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Philips 65OLED+935 Review

Are AI picture processing, Ambilight and a built-in Atmos speaker system enough to make Philips' latest flagship TV stand out from the OLED crowd?

Verdict

Unless you’re a gamer who needs support for variable refresh rates and 4K at 120Hz feeds, the 65OLED+935’s combination of stunning picture quality, luscious design and class-leading sound quality makes it seriously hard to resist.

Pros

  • Exceptional picture quality
  • Class-leading sound quality
  • HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support

Cons

  • 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

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £2699
  • Native 4K resolution
  • HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision
  • Four-sided Ambilight
  • Gen 4 P5 processing with AI

The OLED935 (65OLED+935) is Philips’ flagship TV for 2020. This finds it combining an OLED panel with the brand’s unique Ambilight design technology, a remarkable Bowers & Wilkins-designed external speaker enclosure, and the most powerful video processor Philips has ever made. All for the reasonable – considering what’s on offer – price of £2,700.

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Philips OLED935 design and build quality — A pretty gorgeous looking set

On paper, making a screen and external speaker system that still somehow fits together in one cohesive-looking design sounds like a tough brief. Philips’ designers have pulled it off magnificently, though.

For starters, they’ve cunningly managed to make the large speaker enclosure double up as the business part of the TV’s stand (assuming you’re not hanging it off the wall). In fact, the speaker enclosure’s meatiness helps the TV feel impressively stable once you’ve pieced it together – provided that the cable connecting the speaker enclosure to the TV is properly tucked into the channel on the underside of the TV’s gleaming ‘neck’.

The 65OLED+935’s really pretty gorgeous looks aren’t hindered in the slightest by the slimness of its bezel, the extreme thinness of the outer edges of its rear panel, and the way the thin parts of the rear are finished in a beautifully strokable brushed aluminium.

Related: Best OLED TV

The Philips OLED935

Even the speaker enclosure looks lovely, despite being remarkably substantial for a sound system that ships with a TV. Its unusually angular shape is eye-catching and well-proportioned, the grey Kvadrat felt cover on its front matches nicely with the silver finish of the screen, and its top edge still looks smooth and refined despite housing two up-firing speakers.

As usual with a Philips TV, though, the star of the 65OLED+935’s design is Ambilight. In the OLED+935’s case, this finds banks of rear-mounted LEDs firing coloured light from all four edges of the screen, bathing pictures in complementary lighting that can even track – very accurately – the localised colour and brightness of the pictures you’re watching.

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Personally I’d recommend running Ambilight with its brightness and dynamism (in terms of the aggressiveness with which it tracks the onscreen action) set fairly low, to stop it becoming a distraction. Otherwise, though, it’s a lovely feature that helps tie the external speaker enclosure to the screen.

Final design points of note are that the TV ships with a different sound enclosure bracket for people looking to wall hang the TV, and that even the 65OLED+935’s remote control looks and feels classy – not least because its rear is finished in Muirhead leather.

Features — Lacks next-gen gaming features

Its OLED panel is the 65OLED+935’s star attraction. Partly because of the contribution it makes to the TV’s ultra-slim panel design, and partly because each pixel in its screen makes its own light, resulting in levels of local contrast that home cinema fans can’t get enough (and LCD TVs can only dream about).

The external speaker enclosure is also something you don’t expect to see on a TV that isn’t made by Bang & Olufsen. The fact that this speaker enclosure has been designed in close co-operation with acclaimed British hi-fi brand Bowers & Wilkins makes it even more intriguing.

Tucked inside the speaker enclosure’s angular, but elegant bodywork, is a 3.1.2 channel system, complete with up-firing drivers and B&W’s unique ‘tweeter on top’, where the main treble driver is separated out from the main enclosure and perched elegantly at the centre of its top edge. The up-firing drivers alert us to the fact that the OLED935 supports built-in Dolby Atmos decoding.

Images are driven by the 4th generation of Philips’ P5 system. P5 refers to what Philips defines as the five pillars of picture quality: Contrast, colour, source detection, motion and sharpness. And its premium TVs provided many different processing steps designed to improve each of these five performance areas.

Related: What is Dolby Atmos?

Philips OLED935

The big change for the OLED935 is the introduction of AI technology to Philips TV processing. First, Philips built up a colossal database of image ‘knowledge’ by feeding millions of images into a neural network that categorised different parts of those images as either Nature, Face, Motion, Dark or ‘other’.

This ability to categorise image content accurately helps the OLED935 TVs apply the best processing results to a wider range of image material in real time. Image content the new AI-created database can’t specifically identify goes into the ‘Other’ category, and receives more or less the same processing treatment the 2019 Philips TVs got. Anything placed into the other categories benefits from new specialised processing treatment.

Philips’ cheaper OLED805 also benefit from the new AI technology. The OLED935 version carries a couple of key exclusive features, though. First, the OLED+935’s processing power enables it to divide the image up into more than 32,000 separate analysis zones, giving the AI processing much more localised and accurate data to feed on.

Being able to analyse the image down to this sort of detail also plays into the OLED+935’s exclusive new system for tackling OLED TVs’ potential screen burn problems. The processing looks out for the sort of static elements (screen logos, game HUDs and so on) that can contribute over time to permanent OLED image retention, and dims them down slightly to reduce the extent to which they ‘wear out’ the screen’s organic materials.

While you’ll struggle to actually see the effect of the dimming with the naked eye, Philips reckons it can reduce the potential of screen burn occurring by as much as 95%. Obviously, though, we haven’t been able to run the TV nearly long enough (it would likely take years) to confirm Philips’ claims.

Related: Is OLED worth it?Philips OLED935

The OLED+935 series exclusively gets an AI Sharpness tool that’s intelligent enough to apply degrees of sharpening enhancement to different objects in an image to deliver a more natural and three-dimensional overall result.

Finally, the OLED935 scores over the OLED805 with an AI Smart Bit feature designed to find and remove banding or striping in HDR colour blends without losing any of the image’s detail.

To really ‘sell’ the AI features, Philips has included new SDR and HDR AI picture presets. Though actually, using AI in conjunction with the more regular picture presets arguably delivers better results overall.

Talking of HDR, it’s great to see the OLED935 continuing Philips’ policy of supporting both the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ active HDR formats. Aside from Panasonic, most rival brands still only support one or the other. Naturally the 65OLED+935 also supports the now standard passive HDR10 and HLG HDR formats.

Smart features are provided predominantly by Android TV. Philips now (finally!) also offers the Freeview Play app, though, which brings together all of the catch up apps for the main UK terrestrial broadcasters. The vast majority of the key video streaming services are thus now covered, leaving Apple TV as the only notable exception.

Related: What is Freeview Play?

The one area of disappointment with the the 65OLED+935’s otherwise fearsome feature count is its gaming support. None of its HDMIs can handle the 4K/120Hz, variable refresh rate (VRR) or automatic low latency mode (ALLM) features we’re getting with the new generation of consoles and PCs. Also, the 37ms of recorded input lag when running the TV in its Game preset is more than three times higher than the figures we’ve seen on some rival TVs this year.

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Philips OLED935 performance — Absolutely spectacular

The addition of AI to Philips’ always potent parade of picture processing tricks proves a masterstroke. Chiefly because it allows the P5 processing to combine its aggressive enhancements in a much more focused way, resulting in far fewer unintended side effects and typically more natural –but still spectacular – finished pictures.

Contrast is special even by OLED’s usually impeccable contrast standards. The addition of AI seems to have allowed Philips to retain its now expected phenomenally deep OLED black levels and unusually potent bright HDR highlights (it briefly hits an impressive 900 nits on a 10% screen area white HDR window), while retaining more subtle shadow detail and colour refinement in dark areas. There seems to be a touch more detail in the brightest HDR image areas too.

Colours, too, are emphatically improved over those of previous Philips OLED TVs and those of Philips’ cheaper OLED805 models. So while you still get the extremely vibrant, heavily saturated tones with wide colour gamut sources that have become something of a Philips trademark, they now look much more natural. Tones are less likely to tip over from rich to gaudy, and tend to look much more in kilter with each other, so that no tones dominate others.

Related: Dolby Vision – Everything you need to know

Philips OLED935

The new AI Smart Bit feature helps objects in HDR images look more lifelike and three-dimensional too – and as promised, it removes areas of striping in skies, clouds and so on without simply softening the banding away.

Skin tones benefit from the overall biggest colour improvement, though. Past Philips indiscretions that have tended to make people look a little too tanned or flushed have been pretty much entirely resolved by the new AI Face detection system and resulting enhanced colour management.

Philips TVs have long been notable for their extreme picture sharpness. So much so that 4K TVs have at times ended up looking like 6K TVs compared with their rivals. The clever processing that creates the impression of so much sharpness and detail, though, has previously left pictures looking a bit unnaturally forensic at times, as well as sometimes causing the image to start to look a bit processed, granular, and prone to unwanted digital side effects (such as stressed object edges).

Under the watchful eye of AI, however, with its more localised focus and understanding of the benefit of applying different degrees of sharpness to different elements in any given image, the old over-aggressive traits of Philips’ sharpness enhancements are washed away.

This can mean that the image as a whole doesn’t always look quite as pin sharp and heavily textured as it might have done on previous Philips TVs. The results look more consistently natural and immersive, though, and help to create a much more refined and defined sense of depth and object solidity.

Related: What is HDR10+?

The Philips 65OLED+935 in someone else’s living room.

To be clear, I’m not saying the AI-bolstered sharpness enhancements actually take anything away from the image versus 2019’s Philips sets. It’s just that any sharpness enhancements are now applied more intelligently and locally, rather than just addressing the whole image in more or less the same way.

The 65OLED+935’s lovely clarity holds up well when there’s motion to deal with. In fact, there’s uncannily little judder or blurring if you use the higher settings of Philips Perfect Natural Motion processing system. These settings can cause a few unwanted processing artefacts, though, and can cause unnatural smoothness during 24p movie playback.

Sticking with the 65OLED+935’s lower powered Natural Motion settings for 24p movies works pretty well, though. Plus Philips has introduced a new Pure Cinema setting that takes a relatively processing-lite frame repetition approach to reducing judder. This has immediately become my favourite mode for watching movies on a Philips TV.

The new AI refinements also make the OLED935 not just Philips’ best upscaler of sub-4K content to date, but up there with the very best upscaling brands. Chiefly because while the upscaled pictures certainly look more detailed and sharp, there’s more intelligence regarding how ‘hard’ the detail and sharpness enhancements are applied in different areas of the image.

The screen adapts its contrast and colour beautifully for the gentler delights of standard dynamic range images, too. Though having said that, the AI system has also made Philips’ Perfect Natural Reality SDR-to-HDR converter very engaging this year. So much so that I can imagine all but the most die-hard purists being happy to use it pretty much all the time.

The Philips 65OLED+935 remote control

If you do happen to be a die-hard purist, then your puritanism is amply catered for by the 65OLED+935’s Movie mode. In fact, this is set up to meet the requirements of the UHD-Alliance’s Filmmaker Mode, designed to make TVs pictures closely match the way they were mastered to look.

Once you’ve been seduced by what the OLED935 can do in its more aggressive modes, I think many folk will find the Filmmaker Mode to look a touch dull. But the important thing is that if accuracy is what you want from the 65OLED+935, it’s available pretty much at the touch of a button.

With the OLED935 also delivering OLED’s usual wide viewing angles, it’s hard to find anything negative to say about its pictures at all. All I can come up with, aside from the missing next-gen gaming features and relatively high gaming lag, is this fairly puny lot.

First, the noise reduction systems don’t seem as clever as other aspects of the AI system, sometimes leaving the picture looking a bit soft unless you turn them off. Brightness levels, meanwhile, are no match for those of premium LCD TVs – though OLED’s local contrast strengths are a huge compensation for this.

Just occasionally the very darkest scenes lose a touch of shadow detail, and finally you can’t review an OLED TV without mentioning that the organic materials in OLED screens make them susceptible to screen burn. Of course, though, according to Philips, the OLED+935s’ new processing system should massively reduce the likelihood of this occurring.

The 65OLED+935’s sound quality is if anything even more awesome than its pictures. The scale, dynamic range, clarity, detail and raw power of that external speaker enclosure beggars belief, filling your room and your senses with the sort of performance most even quite serious dedicated soundbars would struggle to match.

The height speakers do an excellent job of both raising dialogue so that it seems to belong with the pictures on the screen, and adding a genuine sense of verticality to the sound that includes multiple layers of clearly positioned effects.

Related: What is Filmmaker Mode?

Some of the Philips 65OLED+935’s Ambilight LEDs.

The tweeter-on-top design does a lovely job of adding treble detail to even the densest of movie soundtracks without ever becoming overwhelmed or sounding harsh. Maybe best of all, bass is remarkably rich, deep and well timed for an all-in-one speaker enclosure, achieving rumbles deep enough to have you thinking someone’s sneaked in and tucked a dedicated separate subwoofer somewhere in your living room.

The OLED935 isn’t just barnstormingly good with movie soundtracks, either. It handles stereo music with remarkable aplomb – even better than the heavy influence of B&W had led us to hope.

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Should you buy the Philips 65OLED+935?

You should think very, very seriously about it. There’s no other OLED TV around right now that offers quite such a giddy combination of picture quality, sound quality and beautiful design. All for what is, in the circumstances, a pretty appealing price.

If you’re a serious gamer, though, you need to bear in mind that the 65OLED+935 can’t unlock the maximum potential of the latest games console and PC generation. If you already own a good soundbar or other external audio system, meanwhile, you might need to ask yourself if you really need to pay for a TV with a built-in speaker enclosure of the scale and quality of the 65OLED+935’s. You can, after all, get the Philips 65OLED805 for £2,200. The OLED805s, though, also loses a few picture quality features, leaving the OLED+935 as clearly the better picture performer.

LG’s OLED65CX OLED TV is probably the 65OLED+935’s biggest direct rival. This only costs £1,999, delivers excellent (if less dramatic) pictures, and carries four HDMIs all capable of handling all the latest gaming features. Its Dolby Atmos sound system is no competition for the 65OLED+935’s, though.

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