Samsung Q80 vs Q90: Which QLED TV is the right choice?

The Q90 is a step up from the Q80, as it has some superior features. However, the Q80 is still a brilliant TV with plenty of great features. This makes it challenging to choose between these two models, especially if you’re not familiar with all of the nuanced differences separating them. In this Samsung Q80 vs Q90 comparison article, we’ll dig into the details to help you pick the more favorable option for your needs and preferences.

Samsung Q80 vs Q90 – Quick Comparison

Samsung Q80R QLED

Samsung Q80R QLED TV
Samsung Q80R QLED Smart 4K UHD TV (2019)

Samsung Q80 is undoubtedly a quality QLED TV set filled with great features. It’s a terrific choice for mixed usage, as it can serve equally well as a TV and a gaming monitor. Here are Q80’s most notable pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Consistent brightness in both HDR and SDR
  • HDR10 and HDR10+
  • Powerful image processor
  • Great Tizen Smart TV platform

Cons:

  • No Dolby Vision
  • Doesn’t support 4K in 120Hz

Samsung Q90R QLED

Samsung Q90R QLED TV
Samsung Q90R QLED Smart 4K UHD TV (2019)

Here’s a quick overview of Q90’s biggest advantages and disadvantages:

Pros:

  • Nearly flawless motion handling
  • One Connect box
  • HDR10 and HDR10+
  • Great Tizen Smart TV platform

Cons:

  • No Dolby Vision
  • Some gray uniformity issues around the screen’s edges

Features Face to Face

Panel Technology

As the prefix in their names suggests, these two Samsung models utilize the QLED panel technology. QLED panels are similar to classic LED VA panels but with one notable difference. This is because these panels have a quantum dot layer built-in. 

This thin layer enhances certain performance features and offers better image brightness and more vivid colors. QLED panels are Samsung’s proprietary technology and are reserved almost exclusively for the best Samsung TV sets and a small selection of other brands like TCL and Hisense.

Image Processor

The two TVs come with the same powerful Quantum Processor 4K. This image processor has strong upscaling capabilities, as it uses AI and machine learning to improve and enhance lower definition content. This feature comes in very handy when you’re streaming shows or watching live sports events, as it makes a noticeable difference in overall picture quality.

Motion Technology

The Q80 and the Q90 have excellent response times, although the latter model is slightly better in this category. The Q90 can fully transition between colors in just 9.6 milliseconds. It leaves minimal blur trails behind fast-moving objects, so it’s an excellent TV for watching fast-paced movies, shows, and sports.

In comparison, the Q80 offers slightly slower but still very impressive response times. It can fully transition between color pixels in 11.8 milliseconds, offering an above-average performance. That said, there is a bit more overshoot on the Q80. This can, in turn, affect the motion in dark scenes.

Although neither TV is flicker-free, both deliver outstanding performances in this regard thanks to the PWM dimming feature. Their PWM dimming frequency is 960 Hz, so most people won’t pick up any flickering when watching content.

Picture Quality

Samsung TVs generally provide excellent picture quality, and these two models are no exception. In this sense, the two TVs support all of the most common resolutions, with the Q90 having a slight edge. Here’s a detailed table of the Samsung Q80 vs Q90 supported resolution properties:

ResolutionQ80R QLEDQ90R QLED
4K/120HzNoYes (Native Support)
4K/60Hz/4:4:4YesYes
4K/60HzYesYes
1440p/120HzYes (Native Support)Yes (Native Support)
1440p/60HzYes (Native Support)Yes (Native Support)
1080p/120HzYes (Native Support)Yes (Native Support)
1080p/60Hz/4:4:4YesYes

Contrast Ratio / Black Level

The two TVs come with an equally excellent contrast ratio overall. The native contrast on the Q80 is somewhat better, but the Q90 has better contrast when you enable local dimming.

We should note that the native contrast is lower than what most VA panels deliver, but this is primarily due to the “Ultra Viewing Angle” layer, which we’ll get to in one of the following sections. 

With all of this in mind, the contrast properties on both TVs are good enough to provide superb dark scenes when viewing content in a dark room. 

Local Dimming

The Q80 and the Q90 use a full-array backlight configuration, which provides excellent dimming properties. The two TVs also include a local dimming feature which is on by default. You can’t disable it through any regular settings option in the TV menu, only set it to specific levels like “high” or “low.”

Overall, these two models have a great local dimming feature. Although you might notice some blooming, both TVs are very adept at dimming the edges of bright objects. Occasionally, subtitles may cause noticeable brightness changes in the overall scene but not enough to make it unpleasant to watch the content.

Peak Brightness

The Q90 has outstanding peak brightness and can get noticeably brighter than the Q80 when displaying both SDR and HDR content across small parts of its screen. However, what’s interesting in this Q80 vs Q90 comparison is that the Samsung Q80 maintains better peak brightness across the entire screen. For a more thorough rundown of these values, check out the table below:

Brightness ValuesQ80R QLEDQ90R QLED
Peak 10% Window SDR Brightness∼ 1000 nits∼ 1300 nits
Peak 100% Window SDR Brightness∼ 560 nits∼ 500 nits
Peak 10% Window HDR Brightness∼ 1110 nits∼ 1490 nits
Peak 100% Window HDR Brightness∼ 625 nits∼ 535 nits

Color

Both TVs have the option to enable wide color gamuts and display impressive coverage in this regard. That said, the Q90 comes with a better color gamut and color volume. It has slightly better coverage of both the DCI P3 and the Rec 2020 color space. The Q80 and the Q90 share the same core strengths and weaknesses when it comes to color volume. They can produce deep and bright colors but struggle to produce very bright blues.

Viewing Angle

The Q80 and the Q90 deliver nearly identical viewing angles. They offer decent performance, backed up by the “Ultra Viewing Angle” layer. This feature improves viewing angles at the expense of the native contrast ratio. It enables these two models to offer better viewing angles than most VA panels. 

Even as you move off-center, the image remains fairly accurate, so the Q80 and the Q90 are both solid options for a wide seating arrangement or a larger room. They start showing brightness loss at viewing angles around forty degrees and display dark and washed-out shades only at viewing angles of about seventy degrees or more.

Reflections / Anti-glare

The Q80 and the Q90 have equally fantastic reflection handling properties. Both TVs have a glossy screen finish, meaning that they perform well even in rooms with a lot of windows or bright lighting. 

The “Ultra Viewing Angle” layer helps scatter the reflection across the screen. This provides excellent reflection handling but may cause some rainbow reflections under excessive lighting.

Looking at the total reflection percentages, the Q80 and the Q90 reflect just over one percent of total light and approximately the same amount of indirect light reflections. This means that these two TVs can impressively handle ambient lighting but may also struggle with direct lighting.

Sound Quality

Although the Q90 outperforms the Q80 in several crucial categories, the Q80 is the superior TV in terms of sound quality. It has a lower LFE (Low-Frequency Extension), meaning that it has a more powerful bass. Still, it’s not robust enough to deliver the rumble some buyers might be looking for. Both models come with Samsung’s room correction features called “Adaptive Sound” and “Adaptive Volume.”

Smart TV Platform (Operating System)

Coming from the same manufacturer, the Q80 and the Q90 employ the same Smart TV platform, Samsung’s Tizen OS. Moreover, the two TVs use the same 2019 version, meaning that they have identical Smart TV performance properties across the board. 

This OS version is smooth and very simple to use, as the interface is nicely laid out, and key navigation elements are easy to access. The 2019 Tizen OS version also comes with plenty of advanced options, allowing you to customize a lineup of Smart TV features for more convenient use. 

Additionally, Samsung’s rich app store provides a great and diverse app selection. This includes Netflix and YouTube apps, both supporting HDR content. Unfortunately, this OS is not ad-free, so you can expect quite a few ads on the home page and the app store.

Connectivity

If you’re looking to take full advantage of the Q80’s or the Q90’s Smart TV platform, motion technology, or image processing capabilities, you should also pay attention to their connectivity properties. 

Connectivity features such as voice assistants, wireless technologies, and inputs can significantly impact the overall user experience. For these reasons, we want to highlight the most important differences and similarities the Q80 and the Q90 might have in these three crucial but often overlooked categories.

Inputs

Although the two TVs have similar input characteristics, the Q90 has a slight edge because it offers more connectivity options. To better understand this, let’s take a closer look at the input specifications of the two compared models:

Input PortsQ80R QLEDQ90R QLED
HDMI Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports
USB Ports2 USB 2.0 Ports3 USB 2.0 Ports
Digital Optical Audio Out1 Port1 Port
Ethernet PortYesYes

Apart from the physical input specifications, we should also note that the two models offer equally exceptional input lag values. If you enable motion interpolation through “Game Mode,” you can expect input lag time under 15 milliseconds for all supported 4K resolution settings and around 6 milliseconds for 1080p and 1440p. These input lag numbers mean that both TVs perform terrifically as PC monitors.

Voice Assistants

The Q80 and the Q90 have the same remote as all other QLED TVs from Samsung’s 2019 lineup. This small remote with a fairly minimalistic design boasts a small selection of control options and quick access options for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix. More importantly, in this context, the remote has an integrated microphone and is compatible with Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant.

Bixby opens up all sorts of voice assistant functions on these two models. You can use it to change the volume and channel, open up apps, and search for content. It also provides convenient control features such as controlling media content, changing video sources, or switching between featured modes.

Wireless Technologies

As we’ve discussed above, the Q80 and the Q90 have some dissimilarities in several essential features. However, they are completely identical in this category, as they support the same wireless technologies

The two TVs support the industry-accepted Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz) and Bluetooth (4.2 version). In other words, this allows you to conveniently pair speakers, headphones, or other accessories for a more advantageous or enjoyable viewing experience.

Standout Features

In terms of standout features, the Q80 and the Q90 share several characteristics that set them apart from other models. More specifically, this includes HDR10+, HLG, VRR, and FreeSync. 

That said, there’s also an apparent lack of G-SYNC compatibility and Dolby Vision support. The absence of the latter feature is a bit unfortunate, as the dynamic nature of Dolby Vision’s mastered content provides for a more immersive viewing experience.

Apart from this, all of the standout features are primarily visual. With this in mind, the Q90 comes with the “One Connect” box, a handy accessory available only with a small selection of Samsung TVs. The function of this gadget is to funnel cables and wires away from the TV and ensure a minimalistic appearance uncluttered by any cable mess.

Conclusion

When it comes to the bottom line, the Q80 and the Q90 have many similar performance characteristics. That said, there are some key differences we can take out from this Samsung Q80 vs Q90 comparison piece. 

The Q80 is an excellent all-around TV with better sound quality than the Q90. It doesn’t stand out in any particular category but offers above-average performance for gaming, watching sports, and streaming shows and movies.

In comparison, the Q90 does all of this and offers some extra advantages. It has a better color gamut and a better color volume. Additionally, it also comes with slightly better motion technology, meaning that it delivers faster response times. Lastly, the Q90 comes with the One Connect box, which allows for a more streamlined setup. This is crucial to consider, especially if you want to mount your new TV on your wall.

SEE ALSO: Our Q80T vs Q90T Comparison

About Jon

Hey, I'm Jon. I'm an engineer by trade, so it makes sense that I'm obsessed with anything technology related! On the weekends, you can find me playing around with my computers or fixing something around the house. Feel free to leave a comment if you want to get in touch.

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