Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K HDR QLED TV review

Inside CI 5 Rating

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posted on Tuesday, 28th August 2018 by Steve May

High-end  4K  HDR 


Just when you thought OLED had the high-end display market all sewn up, Samsung delivers not just a cracking QLED LCD, but arguably its best television ever.

This trump card couldn’t have been played at a better time. With the QLED 8K door opening, long before OLED is follow, and a growing appreciation of dynamic HDR, the Q9FN appears a compelling proposition that’s ahead of the curve.

Available in 55-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes (QE65Q9FN and QE75Q9FN) respectively, this flagship screen should suit most install projects. We took the smallest option and put it through its paces...

Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K QLED TV: Design and specification
Unlike Samsung’s 2017 models, which were all edge-lit models, the Q9FN boasts a full-array backlight. This adoption of FALD local dimming technology allows the set to better manage HDR, not only in terms of peak brightness, but also crucially at the darker end. It delivers black levels far more accurately than any rival edge-lit LED LCD TV.

Of course, the provision of a direct LED backlight means this set isn’t as thin as edge-lit rivals, but really the difference isn’t that pronounced and when wall mounted doesn’t translate to much of a penalty.

We like the set’s minimalist, straightforward design. It comes with a clean-looking T-bar pedestal as standard, however there are separate easel and tower stands available if required.

Overall cosmetics are extremely good. The panel has a premium, svelte appearance helped by the new larger One Connect box. This not only routes AV, but power too. A single 3.35mm thick cable links the box to the panel. The supplied length of the One Connect cable is 5m, however if you need something longer, there’s an optional 15m alternative.


HDMI Inputs (2)

One Connect Box

The One Connect Box offers four full bandwidth HDMIs, all HDCP 2.2 ready, as well as three USBs, an optical digital audio output, plus Ethernet and terrestrial and satellite tuners.

Two remotes are supplied. One a stylish Bluetooth offering with voice control, the other a more conventional wand. Alternatively, the set can be used with Samsung’s Connect app, which is also compatible with SmartThings-branded IoT products.

The Q9FN’s Ultra Black Elite Moth Eye panel supports 10-bit wide colour, plus HDR10, HLG (Hybrid Log-gamma) and HDR10+, the Dynamic metadata standard positioned as an alternative to Dolby Vision.

Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K QLED TV: Features
The headline feature attraction here is Ambient mode. A variation of what we first saw on The Frame TV range, it allows the Q9FN to perform even when there’s nothing on. The screen can blend with wall-coverings, provide news and weather info, or double as a picture gallery.

The set runs the latest iteration of Samsung’s own Tizen Smart OS. The design is clean and easy to use, with horizontal bars that ape rival Smart systems. There’s curated content thumbnails, plus a listing of streaming services and apps. It’s quite intuitive.

Tizen Screen


Samsung hasn’t signed up to Freeview Play, which means no roll-back programme guide, but all main catch-up TV services are available. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and YouTube are onboard.

Emphasising this TV’s suitability for media room use, the dedicated Gaming mode puts in a phenomenal performance. We measured input lag at just 13ms in Game Mode. Perfect for your next Fortnite sleepover.

Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K QLED TV: Picture performance
Of course, all these fancy trapping would amount to naught if the Q9FN didn’t deliver the goods visually. Thankfully, both HD and UHD content looks sublime. The level of fine detail and colour vibrancy onscreen is outstanding. While OLED models tend to look their best in a controlled lighting environment, this high falutin’ QLED isn’t intimidated by brightly lit rooms.

And unlike some close competitors, this set isn’t a time suck to setup. There are just four basic presets (Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie), and at least three do a good job (the Movie mode is the least attractive option, and actually makes the benefits of 4K resolution harder to sell).

Skin tones are nicely rendered, and overall colour performance is invigorating. It’s like treating your peepers to a couple of days at the Rio carnival.

The set’s HDR performance is top notch. Using a 10 per cent window, we measured HDR peak brightness around 1200 cd/m2 (aka nits). Using a smaller 5 per cent window, the set is able to climb to nearer 1400 nits. Given that much HDR material is actually mastered far lower than that, the Q9FN is realistically equipped to represent what’s available onscreen.

For non HDR programmes, there’s an HDR+ mode. While perhaps not totally convincing it does give the panel an opportunity to stretch with everyday SDR.

Black level performance is refreshingly good (for an LED LCD). In low light, it avoids that empty grey wash commonly seen on LCD screens. Backlight control is excellent, with very little in the way of intrusive blooming of halos. An anti-reflective filter is used to maintain contrast in bright rooms. Screen uniformity is similarly excellent.

Motion handling can be considered a mixed bag. While Auto Motion Plus retains detail while panning, it can show halo artefacts around moving artefacts. An LED Clear Motion option is available, but it introduces flicker and darkens the image. Our advice is try the Custom mode, with Blur set around 10 and Judder at no more than 5.

Fine detail is outstanding. With 4K content, the level of detail evident in its imagery is often breathtaking. HD upscaling also is artfully handled. Jaggies are noticeable only by their absence, and that extra pixel density positively encourages close quarter peering.

Game Mode


Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K QLED TV: Audio performance
Audio quality is just above average for a standalone flatscreen. While there’s no dedicated soundbar, the extra girth used to accommodate that backlight array has allowed for some effective stereo speakers to be shoehorned in. For casual viewing, it’s good enough.

Samsung QE55Q9FN 4K QLED TV: Verdict
Samsung has produced an outstanding screen in the shape of the QE55Q9FN. It does most everything well, offering class leading HDR peak brightness, advanced backlight control and a superb gaming performance. If you’re looking for a UHD TV that handles movies, sports and games extremely well, the Q9FN is it.

Available now

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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