LG C3 vs C2: which LG OLED TV should you buy?

LG’s C-series has long been the sweet spot in its range of OLED TVs. Cheaper than the heatsink-equipped G-series, but still bursting with features, C-series models have been especially well-suited to gamers thanks to their four HDMI 2.1 ports. Add in stellar visuals for TV and movie fans, and a reasonable price, and you’ve got a multi-Award-winning proposition on your hands.

Given this, buying the new C3 is a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily…

Because the C2 is heavily discounted, having been on sale for more than a year. Plus the C3 is only a modest upgrade on its predecessor. So whether you should plump for the C3 or C2 depends on a few key factors.

LG C3 vs C2: price

LG C3 vs C2: price

(Image credit: Future)

The C3 launched at a higher price than the C2. Add in a year’s worth of discounts, and currently the C3 is substantially pricier than its predecessor.

The gap is unsurprisingly larger the bigger you go, but it still stands at a few hundred pounds (or dollars) for the smallest, 42-inch model.

Of course, this could change soon. LG’s TVs are regularly discounted, especially around Amazon Prime Day, which is in a couple of weeks – but it's hard to see the C3 dropping below the C2 in price at any point. In fact, because the C3 launched at a higher price than the C2 did, it may not ever reach the level of discounting that the C2 has already seen.

If all of that tempts you to pick up a C2, do be warned that stock won't be around forever. You'll see the latest, lowest prices for the C3 and C2, at all sizes, dotted through this page.

Winner: LG C2

LG C3 vs C2: design

LG C3 vs C2: design

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi? / Netflix, Animal)

To look at, the two TVs are very similar indeed. Both feature a narrow stand on all sizes over 42 inches (the 42-incher instead has desktop-friendly feet) that make it look elegant while – more importantly – making it easy to place on a TV cabinet. Both are very thin, apart from the chunkier section that houses the connections, processing hardware and speakers. But that part will only be noticeable if you are looking at the TV side-on. And if you’re doing that, we suggest you reconfigure your seating arrangement.

They are both very light, too. Admittedly you will really notice that only when you are taking delivery/getting it home from the shop/wrestling it into place. But despite their ease on the scales, they still feel very well made.

Winner: Draw

LG C3 vs C2: features

LG C3 vs C2: features

(Image credit: Future / The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, Sail Forth)

The C2 was one of the best-equipped TVs of last year. So what does the C3 offer that its predecessor doesn’t?

Not a lot. The C3 benefits from the new Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor (up from the Gen 5 on the C2), which adds some new picture-enhancing features. These are AI Super Upscaling Pro (which upscales sub-4K sources while reducing noise but preserving intentional film grain); OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro (breaks the image down into more 'zones' for separate HDR optimisation); Object Enhancer (sharpens foreground characters and props); and HDR Expression Enhancer (applies specific tone-mapping to those foreground elements).

The Gen 6 can also up-mix all sound formats to 9.1.2 virtual channels (up from the C2’s 7.1.2). And it adds a new Auto Balance Control feature that attempts to prevent certain frequencies from being drowned out by others so that, for example, midrange voices aren't smothered when bass increases.

There’s a new version of the operating system, too. webOS 23 might look a lot like its 22 incarnation, but it has been simplified; it now has just two pages and a new folder system, making it more responsive. You now have a dedicated sound sub-menu within the Game Optimiser menu, too.

Other than that, it’s business as usual, which is no bad thing. The C3 boasts the same OLED Evo with Brightness Booster display hardware as the C2, and the same killer array of gaming features: four HDMI 2.1 sockets (most TVs have only two at most) giving across-the-board support for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM. Dolby Vision gaming is supported right up to that 4K/120Hz limit, and there is a really well-implemented HGiG mode that makes it easy to get accurate HDR tone mapping from most HDR games. Input lag, meanwhile, is supremely low at under 10ms.

The slight improvements to the operating system and processor do make the C3 better-featured than the C2, but only marginally.

Winner: LG C3

LG C3 vs C2: picture

LG C3 vs C2: picture

(Image credit: Future)

A natty design and stacked feature set are all well and good, but most people buy a TV for its picture quality. LG’s OLED TVs have consistently excelled in this area, and this year’s C3 is an improvement on the C2 thanks to those extra processing features. But as with the TV as a whole, it’s not massively better than its predecessor.

It retains the same winning contrast as the C2, with a combination of inky blacks and pure brilliant whites making for a dazzling performance. It’s a refined, subtle yet detailed picture, with some highlights appearing a tad brighter than the C2. It’s this slight extra pop that gives it the edge over the C2, as well as a tiny bit more sharpness. 

The upscaling is excellent, too, delivering a sharp and detailed image that’s also clean and free of obvious enhancement. There’s a lovely warmth and richness to colours that doesn’t impair subtlety.

But the C2 is still an excellent performer. Its balance between black depth and shadow detail is near flawless, and its colours are warmer and richer than many of its rivals. It’s very consistent, too. All of which will be more than enough for most viewers, especially if it means making a considerable saving.

Winner: LG C3

LG C3 vs C2: sound

If you thought progress was a given, prepare to be unpleasantly surprised. Because the C3 somehow manages to sound worse than its predecessor.

The 42-inch C2 lacks both volume and bass, and while the 65-incher is more attacking and engaging, it does have an unfortunate rattle. But it is punchy and dynamic.

The C3, by contrast, just sounds plain dull. There are options to tweak the sound, but they come with their own problems: AI Sound Pro is so harsh and aggressive that we found it unlistenable, while the Dolby Atmos setting – while open, spacious and weighty – is too prone to rattly distortion when provoked by deep bass. Disappointing.

Winner: LG C2

LG C3 vs C2: verdict

Before we risk sounding too negative, let us restate this: both the C2 and C3 are excellent TVs. The C3 is the better of the two, but not drastically, and certainly not for the kind of money LG currently charges.

As we have said before, if you can find the C3 within £100 of the C2’s price, you should snap it up. But otherwise, unless you need the latest and greatest tech that LG offers in a midrange package, the C2 will do you proud.


Read the full LG OLED65C3 and LG OLED65C2 reviews

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Joe Svetlik

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.