For 2023, LG is upgrading its popular C-Series with the new-and-improved LG C3 OLED that uses a new processor and comes equipped with the latest WebOS 23 smart platform. And it certainly has a good shot at being one of the best TVs of 2023.
If you’re in the market for a new OLED TV this year, the C3 is going to be a very compelling option. But what should you do if you still own an LG C1 OLED from 2021? Is it worth upgrading, or should you hold out for one more generation?
Having seen the LG C3 OLED in-person both at CES 2023 and at an LG reviewer event, we now have a pretty good idea of what you can expect from this year’s model. It’s certainly brighter than the LG C1 OLED when viewed side-by-side as our own Kate Kozuch can attest to when she did just that, but is brightness alone worth the upgrade?
Let’s break down all the differences between the two models to figure out if it’s worth splashing the cash for the LG C3 or holding out for next year’s inevitable LG C4 OLED.
Difference #1: The LG C3 OLED uses the second-generation Evo panel
For the LG C2 OLED, LG incorporated the OLED Evo panels sourced from its cousin company, LG Display. OLED Evo panels improved the brightness of the generation one OLED panels that were found in the C1 model, and are the other reason you’ll see a noticeable improvement in picture quality between the two TVs.
Difference #2: The LG C3 OLED has WebOS 23
While phones usually get the latest version of system software on older hardware, TVs don’t always work that way. Case in point? LG WebOS 23. Some WebOS 23 features are going to be available on the LG C2 and LG C1 OLED TVs, but most of the new capabilities will be exclusive to the LG C3 OLED.
One of those benefits is a new picture mode that caters to your preferences. When you activate it for the first time, you’ll be shown a series of images with varying amounts of brightness, color saturation and contrast. You’ll then pick which of these images appeals most to you, and the processor will create a custom picture mode that reflects that choice.
Other improvements are to the user profiles that LG rolled out in 2022 for better recommendations and will allow you to have accounts for your kids as well.
These are small upgrades, yes, but they’re features you’ll be missing out on if you stick with the older LG C1 model.
Difference #3: The new Alpha a9 Gen 6 processor
Software is one thing, but the hardware inside the 2023 TVs will see a major boost thanks to the new Alpha a9 Gen 6 processor.
The new processor not only has better upscaling and motion processing, but it enables AI Sound Pro that converts the TV’s basic 40W 2.2-channel sound system into virtual 9.1.2 surround sound. For comparison, the LG C1 OLED uses the older Alpha a9 Gen 4 processor that works similarly to the Gen 6, but misses out on some of the AI-based upscaling features.
Upgrading to a C3 would mean better sound and picture quality in part due to this one key component.
Difference #4: The LG C3 OLED will weigh less
This probably won’t matter if you already have the LG C1 out of its box, but wall-mounting it can be a real pain if you haven’t already done so. At around 72 pounds, the LG C1 is a pretty hefty TV and one that can be pretty fragile because of its all glass screen. The LG C3, on the other hand, is a tad bit lighter at just 40 pounds out of the box; it's made with a polycarbonate material that’s both lighter and stronger than the plastic on the LG C1.
Difference #5: The LG C3 is more expensive
This probably won’t be news to you, but it’s worth noting that the LG C3 — the 2023 OLED that has just come out in early March — is more expensive than the two-year-old LG C1. By how much will vary depending on which screen size you go for and which retailer you'd get the set from.
On LG’s website, the 65-inch LG C1 OLED is listed for $2,299 while Best Buy has a refurbished version of the same TV for $1,399. Basically, the C1 is going to be less expensive than the LG C3 thanks to clearance deals, but finding a new-in-box model could be tricky — i.e. you’ll have to decide if you want to save money on an older used model or shell out for a new TV.
Similarity #1: They’re both strong OLED TVs
While there are some big differences between the LG C1 and LG C3, they’re not entirely different from each other. One big commonality is that they’re both OLED TVs with great black levels and fabulous color saturation.
Yes, there’s going to be a noticeable difference in how those colors are presented on the screen due to the difference in brightness, but the underlying technology is exactly the same.
Similarity #2: They both have reflectivity issues
The biggest issue that you’ll notice with both the LG C3 and LG C1 is how reflective the front screen is. When there’s a dark scene on the screen, it’s very easy to see objects in the background of the room. It’s even worse if you have an ambient light source like a window or a patio door as those will appear as glare.
The best-case scenario? Don’t have anything to the left or right of the screen and keep light-catching objects out of the room you plan on watching your TV in.
Similarity #3: They both lack an ATSC 3.0 tuner
Another similarity between the LG C1 and C3 are that they both don’t have an ATSC 3.0 tuner inside that’s needed for NextGen TV broadcasts. While some folks won’t mind — or even care — whether or not the TVs have an ATSC 3.0 tuner, anyone who wants an exceptionally future-proof TV should take note that you’ll need to upgrade to either last year’s LG G2 or this year’s LG G3 OLED instead.
Similarity #4: They’ll both be available in (mostly) the same sizes
Because both the LG C2 OLED and LG C3 OLED have the same panels inside, both models will come in the same sizes. Namely, there’s going to be a 48-, 55-, 65-, 77- and 83-inch versions. LG says there might be a 93-inch LG C3 OLED this year, but if that arrives it won’t be until after the smaller models arrive in the spring.
LG C3 OLED vs LG C1 OLED: Should you upgrade?
Ultimately whether you should upgrade depends on how much you care about your TV viewing experience. If you're someone who knows and cares about brightness levels, color saturation and upscaling algorithms, then the LG C3 OLED will be a big upgrade for you.
That said, if those things don't matter to you, I’d say that it’s probably not worth upgrading to the LG C3 OLED at launch. Once the LG C3 drops down in price a bit — perhaps around Cyber Monday or Black Friday 2023 — it will be worth reconsidering. Until then, though, the C1 OLED remains a great back up.
If they are in the same price range, I think that a harder choice would be between the G2 and the C3.