services, Tizen is well-stocked with most everything you could want. There’s Netflix and Prime Video with its small library of HDR10+ movies, plus Hulu, HBO Max and Disney Plus. Note, though, that there’s no support for Dolby Vision on Samsung’s TVs, which means folks who regularly stream content in the format won’t see it on this TV.

Gamers, on the other hand, will find a lot to like here. Samsung says it will be rolling out support for game streaming services like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna via a software update later this year and says that Xbox Game Pass is coming eventually as well. When it arrives, you won’t even need a console to play the latest releases from Microsoft’s game studios.

Along those lines, gamers will also appreciate the improved Game Bar that can be pulled up by long-pressing the play/pause button when in Game Mode that will display the current refresh rate and response time. We measured the latter to be around 9.8ms, which is really quite good for a non-OLED TV.

Samsung QN90B QLED TV outlook 

The Samsung QN90B has everything that made its predecessor great and then some. The additional brightness and Light Adaptive Shaping should make colors look brighter and shapes look clearer, plus you’ll have the ability to go even higher in brighter scenes that could use a touch more pizzazz.

That said, the price of these screens does feel a bit high considering that last year’s model can be found at 50% the launch price of the QN90B. Until we’ve done even more testing on it we can’t say for certain if it will be worth the upgrade — but for folks who missed last year’s model and have the money for it, the QN90B does appear to continue Samsung’s trend of setting the gold standard in 4K HDR TVs. If it doesn't, however, there's always the Samsung QN90A.

Stay tuned for more test results and our final rating for the Samsung QN90B review. 

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.

  • Golf guy
    Great review! IMO not having a OneConnect box is a major pro, not a con.

    I own the QN90B and multiple frame TV’s. It’s such a pain to run the oneconnect line through walls. The size of the connector at the end of the wire makes it difficult to fit through studs and there’s not always a good place to hide the connect box.

    +1 for not having the OneConnect
    Reply