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LG BX vs LG B9 OLED: is the new B Series OLED worth the upgrade?

(Image credit: LG)

If you're choosing between the LG BX OLED or LG B9 OLED, which is the right pick for you? There's huge demand for affordable OLED TVs these days and, while you can't exactly get one cheaply yet, LG's B Series OLEDs are still the cheapest organic LED TVs that the South Korean manufacturer puts out each year.

The LG BX OLED is the new model for 2020, taking over from last year's LG B9. The two models are set to overlap for a good while though – in fact, the 2018 model is still available to buy in some territories.

The BM models also won't be rolling out for a few weeks yet, so those of you stuck at home and eager to upgrade your TV may be tempted to pull the trigger on a B9 model now.

With Hisense no longer making OLED TVs, and its existing O8B OLED not offering a particularly reliable experience – during our tests, at least – LG is the place to go for a budget OLED, and in this guide we'll run you through everything you need to consider before making a choice between the BX and B9 OLEDs.

LG BX vs LG B9: pricing

We can't speak definitively on pricing just yet, as the newer LG BX model has yet to receive an official RRP. However, we can make an informed guess based on pricing for B Series OLEDs from previous years.

The LG B9 went on sale at around $1,995 / £1,529 / AU$2,900 for the 55-inch model, and $3,055 / £2,499 / AU$4,530 for the 65-inch model. By late 2019, this had dropped to $1,399 / £1,299 (around AU$2,030) for the 55-inch OLED55B9, or $2,299 / £1,799 (around AU$3,340) for the 65-inch OLED65B9.

You can still buy the LG B8 for $1,200 in the US, from Amazon, so we'd expect the LG B9 to have fallen to a similar price by this time next year.

The B Series usually undercuts LG's C Series by a good $200 / £200 / AU$350, making them the cheapest OLEDs put out by LG each year.

(Image credit: LG)

LG BX vs LG B9: processor and picture quality

That price drop comes with a catch, though. Like the LG B9 OLED before it, the LG BX OLED will use a lower-spec processor than its more premium siblings. So instead of the a9 Gen 3 processor found in the LG CX and GX OLED, you'll find the a7 Gen 3 processor.

This follows on from the previous year, when the B9 used an a7 Gen 2 processor instead of the C9's a9 Gen 2 chip.

We reviewed the LG B9 OLED very favorably last year, with only small markdowns for the occasional video noise caused by the lower-spec processor, as well as middling upscaling performance. But the sacrifices here seem worth it if you're mainly interested in getting an OLED TV that's more affordable than some of the options out there.

We expect a slight uptick in picture quality from BX's picture processor, although the LG BX is unlikely to match the picture output of, say, last year's LG C9. The BX will include LG's new Face Enhancing processing technology, to better represent skin tones and help faces to stand out from backgrounds.

LG BX vs LG B9: design and specs

Processor aside, is anything materially different when it comes to the design, formats, or inputs of the LG BX and LG B9?

These sets are actually almost identical in terms of their specs. The BX and B9 both ship in 55-inch and 65-inch sizes, and the exact dimensions of each model size appear unchanged, excepting the odd 0.1 of an inch. The B9's 19.9kg weight (including the stand) is unchanged too.

The BX also retains the 40W audio output of the B9, including the 20W subwoofer added to the B Series for the first time last year. Both sets feature 2.2 channel speakers, like those on the C9, though without the same TV stand solution as the latter, which is designed to funnel downward-firing audio towards the viewer.

The a9 processor offers a notable improvement over the a7 chips used in the LG BX and B9 OLEDs

The a9 processor offers a notable improvement over the a7 chips used in the LG BX and B9 OLEDs (Image credit: LG)

If you’re connecting your headphones or smartphone to the TV via Bluetooth, you’ll be pleased to know that the BX uses the latest 5.0 standard, as the B9 did, rather than the B8's older and less reliable 4.2 connectivity. We've yet to find out exactly what ports are built into the BX, but we expect a good number of HDMI and USB inputs.

Both are 4K TVs with HDR panels, and support the dynamic Dolby Vision HDR format, as well as Dolby Atmos surround sound (although not HDR10+) and both ship with LG’s sleek magic remote and streamlined webOS smart TV platform. With LG’s ThinQ AI integrated, too, you’re getting a very smart system, with built-in Alexa / Google Assistant support and the ability to connect to Google Home and Amazon Echo devices.

Apple AirPlay 2 support – which came as an update to 2018 and 2019 LG TVs last year – will also be on the BX from launch.

LG's webOS smart platform might be the best available today

LG's webOS smart platform might be the best available today (Image credit: LG)

LG BX vs LG B9: takeaway

LG's B Series is a smart bet for anyone looking to get an OLED TV into their home at a reasonable price, even if what counts for 'budget' in the world of OLEDs is still a lot more expensive than cheap LCD panels.

In our LG B9 OLED review, we found the B9 had the same weaknesses as the older B8, in terms of occasional video noise and processing that can't compete with higher-end sets. That's unlikely to change much with the BX, although we expect a nominal improvement in terms of the extent of these visual imperfections – not enough to warrant an upgrade from the LG B9, but certainly enough to make the BX worth considering for a new TV.

Keep in mind that the B9 should still be on sale in the coming months, at a notionally lower cost than the incoming BX. And for now, to get an OLED TV that actually is relatively affordable, by today's standards, the older B9 model may be the one to go for.