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Best 4K TV 2021: 9 great 4K HDR TVs you can buy right now

Introduction

There are plenty of good 4K sets on the market, but what makes one the best 4K TV?

Our list primarily focuses on sets between £1000 to £2000, with only the best 4K TVs considered. We’ve put these TVs through our real-world and benchmark testing, as well compared to their competitors to determine the quality of their picture performance, sound and smarts. In that £1000 to £2000 range, these are the best 4K TVs on the market.

With 2021 in full swing, there’s never been a good time to bag yourself the best 4K TV as prices continue to drop. For more detail on the best 4K TV to get, check out the summaries below, comparisons and click on our links to the full reviews. If you’re in the market for something more affordable, then have a look at our best cheap TV guide. If money is no object and you’re after the best, then check out our best TV guide. if you’re looking to get in on the ground floor with 8K, then peruse our best 8K TV list to view the bleeding edge of TV technology.

How we test

Learn more about how we test televisions

Every TV we review is put through the same set of tests to gauge its picture performance, usability, and smart features.

Tests are carried out over several days and are done by eye but supported with technical measurements. Testing by eye involves an expert watching a wide range of material to understand and determine a TV’s performance in fields such as brightness, contrast, motion processing, colour handling and screen uniformity.

We’ll consider the design of the TV in terms of build quality, study the spec sheets and see if the TV’s connections are up to spec, as well as playing video and audio content to ensure that the set handles playback as it claims. We also take note whether a product’s compatible formats and features are in line with industry trends or not to gauge whether it’s relevant for you.

Comparison to other related and similarly priced products is also important, to see if it’s missing any vital features and whether it impresses as a whole. After all this, we’ll come to a judgement on how the TV performs as a whole.

If you want to learn more, please visit our detailed page about how we test televisions.

LG OLED55CX

Another feature-packed OLED
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Pros

  • Excellent picture quality
  • Great design
  • Plenty of smarts, features and customisation
  • Excellent upscaling

Cons

  • Still missing a few UK catch-up apps
  • Just a small leap over the C9

LG’s mid-range CX makes the top of the list not just because it offers fantastic picture quality, but that it does so for less than 2019 C9’s initial RRP. While performance isn’t a huge leap over the C9, the lower price makes it less an attractive jump into the OLED market.

The design is elegant and attractive, and the feature set is robust with plenty of streaming apps, smart features and HDMI 2.1 for gaming, with webOS interface tying everything together. The lack of Freeview Play integration means that only a couple of UK catch-up apps are supported.

Still, both native 4K and upscaled images fare excellently with the CX, with bold, natural colours and expressive contrast. We feel this set from LG is an impressively strong 4K set.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: LG OLED55CX

Philips 55OLED805

A 4K Ambilight delight
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Pros

  • Multi-HDR support with HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG
  • Freeview Play
  • Ambilight Play-Fi compatibility

Cons

  • No support for 4K/120fps
  • No Dolby Vision IQ

Impressive as Philips’ 2019 OLEDs were, their latest efforts have taken performance even further. Part of that is down to the new Philips AI-enhanced P5 picture engine, which delivers impressive images by adjusting picture quality to suit the content watched.

During the course of testing, images were delivered with almost three-dimensional depth and detail, with the Philips’ HDR performance just as impressive. And there’s Ambilight, which adds a reflective glow to whatever you watch. For gamers looking to the next-gen consoles this isn’t the best choice with no 4K/120fps support and a relatively sluggish latency. Still, for home cinema lovers, it’s a stunning set.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Philips 55OLED805 Review

Panasonic TX-55HZ1500

Superb picture and accomplished audio
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Pros

  • Detailed, stable, entirely natural and believable images
  • Bigger, better-realised sound than most TVs
  • Every HDR base covered
  • Decent ergonomics
  • Good upscaling

Cons

  • Expensive for a 55in TV
  • One or two missing apps
  • Sound can be bettered by a half-decent soundbar

The HZ1500 offers a few upgrades over its predecessor, which include the upfiring Atmos speakers and a screen that can swivel, handy if you want to avoid the glare of sunlight on your screen.

The picture quality, as we’ve come to expect from Panasonic, is sumptuous. With support for Dolby Vision (including the IQ version) and HDR10+, we found it delivered exceptional pictures with epic black levels, bright whites, excellent contrast and great detail.

While audio is given more space with the upfiring speakers, don’t expect the type of Atmos presentation where sounds are being pinged around the room. Nevertheless, it’s the type of excellent AV presentation that we take for granted from Panasonic – one of the best 4K TV.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review: Panasonic TX-55HZ1500

Samsung QE55Q90T

A high-performance QLED
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Pros

  • Corking picture quality from any standard of content
  • Excellent for gamers
  • Class-leading user interface

Cons

  • Sound is nothing special
  • No Dolby Vision

The Samsung Q90T is exactly like the Q95T, the only difference being that you don’t get the One Connect box, with the connections built into the rear of the speaker. Otherwise this is an outstandingly talented TV.

Upscaling is a big strength, viewing angles are excellent, and colour and detail levels are rich and precise in equal measure. Factor in a low input lag for games and our conclusion is that the Q90T is one of the best 4K TV available, especially given its price drop.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full review: Samsung QE55Q90T

Samsung QE55Q80T

An excellent value QLED
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Pros

  • Colourful images full of contrast
  • Excellent upscaling
  • Class-leading gaming performance
  • Good sound for a flatscreen TV

Cons

  • Lacking shadow detail
  • No Dolby Vision

Samsung’s Q80T is the entry-level full-array TV for their 2020, offering many of the features that you’d find in the flagship Q95T for less money.

The performance is unsurprisingly good, from its excellent upscaling of sub-4K content (which looks bright, clean and colourful), to a HDR performance that’s bright, full of colour and contrast, the Q80T is a very accomplished performer in the picture department. We tested the TV at class-leading latency of less than 10ms, the widest range of apps on an TV and built-in audio system that helps to expand the sound performance, the QE55Q80T offers excellent value for money.

Black levels are strong, though shadow detail is not as revealing. Factor in the continuing lack of Dolby Vision HDR and the Q80T doesn’t quite tick every box we’d want for a TV at this price, but you cannot argue against its quality.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Samsung QE55Q95T

Philips 48OLED+935

A mini-OLED marvel
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Pros

  • AI Intelligent Dual Picture Engine
  • Four-sided Ambilight
  • Dolby Atmos audio system

Cons

  • No 4K 120FPS HDMI support
  • Limited bass
  • Smaller panel size comes with a premium

The 48OLED+935 is the smaller version of the the 65-inch model and Philips first 48-inch OLED.

At this current point in time (we’ve not yet reviewed Sony’s 48-inch OLED), this is arguably the best ‘small screen’ OLED on the market. It’s another fantastic TV from Philips in terms of design, with its OLED thin panel and integrated speaker system screaming a premium feel. In terms of smarts it’s exactly what you’d get from the bigger OLEDs with its Android UI and wide range of streaming apps and features.

The picture and sound in our estimation, are just as captivating as they are on bigger models. With Philips introducing its AI processor for its 2020 TVs, image quality is further improved with better detail, sharpness and pop given to images. A wide HDR support means this TV will support virtually any piece of content available and when it comes to sound this TV is several notches better than an average TV with its big, well-balanced performance.

Reviewer: Steve May
Full Review: Philips 48OLED+935

LG OLED48CX

A no compromise, smaller sized OLED
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Pros

  • Beautiful picture quality
  • Strong sound quality
  • Class-leading gaming features

Cons

  • Costs more than 55-inch version
  • Care needs to be taken to avoid screen burn
  • Missing most of the UK catch up apps

LG CX were the first out with their 48-inch OLED and despite the dip in size, the performance is just as good as the 55-inch model.

That means the fantastic picture quality, good sound and most comprehensive gaming-friendly connectivity on the market. Black levels remain excellent, providing a fantastic foundation for dynamic and intense colours, especially with HDR content. We didn’t feel it looked as sharp as LG’s other OLEDs, predominantly down to its smaller size, but that does mean that you can sit closer to this OLED for the best effect.

Aside from iPlayer it is still missing most of the UK catch-up apps and that the 48-inch model costs more than the 55-inch version. That makes the larger size the better value in our rankings.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: LG OLED48CX

Sony KD-48A9

Great sound and vision
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Pros

  • Flat-out beautiful picture quality across all sources
  • Impressively polished but minimalistic design
  • Good built-in sound system

Cons

  • 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 is the latest TV brand to produce a 48-inch OLED and it stands up with the best, though to be fair, there have only been three so far. Still, this OLED takes a similar approach to Philips’ 48-inch TV in that its focus is all on picture and sound.

There’s no VRR, ALLM or HFR skills to take advantage of the new gaming consoles – something of a surprise given Sony also makes the PS5. It’s a top-notch upscaler and Sony’s implementation of motion continues to be the best in the market in our view. In terms of HDR it doesn’t go as bright as the LG can, but Sony’s processing allows for images to take on a detailed, sharp, and intensely gorgeous look.

The TV’s Acoustic Surface Audio system is an impressive feat of engineering, vibrating the screen to produce sound and pushing sounds into the room. It’s cheaper than it was went it first went on sale, with prices not far off what LG is asking for their respective OLED.

Reviewer: John Archer
Full Review: Sony KD-48A9

Sony KD-55XH9505

A TV capable of fabulous HDR images
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Pros

  • Fabulous looking HDR images
  • Customisable stand
  • Entertaining audio delivery
  • Impressive black levels
  • Excellent motion processing and upscaling

Cons

  • Instances of blooming with HDR content
  • No 4K/120fps support
  • Android/YouView integration still a bit awkward

We guarantee you’ll be entertained by the images this Sony TV serves up. The potential of HDR is unleashed with the XH95’s dazzlingly bright, colourful and intense images. Black levels are also really well done, though the trade off with the bright HDR performance are instances of backlight bleed that may be distracting to some.

Elsewhere, to our eyes, the upscaling of sub-4K was excellent, and its motion-handling with programmes and sports is natural and one of best we’ve seen at this price. The Acoustic Multi-Audio performance is much better than what you’d expect from a flatscreen TV. Apart from the awkward integration of Android and YouView and a lack of gaming features for the new consoles, this is a very impressive TV from Sony.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony KD-55XH9505

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FAQs

What’s the best 4K TV for gaming?

That would be a choice between an LG OLED and a Samsung QLED. The LG OLED55CX and OLED48CX are great options as they support every new advanced gaming feature, while the Samsung Q90T delivers class-leading latency but doesn’t (officially) support Nvidia’s G-Sync VRR implementation.

What’s the best 4K TV for movies?

We’d put forward the Sony XH95, which delivers some of the most impact HDR images we’ve seen on any TV. The brightness does bring blooming into play but we’d say it’s worth it given how good 4K HDR content looks.

What’s the best 4K TV with HDMI 2.1?

Either one of the LG 55-inch CX or 48-inch CX as both these TVs support HDMI 2.1 across all of their HDMI inputs, so you can plug in multiple game consoles along with a soundbar if you want to.

Specs comparison

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