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8 September 2021

What is QLED TV? Best QLED TVs to buy

Samsung doesn't make OLED TVs, it makes QLED sets instead. But what is this technology and how does it compare with high-end models released by its rivals?
Martin Pratt
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Samsung is now the only major TV manufacturer without an OLED set, remaining resolute in its belief that its own QLED technology is just as capable when it comes to the best-quality picture. 

But LG has long hailed it as the future of TV, and new OLED sets from Sony and Panasonic add weight to this claim.

Is Samsung right to stick with QLED? We explain how the technology works, look at the best models and see how they compare with OLEDs.

What is a QLED TV?

  • The Q in QLED stands for quantum dot. These miniscule dots form a layer in front of the backlight and create the colours you see on screen.
  • Most TVs are LCD and use liquid crystals (the LC in LCD). Quantum dots take the place of these crystals.
  • Samsung pioneered the technology and debuted it in 2016. Now you can find quantum dot displays in all its high-end sets.
  • You can spot a Samsung QLED set by its model name; it will always start with a 'Q'.
  • A few other small brands make QLEDs, too, but Samsung is the only one of the big four manufacturers (LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony) to make them.
  • Quantum dot are said to produce more vibrant colours and brighter images.

What is Neo QLED?

In 2021 Samsung launched its first Neo QLED TVs. They still have the same quantum dot technology as standard QLED sets, but the backlights have much smaller LEDs, which means better contrast and more control over what parts of the screen are lit. This should minimise blooming and light leakage, where brighter sections of the picture bleed into darker ones.

Neo QLEDs are thinner, too because the LEDs in the backlight are thinner.


Samsung stands alone in supporting its QLED technology: LG, Panasonic and Sony all choose OLED displays for their high-end sets.

You can look at our guide on OLED TVs to learn more about them, but the key distinction is that OLED displays don't use backlights; every bulb in the display is self-emitting. This improves contrast control and motion fluidity, but Samsung believes QLEDs displays are brighter and show more vivid colours.

  • Price - whether you're buying an OLED or a QLED, you're going to need to fork out a fair bit of money. Go for the top-end of either and you can expect to pay around £3,000, but where the cheapest OLED will tend to be around £1,500, some QLEDs start at around £800.
  • Size - you won't find an OLED with screen smaller than 55 inches, but QLEDs can be much smaller. Most of the ranges have a 49-inch model and there's even one 43-incher.
  • Spec - the technology in the TVs differ slightly from brand to brand and each will have its own unique selling point, but some things are consistent. They will always be 4K, support HDR and be smart. No matter if you choose OLED or QLED you will typically get the very best TV technology available from that brand.

Should I buy a QLED TV?

There are no guarantees in the TV world. Price, brand, screen type: none of these necessarily make a Best Buy TV. Some of the best TVs we've ever tested have been QLEDs, but we've also found ones that didn't make the grade.

You shouldn't necessarily rule out LCD displays either. They are generally cheaper, but some are just as good or better than many QLED sets.

If you want the best of the best then you must consider OLEDs as well as QLEDs. To dismiss any one screen type would be limiting yourself unnecessarily.

Take a look at our top TVs for 2021 to see how many QLEDs made the grade or check the table below for our favourite QLEDs.

  • 76%

    It's an exquisite TV and a perfect showcase for Samsung's Neo QLED technology. There's very little we can fault here: the speakers are great and we love the design of the menus.

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  • 75%

    Backlit TVs have lost ground to OLEDs, but there are still plenty examples of the technology and this is one of the best. It's packed with useful features and is a feast for the eyes.

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  • 73%

    Easily one of the best 50-inch TVs we've ever tested. The picture is stuffed with vivid detail, and it sounds rich and warm.

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