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LG C1 vs LG C2: Which OLED TV should you buy?

Is LG's newest OLED TV worth the upgrade?

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It’s a tale as old as tech: as new TVs hit the market, last year’s TVs get cheaper. One of the most difficult decisions you’re likely to face when shopping for a new TV is whether to splurge for the latest and (hopefully) greatest, or to save some dough on a model from last year.

The LG C1 was our favorite TV in 2021, and while we’re still not ready to crown a favorite in 2022, the LG C2 is very much in the running to inherit the crown from its predecessor. But is the C2 really that much better than the C1? And if it is, do its improvements warrant the added cost? Having extensively tested both, we’re here to guide you through this difficult decision so you can land the LG OLED of your dreams.

Buy the LG C1 at Amazon

Buy the LG C2 at Amazon

Price

A close-up of the metallic stand attached to the LG C1 OLED TV
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Both of these LG OLEDs are available in several size options, but the C1, seen here, is priced significantly lower.

Being a 2021 release, the LG C1 has seen some steep discounts since it first hit shelves. For the sake of context, I’m reporting both the original MSRP of the C1 as well as its sale price at the time of publication.

There’s no guarantee that these sale prices will remain the same by the time you read this, but barring unforeseen changes, I don’t expect the cost to climb much further than its current sale price.

LG C1:

The C1 is available in five sizes ranging from 48 inches all the way up to 83 inches. Currently, all of the sizes in the series are heavily discounted by several hundred dollars.

The C2, on the other hand, is a brand new release. As such, its prices are the highest they’ll ever be, barring manufacturing complications or general supply chain issues.

Here’s how the series shakes out:

LG C2:

  • 42-inch (LG OLED42C2PUA), MSRP $1,399.99
  • 48-inch (LG OLED48C2PUA), MSRP $1,499.99
  • 55-inch (LG OLED55C2PUA), MSRP $1,799.99
  • 65-inch (LG OLED65C2PUA), MSRP $2,499.99
  • 77-inch (LG OLED77C2PUA), MSRP $3,499.99
  • 83-inch (LG OLED83C2PUA), MSRP $5,499.99

The C2 is available in six sizes. Each of the C1’s size options are represented in the C2 lineup, and in addition, the C2 is also available in a modest, 42-inch model that will surely be a hit with gamers.

Despite the C2’s extra size option, the C1 is the unsurprising winner in the all-important price category. In a year or so, it’s reasonable to expect that the C2’s prices will fall to the C1’s current level.

Our pick: LG C1

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Design

A close-up of the LG C2's super-thin panel, as seen from the side
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The C2, seen here, uses a lightweight, composite-fiber material which makes it lighter than the C1.

OLED TVs are known for their ultra-thin panels, which are often thinner than most smartphones. The C1 and C2 are no exception; when viewed from the side, the top half of their panels seem to defy everything we’ve come to expect from TV design. Both TVs have a bit of bulk around their midsection, but at their thickest point, they're still narrower than most TVs.

There are two major differences in the respective designs of the C1 and C2: the materials used and the shape of their stands. The back of the C2’s panel features a lightweight, composite-fiber material, while the back of the C1 is forged in textured plastic and metal. Initially, you might find that the C2 feels less premium to the touch, but the C2 weighs significantly less than the C1 as a result of its materials.

A close-up of the LG C1's stand, as seen from the side
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The LG C1's stand is a slanted, metallic slab that gives the appearance that the panel is being gently lifted above its surface.

Both TV stands feature a sleek, premium feel. The C1’s stand is a metallic, downward-sloping slab that also acts as a reflector of sorts, aiming sound from the TV’s down-firing speakers out toward the viewer.

The C2’s stand is similarly angled, but it’s narrower and juts out far less than the C1’s stand. It also doesn’t act as a sound reflector. The C2 offers more real estate for a soundbar, but it’s worth keeping in mind that both the C1 and C2 sit low enough to their surface that bulkier soundbars may obstruct viewing.

A close-up of the LG C2's pedestal stand
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The C2's stand is similar to the C1's, but it doesn't jut out away from the panel as much, leaving a little more room for a soundbar.

Both TVs are posh, sturdy, and sure to turn heads. The back of the C1’s panel has a slightly more elegant finish, but admittedly, you’re not going to see or interact with the back of its panel very often, and I imagine some folks might appreciate its lighter weight. It really depends on your perspective.

Our pick: Draw

Features and smart platform

Unsurprisingly, the C1 and the C2 are quite similar from a hardware and software perspective. Before we dive into what sets them apart, let’s take a look at the features they have in common:

The LG C2 OLED TV displaying its smart platform's home screen in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

For all intents and purposes, the software experience of the C2 and the C1 are largely the same.

Whether you’re an A/V enthusiast, a gamer, or both, you’re looking at two TVs that are better-equipped to meet your needs than most.

Both the C1 and C2 support Dolby Vision, which is considered by most to be the strictest HDR benchmark. In addition, both can decode Dolby Atmos audio natively, and both TVs can pass it via eARC to Dolby Atmos soundbars—either in the uncompressed format (Dolby TrueHD) or the compressed format (Dolby Digital Plus).

It's worth noting, however, that both models lack DTS support altogether, as LG quietly stopped supporting DTS audio a few years ago. If you own a fair share of Blu-rays with DTS soundtracks and you’re looking for a premium OLED TV that supports DTS passthrough, we recommend looking into the Sony A80J or the Sony A90J.

A close-up of the connectivity inputs on the back of the LG C2's panel
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Like the C1, all four of the HDMI ports on the LG C2 support 4K resolution at 120Hz.

On the gaming side of things, each TV supports both Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) for smoother, low-latency gaming. In addition, all four of the HDMI ports on both the C1 and C2 support 4K gaming at 120fps. One subtle difference is that the C2’s HDMI feature a bandwidth of 48Gbps while the C1’s ports are 40Gbps. This shouldn’t have an impact on current- or next-gen gaming, however, as both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are capped below 48Gbps.

Both TVs feature slightly different versions of LG’s Game Optimizer, but they essentially deliver the same experience: a gaming-specific settings menu that only appears when you’re using a console. It relays frame rate information, lets you tweak the picture quality based on game genre, and toggles the TV’s various VRR options.

There are very few differences between the hardware- and software-related enhancements of the C1 and the C2.

The TVs’ smart features are nearly identical, too. Like most platforms, LG’s webOS is accessed from a home screen where users can navigate a wide variety of streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Prime Video, HBO Max and more. There are surplus apps available for download, too, should you decide to forgo a streaming device, making webOS your primary streaming center.

Both TVs support Alexa and Google Assistant integration, but only the C2 features a built-in, far-field microphone for hands-free voice control. Hands-free voice functionality on the C2 is limited to Alexa and LG’s digital assistant, however, and truth be told, I didn’t find myself using LG’s digital assistant very often.

There are very few differences between the hardware- and software-related enhancements of the C1 and the C2. For most people, the experience will be close to indistinguishable.

Our pick: Draw

Performance

The LG C2 OLED TV displaying 4K/HDR content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Thanks to its OLED evo panel, the LG C2 has some performance-based tricks up its sleeve. Nevertheless, you might not notice the a difference between the C2 and the C1.

In 2021, the LG G1 Gallery OLED was the first LG OLED TV to use a display type and picture processing technology LG calls OLED evo. The new OLED display material—together with some behind-the-scenes processing work—allows OLED evo displays to achieve improved picture composition, more accurate primary colors, and a slightly brighter picture than that of OLED displays in the past.

Our lab tests indicated that LG’s OLED evo technology does, in fact, have an impact on picture quality—if only a little. Last year, when we compared the G1’s performance to the C1’s, we noticed brighter specular highlights and marginally better color volume.

This year marks the first time that OLED evo technology has officially been implemented into LG’s C series lineup. The C2 enjoys the same added brightness, particularly when it comes to highlights, and about the same HDR color volume as last year’s OLED evo-equipped G1. It stands to reason, then, that the C2 also has a leg up on the C1.

These two TVs will deliver world-class performance for years to come.

But it’s not as big of a leg up as you’d think. Truth be told, I imagine most people would barely be able to tell the difference in performance if both the C1 and the C2 were playing the same content side by side. To my eye, the C2’s picture processing is improved, with more depth and clarity on display during certain HDR content. The brighter highlights aren’t always apparent, either, particularly during daytime viewing. If you’re choosing between the 48-inch C1 and C2 (or if you’re considering the 42-inch C2), it’s worth noting that the added brightness of OLED evo won’t have much of an impact at all on 42- and 48-inch models due to the pixel density of these size options.

Both TVs deliver the picture-perfect black levels we’ve come to expect from OLED displays, and supplement their amazing contrast with rich, accurate color and superb motion handling. Like all OLED TVs, their pictures hold up incredibly well during off-angle viewing, too. The C2 might have a slight edge, but these are two TVs that’ll deliver world-class performance for years to come.

Our pick: LG C2

And the winner is…

A close-up of the LG C2's Magic Remote control in someone's hand
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

This year's version of LG's Magic Remote is essentially the same as last year's.

It’s a tie. Both the LG C1 and the LG C2 are fantastic options—they’re two of the best TVs money can buy. If this were a footrace, it would be a photo finish, with the C2 just barely beating out the C1 by half a step. So why declare a tie, then? It all comes down to price.

Most people—even dedicated A/V enthusiasts and hardcore gamers—won’t see a notable difference between the performance and features of the C1 and the C2. What they will notice, however, is a significant difference in price. Having been on the shelves for a year longer, the C1 is currently several hundred dollars less than the C2 across the board.

That said, the C2 is the only series of the two that offers a 42-inch model, so if you’re shopping for something of that size, your choice is already made. On the other hand, if you’re trying to choose between the 48-inch C1 and the 48-inch C2, keep in mind that you’re even less likely to notice much of a difference in picture quality due to the fact that the brightness-boosting benefits of OLED evo technology don’t trickle down to the 48- and 42-inch C2 models.

Buy the LG C1 at Amazon

Buy the LG C2 at Amazon


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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.

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