TCL vs Samsung: Which TV brand is better in 2022?

TCL and Samsung rank at the very top of the biggest TV manufacturers in the world. Still, when comparing the two brands, Samsung stands out as the more reputable and more trusted brand. So, how well do TCL TVs stack up to the widely acclaimed Samsung models? Read this detailed TCL vs Samsung comparison article and find out.

TCL vs Samsung – Quick Comparison

TCL is the much younger brand in this TCL vs Samsung comparison, as it’s only been around since 1999. Still, in just over two decades of its existence, this Chinese-owned television manufacturer has managed to capture a significant portion of the market quickly. According to recent stats, it’s one of the fastest-growing television and mobile device manufacturers and is currently the third-largest TV manufacturer globally.

In comparison, Samsung has been in business since 1938 and has long been one of the best-known TV manufacturers in the world. It is one of the most popular and profitable global brands. Additionally, Samsung generally offers models with a base quality level above budget brands. So, in the context of this TCL vs Samsung duel, it’s primarily a matchup between a budget TV brand and a premium TV manufacturer.

Features Face to Face

Panel Technology

Most TCL models come with the standard LED VA panel technology. In 2017, the company also obtained the license for Samsung’s QLED (quantum-dot LED) technology, meaning that some newer TCL QLED models come with the same panel types as most modern Samsung TVs.

Samsung TVs are widely known for utilizing the manufacturer’s in-house QLED technology. The main advantage of QLED panel technology is that it enables panels to get very bright and deliver colorful and high-impact images. With that in mind, Samsung’s QLED TVs are noticeably better than all of TCL’s non-QLED models.

Image Processor

Samsung Neo Quantum Processor
Samsung Neo Quantum Processor

TCL TVs really underperform when it comes to image processing power. This is because most of the manufacturer’s TVs use the AiPQ Engine processor. It’s a processor with underwhelming capabilities, especially in this direct TCL vs Samsung comparison. In 2020, TCL announced a Gen 2 AiPQ Engine processor, which offers enhanced abilities, but it’s not enough to compete with what Samsung offers.

On the other hand, Samsung TVs employ the significantly more powerful Neo Quantum Processor. It comes with all newer Samsung 4K and 8K TVs and delivers considerably more processing power than any TCL image processor. This processor uses advanced AI and other cutting-edge TV technologies to produce enhanced and beautiful images.

Motion Technology

Although Samsung TVs outperform TCL models in most of the categories we’ll highlight in this TCL vs Samsung comparison article, motion technology isn’t one of them. Overall, most TCL and Samsung TVs, particularly QLED ones, have very similar transition times

You can expect full pixel transition in about ten seconds or less. Moreover, many TCL and Samsung TVs come with the Pulse Width Modulation feature, so you shouldn’t notice any flickering when watching content under normal viewing conditions.

Picture Quality

As one brand is the budget choice and the other a premium brand in this TCL vs Samsung comparison, they are bound to have significant differences in terms of picture quality. To see how this fact impacts their models’ overall performance, we’ll compare them through half a dozen categories:

Contrast Ratio / Black Level

Samsung TVs typically offer an excellent contrast ratio, which improves significantly when you enable local dimming. More specifically, models like the Samsung Q80 and the Q90 excel at this. That said, some TCL models offer a native contrast ratio that outperforms what most Samsung TVs can deliver. For example, the TCL 6 Series has an outstanding native contrast ratio which you can further improve through the local dimming feature. 

Local Dimming

TCL and Samsung TVs include a full-array backlight configuration and come with a local dimming feature. That said, Samsung TVs have better local dimming properties, as even the premium TCL models offer a relatively mediocre local dimming feature at best. While performance might vary depending on the specific model, Samsung TVs generally display less blooming and handle subtitles better.

Peak Brightness

Most TCL and Samsung QLED models will perform about the same in terms of SDR peak brightness. That said, Samsung TVs will generally outperform TCL models in HDR peak brightness. For a more detailed overview, here’s a TCL vs Samsung peak brightness comparison:

Peak Brightness MeasureTCL 5 Series 2021 QLEDSamsung Q80T 2021
SDR Real Scene Peak Brightness480 cd/m²Around 430 cd/m²
SDR Peak 2% WindowAround 255 cd/m²Around 535 cd/m²
SDR Sustained 100% Window475 cd/m²Around 422 cd/m²
HDR Real Scene Peak Brightness480 cd/m²720 cd/m²
HDR Peak 2% Window270 cd/m²Around 525 cd/m²
HDR Sustained 100% Window500 cd/m²Around 435 cd/m²
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Color

As newer TCL models use Samsung’s QLED panel technology, it’s challenging to differentiate the two manufacturer’s products through color properties. TVs from both companies are known to deliver beautiful colors at a wide range of brightness levels. 

Still, Samsung TVs offer better color volume and color gamuts across all of their featured models. This is primarily because they offer slightly better coverage of the wider Rec 2020 color space.

Viewing Angle

TCL TVs struggle to deliver even mediocre viewing angles, so you can expect inferior performances when watching content even slightly off-center. They quickly lose brightness and color vibrance as you step to the side, so you should generally avoid TCL TVs if you have a wide seating arrangement.

In contrast, Samsung TVs come with good viewing angles, although performance can considerably differ between models. Still, most Samsung TVs also include the “Ultra Viewing Angle” layer, which helps improve viewing angles at the expense of the overall contrast ratio. Considering all of this, Samsung TVs support noticeably wider viewing angles than TCL TVs.

Reflections / Anti-glare

Most TCL TVs have a semi-gloss screen finish. In other words, they have solid reflection properties but tend to struggle in a brighter viewing environment. By comparison, most Samsung TVs come with a glossy finish and have superior reflection handling features compared to TCL models. To put this into numbers, TVs with a semi-gloss finish reflect around five to six percent of total light, while screens with a glossy finish reflect just about 1.5% or less.

Sound Quality

TCL and Samsung TVs come with built-in speakers with solid frequency responses. Although Samsung employs its Object Tracking Sound technology and TCL doesn’t have any such features, TVs in the same price range from these two manufacturers offer a very similar sound performance.

The differences are even less significant when you compare the two brands through their budget models. With this in mind, both brands offer equally decent sound quality properties. However, keep in mind, this aspect can significantly vary depending on the specific model you opt for.

Smart TV Platform (Operating System)

All Samsung Smart TVs use the company’s TizenOS platform. In comparison, TCL TVs use either Google TV or Roku TV as their operating system. Let’s take a look at the table below for a more streamlined TCL vs Samsung OS platform comparison:

OS FeaturesTCL TVsSamsung TVs
OS VersionGoogle TV / Roku TVTizenOS
App Selection/Variety8/106/10
App Smoothness9/109/10
Ease of Use6/109/10
Interface Layout7/108/10

Connectivity

When discussing Smart TVs, comparing picture quality, sound, and the overall price is not enough to give you a complete overview of the TV’s capabilities. Connectivity features can significantly affect the user experience, especially if you like using voice assistants on your TV or connecting different external devices. This is why we’ll compare the two brands through input specifications, voice assistants, and supported wireless technologies. Let’s go over each one.

Inputs

Comparing input specifications across all of the models these two manufacturers offer is challenging, as they will vary between different models, let alone brands. So, we’ll focus this part of the TCL vs Samsung comparison on two high-end models from these two manufacturers:

Input PortsTCL 6 Series 2021Samsung Q90T 2021
HDMI Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports4 HDMI 2.0 Ports
USB Ports2 USB 2.0 Ports2 USB 2.0 Ports
Digital Optical Audio Out1 Port1 Port
Ethernet PortYesYes
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As the table above shows, there’s no discernible difference in input specifications when comparing higher-end models from these two brands. More important than the number of physical inputs, TCL and Samsung TVs generally offer excellent input response times with minimal input lag in game mode. In the case of the two specific models from above, the TCL 6 Series and the Samsung Q90T are both excellent choices for gaming.

Voice Assistants

Most newer TCL models come with the Google TV Smart OS, which allows you to use Google Assistant. This is a fantastic voice assistant with plenty of impressive voice control qualities. The TCL Roku TVs don’t have as many voice assistant properties and aren’t a good choice if you need a TV with a strong voice assistant.

Modern Samsung TVs use the manufacturer’s proprietary Bixby voice assistant. This is one of the best Smart TV assistants and enables you to take advantage of several voice control commands. Additionally, you can set up voice control through Amazon Alexa. Although TCL TVs offer great voice assistant features, Samsung models have a slight edge in this category.

Wireless Technologies

There’s not much difference in wireless technologies, as all TCL and Samsung Smart TV models come with the same Wi-Fi support features. This is the 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Additionally, medium and higher-range models from the two brands also offer Bluetooth support.

However, it’s worth mentioning that TCL TVs with Bluetooth support only actually support Bluetooth LE. This technology is powerful enough to enable you to connect your phone or tablet but not to pair up additional speakers or a soundbar. 

In contrast, Samsung TVs offer the more robust Bluetooth version and allow you to connect speakers, controllers, and other Bluetooth devices. This is worth keeping in mind if you’re planning on building a home entertainment center around your new TV.

Standout Features

Dolby Vision and HDR10+
Dolby Vision and HDR10+

With many of their models on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of performance and pricing, there are understandably a number of differences between TCL and Samsung TVs. While many TCL and Samsung models offer VRR and FreeSync, the latter brand also provides G-SYNC compatible TVs, a crucial feature for gamers using NVIDIA graphics cards.

Surprisingly, many TCL TVs support Dolby Vision, a trait you won’t find in any Samsung TV. That said, Samsung TVs do have an HDR10+ feature, which offers basically the same characteristics as Dolby Vision, in that it adds dynamic metadata delivering a better format.

Price

Lastly, price is one of the most important factors to consider when comparing TCL vs Samsung. It’s also a category where TCL TVs are a much more tempting choice than most Samsung TVs. 

Moreover, the price range between the cheapest and most expensive TCL model is significantly narrower than in Samsung’s case. So, if the price is one of your main factors, TCL has a giant edge in terms of this.

Conclusion

To sum up this TCL vs Samsung comparison post, we want to underline a few key takeaways to help you decide on the more suitable brand. With everything above in mind, it’s clear that TCL is the more budget-friendly option. However, the lower price doesn’t mean you’re getting a poor-quality product. TCL TVs still hold their own and even outperform Samsung models in some features, most notably contrast ratio.

Nevertheless, Samsung TVs outperform TCL TVs in many crucial categories. They offer better picture quality overall, a more capable processor, and a well-polished Smart TV platform. So if you’re ready to cash out for a high-tech, premium-priced, and featured-rich model, Samsung TVs are a superb choice.

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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