I've been living with the LG C3 OLED TV for a whole month as I write this review. I've become so accustomed to its brilliance in my living room that, save for the higher-spec LG G3 OLED that blew my eyeballs away (in the best possible manner), it almost worries me that any OLED TV I receive for review hereafter is just going to feel inferior.
But there's problem! The LG C2 OLED – that being the C3's predecessor from 2022, widely regarded as "the best OLED TV for most people" – is sorta-kinda every bit just as good. And it's most definitely much cheaper right now. And you can easily still buy one. Which isn't going to create a conundrum for many people: given the circa-four-figure saving you'd make on buying the 65-inch model of yesteryear it's a bit of a no-brainer, right?
That puts this 2023 LG model in a sticky spot. Because, make no bones about it, the C3 OLED is excellent – in contention with the best OLED TVs of right now – but by being trapped between the walls of global inflation and LG's considerable own success, is it actually worth buying right now or, indeed, ever?
LG C3 OLED: Price & Availability
The LG C3 OLED is available in numerous sizes – 42-, 48-, 55-, 65-, 77- and 83-inch – and, as you'd expect, the price spectrum is also significant. The 65-inch model I've got in on review is supposed to cost £2,899 (it's actually less, as you can see from the shopping widget embedded at the base of this page). But when the previous C2 OLED costs about £1,599 at the time of writing, the gap is clearly cavernous.
- LG OLED42C3: £1499 / $1399 / AU$2595
- LG OLED48C3: £1599 / $1499 / AU$2895
- LG OLED55C3: £2099 / $1899 / AU$3295
- LG OLED65C3: £2899 / $2599 / AU$4295
- LG OLED77C3: £3999 / $3599 / AU$6795
- LG OLED83C3: £6499 / $5299 / AU$8995
I've assembled a full list of the LG C3 OLED's UK, US and Australian pricing in each of its sizes above, so you can at a glance see the precise model name (i.e. its catalogue number) and the suggested retail price of each. Compared to the competition the larger sizes are really not outlandish (despite being far from budget), easily beating an equivalent Sony A80L on a cost-for-size basis, for example.
LG C3 OLED review: Features & what's new?
The million-dollar question (or two-and-a-half-grand question in this case): just what is new in the LG C3 OLED? The answer, not to sound too much like a politician, is both simple and complex.
Line up the LG C2 next to C3 – that's right, just as no normal person will ever do, which is why we're here – and, on face value, you could identify them as one and the same TV. They're both very handsome, both very slim to their edges, both feature a simple foot stand to their centres, and, heck, they could be twins.
The similarities continue – as the C3 features the same OLED Evo panel with LG's Brightness Booster as the older C2, along with four full-fat HDMI 2.1 ports (including eARC on one) for 4K/120Hz, VRR and ALLM goodness. But the LC C3 OLED upgrades its processor to the Alpha 9 Gen 6, which means more power to process with more finesse – meaning better upscaling and motion-handling, plus a mite more brightness through, presumably, algorithmic changes (but we're talking by a whisker here, so most people won't notice).
The C3's new processor is also a dab hand at dealing with audio, able to up-mix sound formats to 9.1.2 virtual channels, which is a step beyond the C2's 7.1.2 ability. That's not to say the C3 sounds like a dream direct from the TV's speakers, though, with the consensus being that it sounds worse than its predecessor (and AI Sound Pro being really coarse in its delivery in my view, so is best switched off). Best save up for one of the best soundbars to add some welly to that audio then.
LG C3 OLED review: Picture quality
Which brings me to the LG C3 OLED's picture quality. It does take a little bit of tinkering to get it to ideal levels, though, as upon setup the AI Picture Wizard wants you to select from arbitrary images to compose a 'Personal' preset – which, to my eyes, never quite looked right. Much like the AI Sound Pro, the whole pronounced 'AI' aspect of LG's current TVs seems to (daresay) lack the human touch.
However, the more cinematic and gaming options look exquisite from the off. An automatic ambient light detector and automatic Filmmaker Mode activation (when sources that prefer it identify it, if this mode is switched on), ensure the C3 has everything it needs to deliver Hollywood-like pictures. This is particularly apparent when going to the best sources, which I always like to do with 4K Blu-ray discs.
With a 4K Blu-ray disc of John Wick: Chapter 4 playing (solely for the visuals; I found this over-long entry in the series hugely disappointing) and there's great contrast and richness, with lots of black-level attention in the way that OLED panels just do so well. No light bleed, just deep richness thanks to Dolby Vision HDR.
The C3 is suitably bright, too, although as I've said: it's very similar to the C2 in this regard and, unlike the higher-spec G3, which features a Micro Lens Array (MLA) panel paired with LG's Brightness Booster Max, you're not going to achieve those heady brightness peaks on the C3. Reflections aren't quite so well mitigated either, but there's still plenty enough pop from this premium-grade panel.
We can't always watch everything from 4K Blu-ray sources, of course, and it's getting harder to locate such formats anyway. That's why how a telly handles more common formats is integral, so with my BT TV Box Pro feeding 4K footage from Sky Cinema, Despicable Me 2 showed off how this OLED can produce candy-like colours effortlessly, without them appearing oversaturated, while Black Adam's more gritty visuals appeared refined and balanced, not oversharpened.
Drop to conventional 1080p Full HD and the C3 OLED is very capable in its upscaling to 4K, which is certainly one of its strengths. Just don't select the Vivid mode which really pushes colour and brightness and, for me, crushes a lot of the visual appeal. Less is sometimes more, and this LG can do a lot with very little!
In context of the wider market, there are obvious competitors though: the Samsung S95C will be a brighter offering, although its QD-OLED panel delivers simply different-looking pictures, but for around the same price this TV is going to be attracting a lot of attention too.
As said before, with four HDMI 2.1 ports, the LG C3 is all-in when it comes to gaming. There's support for 4K resolution at 120Hz, and with Hogwart's Legacy on PS5 loaded up, variable refresh rate and auto low-latency mode take ahold of a game that very much needs these enhancements to look as smooth as it possibly can (not that it sits at actual 120fps much of this time, it's far too busy for that, with frame-rares closer to the 40s!). Still, if you love your gaming as much as your cinema, different as the two formats look, the LG is a master at both.
LG C3 OLED review: Sound quality
So the LG C3 OLED's picture quality is great, that much is clear, but what about audio? Sadly it's not such a rich picture, despite my expectations. I'm not sure that LG's sound game is quite on point in 2023, having also tried out the LG USC9S soundbar (which is designed to integrated with the C3 OLED as a perfect pair in a single stand mount) and thought it delivered very 'detached' audio, with the WOW Orchestra setting – designed to marry on-TV speakers with those of the soundbar – not synching well at all either.
So, soundbar temporarily disconnected and pushed aside, I've been relying on the isolated C3 OLED unit to deliver sound for me in this review. It's got plenty of height, is loud, and so will fill a room. It's just that it's not very enthusiastic sound. Switch on AI Sound Pro and it becomes so overenthusiastic that it's close to unbearable, though, and various tinkering of sound modes didn't deliver an especially amazing audio profile for my ears.
LG C3 OLED review: Design & usability
The LG C3 OLED comes with a stand-mount in the box, which I think is an important point of note for those looking for the best TV money can buy. The higher-spec LG G3 OLED, for example, only comes with a wall-mount and that, in my experience, isn't the majority way in which people have TVs in their living rooms (in the UK anyway). So I like the C3's simple-to-assemble mount and how it lets the panel almost float a few inches above the stand's single, centralised foot.
In the box also comes LG's rather quirky remote. It can be used like a wand, in that you point it at the screen like you would a Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controller, with the little icon moving around as per your hand's motion. It takes a little getting used to, mind, like a free-floating PC mouse to address the screen. Including, but of course, the built-in operating system software.
One of LG's long-time strengths over the years has been its use of webOS, the operating system, now in version 23 (and not massively different from v22, albeit pared back on fewer screens). It's certainly among the better of TV operating systems, enabling access to your sources and direct access to apps should you chose, such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and more.
All that said, however, with so many of us now using a set-top box, console or HDMI dongle to take care of things, that webOS is good is largely overlooked by someone like me, who spends very little time engaging with it.
LG C3 OLED review: Verdict
And so I finish this LG C3 OLED review as I started, going full circle, by reiterating just how fantastic its pictures look – and that when it's gone from my living room I'll need my next review TV to be a mighty panel to fill the hole that it'll leave.
But, in the same breath, if I parked an older LG C2 OLED in that same space, and saved a load of money in the process, I'd still be perfectly happy (I could even add a formidable soundbar with the change).
Yes, the newer LG C3 has a more powerful processor, better upscaling and sound-handling capabilities (by which I don't mean the TV's own speakers, as you'll have read above) and is a mite brighter (I really don't think anyone will notice though) than its predecessor, but it's just such a gentle upgrade generation to generation.
So to repeat myself: make no bones about it, the LG C3 OLED is excellent – in contention with the best OLED TVs of right now, and certainly (albeit marginally) better than the LG C2 OLED – but by being trapped between the walls of global inflation and LG's considerable own previous success, it's going to be an even better TV when the price comes into check.
Not to sound like a broken record, but if you want a great stand-mount OLED TV then the LG OLED C2 is a great bet. If another brand can tempt you then you might want to look at the Samsung S95C for an even brighter QD-OLED take – it nabbed 2023's T3 Awards Best TV gong. Or there's the Sony A80L which has better sound and is a real LG competitor to consider with images we described as "insightful" in our review.