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LG G4 OLED vs. Samsung S95D: best of the best face off

The LG G4 OLED TV is the best TV LG has ever made. And while I know there are some of you who have strong feelings about the Samsung S95D, it is, in my humble opinion, the best TV Samsung has made this year.

So which to buy? Is one categorically better than the other. Which one would I personally spend my money on? I’m going to answer those questions.

LG G4 OLED vs. Samsung S95D OLED | Flagship OLED Battle

But before I get into it, I want to have a quick word with my Nit Nerd family. To all you enthusiasts out there, if you’ve seen the reviews I’ve done for both of these TVs and you already know a whole lot about them, you’d probably like to skip to picture quality battle and takeaway sections toward the end, and that’s totally fine. But for everyone else out there, if you’ve heard these are the best OLED TVs you can buy and are wondering which one might be best for you, this is for you.

The details

The LG G4 OLED TV is my favorite LG TV ever made. In years past, if you bought the G — or,”Gallery” — series from LG, that meant that you got a zero-gap wall mount in the box with the TV. And if you wanted to put it on a credenza or media console, you’d either have to buy a third-party stand or get a stand made by LG, none of which I have liked very much.

This year is different. If you buy the 55- or 65-inch LG G4, you get a stand in the box. If you buy a 77-inch model or bigger, you get the super-slick gapless wall-mount in the box. So if what comes in the box isn’t what you want, you need to plan to spend a few extra bucks to buy what you need.

The central pedestal stand LG includes with the 55- and 65-inch models is very solid and feels to be of excellent quality. If you mount the TV flush to the wall, the G4’s inputs would be tough to access. Fortunately, LG’s mount allows you to pull the TV away from the wall so you can plug and unplug cables at will, then slide the TV right back against the wall.

The Samsung S95D also comes with a pedestal stand. It is also very solid. It’s a little bit of a pain to assemble — you’ll definitely need to look at the instructions. The S95D I have has just the slightest gentle lean-back to it, whereas the LG G4 sits bolt upright, for what that’s worth.

The stand on the Samsung S95D pulls double duty as a mounting location for Samsung’s One Connect box. This is where you connect all your external devices, like a game console, Blu-ray player, streaming box, etc. And then one cable runs to the TV. You can mount the One Connect to the back of the stand, or you can tuck it away in your media cabinet. Your choice. For many folks, the One Connect box is going to simplify installation. For others, it will make it more complicated. If you need to connect anything to the TV and just want a clean set on the wall with no associated media stand, then you have to get clever about where you’re going to hide this box. I see folks cutting a large hole in their wall and putting an insert in to house the box behind the TV, and though it is a little extra work, it is super clean.

lg g4 samsung s95 d remotes
Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

I like to break user interface into two parts. You’ve got the built-in system or smart TV OS, and then you have the remote you use to control it. I prefer Samsung’s remote. It’s minimalist, it solar-charges its batteries, it’s small — which is only a liability if you tend to lose things to your couch cushions. I just prefer it to LG’s Wii-style magic motion remote with tons more buttons, but that is very much a personal preference. If you like having lots of buttons, LG is a better way to go.

Both have comprehensive gaming dashboards that offer more features than you are likely to use.

As for the operating systems themselves — I’m not a big fan of either one of them. I am going to put an Apple TV on either one of these TVs. But in terms of how you use and interact with these systems, it’s a draw for me. LG has made it much easier to set up picture modes across various inputs and apps, which I appreciate. I’ve also not had any major issues using the Samsung system. I just prefer the functionality and feature reliability for apps on the Apple TV. So, with preference for the Samsung remote, that’s a slight tip to the S95D’s favor. But because it is so highly subjective, I’m calling it a draw.

In terms of format support, it’s a win for LG. The G4 supports both Dolby Vision HDR and DTS audio passthrough for its HDMI eARC port. As for gaming feature support,these TVs are evenly matched. Both support 4K up to 144Hz with VRR. And while the Samsung lacks G-Sync certification, it works just fine with G-Sync and FreeSync, just like the LG G4. Both have comprehensive gaming dashboards that offer more features than you are likely to use. The only difference in input and output capabilities — from a technical specs standpoint — is that the LG G4 supports full 48 Gbps bandwidth on its HDMI 2.1 ports, while the Samsung is limited to 40 Gbps bandwidth. In theory, that would make the LG more capable. But in reality, I’m unaware of any source that will ever require more than 40 Gbps of bandwidth. So I would not personally allow that factor to color my decision. But, thanks to Dolby Vision and DTS support, the LG G4 takes the win here.

Samsung S95D OLED review
Samsung S95D Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

Sound quality from the TV’s built-in speaker system is also very close to being a draw for me. However, after spending some time scrutinizing each TV — on its own, not coordinated with a soundbar — I have to give the nod to the LG G4 by a very slim margin. I think if you are going to integrate an LG soundbar with the G4 or a Samsung soundbar with the S95D, then I’d swing favor to the Samsung S95D, just because I prefer its high-end Dolby Atmos soundbar systems. But, for built-in TV audio, the LG G4 wins for me, which comes as a surprise because, looking at the back of the S95D and seeing all these bass transducers, you’d think the S95D would have a much bigger sound with better low-end response. But, at least in this space, that didn’t turn out to be the case. Again, it’s super close, but I preferred the LG by a small margin.

The measurements

Now, if you’ve skipped ahead to this part, then you’re likely an enthusiast concerned about out-of-box picture accuracy from a measurements perspective. Here, the LG G4 takes the win by a small margin. Both of these TVs put up impressively accurate measurements when it comes to grayscale and color in Filmmaker Mode. But the G4’s out-of-box performance is so accurate, I have to give the nod to LG in this case. Samsung, though, might be more appealing to more viewers. Its grayscale and white balance tends to be a little cooler, which lends a little extra vibrancy to the picture. It’s not as accurate, but darn close, and very pretty to look at.

lg g4 vs samsung s95d
Digital Trends

Accuracy is just one measurement, though. We also have to talk about color brightness, color volume, and color gamut. And in these areas, the Samsung S95D excels thanks to its QD-OLED panel technology. It can make some far-out colors the LG G4 just can’t. And while there isn’t a ton of content to take advantage of that right now, we will be seeing more content that can in the years to come. Also, from a color brightness and color volume perspective, the S95D pulls just slightly ahead — again, thanks to the QD-OLED panel type. So, slight advantage to S95D.

Measurements never tell the whole story, however. And in the case of comparing these two TVs, measurements mean even less. When it comes to overall luminance or brightness, the Samsung S95D measures brighter — at least until its dimming system comes to the rescue as the panel starts getting super hot.

The S95D is extremely competitive with the G4 in terms of wow factor.

But from a perceptual brightness perspective when watching real content, the LG G4 appears brighter. It can sustain its brightness for a longer time, and LG’s processing does a great job of managing average picture level brightness and putting brightness behind HDR highlights when it matters. This is not something you can measure, because of LG’s AI-powered processing. It’s something that you can see when comparing the two TVs, though.

I’m skeptical as to whether that extra brightness is a real advantage for most folks. In moderately bright to dim or full-on dark rooms, both TVs are more than sufficiently bright. I mean, they are the brightest OLED TVs we’ve ever seen. But that extra brightness horsepower only pays off when you are watching in a really bright room. And that’s where we get to the complicating matter of how these TVs handle bright, sun-soaked room situations.

LG G4 Zeke Jones / Digital Trends

The LG G4 has an anti-glare and anti-reflection treatment that is very effective. It can help content remain visible when you have bright windows or bright lamps or lights in the room. But in the end, it has a glossy screen, and its W-RGB panel with MLA technology allows blacks to look jet-black, no matter the lighting conditions in the room.

The Samsung S95D, on the other hand, has this otherworldly anti-glare and anti-reflection technology that works by diffusing the light across a wide area of the screen. So instead of seeing a focused, brighter light source, you see a very soft, diffused glow across the screen, which I argue is less invasive. But it’s an effect many do not prefer. Also, in bright rooms, QD-OLED panels have slightly elevated black levels. This is not something that bothers me most of the time, but it’s a deal breaker for some folks. Add not-perfectly inky-blacks in a bright room to the light diffusion issue, and what you trade off for a generally more viewable picture is some of the deep, inky blacks for which OLED TVs are revered.

lg g4 vs samsung s95d
Digital Trends

From a bright room viewability perspective, the S95D I think is going to look better to the average viewer. But enthusiasts are making clear that they prefer the glossy LG screen. In the end, only you can decide what you prefer, so if you can, go have a look at both of these TVs in action at a brightly lit retail store and see what you think for yourself.

In moderately bright to dim or completely dark rooms, the TVs are pretty evenly matched. Again, that matte screen on the S95D is going to bug some picture quality experts, if only because the idea bothers them. But everyone I’ve had come in to look at these TVs feels the S95D is extremely competitive with the G4 in terms of wow factor.

There are a couple of picture-quality areas where the LG G4 pulls ahead for me and, I think, will benefit most viewers. That’s in the cleanup of low-quality streaming content, and in motion resolution. The LG G4 also has less banding and macroblocking than the S95D. The G4 isn’t perfect — it tends to show some gradient issues in the dark grays. But on the whole, it is a cleaner-looking TV.

And I prefer the LG G4’s motion resolution as well. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is. But the Samsung S95D has what appears to be a frame-skipping thing that it does very occasionally with some of the streaming content I’m watching. I don’t see that on the G4.

One more thing …

Before I finish my picture-quality takeaway and tell you which TV I would buy if I was forced to choose between just these two TVs, I want to throw a rather important bone to the Samsung S95D:

While the LG G4 is technically more accurate and cleaner in many ways, the S95D, I would argue, puts out a picture that I think folks will prefer, if only because it makes more of the picture visible. HDR processing in the name of accuracy often makes some of the image difficult to see. It’s been my experience that the S95D shows subtleties in luminance a bit better than the LG G4, and I think that it’s something folks will like.

Both TVs are exceptionally awesome.

The S95D’s game mode is also a bit overly bright. For many gamers, it’s a look they will prefer. The LG G4, in contrast, has a game mode that is slightly darker than the other picture modes. It’s still gorgeous, but for folks who like a lot of zest to how their games look, the S95D could end up being preferred.

Which TV is right for you is going to come down to several factors. By now, I hope you have gotten a read on which one you might prefer as I’ve listed out the behavioral differences between each one. Picking a TV is such a personal choice, and you should absolutely go with your gut here. Hopefully, I’ve just helped you get in touch with your gut instinct on each of these TVs.

Understand this: Both TVs are exceptionally awesome. Samsung and LG have every reason to be extremely proud of what they have made. And each TV serves varying needs of different kinds of customers.

If I were forced to choose? I’d personally buy the LG G4 for most of my rooms. However, I would definitely buy the S95D if I was putting this in a room that was flooded with light and I frequently watched the TV during the day.

But when we factor in cost? It’s actually the S90D that I might want. The performance of that QD-OLED TV at its price versus the performance of the WRGB OLED G4 at its price might sway my decision in favor of the Samsung.

Caleb Denison
Digital Trends Editor at Large Caleb Denison is a sought-after writer, speaker, and television correspondent with unmatched…
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