Samsung The Frame has become one of the world’s most popular TV models in recent years, with over one million sets sold globally. Not bad for a screen that tries its best to not to look like a TV! But exactly the discreet, painting-like appearance is what makes many people choose this model.
The ability to view photos when the TV is turned off is also a welcome feature: Instead of a black hole in the wall, you can light it up with a work of art by Munch or Monet, or your own family photos for that matter.
Now The Frame is back in its fifth generation, and Samsung has, as usual, been working on the details. The 2021 model has a new design, new frames and a lot of new under the hood. We have taken a closer look at the 65″ edition, but The Frame now comes in screen sizes from 32″ and up to 75 “.
Please note that only the screen sizes 50” and up are new in 2021. The smaller 32” and 43 ”models will still be sold as the 2020 version LS03T.
The Frame 2021 – Design
The first thing we notice is that the new Frame model has become significantly slimmer than its predecessor. The new LS03A is almost only half as thick as the older LS03T (24.9 mm vs. 45.8 mm). Nevertheless, the screen retains the same thickness on the entire back, without anything protruding. This is possible since the power supply, connections and other electronics are hidden in the separate One Connect box, which is connected to the TV with a simple cable.
The new form factor also means that The Frame uses a new wall bracket. It differs slightly from the old No Gap attachment in that it now uses two wall brackets instead of one. This can lead to a little more measurement, and screwing before the TV is on the wall – you must, among other things, be careful to get the TV leveled.
The differences between the 2020 and 2021 models also mean that you can not simply hang a new Frame where the old one hung, without first changing the attachment. Since the TV has a new slimmer shape, you also need to buy new frames.
Of course, The Frame would not look like a real picture, without a suitable frame. These are sold as an option and now come in a number of different variants to attach to the outside of the screen.
We have not checked out all the frames yet – among other things, we miss seeing the new “Beveled” frames with bevelled/bevelled edge – but we can at least say that the new imitation of Oak looks really stylish! Although it is plastic/vinyl and not real wood veneer, it can actually pass for being real oak when seen from a suitable distance.
Ease of use and features
When it comes to operation, the Frame is similar to the other Samsung models: It uses the well-known Tizen user interface, which excels with fast and clear menus. Here you also get access to a wide range of apps and services (at a price, naturally), including Netflix, HBO, Apple TV+ and Disney+.
The 2021 version of The Frame has also godt Samsung’s new rechargeable remote control – the same as the new Neo QLED models. Among other things, it boasts USB and solar cell charging. Unfortunately, it now only comes in black, and not white as The Frame originally did. A pity as this contributed to it feeling more exclusive.
The change to “standard” remote control also means that there is no longer a separate shortcut button for gallery mode (Art Mode) on the remote control.
On the connectivity front, the Frame boasts support for HDMI 2.1 and key gaming features such as 4K/120 fps (at 55″ and larger), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). a PS5 or Xbox if you wish.
Samsung Art Store
One of the highlights of The Frame, besides the look, is the access to Samsung’s digital art gallery Art Store. It comes with about twenty pre-installed photos, and for a subscription you can choose between 1400 exclusive photographs and paintings from well-known international profiles.
For many, it will probably be more relevant to upload their own images for display on the screen. You can post individual photos or make a collage.
The 2021 model has been given significantly more storage space for photos: While its predecessor had to settle for 500MB, the new model has a full 6 GB. It should be enough for almost 1200 images in 4K resolution.
Note! Before uploading your entire image archive, you may want to resize the images to the 3840 x 2160 (4K) screen resolution for best results.
Samsung has launched a number of exciting news on the image front this year: Among other things, we have been impressed by the top model QN95A with MiniLED backlight. But this technique has not come to The Frame yet – unfortunately!
The image panel used in the 2021 model, on the other hand, is very similar to its predecessor LS03T, which in its time was a great improvement from the older Frame models. We are talking about a relatively ordinary LCD screen with QLED color filter and edge lighting of the Dual LED type. The 2021 model otherwise benefits from an upgraded image processor, with slightly sharper image processing than last year’s model.
When we run the TV through the usual test sequences, it is also not surprising to see the LS03A behave very similarly to its predecessor. Here you get a large, sharp and relatively bright picture, which is well suited for varied TV viewing. But if possible, the sharpness has become even better since last time: The details on faces and other objects come out very well. The new LS03A has also got very smooth movements – we note this in fast-paced series such as Formula 1: Drive to survive.
The dual LED variant of Samsung also has the advantage that the color reproduction – for example ferrari red colors – stays good even when you look at the TV from the side. This is also an advantage in art mode.
When it comes to absolute contrast and black level, however, The Frame is more ordinary, seen through 2021 eyes. Since this is an edge-lit screen without local dimming, it also cannot adjust the brightness nearly as precisely as a rear LED or OLED screen. This puts restrictions on the contrast in different places in the image.
While the MiniLED and OLED screens can in principle be switched off and on in different places on the screen, the edge LED screen is forced to have a more static contrast ratio over the entire screen.
Compared to fire-breathing (!) Screens such as the LG OLED G1 Gallery OLED or Samsung’s QN95A, The Frame can undeniably look a bit pale in comparison. But then we should not forget that these are thoroughbred high-end models that are made with the highest possible performance in mind! Considering the price and equipment level otherwise, we think The Frame does an excellent job.
One could of course wish that Samsung had equipped The Frame (at least the 65″ and 75″ model) with the new MiniLED backlight, but it probably goes a bit against the lifestyle concept that this model is aimed at.
As mentioned, the Frame has become thinner since the last time, and this has not benefited the sound quality at all. The TV is equipped with undermount speakers, but with little box volume and loose frames on the outside of the TV, the sound is not particularly strong or clear: The sound image from the TV is quite thin and diffuse – especially the voice reproduction seems confined. And the bass is almost absent.
Definitely: A nice TV like The Frame deserves to be paired with a suitable soundbar and wireless subwoofer. If you want a soundbar that matches the discreet look of The Frame, we can recommend the new S-series from Samsung. We will return with a more thorough test of this, but can reveal that the sound improvement is surprisingly big!
Samsung The Frame is still one of our favorite TVs when it comes to design and ease of use, and the new 2021 model succeeds well in preserving this impression: With new frames and a new, slimmer form factor, it has become even more stylish if possible !
If you are looking for the great cinema experience and want really extreme picture quality, The Frame will probably not be the obvious TV for you. For that kind of use, we would rather recommend one of Samsung’s new Neo QLED models, not to forget competing OLED screens. Put next to such extreme screens, The Frame can seem fairly overmatched, with a fairly ordinary contrast by comparison.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a good, versatile TV with a great picture, smart solutions and interior-friendly design, The Frame is still one of the best buys out there. Especially if you need to find a way to convince your better half to buy a new, big TV!