LG C3 OLED TV hands-on — here’s what’s new

LG's top-selling OLED TV is back with better upscaling

LG C3 OLED TV
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

New OLED buyers will find a lot to love with the LG C3 OLED but folks who just bought the LG C2 or C1 OLED might not have much of a reason to upgrade.

Pros

  • +

    'Perceived brightness increase'

  • +

    New WebOS23 smart platform

  • +

    New Alpha a9 Gen 6 processor

Cons

  • -

    AI Sound Pro didn't impress

  • -

    No improvement to the panel

  • -

    Still no ATSC 3.0 tuner

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The LG C3 OLED has finally been announced, and while it doesn't come with a boatload of new features LG says it's refining last year's excellent LG C2 OLED by adding in a new Alpha a9 Gen 6 processor and upgraded WebOS 23 smart platform.

These improvements, based on our short hands on time with the screen, help make the TV look a bit brighter than previous years, even if there's been no substantial improvement made to the underlying OLED panel itself. 

On top of the processor, you can expect to see a few extra features for WebOS 23, including a new custom picture mode that you'll program yourself.

Will these minor changes be enough to elevate the LG C3 OLED to the top of our list of the best TVs for a second year in a row? We'll just have to wait until later this year when the LG C3 OLED is released to find out.

For more info, see our LG C3 OLED vs C2 OLED (opens in new tab) comparison to find out which model is right for you. 

LG C3 OLED TV potential price and release date

When we'll see the LG C3 OLED and how much it's going to cost are still major question marks, but based on previous LG C-Series OLEDs we can speculate that it will likely be available in the spring (April or May) for around the same price as the C2 OLED was when it launched in 2022.

We don't know the exact details on screen sizes, but we can definitely confirm 55- and 65-inches. Likely there will be 77-inch, 83-inch and 48-inch models at launch as well, but those weren't available to preview at the LG event.

The LG C3 OLED at CES 2023.

(Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV design

The LG C3 OLED is still the middle-of-the-road model in LG's lineup, and therefore doesn't look as cheap as the LG B2, nor as svelte as the LG G2. It's incredibly thin, however, with only a small section in the middle of the TV jutting out in the back.

The space in the back, for those wondering, is for the inputs and outputs. Like last year, the LG C3 will have four full-spec HDMI 2.1 ports with ALLM, one of which will be eARC-compliant. The bad news here is that LG won't be including an ATSC 3.0 tuner inside the C3 — only in the LG G3 OLED TV and LG Z3 OLED.

To bolster the on-board sound of the TV, LG is selling a separate soundbar that's designed to fit flush against the wall. The soundbar is a 3.1.3-channel solution that helps make dialogue clearer via an upfiring center channel — an issue that you might run into if you only stick with the TV's onboard 2.2-channel 40-watt speakers.

The LG C3 OLED at CES 2023.

(Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV performance

It's always hard to get a sense of how well a TV will perform based on a few minutes in a press suite, but we can say with utter certainty that the LG C3 OLED doesn't look any worse than last year's LG C2 OLED — in fact, it looks a little brighter.

The science behind the C3's perceived increase in brightness is due to the new lighting algorithm employed by the Alpha a9 Gen 6. With it, the TV can separate the foreground and background from an image and strategically boost brightness in the areas where your eyes focus first.

That doesn't mean that every scene will receive a boost and the panel itself is still limited in its peak brightness — but there's a 'perceived brightness boost' that you might notice if you looked at the LG C2 OLED and LG C3 OLED side-by-side.

On the sound side of things, LG is talking up its AI Sound Pro technology that enables virtual 9.1.2 surround sound out of the box. Having heard it compared to the soundbar, we weren't impressed by the virtual upscaling. Admittedly there's only so much that can be done with a 2.2 40-watt system, so that's no slight against the C3.

The LG C3 OLED at CES 2023.

(Image credit: Future)

LG C3 OLED TV smart TV features

As of now, only the 2023 LG TVs will receive WebOS 23 when they come out later this year. That's probably not a major issue considering that the changes are relatively minor, but there are a few standout features that are worth mentioning.

The first, and most interesting, of those features is the new custom picture mode. When enabled, the C3 OLED will walk you through a series of different images and ask you which ones you prefer. Based on your answers, the TV can make all the video you watch look brighter, darker, more refined, more or less saturated, or higher or lower contrast. Basically, it allows you to find a picture that's comfortable for you to watch if you find the Vivid mode too bright (and who doesn't) but still want some uptick in brightness and saturation.

Other new features for WebOS include a revamped UI that brings recommended content to a center row and improved user profiles. Again, you won't be missing much if you don't get access to those.

LG C3 OLED TV outlook

Personally, I'm not sure if there's enough new with the LG C3 OLED to warrant the upgrade from an LG C1 or LG C2 OLED. Those TVs remain solid contenders for the best TVs of the year and will only come down in price once the C3 hits shelves.

That said, new OLED TV buyers will find a lot to love here. The boost in brightness from LG's OLED Evo technology on the C2 carries over to the C3 and upscaling looks top-notch. The custom picture setting should make calibrating your new TV a bit easier, especially for folks who don't like to spend a lot of time digging in settings, though the new WebOS doesn't offer a lot in terms of other new features.

Ultimately, how we'll feel about the C3 OLED will largely depend on what other TVs are available when it launches and the TV's MSRP. Until then, however, the jury will remain out.

Nick Pino
Managing Editor, TV and AV

Nick Pino heads up the TV and AV verticals at Tom's Guide and covers everything from OLED TVs to the latest wireless headphones. He was formerly the Senior Editor, TV and AV at TechRadar (Tom's Guide's sister site) and has previously written for GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade. Not sure which TV you should buy? Drop him an email or tweet him on Twitter and he can help you out.

  • Starjammer
    This might actually be good for first-time OLED buyers like me. We can just focus on getting the C2 which will definitely drop down to a very reasonable price. :)
    Reply
  • Tanquen
    I've got an LG 77 C9 and I'm still waiting for a reason to upgrade. Mainly because they drop the brightness and then have slowly been increasing it. So still waiting.

    You have to go QOLED to at least get an improvement in color at higher brightness levels but then they monkeyed with the pixel layout so the edge of stuff and text looks bad.
    Reply
  • sessho
    It's a good and reliable tv but i was expecting something more from LG. Qoled atm are vastly superior imo and honestly even with the pixel layout issue still remain a much better option indeed samsung and sony's adoption. Of course the price will defintely play a big role but if priced at the same range or higher with the qoled , they will defintely struggle dominating the market like the did with the previous gen.
    Reply