What is the best OLED TV in 2021?
OLED stands for Organic Light-Emitting Diode, but it also means some of the best contrast and black levels available on any type of TV.
LG actually manufactures the OLED displays and the likes of Panasonic, Philips and Sony purchase screens from them and make their onw changes. So while the foundation of every OLED TV is the same, there’s enough differentiation between them to act as a showcase for each brand’s technologies. A new breakthrough in 2020 saw the release of the first 48-inch OLED TVs, while 2021 will see an 83-inch model join LG’s and Sony’s line-up, increasing the range of sizes available to customers.
Detractors of OLED technology point towards issues surrounding burn-in, which refers to the retention of images in the screen. Another point is a lack of brightness compared to conventional LCD TVs. Each manufacturer has developed solutions to reduce the aspect of burn-in, and with each passing year OLEDs are getting brighter – bright enough to produce the punchy images that give HDR impact.
With OLED’s self-illuminating pixel display, they are the type of TVs that offer perfect black levels, luxurious contrast and wide viewing angles. With OLEDs hitting cheapest prices since their inception, it’s a great time to get in on the action. If you’re after a new TV, these are the best OLED TVs on the market.
1. Panasonic TX-55HZ2000
A supreme OLED TV
- Universal HDR support with Dolby Vision IQ
- Filmmaker Mode with Intelligent Sensing
- Effective Dolby Atmos sound system
- Freeview Play
- No HDMI support for 4K/120fps
- No Disney+ app
- Over specified for AV enthusiasts?
The HZ2000 won our best TV award for 2020 and deservedly so. It’s picture and sound quality excel.
Much of its excellence is down to the Professional Edition Master OLED panel, which allows the HZ2000 to reach higher brightness for a punchier HDR image. And those images are artfully painted by the TV’s HCX Pro Intelligent processor, which produces a superb HDR performance, terrific black levels, stunning near dark detail and impressively balanced colours. Upscaling is impressive too, and the set’s motion skills make it adept with handling fast-moving sports. It’s a cracking all-round TV.
We found the only to be expansive for a TV, creating a sense of width and height that’s convincingly immersive. Gaming is fine, but without the various HDMI 2.1 features, the HZ2000 isn’t primed to take advantage of the latest gaming consoles.
- read our Panasonic TX-55HZ2000 review
2. Philips OLED+935
Exceptional picture and sound
- Exceptional picture quality
- Class-leading sound quality
- HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support
- No 4K/120Hz, variable refresh rate or auto low latency mode features
- If you have an external audio system already, you’re paying for a soundbar you don’t need
- Some occasional very mild black crush
If you’re a gamer then the Philips OLED+935 range is not for you. Still with us? Good.
If you’re a fan of superb picture and sound quality, then sign right up. The OLED+935 is a combination of luxurious design, exceptional image quality and class-leading sound for a TV. HDR virtually glows thanks to the set’s high brightness, while also maintaining the deep black levels OLED is known. Clarity and detail – especially in near dark or brighter parts of an image – is excellent. With its new AI technology, the set’s upscaling has improved its ability to handle sub-4K content.
Sound-wise you get a thumping integrated (and actual) Dolby Atmos system that’s nearly as good as a soundbar separate. And that soundbar isn’t just great with movies, it can do stereo music with aplomb. It’s another superb ‘all-in-one’ OLED from Philips.
- Read our Philips 65OLED+935 review
3. LG OLED55CX
Rich OLED contrast
- Excellent picture quality
- Great design
- Plenty of smarts, features and customisation
- Excellent upscaling
- Still no UK catch-up apps
- Just a small leap over the C9
The LG CX offered fantastic picture quality for less money than the C9 did. Performance isn’t leaps and bounds over its predecessor, but at its current price it is exceptional value.
Performance isn’t as bright as other OLEDs on this list, but the CX manages to put on very effective showcase with its natural and vibrant colours. Black levels are gorgeously deep, and near-black details offer excellent insight into the darker parts of the image. With regards to those who watch plenty of SD and HD content, the CX also proves to be a very strong performer. The only major blot is the lack of Freeview Play and some UK catch-up apps, though iPlayer and ITV Hub are on deck.
- read our LG OLED55CX review
4. Philips OLED805
Stunning black levels
- Multi-HDR support with HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG
- Freeview Play
- Play-Fi compatibility
- No support for 4K/120fps
- No Dolby Vision IQ
Philips’ latest OLED is another wonderful showcase for the technology. Native 4K picture quality look virtually three-dimensional and HDR is bright, with the OLED805 reaching around 900 nits of peak brightness for a punchy, impactful performance.
Black levels are fantastic and near-black performance is gorgeously fine. Factor in Ambilight, tweaked for the 2020 models with a few new additions, and this is an OLED TV that offers something different from the norm. If you’re a gamer, it’s probably best give this OLED set a miss as this Philips is not up to date with HDMI 2.1 features, nor is the gaming performance itself particularly great.
- read our Philips 55OLED805 review
5. Panasonic TX-65HZ1000
A big canvas for glorious HDR images
- Fantastic picture quality
- Multi-HDR support
- Good sound quality
- Simple interface
- Good build quality
- Not tuned for gamers
The HZ1000 is Panasonic’s third-tier OLED in its 2020 line-up, but it’s still an incredibly strong performer. It doesn’t have the upward-firing Atmos speakers of the HZ1500 and HZ2000, and doesn’t go as bright in terms of HDR, but the HZ1000 makes a highly compelling argument for a big-screen telly to watch your favourite films and shows on.
Picture quality is fabulous with superb black levels, very good upscaling and dazzling colours. Sound quality for a flatscreen is good, though to make the most out of it, you’ll want to consider a Dolby Atmos soundbar. For gamers this TV makes few concessions. It’s also pricier than its rivals and there’s still no Apple TV app or Disney+ app. Still, for a big screen experience, we found this to be a fabulous OLED.
- read our Panasonic HZ1000 review
6. LG OLED48CX
The trailblazer for 48-inch OLEDs
- Beautiful picture quality
- Strong sound quality
- Class-leading gaming features
- Costs more than 55-inch version
- Care needs to be taken to avoid screen burn
- Missing most of the UK catch up apps
The LG CX was the first 48-inch OLED, bringing the display technology down to a size that can more easily accommodated in living rooms. Despite the reduction in size the performance is just as good as the ‘full-size’ model.
It combines fantastic picture quality and good sound with the most comprehensive gaming-friendly connectivity available, making it an excellent choice for the PS5 and Xbox Series X owners. There’s no compromise in terms of features, though it is still missing most of the UK catch-up apps. That, and the 48-inch model costs more than the 55-inch version, which arguably is better value.
- read our LG OLED48CX review
7. Sony KD-48A9
Great for sound and vision but not for gaming
- Flat-out beautiful picture quality across all sources
- Impressively polished but minimalistic design
- Good built-in sound system
- No support for 4K at 120Hz, VRR or ALLM next-gen gaming features
- Not as bright as some rivals
- Expensive versus rival 48-inch models and Sony’s larger A8 OLED
Sony joins LG and Philips in the 48-inch OLED club, and the A9’s picture and sound makes it an excellent option for anyone looking to get a small OLED.
It’s not a TV with the skills to take advantage of the next-gen gaming consoles, something of a surprise considering Sony makes the PS5. The focus is on picture and sound and while it doesn’t deliver a peak brightness as high as the LG CX, its images are detailed, sharp and gorgeously intense.
It’s also a top-notch upscaler of sub-4K images, and Sony continues to lead the field for handling motion. The A9’s Acoustic Surface Audio system vibrates the screen to produce sound and does so accurately, pushing sounds impressively into the room.
With OLED’s much vaunted pitch blacks and wide viewing angles, the A9 is an impressive small OLED from Sony. It’s not the all-round package due to its gaming skills (or lack thereof), and it costs more than both LG’s 48-inch CX and Sony’s 55-inch OLED, but there’s no denying it’s status as one of the best OLED TV.
- Read our Sony KD-48A9 review
8. Sony KD-65AG9
A fantastic flagship OLED
- Bright, effective HDR
- Best-in-class HD SDR upscaling
- Excellent audio
- No HDR10+ support
- No Freeview Play
Despite launching in 2019, the AG9 is still about and still remains one of our favourite OLEDs. Picture quality is impressive, offering superb upscaling of HDR SDR images and motion processing is excellent too, with Sony’s interpretation arguably the best of any brand.
There’s no Freeview Play though, and while the TV’s version of Android TV is better than previous versions, but still lags behind its counterparts. This OLED does boast Sony’s innovative Surface Audio+, which vibrates the screen to produce sound. It’s properly impressive too.
- read our Sony KD-65AG9 review
9. LG OLED55BX
The cheapest OLED in LG’s 2020 line-up
- Superior gaming connectivity
- Brilliant value
- No Freeview Play
- Presets favour dark-room viewing
The LG BX is the cheapest OLED in LG’s 2020 line-up, and it brings the display technology down to even more affordable levels with its pricing.
It’s only a £200 cheaper than the 55-inch CX, but for £1100 you get a well-equipped OLED with plenty of premium features in Dolby Vision IQ, and it’s perfectly set-up to take advantage of what the PS5 and Xbox Series X offer with its gaming features. Don’t forget about webOS and its litany of apps, with support for Disney+ and Apple TV alongside the standard SVOD options.
What about the picture quality? We found it to be as enjoyable as always with the B-series, the TV delivering a good HDR performance, excellent near-black detail and a sharp, colourful image. Sonically it sounds fairly good, producing a similar performance to the CX, but we feel you should consider a soundbar to make the most of this TV.
- read our LG OLED55BX review
10. LG OLED65GX
One for the wall
- Fabulous image quality
- Impeccable design and finish
- Dolby Vision HDR
- No Freeview Play
- No HDR10+
- More dynamic OLED HDR performers can be had for less
LG’s OLEDs appear all over this list, so it’s with a raised eyebrow that one also sits at the bottom.
And that’s not because picture quality isn’t great. In fact, the GX offers fabulous 4K images, with LG making strides with its AI enhanced technology. For a flatscreen it doesn’t half sound bad either, and there have been some useful tweaks to the webOS platform.
The reason why the LG GX Gallery series is mainly to do with the price premium over LG’s own CX, as well as other similar models. That it doesn’t ship with a stand (the GX is primarily for wall-hanging), and that it doesn’t feature Freeview Play mean it doesn’t offer the best value where OLED TVs are concerned.
- read our LG GX OLED (OLED65GX) review
How we test the best OLED TVs
Every TV that passes through our doors gets put through a series of tests and naked eye checks to gauge its overall picture quality and optimal settings. Key things we look out for are screen uniformity, black level, maximum brightness and colour vibrancy/accuracy. We also check input lag to make sure gamers won’t lose their edge when playing online.
A variety of test footage is used to cover every type of scene, so we can assess a 4K TV’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how it performs against the competition.
Sound quality isn’t forgotten, either – we give the built-in speakers a thorough listen to determine whether you’ll need to invest in a soundbar or speaker system to beef things up.
If you’re interested in checking out TVs at different price models, models and brands. Look through our main best ofs below models for everything from cheap and best value 4K HDR TVs, to the latest from LG, Samsung and Panasonic.
- Best 4K HDR TV
- Best TV
- Best Cheap TV
- Best 8K TV
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