Samsung The Frame (2021) full review
Art literally meets science in The Frame, Samsung’s flagship lifestyle TV offering. Uniquely designed to be customised, to better blend with interior decor, it can literally be hung like a painting with a variety of frame styles available.
We’ve seen various iterations of The Frame, but this 2021 edition benefits from a high performance QLED panel and a smart platform that comes into its own when in Ambient Art Mode. The TV comes in range of sizes and we've tested the 55in 4K model here.
Design & Build
- Stylish picture frame design
- Choice of bezels
- One Connect box
As mentioned, The Frame is built to be accessorised. Interior-design friendly embellishments include real wooden picture frame bezels and even a modernist shelving option. Straight from the box, it’s more prosaic, a pudding without the sticky toffee.
A uniform screen depth enables flush wall fitting, using Samsung’s Slim Fit wall mount, while the uniform matt black bezel cries out for customisation.
The set comes with a pair of widely spaced slot-in feet. There’s an optional tripod Studio Stand, if the supplied boots lack the requisite style.
Connectivity for source components is handled via the One Connect box. This has four HDMIs (HDMI 3 is eARC compatible), a digital optical audio output, Ethernet as well as dual-band Wi-Fi, and a CI card slot for those territories which need it. Tucked around the corner are a couple of USB ports. There’s a choice of either terrestrial or satellite tuner.
A single connection links the One Connect box to the screen, an ‘invisible’ fibre optic cable routing power, network and sound and vision.
The set comes with two remotes - a simplified solar-powered eco-zapper and a full-size IR remote, with shortcut buttons for Prime Video, Netflix and Samsung TV Plus.
Specs & Feature
- Tizen OS
- Digital assistants & AirPlay
- Ambient Mode
The Frame runs a full-spec Tizen smart platform, which offers a wide range of streaming options and catch-up TV services. These are accessed via the familiar launcher bar at the bottom of the screen. The set also boasts Samsung TV Plus, the brand’s own IP delivered channel bouquet.
Scroll down and you’ll be presented an On Now rail, as well as new and trending movie content and curated shows from iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
Samsung has long offered Ambient Mode, which enables the set to double as an info display or JPEG gallery. Within The Frame, it finds an obvious home. There’s stylised art and mood enhancing visuals provided; you can subscribe to a full Art Store service if you really want to exhibit some pukka works of art.
It costs £3.99/US$5 per month but you can alternatively upload your own imagery using the SmartThings app.
In addition to Bixby, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, there’s compatibility with Apple AirPlay. Other connected niceties include Multi View and Mobile Mirroring, to better see and share smartphone content.
Picture & Sound Quality
- From 32in Full HD
- Up to 75in 4K
- QLED panel with HDR
Given the lifestyle angle, it’s entirely possible to overlook the performance of the QE55LS03A, yet this screen holds its own against the rest of Samsung’s mid-range QLED fleet.
Images are deliciously colour rich, as you’d expect from the brand’s implementation of that Quantum Dot filter, with excellent detail delivered by the Quantum Processor 4K, plus strong contrast and powerful motion handling.
The set employs Samsung’s novel Dual LED backlight system. Two colour temperatures are combined for greater contrast and image depth. This LED technique isn’t used on the smallest Frame set, but you’ll find it across the rest of the range.
The Frame actually delivers an excellent black level performance, particularly in rooms with low ambient lighting. Backlight uniformity is good, with no obvious light pooling.
The set’s HDR performance is also impressive, nudging 700 nits with a standard 10% measurement window, using the Standard image preset. There’s support for HDR, HLG and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision.
Presets comprise Dynamic, Standard, Natural, Movie and Filmmaker Mode. Natural is the brightest option but on this QLED tends to oversaturate skin tones and crush blacks. Standard is deemed a better all-purpose setting.
In addition to the usual image presets, there’s an Intelligent Mode that adjusts images based on ambient light; it also offers Active voice amplifier and Adaptive sound +, which similarly combats in-room ambient noise.
Sonically, the screen is somewhat vanilla, but again benefits from accessorising.
The standard downward firing L/C/R has 40W amplification, good enough for general use, but it lacks bass, even with AI sound tuning. Connect a Dolby Atmos soundbar or system via eARC, and you’ll be able to stream Dolby Atmos from compatible apps like Disney+ and Netflix.
The Frame can also be partnered with Samsung Wi-Fi surround speakers to create a full surround sound system, or paired to an external Bluetooth speaker.
The 2021 Frame has also got game. Input lag was measured at a frag-friendly 9.7ms (1080/60), with Game mode engaged.
The Frame (2021) is available in a wide range of screen sizes, enough for every type of home gallery. The 32in version (QE32LS03T) is a 1080p HDR-capable set, priced at £499 in the UK but the rest are all 4K HDR models.
You can choose from 43-, 50, 55-, 65- and 75in screen sizes (aka QE43LS03A, QE50LS03A, QE55LS03A, QE65LS03A, and QE75LS03A), priced at £1,099, £1,199, £1,499, £1,999 and £2,599.
In the US, the same screen size range (QN32LS03T, QN43LS03A, QN50LS03A, QN55LS03A, QN65LS03A and QN75LS03A), sell for $599, $999, $1,299, $1,499, $1,999 and $2,999.
Our sample is the UHD 55-inch model.
The Frame (2021) is a unique telly. While rival brands have largely adopted a generic look for their flatscreens, Samsung has leant heavily into interior design and created a wonderfully customisable screen.
Accessorise with a fancy wooden bezel and wall mount, and you’ll have a TV that can convincingly double as an art installation. The good news is this latest Frame doesn’t compromise on performance either, offering superb colour depth, razor-sharp detail and punchy HDR. It even offers top-flight latency for gaming.
The Frame is a breath of fresh air in the widescreen world.
Samsung The Frame (2021): Specs
- Display technology: QLED
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160 4K
- HDMI: x4
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
- Tizen OS
- Terrestrial and satellite tuners
- Dimensions: 1237.9(w) x 708.8(h) x 24.9(d)mm
- Weight: 16.6kg
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