If you’re thinking of buying a new television, it’s highly likely that both LG and Samsung TVs will make in on to your list of potential purchases. As reported in a Kantar Media UK survey, in 2019 an estimated 15.8 million people used Samsung televisions, and 11 million used LG sets, making both companies the top two brands by a long sight. So as brand battles go, this one’s kind of a big deal.
If you’re unsure where to start in terms of picking the right TV for you, don’t miss our in-depth best TV guide, where we talk you through everything from choosing the right screen size to figuring out what you get for your budget. But for more information on the differences between LG and Samsung TVs, and which are best, read on.
LG vs Samsung: main differences at a glance
LG and Samsung are two of the reigning TV brands on the market. That’s largely due to the fact both companies make televisions aimed at a range of price points, from 32-inch sets for £300 to high-spec 75-inchers that will set you back several thousand pounds.
Both companies are also huge pioneers of innovative TV technology, with much of the best features on the market having come from both LG and Samsung’s R&D labs. That’s where the manufacturers differ – in the technologies they use in their televisions. And there’s a lot of debate about which is best.
While LG has blazed a trail with its stunning OLED series of televisions, Samsung has stuck to its guns and focused on its own form of picture-optimisation: QLED. Similarly, each brand uses a different smart platform, with each having its own strengths and weaknesses.
OLED vs QLED
First things first: neither of these technologies improves upon 4K (or indeed 8K) picture quality in terms of detail. You’ll still get the same 3840 by 2160 (4K) and 7,680 by 4,320 pixels (8K) resolution. What both OLED and QLED do is further optimise the picture – essentially, making each of those pixels turn up on the screen in as best a condition as possible.
We’ll skip the technical details here – you can read our guide to what is QLED and our what is OLED TV article for more on how these innovations work. The key is in the absence of an LED backlight with OLED sets: by having the pixels light themselves, they contribute to a picture that offers a colour range, contrast levels and dark spots that far surpasses that of the average 4K TV.
You’ll find that other TV brands make OLED televisions – but their parts are produced by LG and sold on to their rivals. As a result, LG currently has the last word in OLED technology. Using complex internal technologies, these televisions remain costly to manufacture – and as a result, they sit at the decidedly pricy end of the market.
QLED, by contrast, still makes use of the traditional LED backlight technology but uses a layer of ‘quantum dots’ to works its own kind of magic on the pixels. The effect isn’t as substantial as that of OLED, which is why it’s ultimately LG that offers the superior picture quality of the two brands.
But here’s where it gets complicated: LG has also released a separate kind of technology, one that’s much more of a direct rival to Samsung’s QLED. This is called NanoCell.
QLED vs NanoCell
NanoCell is essentially the same kind of stepping-stone tech between standard 4K and OLED. You can read our what is NanoCell TV explainer for a detailed explanation, but in a nutshell: a layer tiny ‘nanoparticles’ are introduced between the LED backlight and the screen to improve the colours and contrast of the image.
NanoCells and QLEDs are pretty much level in price – and it’s a tough call to say which is better. By and large, NanoCell TVs are reported to deliver a brighter image, while QLED televisions deliver a better depth of blacks. If you’re not sure, it’s worth thinking about whether you mostly watch TV with the lights on or off. If it's the former, then Nanocell is the way to go. If it's the latter, then QLED is the wiser choice.
Operating systems compared: LG webOS vs Samsung Tizen
A smart TV, in itself, isn’t much of a big deal: pretty much all televisions now come with an in-built smart platform. This will link your television to your home Wi-Fi and provides you with an interface to channels, apps, streaming services and browsing. Both Samsung and LG’s smart platforms are considered two of the very best.
Overall, it’s LG’s webOS platform that has the stronger reputation. This is largely due to the versatility of the built-in Google Assistant, which you can operate by hitting a button on the remote, and sync to other smart devices in your house. It has an easy-to-use UI, and the remote can actually be used much like a mouse to move a cursor across the screen – which will be a blessing if you’ve ever struggled with a clunky, slow-moving interface.
Samsung’s Tizen has garnered similar praise for its intuitive UI, which works with a two-tier ribbon format that lets you scroll between apps and their content with maximum ease. You’ll also potentially have Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant, at your disposal, plus all the same smart home capabilities as with webOS. Bixby isn’t quite as sharp as other voice assistants out there – with an amusing habit of speaking in the third person – so rather wisely, Samsung didn’t ever push for exclusivity in its TV sets. You can also use Alexa and the Google Assistant in the higher-end QLEDs.
LG vs Samsung: what’s next?
At CES 2021, both LG and Samsung both promised a wealth of innovations in their new television ranges.
LG announced a more affordable series of OLED televisions, called the A1 series, as well as a new series of NanoCell televisions that use Mini LED lights. These make the picture quality even better, and will even incorporate some of the ‘quantum dot’ tech that was, of course, originally pioneered by Samsung. LG is also making incredible progress with the AI in its top-end OLEDs – that’s right, your TV might just also turn out to be your robot overlord. These internal processors can scan both image and sound in real-time, and adjust both of them to maximum effect.
Over at Samsung, a powerful new series of ‘Neo QLED’ televisions were announced – and much like LG, they will be using Mini LEDs. These are said to be 40 times smaller than standard LEDs. On top of that, Samsung’s televisions are growing bigger than ever: there are 88-inch, 99-inch and 110-inch sets in the pipeline.
LG or Samsung: which TV brand should you buy?
This is a tough question to answer since every TV buyer has a completely different set of priorities. But we’ll do our best to give you an answer.
In terms of sheer pedigree, LG comes out as the better brand. As we’ve said, its OLED televisions are among the very best commercially available sets out there – and on top of that, the webOS smart platform has the stronger reputation. As an all-rounder, you’d be hard-pushed to find a television that can trump the glorious CX OLED flagship line.
But here’s the thing about televisions: flagship televisions and top-tier tech are all well and good – but not everybody out there needs the very latest tech. There’s still some price range among LG’s OLED televisions – but with QLED sets starting at little more than £500, we believe that Samsung is the superior brand in terms of value for money.
A disclaimer: with the latest developments in both OLED and QLED televisions on the way, we’re quietly confident that entry-level prices for both will start to fall, and both will become more realistic options for the average spender.
We’ve put together a list of both LG and Samsung televisions that make for great choices, across a number of screen sizes and price points – take a look below.
Deals on LG and Samsung TVs
For a wider round-up of TVs that are on offer right now, head to our pick of the best smart TV deals this month. And if you know it’s a Samsung QLED that you’re after? Don’t miss our list of the best QLED TV deals.
Samsung The Frame 32-inch QLED Full HD Art Mode TV
TV from Samsung’s Frame series is small in size but high in class. Don’t let the fact it’s not 4K put you off: that level of resolution doesn’t make any difference at that size. The QLED tech, however, will deliver an extra level of quality to the Full HD image. Bixby, Alexa and the Google Assistant all come as built-in features.
LG 43-inch UN74006LB 4K HDRTV with Google Assistant & Amazon Alexa
This modest-priced 43-inch set comes from LG’s UM7400 line, which it offers a 4K picture quality that will surpass many other sets that you'll find in this sub-£500 price bracket. We’re happy to see that it supports HDR (High dynamic range) formats and, again, comes with an in-built voice assistant.
Samsung 50-inch UETU8500UXXU 4K TV with Bixby, Alexa & Google Assistant
As much as we love the bells and whistles on top-end TVs, there’s also much to be said for budget-end gems like this 50-inch set from Samsung. It might not be a QLED set, but the Crystal Processor that powers the brand’s standard 4K television has a strong reputation. This is a great choice if you’re planning to scale up your modest size TV, but without breaking the bank.
LG 55-inch OLEDCX5LB 4K OLED TV
Here it is – LG’s glorious flagship CX, which wowed the industry upon its release last year. If you’re seeking out a television that you could confidently call one of the very best – outside of 8K, at least – then this is it. From its super-sharp OLED visuals to its svelte design and lauded smart platform, this is a real winner. Of course, top-of-the-line televisions don’t stay top-of-the-line for very long: look out for the new C1 line later this year.
LG 65-inch UN73006LA HDR 4K TV
We’ve picked out this 65-inch set as another wise choice for buyers who are looking for a big screen on a budget. This might not set you up with either OLED or NanoCell visuals, but you still have the fantastic webOS, as well as the built-in services of Alexa and the Google Assistant. In smart terms, this one’s a gem.
Samsung 75-inch QE75Q60TA 4K QLED TV with Bixby, Alexa & Google Assistant
A super-sized 75-inch TV, and one that's priced just below the big bucks of OLED. The Q75 offers a QLED image that’s a cut above cheaper models: the processor automatically adjusts the picture to the light levels of your viewing space. Gamers will also be interested in the AMD FreeSync tech that’s included, something you more often see in gaming monitors, which helps reduce juddering during gameplay.
Thinking of buying a new television? Make sure you read our in-depth which TV to buy guide.