Longtime readers will know that we've long extolled LG's C-series as being among the best value OLED TVs around: they offer premium specs without any superfluous bells and whistles for a reasonable price. Or at least, they used to.
Recently, LG has put more ground between its C- and G-series models. Once, the only difference between the two was the design and audio system, but the LG G4 now boasts a heatsink and MLA tech to boost brightness, and a new processor too, offering slicker operation and even more picture improvements. Which leaves the LG C4 looking less of a bargain.
Still, it has plenty to offer, including better gaming specs, a brighter picture and a new operating system. It even has a stand, something the G4 is inexplicably lacking. But is it a better buy than its predecessor, the LG C3? Or would you be better off sticking with the older model? We've lived with the LG C3 since we reviewed it last year and had an opening play with the new C4 at the CES 2024 show in Las Vegas. Here are our opening thoughts.
LG C4 vs C3: price
We won't get C4 pricing until much closer to the TV's arrival in the spring, but it will most likely cost at least as much as the C3 at launch, if not more.
The C3 had a higher launch price than the C2, and with the cost of everything still rising (albeit at a slower rate than this time last year), we could see the C4 arrive with a higher price tag.
LG hasn't made any official comment yet in regards to pricing for the C4 (or any of its upcoming OLED TV lineup), but we're anticipating more information coming soon.
The C3 launch prices were as follows:
- LG OLED42C3: £1500 / $1400 / AU$2595
- LG OLED48C3: £1600 / $1500 / AU$2895
- LG OLED55C3: £2100 / $1900 / AU$3295
- LG OLED65C3: £2900 / $2600 / AU$4295
- LG OLED77C3: £4000 / $3600 / AU$6795
- LG OLED83C3: £6500 / $5300 / AU$8995
The good news is these prices have fallen significantly since then. The 42-inch C3 is currently £1099, while the 65-incher is £1200 cheaper than at launch.
LG C4 vs C3: design
LG might have announced the C4, but it hasn't actually shown any pictures of it yet (the same goes for the B4). We'll be going hands-on with it any day now though, so we'll update this once we've had a close look.
We're not expecting much difference between it and the C3. The C3's design differs slightly depending on which size you buy – the 42-inch model has feet, while sizes 48 inch and above feature a pedestal stand. The smaller models have fatter sections on the back to house the processor and other smarts, but the bigger models spread this out over their larger surface areas, giving them a uniformly thin profile.
It's much the same design as the C2 that came before it, but that's no bad thing.
LG C4 vs C3: features
What's new with the C4? Gamers have always been well served by LG's C-series, and the C4 is no different. This year, they get a higher refresh rate of 144Hz – up from 120Hz – which PC gamers will appreciate (consoles are capped at 120Hz), and Nvidia G-Sync certification. These come along with all the C3's existing gaming features, like four HDMI 2.1 ports, LG's Game Optimiser menu, VRR and ALLM.
It again has an OLED Evo panel, and despite lacking the G4's heatsink and MLA tech, it should still be brighter than the C3's, according to LG. The 42- and 48-inch models are thought to be only marginally less bright than their larger siblings – previously, the difference was more noticeable.
The C4 has an upgraded version of the Alpha 9 processor found on the C3, which will allow AI Sound Pro to process virtual 11.1.2 surround upmixing, up from 9.1.2 on the C3. And voice remastering should improve dialogue clarity.
The C3 brought some new features, like AI Super Upscaling Pro to upscale sources to 4K while reducing noise without losing the authentic 'graininess' of film. OLED Dynamic Tone Mapping Pro breaks the image down into 20,000 zones (rather than the 5000 of before) for separate HDR optimisation. Object Enhancer sharpens foreground characters and props, while HDR Expression Enhancer applies specific tone mapping to those foreground elements.
The C4 also gets a new version of webOS. Along with other new LG TVs for 2024, it will qualify for free updates for at least five years, so you'll get access to some – but not all – new features every year when a new version of webOS drops.
webOS 24 brings recommendations to the home screen, shrinking the Quick Cards to make room. The Quick Cards are now dynamic, and reveal more information when you mouse over them. You can password-protect your user accounts, set a Picture Wizard AI setting for each, and Chromecast built-in is now supported. The new Accessibility tab acts as a handy repository for anyone who's sight- or hearing-impaired.
Voice recognition for individual users is also coming, though not until later in the year. There's no word if this will be exclusive to the G4 and M4 (which feature the Alpha 11 processor), or if the C4 will be included. It will launch in the US and South Korea first.
LG C4 vs C3: picture
We're yet to go hands on with the C4, let alone give it the full review treatment, so we can't comment on its picture. But we're excited to see the extra brightness LG has supposedly managed to squeeze out of it, especially from the smaller models.
The C3 set the bar pretty high. It offers a subtle, detailed picture, with highlights that are marginally brighter than the C2's. Shadow detail is good, despite some slight paleness to colours in low light. It's a great watch, though it's pipped in terms of punch and dynamism by the Sony A80L. The C3 does have some extra shadow detail, but the A80L's blacks are significantly deeper. We can't wait to see if the C4 tips this balance back in favour of LG.
LG C4 vs C3: sound
Audio has been a particular weak point for LG TVs in recent years, made all the more glaring by their excellent other attributes. The C3 sounds dull, even by TV standards. AI Sound Pro does give it a bit more energy, but it's too harsh to be listenable. Dolby Atmos adds weight and a sense of spaciousness, but it's too prone to distortion. We've said it before and we'll say it again: Add a soundbar.
We'll update this section once we've tested the C4.
LG C4 vs C3: early verdict
It's early days, and we'll have a better idea of what the C4's improvements mean in terms of performance once we've been hands-on with it. A lot also depends on the price – with the C3 prices set to fall further after the C4 goes on sale, the C3 could be the more sensible purchase for most people for some time to come. We'll update this article once we have more info.
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