S95C OLED Advantage
- OLED TVs are amazingly bright
- Excellent color performance
- Low input lag
S95C OLED Shortcoming
- Available in 77-inch only
- No Google Assistant support
LED-backlit LCDs are generally brighter than OLED TVs, but OLEDs are generally better at displaying perfect black levels and a wider color range. The Samsung S95C OLED TV ($4,499.99, 77 inches), a replacement for last year’s S95B, resets those expectations as the brightest OLED model we’ve tested. Its digital-theatre-friendly color range, low input lag, and great feature set help it beat the LG C2 ($3,499.99 for the 77-inch model) as our Editor’s Choice winner for OLED TVs, despite its monstrous size.
S95C OLED Thin and Minimal
The design of the S95C looks almost identical to that of the QN95C but is slightly thinner. It has a nearly bezel-less look, with just a thin metal band running along the sides and top of the screen. A narrow strip visually anchors the bottom edge, while a small plastic rectangle with the Samsung logo protrudes from the bottom right corner. The whole unit sits on a solid gunmetal base, but there is an option for VESA mounting if you prefer.
Instead of using the ports on the back of the screen, the S96C uses a separate OneConnect control box, connected by a thin wire. That’s handy if you want to create the illusion of a floating screen, but it means all your video sources plug into the box rather than the TV itself. It offers all the same input options as the 8K Samsung QN900C, including four HDMI ports (one eARC), two USB ports, one Ethernet port, one optical audio output, one 3.5mm RS-232C port, one antenna/cable connection adapter, and a proprietary port for the OneConnect cable.
The S95C uses the same Eco Remote as Samsung’s other current flagship TVs. It’s a slender wand with a built-in rechargeable battery. You can flip it over and let the solar panel charge it or plug it in via the USB-C port on the bottom. It has a large circular navigation pad at the top with power, voice, and settings buttons surrounding a pinhole microphone. Back, home, and play buttons, volume and channel rockers, and dedicated service buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, and Samsung TV Plus sit further down.
Satisfactory Function Configuration
Samsung’s Tizen-based smart TV interface has a lot of great features, but it still relies on a somewhat frustrating menu design.
On the plus side, you get access to most major video streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix. The TV also supports Apple AirPlay 2 for streaming from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Additionally, far-field microphones in the TV enable hands-free interface control with Amazon Alexa and Samsung Bixby voice assistants instead of Google Assistant.
Despite these desirable features, Samsung smart TVs have an irritating tendency to place important settings a level or two deeper in the menu system than competing platforms. This can be especially annoying if you need to switch input sources, for example. The remote doesn’t have an input button, which means you’ll need to go into the TV’s main menu to accomplish this basic task. Additionally, the interface will take up to a minute to scan and optimize anything you plug into the TV when you first connect it. The other TVs we tested don’t do this; thankfully, you can cancel the process if necessary. At the very least, we’re glad you can rearrange the quick settings menu that pops up before the full options section.
If you dig into picture settings, you can choose between two new features from Samsung: static and dynamic tone mapping for HDR content. Tone mapping determines how different light and color values appear on the screen. Static settings assign fixed values, while dynamic settings dynamically change these values to expand the dynamic range of the picture. Dynamic tone mapping typically results in a brighter, richer picture, but static tone mapping provides a performance more in line with the filmmaker’s original vision.
The Brightest OLED TV Ever
The Samsung S95C is a 4K OLED TV with a 144Hz refresh rate. It supports high dynamic range (HDR) content in HDR10, HDR10+, and hybrid log-gamma (HLG), but Samsung continues to shy away from supporting Dolby Vision. However, it has an ATSC 3.0 tuner for 4K broadcasts.
We test TVs using a Klein K-80 colorimeter, a Murideo SIX-G signal generator, and Portrait Displays’ Calman software. I evaluated this model at Samsung’s test lab in Secaucus, New Jersey, and made sure to reset all picture settings before starting.
During testing, I encountered device glitches. Samsung attached an identical replacement panel to the OneConnect box, so I can go on, I have no reason to believe that the replacement panel is a tweaked or tampered component that would produce different results than the retail model, but I point this incident out for transparency.
As mentioned earlier, OLED TVs generally offer excellent contrast ratios because they display perfect black levels, but they tend to be dim compared to high-end LED-backlit LCD TVs. That’s not the case with the S95C; it doesn’t hit the peak of the QN95C QLED or even the budget-friendly Hisense U8H LED, but it’s pretty close.
In our tests with an SDR signal with Movie Mode enabled, the S95C achieved a peak brightness of 161.25 nits in full-screen white and 280.48 nits in 18 percent white. It’s not very bright, but that’s rarely the case for SDR pictures unless you manually turn up the backlight.
For HDR signals, though, the S95C showed a peak brightness of 260.59 nits with a full-screen white point and an incredible 888.90 nits with an 18 percent white point. Using a 10 percent white point, peak brightness jumped to a previously unimaginable 1,352.42 nits. That’s 18 percent brighter than the LG C2 (569.85 nits), the Samsung S95B (752.69 nits), and the Sony A95K (600.34 nits). For comparison, the QN95C and Hisense U8H achieved brightness of 1371.69 nits and 1982 nits respectively in the same test.
Color performance is equally stunning
The graph above shows the color levels of a TV in movie mode, where an SDR signal is measured against the Rec.709 broadcast standard (left), and an HDR signal is measured against the DCI-P3 digital cinema standard (right). The SDR’s colors are nearly accurate, though yellows are slightly reddish. HDR color, meanwhile, covers the entire DCI-P3 color space, with accurate primary colors and only slightly warmer magentas and yellows out of the box. The color range is only slightly wider than the S95B’s excellent performance, but not enough to make a noticeable difference.
The first episode of The Last of Us looks great on the S95C OLED. In nighttime scenes, the texture of dark hair and shirts is clearly visible against the nearly black background without appearing washed out. In addition, in the brightly lit scene, the security personnel’s black clothing also looks very dark, with a very fine texture and outline.
With dynamic tone mapping enabled, the TV displays a wide range of contrast between the extremely dark and extremely bright parts of the picture while maintaining color accuracy. Using static tone mapping in Filmmaker mode, the picture looked a little dull and muted, but colors didn’t change, and shadow and highlight details were clearly visible. Which mode is best depends on your taste and the amount of ambient light in your viewing environment.
The incredible light output of the S95C OLED panel comes from National Geographic’s Growing Animals: The Story of Cub Grizzly. The picture looks vibrant and is visually comparable to high-end LED TVs. In both dynamic and static tone mapping modes, foliage greens looked accurate and saturated, while details in both light and dark fur were crisp and clear.
Thor: Love and Thunder show similarly strong contrast and color performance. Bright scenes look brilliant in Movie mode with dynamic tone mapping and retain excellent detail and color balance in the darker Filmmaker mode. The reds, blues, and purples of Thor’s cape appear vibrant, while skin tones look accurate.
Super Fast Game
Gamers should be pleased with the performance of the S95C. The 144Hz refresh rate is a significant increase over the 120Hz refresh rate found on most high-end TVs, and the panel is very responsive. It supports AMD FreeSync for gaming, but not Nvidia G-Sync.
Using the HDFury Diva HDMI matrix, we measured an input lag of just 1.8ms in Game mode, well below the 10ms threshold we use to determine if a TV is good for gaming. With Game Mode not active, the S95C has an input lag of 63.1ms, so make sure to enable it for the best performance.
The New King of OLED
The Samsung S95C is the brightest and most vivid OLED TV we’ve tested, coming close to high-end LED panels in both counts. So while it’s currently only 77 inches and costs a whopping $4,499.99 (55- and 65-inch models are planned for the next few months), it’s our new Editors’ Choice winner for OLED models. That said, the LG C2 offers more size for less money, making it a solid choice; it’s not as bright as the S95C, but it offers an equally impressive picture.