Published on May 13th, 2023 📆 | 6143 Views ⚑0
Sony A95K vs Samsung S95C: Which should you buy?
This year marks the second generation of QD-OLED, a new TV technology that combines the advantages of OLED with the benefits of quantum dots. The latest of the bunch is the Samsung S95C, a powerful, feature-rich TV that stands toe-to-toe with the best-performing TV we saw last year, the Sony A95K.
Being a year-old model, the Sony A95K is currently seeing some incredible discounts. If you’re in the market for a top-tier QD-OLED experience, you might be wondering whether you should spend more on a newer model from Samsung, or save on a Sony from last year. Having tested both models extensively, we’re here to help you make the right call. Here’s everything you need to know about the A95K and the S95C—from performance to price.
Buy the Samsung S95C at Amazon
The A95K was a pricey proposition upon its release. Fortunately, it’s seen some serious discounts in the year since.
Despite the sale, you might still experience some sticker shock when sizing up these prices. And, when it comes to sizes, the A95K series only has two options to choose from, the biggest option being 65 inches.
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55S95CAFXZA), MSRP $2,499.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65S95CAFXZA), MSRP $3,299.99
- 77-inch (Samsung QN77S95CAFXZA), MSRP $4,499.99
Being a new TV, the Samsung S95C is not discounted yet. The 55-inch version is almost exactly the same price as its Sony-made counterpart, while the 65-inch S95C is currently about $300 more than the 65-inch A95K.
If you’re in the market for a QD-OLED TV larger than 65 inches, the S95C is the only option at your disposal. Be prepared to shell out a pretty penny for that one, though—the 77-inch S95C will run you about $4,500.
If you’re shopping for a 55-inch TV, the cost is roughly the same. For a 65-inch, the edge goes to Sony. For anything larger, you’ll need to commit to Samsung. This category is a wash.
Our pick: Draw
Since they don’t rely on a backlight, OLED TVs are known for their ultra-thin panels. Both the A95K and the S95C are remarkably thin, but due to its connection ports being off-loaded to a separate box, the S95C is thinner than the A95K at its most narrow point. Most of the differences in design come down to their respective stands.
There are two ways to attach the A95K’s heavy, metallic stand to the base of the panel. Its front-facing configuration puts the stand in front of the screen, while the back-facing configuration creates the illusion that the A95K is standing up on its surface unattended. In either setup, you’ll need a media console deep enough to accommodate the depth of the stand, and the front-facing formation allows the TV to sit as close as it possibly can to the wall behind it. In addition, no matter which configuration you opt for, there won’t be very much soundbar clearance; the A95K sits too close to its surface and anything in front of it will likely obstruct the view.
The A95K’s stand is deliberately designed to introduce a slight back-facing lean to the panel. The effect is subtle, much like an easel. I reckon that most people will hardly notice this design flourish, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re particular about aesthetics.
The S95C, on the other hand, offers about three inches of soundbar clearance, which is quite accommodating. There’s only one stand configuration: A flat slab of metal underneath the center of the TV which connects to the back of the panel.
While the A95K features a traditional suite of inputs on the back of its panel, the S95C houses its inputs in a detachable box called the One Connect Box. It attaches seamlessly to the back of the S95C’s stand, but if your home theater setup calls for it, the One Connect Box can be relocated to another spot further away from the panel. As such, the S95C comes with two cables that connect the One Connect Box to the TV: a short cable for when the box is attached to the stand and a longer cable for added flexibility.
While I personally prefer the more minimalistic look of the A95K, there’s no denying that the S95C features a more accommodating design. Its stand provides plenty of room for a soundbar, while the One Connect Box is highly useful for home theater customizability.
Our pick: Samsung S95C
Features and smart platform
Before we dive into the many differences between these two TVs, let’s take a look at the many hardware- and software-related features they share.
The Sony A95K supports Dolby Vision, an HDR format intended to present content in the manner closest to the creator’s intent. Dolby Vision content is available on Blu-ray, across several popular streaming platforms (like Netflix and Apple TV+) and Xbox titles, too. Like all Samsung TVs, the S95C doesn’t support Dolby Vision. Instead, it uses a royalty-free standard called HDR10+. Like Dolby Vision, HDR10+ uses dynamic metadata to optimize content on a scene-by-scene or frame-by-frame basis. Some UHD Blu-rays and streaming platforms offer HDR10+ content (like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu), but Dolby Vision is nevertheless the more popular format.
The A95K also has an edge when it comes to software and the overall user experience. It comes with the Google TV smart platform built right in, and despite a moderate dose of sponsored content (which is present on every smart platform to some degree), Google TV offers a fast, comfortable way to stream content. In addition, the A95K offers a bevy of audio and visual settings for those who like to tinker (more so than the S95C), and I appreciate how easy it is to access various picture settings.
By comparison, the S95C’s built-in smart platform is somewhat sluggish and tougher to navigate. It introduces a few quality-of-life updates over its predecessor, the S95B, but basic tasks (like switching inputs or adjusting the picture) take more steps than they ought to. I’d wager that Samsung’s Smart Hub has roughly the same amount of sponsored or recommended content as Google TV, but I find them easier to ignore on Google TV.
From a features standpoint, gaming support is where these two TVs diverge the most. I’ve no doubt that both are sufficient for casual gamers, but dedicated gamepad veterans ought to be aware of the differences between these TVs’ capabilities.
All four of the S95C’s HDMI 2.1 inputs support 4K gaming at 120Hz, a top-of-the-line benchmark in the realm of console gaming. With four such inputs, you’re free to connect a PlayStation 5, an Xbox Series X, and an eARC-enabled soundbar, all while having one high-bandwidth input left to spare.
Of the A95K’s four HDMI inputs, only two of them support 4K gaming at 120Hz, and one of them doubles as the TV’s dedicated eARC port. If you own an eARC-enabled device and two current-generation gaming consoles, one of them will be fighting for an optimized input, lest you purchase an A/V receiver.
Both TVs support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), but only the S95C offers AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, a proprietary version of VRR that works with HDR gaming content. The S95C also makes it easier to access various picture- and performance-related game settings while Game Mode is enabled. Dubbed Game Bar, this quick menu relays frame rate information, lets you tweak the picture based on game type, and more. It’s an immensely useful tool that puts all of the game-related controls right at your fingertips.
On one hand, the A95K offers Dolby Vision support and a vastly superior software experience. On the other hand, the S95C is unquestionably a better gaming machine. If you value Dolby Vision and built-in smart features, the A95K is your winner. If you’re a serious gamer, the S95C is the better pick. This category is a draw.
Our pick: Draw
By now, most people are familiar with the benefits of OLED, but here’s a refresher: perfect black levels, voluminous color, and the widest viewing angles money can buy. Essentially, OLED displays are kings of contrast—their pixel-level brightness control eliminates light bloom and preserves the picture during off-axis viewing.
The S95C and the A95K are among the first OLED TVs to feature quantum dots, too. These color- and brightness-boosting crystals allow the QD-OLEDs to bypass the use of a color filter, and without a filter, the picture can get brighter and its colors purer.
Both are on the brighter end of what we’ve seen from OLED TVs thus far, but the S95C is the brightest. It’s important to remember that average picture brightness between the two TVs (that is, the brightness of the entire picture, not just the highlights) is about the same: 300 to 350 nits in HDR, 200 to 250 in HDR. The S95C’s added pop comes in the form of specular highlights, like a sunbeam reflecting off the hood of a car. Both TVs benefit greatly from their stellar contrast, but the S95C offers just a bit more depth on account of its punchier highlights.
In their most accurate picture modes (Filmmaker for the S95C and Custom for the A95K), both TVs deliver an incredibly accurate picture right out of the box, with average color error coming in below the accepted threshold that’s noticeable to most people. Both TVs cover over 99% of the HDR color gamut (DCI-P3), and thanks to their quantum dot-equipped displays, produce some of the most stunning colors you’ll find on the TV market today. That said, if you’re looking for the most eye-popping experience—not necessarily the most accurate experience—the S95C will give you more bang for your buck. Certain shades are a touch more luminous, though the difference is tough to spot unless you’re looking at both TVs side by side.
The A95K’s secret sauce is Sony’s excellent picture processing, which does a better job of upscaling sub-4K content and, in general, offers a restrained visual expression that looks more pleasing to my eye.
Here’s the bottom line: Both the S95C and the A95K are among the best OLED TVs money can buy. Both will hold up fine in an average lit room, and both will look stunning in the dark. Sony’s exceptional processing and expertly dialed-in Custom picture mode lend themselves to a slightly more accurate presentation, while the S95C’s juiced-up highlights and color palette offer a livelier, more sumptuous picture at the expense of surgical precision.
Once again, this category comes down to personal preference.
Our pick: Draw
And the winner is…
This is one of the closest head-to-head matchups I’ve considered in quite some time, and while I’d love to offer a clear-cut answer, this competition comes down to one’s personal preference.
If you’re not a gamer and you’re not in the market for a 77-inch TV, I recommend the A95K. It’s got the better software, Dolby Vision support, and it sports the best picture I’ve ever seen. While the S95C offers punchier highlights and bolder-looking color at times, Sony’s incredible picture processing is the difference maker. It’s a slightly more accurate presentation, and I appreciate having that in my back pocket.
However, if you are a dedicated gamer with multiple consoles, the S95C is better equipped for the job. For the time being, it’s also the only QD-OLED available in a size larger than 65 inches.
It’s perfectly reasonable to opt for the QD-OLED that delivers a certain je ne sais quoi, something emblematic of the technology itself. The S95C may not be quite as even-keeled in its handling of creative intent, but the rich reds, gorgeous greens, and heightened highlights are the sort of flourishes that many expect to see from a souped-up OLED with quantum-dot color.
The choice is yours. In either case, you’re bound to have one of the best-looking TVs on the block.
Sony’s quantum dot-enhanced OLED display is sure to leave your jaws on the ground for your entire viewing experience.
Every pixel on an OLED TV is self-illuminating, allowing for perfect black levels, zero light bloom, and exceptionally wide viewing angles.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.