The decision between LG C1 and LG CX is a battle of 2021 vs 2020. LG’s CX was the company’s main 4K OLED TV last year, taking a high place in our list of the best TVs by offering an impressive combination of design, features and performance. It's about to be replaced by the C1, but for a while you'll have the choice between the two models.
It's a testament to the comprehensive nature of the CX’s feature-set and its status as one of the best OLED TVs that the upcoming C1 doesn’t really add anything new – while its rivals are adding HDMI 2.1 support, for example, the CX already ranks among the best gaming TVs. The C1's arrival has also precipitated a drop in CX prices, so does the new model do enough to justify the extra cost or can you simply save money with the older version and be happy?
We'll compare the two in all the key areas, to make the decision easier – but don't forget that our full LG CX review really digs into why we've rated this set so highly since its release.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Prices & features
The LG CX comes in 48-, 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes, and has recently enjoyed a number of price reductions. As a result, you can buy the OLED48CX for £1,199/$1,499, the OLED55CX for £1,199/$1,499, the OLED65CX for £1,799/$1,999, and the OLED77CX for £3,199/$3,299.
The LG C1 has yet to be released and pricing hasn’t been officially announced for the UK and US, but one significant difference is that the new model will be adding an 83-inch screen size to the established 48-, 55-, 65-, and 77-inch options, providing one of the biggest OLED panels you can buy.
The LG C1 has had official pricing in Germany, though, which gives us a rough idea of what we might expect when compared to last year's launch prices. The OLED48C1 will be €1650, the OLED55C1 will be €2000, the OLED65C1 will be €2800, the OLED77C1 will be €5300, and the OLED83C1 will be €8000.
For comparison, at launch, the OLED48CX was £1,499/$1,499/€1,799, the OLED55CX was £1,799/$1,799/€2,299, the OLED65CX was £2,800/$2,800/€3,100, and the OLED77CX was £5,000/$5,000/€7,000. So we're expecting the C1 to be more affordable at launch than the LG CX was by a little (and a lot in the case of the 77-inch version), but nowhere near as cheap as the LG CX is now.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Design & connections
The LG CX and C1 are virtually identical in look, with the same ultra-slim design and angled stand that has been employed for a number of years now. The self-emissive nature of OLED allows for an incredibly thin panel and virtually no bezel, but the panel is deeper towards the bottom where the electronics, connections and speakers are housed.
Both TVs offer the same in terms of connections, with three sideways and one rear-facing HDMI 2.1 input. One of the HDMI 2.1 inputs supports eARC (enhanced audio return channel), and all of them handle the latest gaming features such as 4K 120Hz, Variable Refresh Rate to stop frame tearing in games, and ALLM, which automatically switches into the low-latency game mode.
In terms of the other connections, the two TVs include three USB ports, terrestrial and satellite tuners, a digital optical output, a line output, a headphone socket, and an Ethernet port. Both also sport a number of wireless connections such as Bluetooth, Apple’s AirPlay 2 and dual-band Wi-Fi.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Picture quality
The LG CX is hard to beat with a comprehensive set of features. This 4K OLED TV supports basic HDR10, the HLG broadcast standard, and Dolby Vision IQ, which uses dynamic metadata to deliver superior HDR combined with a sensor to optimise the experience depending on ambient light. There’s no support for the competing HDR10+ format, but Dolby’s is more popular and used by Netflix, Disney+, and Apple TV+, along with a number of Blu-rays. There’s also a dedicated Filmmaker Mode to ensure films are seen as the creator’s intended
The CX uses LG's α9 Gen3 AI-enhanced image processor, which uses deep-learning algorithms to analyse and optimise content, before automatically adjusting the picture and sound as necessary. The result is a superb 4K performance, effective upscaling, and motion enhancements to improve fast-paced sporting action. The CX is a great choice for gamers, with all the previously mentioned gaming features, and a sub-10ms input lag.
The new LG C1 uses the upgraded α9 Gen4 AI-enhanced processor, which LG claims will improve the upscaling further and deliver more accurate colours. For gamers there’s also the new Game Optimiser, which collates all the gaming options in a single useful interface, thus making it easier for you to customise your gaming experience – Samsung is offering something similar on its 2021 TVs, including the Samsung QN95A.
As far as the OLED panel itself goes, there doesn't seem to be any difference. Which is not to say that LG's new processor won't get more from the current panel (that's what happened with the CX), but there's no big leap in image quality here – the more expensive LG G1 is where you'd have to go for that.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Sound quality
The LG CX uses a pair of downward-firing speakers and two woofers, all with 10W of power each, and these deliver a decent sonic performance. There’s also the bonus of Dolby Atmos decoding producing greater immersion through added width and height, thanks to psychoacoustics. The AI processor also analyses the audio signals, allowing the TV to enhance regular soundtracks.
The new LG C1 employs a near-identical audio system and set of sound features compared to the BX, resulting in a similar sonic experience. However LG claims the new α9 Gen4 AI-enhanced processing now allows the TV to analyse an audio signal and create a more immersive sonic experience using a pseudo 5.1.2-channel delivery, rather than the CX’s 5.1 channels, getting more from Atmos track in particular.
That said, the thin size and limited numbers of speakers on both models mean that neither will stand up to what the best soundbars can do – we'd still factor in wanting to add one of those if you want audio as good as the OLED visuals.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Smart TV
The CX sports LG’s webOS smart platform, which has been the pre-eminent operating system for the last five years due to its comprehensive choice of streaming apps, and highly intuitive interface thanks to the magic remote. There’s also built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
However, last year LG dropped Freeview Play from its 2020 TVs in the UK, which forced the company to re-certify all the TV catch-up apps. This took longer than planned, and as a result last year’s models currently only support the BBC and ITV streaming services, which is a shame.
The new LG C1 includes webOS (6.0), which now uses a full-page home screen, rather than a launcher bar at the bottom. There’s also a revised user interface and menu system, plus a redesigned magic remote. Best of all, Freeview Play is once again available to ensure a complete set of TV catch-up services and the ability to move back through the EPG.
LG C1 vs LG CX: Verdict
The LG CX remains one of the best-performing and attractively-priced OLED TVs you can buy, with exceptional picture and sound, AI-enhanced processing, impressive smarts, and plenty of useful features. Most of the UK TV catch-up apps are missing, but otherwise the CX is hard to beat.
The impending release of the C1 means the older model is enjoying some very competitive pricing, the newer version does offer a number of additional features that includes the α9 Gen4 processor, the Game Optimiser, a revised version of webOS, 5.1.2-channel sound processing and the welcome return of Freeview Play for UK buyers.
There’s also one other major difference and that’s when it comes to screen sizes. The C1 adds an 83-inch version to the continuing 48-, 55-, 65- and 77-inch options, and that makes this new model the perfect choice for anyone looking for super-sized OLED action.
Right now, while we wouldn't blame anyone at all for waiting to pick up the LG C1 and get the latest and greatest image processing, the current low prices of the LG CX look like maybe the best OLED TV buy possible right now when balancing bang for buck, and it's not immediately obvious that the C1 will change that.