It’s becoming more important for TV sets to blend in with their surroundings, as TVs are getting larger and more powerful. Samsung has been leading this charge for years with its The Frame TV sets, but the 2021 edition sees the range finally match the best Samsung has to offer.
The Frame TV for 2021 displays works of art in standby mode and has a customizable frame that can be used for wall hanging. It is as fashionable to have around your house as it is to use.
We’ve tested the 4K 43-inch model from 32 to 75 inches.
Prices and availability
Frame TV’s 2021 range is now available. All other options, except the 1080p 32-inch model, are available at 4K resolution. The 32-inch model starts at $599/PS499, but there are other options as well. Prices start at PS1,099/$999 and go up to PS2,599/$2,999 for the largest models.
The specs here are impressive, but this isn’t a flagship device, which means you’ll pay more for the frame TV’s interior design. Although it’s still quite expensive, the package is much more affordable than before.
We usually separate our discussion about design from that of TV software interface in our reviews. But The Frame is an exception since the two go hand in hand. You’ll find information here about the design and some of the software features that complement it.
The Frame TV, unlike many TVs that are a black hole in your living space when they’re turned off, is designed to be decorative. The set’s basic black frame isn’t much to talk about, but Samsung has a variety of clip-on bezel pieces available that can be attached to the set to make it fit in a variety of decors. These include wood-like frames and bold colors.
These bezels give the wall-mounted picture the illusion of a picture on the wall. Samsung’s Art Mode app ($5 per month in the US, £13.99 per month in the UK), allows you to access thousands of works. These include collections from galleries such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Louvre, and artists from contemporary masters like Sutianto, to classic masters such as Monet. A few free designs are included for those who don’t want to subscribe, while the “My Collection” section allows you to upload up to 16GB/1,200 images.
You can also set them on one of a variety of matte “mounts” to give the TV the feel of a painting and not a device. The screen’s anti-reflective coating, ambient and motion sensors, and the ability to adjust brightness and contrast as you approach it to make it appear as if it’s painting on the wall.
This TV is also the easiest to set up we have ever seen. It can be wall-mounted, but it will sit flush against a wall due to its flat, thin design. Instead, it sits on two separate feet that can be adjusted at two heights to accommodate soundbars beneath the screen. They simply slide and click into the place on either side of the TV’s back. No screws are required. You can also purchase a Studio mount, which is sold separately.
The One Connect box from Samsung makes it even easier to set up. The One Connect box is a breakaway box that connects to the screen using a single clear fiber optic cable. It houses all the connections you will need for external devices. The box has four HDMI ports, one eArc compatible and another HDMI 2.1 compatible to support 120Hz and VRR gaming play – though the 43-inch screen we tested supports 60Hz), as a digital optical out, Ethernet connection, and two USB ports. Dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth for wireless devices, including headphones, keyboards, and mice, is supported. The One Connect box from TechRadar is a favorite of ours. It allows you to neatly hide the bulk of your cables away from the TV, making it easy to access. We also appreciate Samsung’s addition of this box to their sets.
The package also includes a pair of remotes. Both remotes have shortcut buttons for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well as Samsung TV Plus (the company’s free TV streaming service). The one has all the usual controls, including volume, playback, and channel selection options. But the other remote is more basic with the most frequently used functions only having their own buttons. Although it is simple to use, its greatest feature is located on its back: a solar panel which means that the batteries will never need replacing.
Smart TV (Tizen)
The Art Mode and the rest are based on Samsung’s Tizen operating system. This is used in The Frame.
Let’s start with the basics. There are many streaming apps that you can download directly from The Frame TV. These include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus. You also have local providers like Sky’s Now TV and BBC iPlayer. The Samsung TV Plus app also offers a variety of streaming channels.
Scroll down to see a mix of algorithmically and curated content from your TV streaming apps on horizontal tracks. The “On Now” section displays live TV from your apps, while the trending content from Netflix and Disney Plus is below. The Frame’s interface is easy to use, has relevant content suggestions, and is quick to move about.
Samsung’s smart credentials for The Frame TV go beyond streaming. Samsung’s Ambient Mode, which is a long-featured feature on Samsung sets, can also be used as a screensaver. It displays headlines, weather reports, and slideshows. You can use the screen as a SmartThings Hub – this is the Samsung-branded smart home controller that allows you to access connected devices such as smart lights, security systems, and everything else.
Mirroring other devices onto the Frame is another great feature of The Frame. You can download the PC On TV App to your computer and your desktop will be displayed on the large screen. It also supports keyboard and mouse support. SmartThings for Android phones allows you to mirror your smartphone’s screen onto the TV. Apple’s AirPlay content beaming standards is also supported. To have your Samsung Galaxy phone’s content shared and mirrored by The Frame, you can tap on the device side-by-side. The screen also has picture-in-picture and side-by-side Multi-View options. These are great for checking your form while exercising or keeping an eye on your friend during a video chat during a heated sports match.
Access to voice control through a variety of smart assistants completes the smart credentials. Samsung’s long-suffering voice assistant Bixby is now available, but it is best to ignore. You’ll be better served with the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa supported by Samsung, which can be combined with an appropriate smart speaker to control your TV hands-free with a variety of voice commands.
Sound and picture quality
The design of Samsung’s Frame TV sets has always been impressive, but they have occasionally struggled in the picture department. The 2021 model is remarkably similar to the mid-range Samsung models.
The Frame TV will deliver rich colors as we have come to expect from QLED technology. Samsung uses a Dual LED backlight system to bring together two different color temperatures, giving you the best possible image from its Quantum Dot filter array. OLED screens won’t be affected by it, but black levels will look deep and real. The backlight performs well, ensuring that no spot is washed out by light leakage. Quantum Processor 4K is also impressive. Motion is handled with ease and 4K content is razor-sharp. The best thing about the screen is its ability to handle lower resolution content. The screen handles standard definition content well, although it can look a bit sloppy. 1080p content scales extremely well on The Frame TV and looks sharp and detailed.
HDR support is available for HLG and HDR10+. However, as with all Samsung’s range, there is no DolbyVision. This HDR standard is rapidly becoming more popular and is even being supported by the Xbox Series X. HDR performance is still impressive with noticeable pops to highlights in our HDR10+ content.
Also, we were pleased to see Filmmaker Mode alongside Standard, Natural, Dynamic, and Movie image preset options within the settings menu. It was created by Hollywood’s film editors and film colorists to provide a cinematic option that can be used straight out of the box. We recommend the Standard option for most content. Natural is brighter but can make skin tone look unnatural and garish.
Intelligent Mode is also available on the TV. This mode allows you to get the best quality image based on what content you are viewing and improves the audio quality by adjusting the volume and focusing on ambient sounds. The option was too inconsistent for us to trust. It could, for example, present a great image for broadcast TV content but can be too aggressive in motion smoothing for movies. And it may take different approaches for streaming apps.
However, it did improve audio quality by pushing the dialogue forward in a way that significantly improved clarity. It couldn’t improve the overall sound quality, which is still weak. Although the 40W output is powerful in volume, there is a noticeable lack of bass to give proceedings any cinematic depth. This is a problem The Frame TV can tolerate, but it still annoys. If you want to feel completely immersed in the content you are viewing, you should consider purchasing an external soundbar/speaker system. Also, ensure that the speaker system is compatible with Dolby atmos as the screen can decode this immersive surround sound format.
We have been testing the 4K/60Hz 43 inch model. However, there is a baseline of 1080p/60Hz 32 inches. Any size larger than the 43-inch version receives the full 4K/120Hz treatment via the HDMI 2.1 port. It’s a solid set that gamers will love, with minimal input lag when using an Xbox Series X or Nvidia Shield Android set-top box.
Do I need to buy Samsung The Frame TV (2021?)?
It’s a good deal if you…
Style is essential for you
The Frame TV is both a statement piece in interior design with its Art Mode and colorful bezel framing options.
A bedroom TV is a must-have.
Although it is available in larger sizes of the same caliber, The Frame TV makes a great second-room TV. It has great picture quality and blends in with its surroundings.
Want to hide unsightly cables
The One Connect box is a great TV innovation. It hides all your connections while still retaining multiple usable ports.
It’s not worth the risk if…
Want the best bang for your buck
Frame TV has a truly outstanding image quality, especially when compared to previous models. The Frame TV’s design is more expensive than the exceptional sound quality and image quality you might find elsewhere.
Want a Dolby Vision/Atmos combo
It is possible to find a TV in this price range that includes Dolby Vision and Atmos sound system – for example, the UK’s Sky Glass screen, which offers similar screen tech and industrial design, at comparable price points.