Part of the reason interest has been so high around these sets is because the C1 won a number of Best TV of 2021 awards from tech publications (TechRadar included), but many were hesitant to shell out for it once they caught wind that a new model was coming in March.
We knew the LG C2 OLED would cost more than the LG C1 OLED (which it does) and that the LG C2 OLED would be a bit brighter and have a newer processor inside of it (again, all true) but now that the LG C2 OLED is here, however, we can finally put the two against one another in a fair fight.
So to help you decide which is best for you we've compiled our thoughts on both TVs so you can decide which option is the best for you in terms of price and performance.
LG C2 VS LG C1: PRICE AND SIZES
Considering that the C2 is a direct successor to the C1 OLED, you’ll notice a lot of similarities in terms of pricing and sizes. For example, the only major difference in terms of sizing between the two TVs is that the C2 OLED now comes in a smaller 42-inch size rather than the 48-inch OLED TV that we saw last year.
That said, it is worth noting that the smaller sizes of this year’s LG C2 OLED are still using the panels from last year and not the new Evo panels. That should change by the end of June when LG says its supplies will catch up with its production targets – but for now you should probably avoid the lower-size C2 OLED until the Evo panels are available.
In terms of pricing, here’s the breakdown between the two models:
- The 42-inch OLED42C2PUA is $1,399 / £1,399 (about AU$1,800)
- The 48-inch OLED48C2PUA is $1,499 / £1,399 (about AU$1,960)
- The 55-inch OLED55C2PUA is $1,799 / £1,898 (about AU$2,350)
- The 65-inch OLED65C2PUA is $2,499 / £2,699 (about AU$3,270)
- The 77-inch OLED77C1PUA is $3,499 / £3,699 (about AU$4,590)
- The 83-inch OLED83C2PUA is $5,499 / £5,499 (about AU$7,200)
And here’s the pricing for the C1 OLED:
- The 48-inch OLED48C1PUA is currently $999 / £999 (about AU$1,960)
- The 55-inch OLED55C1PUA is currently $1,099 / £1,199 (about AU$2,350)
- The 65-inch OLED65C1PUA is currently $1,699 / £1,599 (about AU$3,270)
- The 77-inch OLED77C1PUA is currently $2,699 / £2,699 (about AU$4,590)
- The 83-inch OLED83C2PUA is currently $4,499 / £4,499 (about AU$7,200)
So what’s the takeaway here? The LG C1 OLED is a much cheaper TV. You can routinely save hundreds on the C1 over a C2 OLED model of the equivalent size – which should give you a bit of perspective when we talk about the differences between the two screens below.
LG C2 VS LG G2: DESIGN AND SPECS
There’s two major differences in terms of design between last year’s LG C1 OLED and this year’s new C2 model: the C2 uses the newer OLED Evo panels that have a higher peak brightness – around 20% higher compared to the C1 models – and it’s lighter, too. To wit, this year’s 65-inch LG C2 model is around 50% lighter than last year’s LG C1.
In our review of the C2 OLED, we argued that the additional brightness from the OLED Evo panel is a big difference-maker, and we stand by that. The extra brightness means more vibrant colors and better HDR playback. With Filmmaker Mode on, you’re really getting a more cinematic experience compared to the C1.
Still, when you look at the broader specs of the two TVs, you’ll see that they’re very similar. Both have great black levels and near-infinite contrast, and they each have four HDMI 2.1 ports that support 4K/120 input. For gamers, both have low input latency of under 10ms and both support the major varieties of VRR including G-Sync and FreeSync Pro.
If you want a more monitor-sized TV, however, the C2 does come in a smaller 42-inch size – which could be perfect for a dorm or a home office where you’d want to combine an excellent TV with a great gaming monitor. The smallest size for the C1 is a 48-inch model that certainly isn’t monstrous, but saving the extra six inches of space can be helpful.
Inside the TVs are slightly different silicon. The LG C2 is using the updated Alpha a9 Gen 5 processor while last year’s C1 OLED uses the Alpha a9 Gen 4. According to LG, the Gen 5 does a better job of focusing on the subject of the image to make it stand out from the background compared to the Gen 4 processor, and it uses a slightly different upscaling process that the company says works better with less amount of processing.
In practice, we can’t say we noticed a huge jump in performance between the two processors, so you probably aren’t losing much if you choose an older C1 model instead.
LG C2 vs LG C1 OLED: Conclusion
Because there are so many similarities between the OLED TVs, it can be a bit hard making up your mind which model is right for you. The good news, however, is that both the C2 and C1 OLED are great TVs that you can’t go wrong with. Both share a lot of the same attributes – and while the LG C2 is newer and has slightly better performance, they are far more similar than they are different.
That said, we’d say the C2 is a better TV for proper cinephiles – folks who really care about the overall image quality and want the best performance on the market. The extra brightness will make a big difference in HDR content specifically as well as overall color vibrancy.
The LG C1 OLED is still a great TV (we wouldn’t have given it a five-star rating last year otherwise) but it isn’t perfect. It does have a hard time dealing with direct sunlight due to its reflective glass screen and it performs better in light-controlled rooms than ones with a lot of ambient light – a problem you don’t have to worry as much about with the C2.
Unless you’re worried about the brightness level in your room and deeply care about performance specs like peak brightness, we feel it’s safe to save yourself some money by buying an LG C1 OLED without fear that you’re missing out on too much. We wouldn’t advise against the C2 OLED – but we’d rather see any of the money you saved on the C1 go to a good soundbar instead.
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Nick Pino is Managing Editor, TV and AV for TechRadar's sister site, Tom's Guide. Previously, he was the Senior Editor of Home Entertainment at TechRadar, covering TVs, headphones, speakers, video games, VR and streaming devices. He's also written for GamesRadar+, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer and other outlets over the last decade, and he has a degree in computer science he's not using if anyone wants it.