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LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

OLED TV: LG OLED65C2
(Image credit: Future / Netflix, The Bubble)

We're big fans of LG's premium OLED TVs – particularly the company's mid-range 'C' Class models. But should you buy the just-released LG C2 (2022), or save a few bob and opt for the now heavily discounted LG C1 (2021)? This LG C2 vs LG C1 comparison will help you make the right choice.

The LG C1 was unveiled in January 2021. It wowed us with its vibrant picture, smart webOS interface and high-end gaming features. Both the 48-inch and 65-inch versions achieved five stars in our tests. In short, the C1 is a consistently-brilliant OLED TV.

The LG C2 – successor to the C1 – was announced at CES in January 2022. The new kid on the block boasts a brighter OLED 'Evo' panel that delivers an even better picture – it too earned five stars in our review. The C2 is also the first OLED TV to be offered in a 42-inch size.

So which is the better bet? The new and improved tech that comes at a premium? Or the cheaper but slightly older TV? We're here to help you decide.

LG C2 vs LG C1: price

LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

(Image credit: LG/ Netflix, On My Block)

The 2021 LG C1 is available in five sizes: 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch and 83-inch. Prices started out at £1299 / $1499 (AU$2800) for the 48-inch model, but at this point discounts are widespread.

The 2022 LG C2 comes in six sizes: 42-inch, 48-inch, 55-inch, 65-inch, 77-inch and 83-inch. Launch pricing is broadly in line with the C1, and actually cheaper in some cases – though remember being an older set, the C1 will be available on all kinds of tempting deals.

These are the prices, at the time of writing, for both sets at all available sizes:

LG C2 and C1 prices
C2 (2022)C1 (2021)
42-inch£1259 / $1400 / AU$2776No such model
48-inch£1399 / $1400 / AU$3076£999 / $900 / AU$2298
55-inch£1699 / $2000 / AU$3476£1200 / $1100 / AU$2876
65-inch£2499 / $2300 / AU$4576£1349 / $1600 / AU$3876
77-inch£3699 / $3500 / AU$8076£2799 / $2600 / AU$7076
83-inch£5299 / $5500 / AU$10,995£3999 / $4000 / AU$9076

The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want the latest, cutting-edge TV tech or whether you'd prefer to save a few hundred pounds/dollars. The answer might well depend on how cutting edge the tech is, and how much of a difference it makes to performance...

Winner: C1

While the C2 is (as we'll come to see) the better TV, the C1 is so much more affordable that it's impossible to ignore.

LG C2 vs LG C1: design and build

LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

(Image credit: LG)

The LG C1 is a handsome TV with an edge-to-edge glass panel and a 10.2mm bezel bordering the picture. It comes with an elegant pedestal stand in the box and sits low to the surface on which it's placed. This arrangement makes for a sleek look but may not be ideal if you're planning to squeeze a soundbar into the gap beneath the TV. 

The new C2 shares the same genes as the C1 – albeit with a slightly upgraded design. The bezel is now even thinner (down from 10.2mm to 6mm), and the 42-inch model comes with a pair of sharp-looking feet rather than a pedestal stand. This is because the OLED42C2 is intended to double up as a gaming monitor, and LG reckons that feet are better suited to a desktop set-up. The other sizes come with a stand that's narrower than the C1's, making it better suited for standing on furniture, and a little taller, leaving enough room for a soundbar. Which is a very good thing.

Those with a dodgy back should be pleased to note that the C2 weighs an impressive 47 per cent less than the C1. The striking weight loss is down to the new panel's use of a composite fibre material for cabinet construction. That means the C2 is much easier than its predecessor to get on a rack or the wall.

Winner: C2

The C2's aesthetic upgrades aren't revelatory but they are worthwhile, particularly because they come after years of design stagnation.

LG C2 vs LG C1: features

LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

(Image credit: LG)

The 2021 LG C1 is a joy to use, thanks in no small part to LG's impressive, app-packed webOS 6.0 smart TV platform. Inside, LG's Gen 4 AI-enhanced processor helps deliver punchy contrast and slick upscaling. Most major HDR formats are supported (HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, including Dolby Vision IQ), but not Samsung's HDR10+.

Other attractions include four HDMI 2.1 sockets that support 4K@120Hz, VRR and ALLM, plus an HGIG setting that can help you get the most accurate contrast from HDR games. In other words, the C1 is not only one of the best OLED TVs, it's one of the best gaming TVs we've tested.

But, as Frank Zappa said, "without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible". Hence LG has rejigged the C2's insides with new components including the latest Gen 5 processor. The new chip delivers smarter AI upscaling, improved Object Background Enhancement and a step-up in virtual upmixing, which increases the number of virtual channels from 5.1.2 to 7.1.2. 

Gen 5 also brings support for the new Dolby Vision IQ with Precision Detail format. This is a more advanced version of Dolby Vision IQ that actively adjusts the light levels of all parts of the picture in an effort to boost contrast, sharpness and detail.

Elsewhere, the C2 ditches webOS 6.0 in favour of the webOS 22. The new software isn't a massive departure from webOS 6.0, but it does offer a few refinements including improved personalisation, NFC Magic Tap for mirroring mobile devices to an LG TV screen, and 'Always Ready' – a new mode that displays art or photos when the TV is not in use. Far-field microphones built into the frame also allow it to respond to voice commands in standby mode, so you can check the weather without turning on the TV. Nifty.

The C2 is an even better gaming TV than its predecessor. That's thanks to a new 'Dark Room' mode to reduce eye fatigue when playing in low light, plus an upgrade in the data rate of the HDMI 2.1 ports from 40Gbps to 48Gbps. How much practical difference does the latter make? Not a lot, considering there's no commercially available gaming source that outputs at 48Gbps. But it's always nice to have an extra element of future-proofing, right?

Both the C1 and C2 come with LG's nifty Magic Remote controller and built-in support for Google and Alexa voice assistants. Both models support all the major streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV (all with full support for 4K), in addition to Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound. There's also Sky's Now streaming service and the main UK catch-up apps (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and My5 in the UK).

Winner: C2

The 2022 C2 offers some neat improvements over the C1. They might not be game changers, but the C1 was so well specced that improving on it at all was always going to be a tall order.

LG C2 vs LG C1: picture quality

LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

(Image credit: LG)

The main differentiating factor between the C1 and C2 is the type of display used. The C1 plumps for a standard OLED panel, while the C2 boasts brighter OLED 'Evo' technology. This is the tech that debuted in last year's top-of-the-range LG G1 OLED TV, but LG improved for 2022, thanks to a reformulated panel and processor.

The C2's panel (which is also available to other manufacturers under LG Display's 'OLED.EX' title) uses deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and proprietary algorithm-based ‘EX Technology’ to increase brightness by 30 per cent compared to conventional OLED displays. That's the claim, anyway. Does it stand up? It sure does.

In fact, the C2's picture is even better than last year's G1 – and the G1 was superb. The added brightness is especially noticeable when watching Dolby Vision content, but there's more punch and pop generally to the whole image, with greater contrast and more dark detail. And all this without compromising colours or black depth. Incredible.

This is the case across all modes, too, and even in HD, SD and SDR. The extra contrast helps characters and objects stand out from the background that bit more, adding a sense of realism to proceedings. On a performance-per-pound basis, we can't fault it.

(NB: LG has said that the 42- and 48-inch C2 models, while still designated as 'OLED Evo' sets, won't go as bright as their larger siblings, such as the 65-inch model we tested)

The C1 might not match the C2, but it's still a great performer by anyone's standards. It delivers a super picture that more than holds its own against rival OLED TVs in the same price bracket. It's an effortlessly natural and convincing picture that combines punch with subtlety, pure whites and perfect blacks, fine detail and crisply defined edges. There's really very little to complain about, especially when you consider how much cheaper the C1 sells for.

Winner: C2

The C1 is still a great TV, but the C2's Evo technology results in a significantly punchier and more engaging performance without any reduction in black depth or general authenticity. It's all gain, no pain.

LG C2 vs LG C1: sound quality

LG C2 vs LG C1: which is the best LG OLED TV?

(Image credit: Future / Them, Amazon Prime)

Sound is one area where LG's C-series TVs have failed to light our fire. The C2 might not be perfect, but it is an improvement on the C1 – not only does its AI Sound Pro virtual up-mixing technology create 7.1.2 virtual channels of sound (up from 5.1.2 on the C1), the set also sounds punchier and more engaging.

However, there is a slight rattle from the speaker cabinet when the set is challenged by loud bass. This unfortunate trait was also noticeable with 2020's CX OLED, but the C1 kept it under control, albeit at the cost of sonic excitement.

Slight rattle aside, the C2 is still a better listen than the C1. Its sound is more authentic, with voices better projected. Audio is smoother and cleaner too, with more dynamism and weight.

Ultimately, whether you choose the C1, C2 or pretty much any other TV, we'd suggest adding a separate Dolby Atmos soundbar or surround sound system if you want an immersive audio experience.

Winner: C2

While the C2 has a slight fuzz when faced with very loud, deep bass, it's an issue that rears its head rarely, and the set's overall exciting, engaging sound is preferable to the comparatively lifeless delivery of the C1.

LG C2 vs LG C1: verdict

There's no doubt that the LG C2 is a real step up on the C1. It's brighter, with noticeably more punch and pop, regardless of what you're watching. It sounds better too – though we highly recommend adding a separate sound system – with even more features and an even slicker design.

Basically, it's the better TV in all areas except one: price.

With the C1 still offering superb performance and more features than most people will need, and with discounts becoming more substantial and more sustained in the face of the newer model, it's simply the better bang-for-buck buy.

Of course, if the C2 gets discounted to the extent that the price gap between it and the C1 shrinks, the new model will be the one to get. How much extra is the C2 worth over the C1? It's fairly arbitrary but we'd put the figure at about 20 percent.

Overall winner: LG C1

While the new C2 is a pretty big step-up over the C1, last year's model still offers a brilliant picture performance and a near flawless feature set at a vastly lower price.

MORE:

LG 2022 TV lineup: everything you need to know

Should you consider Samsung's rival QD-OLED technology?

Check out our rundown of the best TVs you can currently buy

Save big with this week's best TV deals

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.

With contributions from