There’s no doubt about it: OLED televisions are now a crucial part of the TV landscape. OLED is increasingly becoming the go-to panel technology for premium sets, while the very best OLED TVs out there can offer a level of contrast and color accuracy beyond most of their LCD counterparts.
Though OLED panels tend to be limited in brightness, advances in manufacturing have made them a better and brighter proposition than ever – and therefore even more adept at handling the ultra-bright high dynamic range (HDR) picture format that’s become the latest must-have television technology.
Even more importantly, OLED TVs are finally hitting price points that you didn’t have to be an oil tycoon to afford. With OLEDs from Hisense that undercut much of the competition, and LG seeming set on getting its 48-inch OLED panels to market, that trend is only set to continue.
OLED TVs still cost substantially more than the majority of LCD televisions. And while remaining peerless for contrast/black level performance, even the new improved OLEDs can’t get close to the HDR friendly levels of brightness some LCD TVs can muster.
For more, watch our TV buying guide video above.
In each section we’ve tried to pick a range of TVs that cover an array of different price points and features. And with each selected model we’ve explained why we picked it – and any flaws it may have.
So if you’re after a screen with an inscrutable contrast ratio, here’s our pick of the best OLED TVs you can buy right now.
The LG C9 OLED is very easy to recommend. As the upgrade to the C8, which topped our list last year, the C9 OLED continues LG’s winning streak as the best performing OLED television for the price.
LG has been leading the charge with its OLED TVs – no surprise, given it’s technically LG-made panels being used in rival sets by Sony, Panasonic, and the like. But where the C9 triumphs is in offering a premium OLED picture at a lower price point than much of the OLED sets out there, widening the user base beyond a few high-earners.
Combining a stunning display with an immense amount of features and formats – with LG’s brilliant webOS smart platform – this is undoubtedly one of the best 4K TVs ever made.
There aren’t huge differences with last year’s model, but the addition of the 2nd Gen a9 processor means the picture processing is truly top-notch. You also get Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support (premium video and audio technologies) though not the competing HDR10+ video standard.
Like other OLEDs, the C9 doesn’t match the high brightness of premium LCDs – the C9 peaks at 780 nits – but more than compensates with its punchy, vibrant picture. And where the C9 lacks the 4.2 channel speakers of the E9 OLED, its sloped TV stand proves a deft way of angling speaker output towards the viewer.
Sure, there are more expensive OLEDs out there, but if you’re after a top panel that justifies its asking price, the C9 is the television you want.
Read the full review: LG C9 OLED (OLED55C9, OLED65C9, OLED77C9)
The AF9 is unquestionably Sony’s best OLED offering to date, and arguably a strong contender for best high-end screen of the year. With an all-glass front, no bezel, and a 3.2 surround sound system built into the screen itself, the AF9 is a looker that delivers astonishing visual and audio performance.
The X1 Ultimate processor offers a host of improvements on Sony’s previous OLED sets, giving greater definition to individual objects onscreen and boosting color contrast in what was already a startling clear and refined picture. You’re paying a price premium for the privilege, but you can be sure you’re getting a brilliant OLED display for the money.
Sony’s processing prowess also does a better job than any other brand of ‘upconverting’ standard dynamic range content to HDR, meaning you get more consistent use out of your TV’s maximum capabilities.
The Android TV smart platform has its share of problems (read: bugs), but the new Android Oreo interface introduced here solves a lot of them, and makes navigating Sony’s apps and services far simpler, with menu bars for recently watched and favorited channels.
An added bonus of buying into Sony’s Master Series TV range is the inclusion of a Netflix Calibrated Mode, for calibrating those pretty pixels to best suit TV and films on the Netflix streaming service. Necessary? Probably not. A nice touch? Definitely.
Read the full review: Sony AF9 OLED
The LG E9 OLED certainly has the design chops. Its slim glass display does without any fiddly legs or rim around the screen’s edge, and the effect is startling. This is an OLED panel that almost seems to be floating, without any troublesome casing to hem the picture in.
LG’s new a9 Gen 2 processor is hard at work here, ensuring crisp detail and smooth motion throughout – with the typically deep blacks and rich, vibrant colors expected of an OLED display. You don’t get much closer to cinematic without actually going to a cinema.
We’re still sad about the absence of the E7’s integrated soundbar – both the E8 and E9 opted for a thinner speaker band instead – but the 4.2 channel audio and Dolby Atmos support still make for a dynamic soundscape far beyond your average television.
When all’s said and done, it’s hard to justify the E9 over the C9, given the similar picture processing and same outstanding smart TV platform, webOS – now with Alexa integration and an upgraded menu system for easier navigation. But if you want an OLED set with the looks to match, and a boost to audio, the E9 will be a stunning addition to your living room.
Read the full review: LG OLED E9
As usual with Bang & Olufsen, the Eclipse isn’t exactly your typical OLED screen. In fact, its screen is really just one ‘small’ component of its overall design rather than being pretty much the whole deal. This is because the screen slots into the top of a huge built in speaker bar that extends out beyond the edges of the screen above it, while the speaker bar in turn sits on top of a gorgeous sliver of glass below it. And all of that sits on a range of different stand options, including my personal favourite – a motorised rotating floor mount that can both move the whole screen forward and backwards, or rotate it left and right. The entire towering construction is beautifully built, too.
The TV certainly isn’t a case of all style and no substance, though. That LG-based screen delivers all of its customary contrast and colour thrills, while that vast soundbar has so much raw power and such huge dynamics that it humbles many external high end speaker systems.
With multi-room speaker support and surround sound decoding built in too, the only issues with the Eclipse are that its complicated to use, and that you probably won’t be able to afford one…
Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Eclipse
Philips OLED 803 is a beautiful OLED television, if you can get past some minor issues.
The main draw here is Philips second-generation P5 processor, which manages to double the processing power of the chip seen in the 803’s predecessors. The results are stunning, with a Perfect Natural Reality function that algorithmically tweaks contrast, brightness, and definition to optimize your picture on the fly.
The effect of Philips’ P5 engine may sometimes be subtle with real-world content, but it gives this set an edge when it comes to playing in SDR 4K or HD. You’re also getting Philip’s unique Ambilight technology, which throws onscreen colors onto the wall behind your television, giving a sense of real atmosphere.
The 803 is technically second-in-line to Philips’ OLED, after the OLED 903+, but the only real difference is the latter’s integrated Bowers & Wilkins soundbar – an improvement on sound, sure, but you’ll save a neat £500 by going after the 803 and sticking with your current sound system instead.
There’s some input lag, so this isn’t as well-suited a TV to gaming as some of the others on this list – and the Android TV interface isn’t the most seamless. Not to mention the exclusion of the Freeview Play catch-up service, which is increasingly expected as standard for UK viewers.
But the 803 is no doubt the most tempting OLED Philips has produced, and the competitive price compared to the 903+ just nabs it a place on this list.
Read our full review: Philips OLED 803
- For a full rundown of the best sets out there, whether LCD or OLED, check our our full best TVs of 2019 guide
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