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Samsung QE65S90D

Much as I love Samsung’s flagship S95D OLED TVs, there’s no denying that they come with a flagship price-tag attached. They’re worth every penny, to be clear - but that doesn’t change the fact that many households just won’t be able to afford one. Just as well, then, that Samsung’s 2024 TV range also includes a step-down OLED TV series, the S90D, that claims to give you a healthy chunk of the company’s latest OLED talent for much less cash. So, for instance, the 65-inch 65S90D I’m looking at here costs £2799 versus the £3399 being asked for the 65S95D at the time of writing. 

Of course, though, we can’t just take Samsung’s word for it that the S90D doesn’t over-compromise on key performance stuff in the bid to hit a more approachable price. So, let’s find out how the QE65S90D measures up.

Picture quality

The QE65S90D has a tricky path to tread. Its Quantum Dot OLED panel essentially needs to retain enough of the prowess of the flagship S95D not to cede too much ground to an unprecedentedly strong roster of mid-range TV rivals this year, while still giving the lucky people who can afford the QE65S95D a good reason to step up. Happily, it treads this line pretty much perfectly.

I’ll get into a few key comparisons with the S95D later. First, though, I want to focus on the 65S90D on its own terms - starting with its extremely impressive (for a midrange OLED TV) brightness and contrast.

Brightness levels measuring just shy of 1100 nits on a 10% test window combine to gorgeous effect with the sort of deep, natural, neutral and uniform black levels we now expect from self-emissive OLED screens. Dark scenes look convincing and immersive, while scenes containing a mixture of bright and dark content appear exceptionally dynamic - without either the darkest or lightest parts looking forced or strained. There’s no sign, either, of the dimming of small bright highlights or backlight blooming around such highlights that you always see to some extent with rival LCD TV technology.

With such deep black levels to underpin them and plenty of brightness to infuse them, colours on the 65S90D look vibrant and dynamic. Much more so, in fact, than they did on 2023’s S90C predecessors, which could look a touch washed out at times. This made me feel as though I was experiencing much more of the RGB purity that’s held up as one of QD OLED technology’s core advantages over the rival WRGB OLED technology used by most other OLED-supporting brands.

What’s more, as I discovered with the range-topping S95D, Samsung has improved both its picture-processing and general QD OLED panel-control for its 2024 OLED range, resulting in a new degree of colour subtlety that makes the 65S90D’s pictures look seriously refined, natural and three-dimensional by midrange TV standards.

The 65S90D also maintains Samsung’s reputation for sharpness and detail with 4K sources. In fact, thanks to its enhanced colour-management and Samsung’s improved AI-inspired picture processing, the 65S90D delivers even more sharpness than its predecessor. Or perhaps it might be better to say it delivers more picture refinement, where the exceptional detail and sharpness is achieved with less noise and fewer unwanted sharpening effects. Once again, pictures just look more natural and immersive than they did on last year’s S90C.

There’s almost infinitely wide viewing angle support, too, without any drop off in colour or contrast (as usual with OLED technology). The TV’s upscaling of sub-4K content is outstandingly effective, adding detail while simultaneously reducing noise. And finally, in what’s an overwhelmingly stacked ‘positives’ column, the 65S90D also provides some unusually effective motion processing. Provided, anyway, that you turn off the messy ‘Auto Picture Clarity’ option and instead choose a ‘Custom’ setting with noise reduction off, and judder and blur control set to the ‘three’ or ‘four’ level.

The 65S90D’s strengths with video also make it a beautifully revealing and engaging gaming display - underlined by the screen’s ability to render graphics in its ‘Game’ mode in a class-leading 9.2ms.

Excellent though the 65S90D’s pictures are overall, they’re not flawless. Bright HDR scenes can sometimes exhibit slight instability, with sharp cuts causing gentle fluctuations in the screen’s brightness. Images that flood the whole screen with brightness look less bright than most content does (which is, to be fair, a universal OLED limitation). While dark scenes enjoy fantastic black tones and contrast, some subtle detailing can go missing in the darkest corners. And finally, while the 65S90D’s ‘Standard’ picture preset works very well in most ways, its ‘Movie’ mode can look a touch too yellow. 

These issues bring me to the 65S90D’s picture performance versus its S95D sibling, kicking off with the flagship screen’s more naturally toned ‘Movie’ mode and improved presentation of shadow details. The 65S95D is also significantly brighter, delivering a bigger ‘brightness gap’ between it and the S90D than I saw between the earlier S95C and S90C. Which also means there’s a bigger gap between the two 2024 series’ colour volumes. 

Since the 65S90D’s screen doesn’t benefit from the extreme anti-reflection filter that the S95D gets, its pictures are more likely to be affected by reflections of bright objects in your room. Though, on the upside, the 65S90D doesn’t show the faint light blooming around stand-out bright objects that the 65S95D can reveal.

While in a perfect world I might like to see the 65S90D enjoy a more obvious brightness improvement over the 65S90C, overall Samsung has hit on a near-ideal set of compromises in its bid to make plenty of its latest QD OLED quality available at a more affordable price.

Sound quality

Despite being cheaper than the 65S95D, boasting less power than the 65S95D and not having as many speakers as the 65S95D, the 65S90D actually sounds better in some ways than its flagship sibling. In particular it delivers more sound pressure and dynamic range, achieving a more powerful, well-rounded sound that has more bass to balance out its impressively clean, bold trebles. The more imposing low frequency presence helps the 65S90D sound more direct and impactful too, as well as helping it avoid the tendency some Samsung TVs have for their sound quality to fall apart during the densest, heaviest soundtrack moments.

At the high end of the frequency range, the 65S90D also avoids the slightly harsh, brittle quality that some other premium Samsung TVs have suffered, while the mid-range sounds fleshed-out and open under all but the most extreme circumstances.

The 65S90D delivers another compelling demonstration of Samsung’s object-tracking sound system, which uses a combination of processing and speaker placement to make sound effects appear to be coming from the correct area of the screen.

It doesn’t have the power to cast its sound as far away from the TV’s bodywork as the 65S95D does, and in keeping with pretty much every TV in recent years its sound doesn’t push forward into your room as much as I’d like. Overall, though, the 65S90D’s sound is a pleasant surprise for a midrange Samsung OLED TV.

Living with

The QE65S90D is a stylish addition to your living room. Its screen frame is trim and glossy, while the majority of its rear is incredibly slim - barely deeper than a couple of credit cards. A central section of the rear panel spoils things a bit, though, by abruptly sticking out much further than the rest. This chunky bit is a necessary evil, though, as it houses the screen’s connections, tuner, processor, speakers and so on. Unlike the S95D, the S90D does not ship with an external One Connect box.

The 65S90D’s attractive presence is also enhanced by Samsung’s ‘Ambient Mode’, which allows the TV to play photos, artworks or video sequences on the screen in low power mode when you’re not watching it in earnest, rather than the TV just becoming a gaping black hole in your room in a normal ‘Standby’ mode.

The 65S90D’s connectivity is excellent, with all four HDMI ports supporting the full set of HDMI 2.1 features. Gamers can therefore enjoy the latest features of 4K/120Hz, 144Hz, variable refresh rates and automatic low latency mode switching, no matter which HDMI port they’ve connected their PC or console to. Gamers also benefit from an excellent ‘Game Bar’ on-screen menu specifically devoted to gaming information and features, and the features available through this menu go further than most to ‘help you’ (i.e. cheat).

The 65S90D’s smart features are delivered by Samsung’s own Tizen system. This provides pretty much every individual streaming app known to man, including all of the catch-up services for the UK’s terrestrial broadcasters. The only omissions are the exclusive-to-Sony-TVs ‘Sony Pictures Core’ service, and the Freeview Play umbrella app that provides a nice browsable interface for the UK’s catch-up services.

The 65S90D’s on-screen menus are a little complicated at first, but you do get used to them. Plus you can take a shortcut to most features via the TV’s excellent built-in voice recognition system. 

You get two remote controls with the 65S90D: a regular button-heavy item carrying a full set of numeric keys, and a much slimmer, more elegant alternative with fewer features. I suspect the stripped-back ‘smart’ remote will become most households’ favourite, especially as it features a solar panel on its back, removing the need to ever change its batteries. 

My main day-to-day niggle with the 65S90D is, as with all Samsung TVs, that it doesn’t support the Dolby Vision high dynamic range format. So any sources mastered in Dolby’s premium HDR format default down to the more basic HDR10 system. To be fair, the 65S90D’s own systems for optimising HDR10 playback arguably make the lack of Dolby Vision support less important than it would be on a less high-end TV - but it’s still a pity.


While the picture performance gap between the S90D and S95D is bigger than that between 2023’s S90C and S95C, this says more about the huge advance the S95D has made than any ‘slippage’ by the S90D. On the contrary, while it might not be much brighter than its predecessor, the 65S90D’s new processor and more advanced QD OLED panel have delivered more than enough colour, clarity and subtlety improvements to ensure that it both keeps the QD OLED flag flying at a more affordable price point and keeps Samsung very involved indeed in the wider mid-range TV game.

Test Samples

Oppenheimer 4K Blu-ray

The gorgeously detailed and clean image Oppenheimer’s IMAX-heavy photography delivers on 4K Blu-ray proves perfect fodder for revealing the excellent detail, clarity and naturalism of the 65S90D’s pictures. Especially when it comes to the way Samsung’s new midrange OLED handles the gorgeous nuances of the film’s deliberately muted colour palette.

It Chapter One 4K Blu-ray

The 4K Blu-ray edition of the first part of Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel features some of the darkest scenes and shots in any film. All of which reveal just how talented the 65S90D is when it comes to producing deep, convincing black colours and excellent contrast with pixel-level light controls (though there can sometimes also be a touch of shadow detail crushing).

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Xbox Series X 

Valhalla is arguably the most consistently beautiful title in the always good-looking Assassin’s Creed game series - and the 65S90D does the stunning reproduction of Viking-era England more than proud thanks to its stellar combination of brightness, contrast, colour refinement and sharpness. 

What the press say

Why you should buy it

The 65S90D does a great job of giving you plenty of the attractions of Samsung’s 2024 Quantum Dot OLED TV technology while costing many hundreds of pounds less than the brand’s flagship OLED TV option. It also sounds better than that flagship set in many ways, while retaining all the game-friendly connectivity and expansive suite of smart TV features and streaming services we’ve come to expect from Samsung.

In short, unless you’re a Dolby Vision obsessive or have the readies required to step up to the sublime 65S95D, you’d be crazy not to include the 65S90D on any new TV shortlist.

Video review

Pair it with

Samsung’s own soundbars are designed to offer some exclusive features when partnered with TVs such as the 65S90D. So if you add, say, one of Samsung’s new Q990D or Q930D soundbars to the 65S90D, the Q-Symphony feature means that the speakers in the TV join forces with those in the soundbar, rather than simply being replaced by them. This results in a larger soundstage with better vocal placement and clarity.

A TV as talented as the 65S90D deserves to be partnered with the best video sources you can muster. So I’d recommend a Panasonic UB820 4K Blu-ray player and, if you’re a gamer, either a reasonably high-end PC, a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X. 

Alternatives to consider

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