Review: LG G3 OLED TV: The New Champion in Picture Quality
8.5 LG G3 Series OLED TV (2023)
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Best picture quality we’ve ever tested
Superb contrast and off-angle image
Best-in-class bright room performance
Slim, wall-friendly design
Samsung S95C has superior color
News flash: If you want the best TV, it’s gonna cost you. The LG G3 is the highest-performance television I have ever reviewed, and I’ve tested a lot of screens in my 20-plus years of reviewing. This TV balances the perfect contrast and black level of OLED with an image that’s brighter and more impactful-looking than other OLED TVs I’ve seen, including its chief rival, the Samsung S95C – which happens to be the second-best TV I’ve ever reviewed.
I compared the two side-by-side in CNET’s TV lab and both outperformed the other, less-expensive 2023 OLED TVs I had on hand – and in turn, OLED TVs have always looked better in my tests than non-OLED models, like mini-LED and QLED-based displays.
The catch? The G3 is really expensive – and for most high-end TV shoppers something like the LG C3, which costs hundreds less, is plenty good.
If you happen to be that lucky TV shopper with extra money and a desire for world-beating images, however, the LG G3 is something special indeed. The secret is an entirely new display technology LG is calling “MLA,” which stands for micro-lens array. Billions of tiny lenses inside the OLED panel help focus the light, reduce scatter and improve efficiency. No other TV has this technology, and from what I’ve seen, it works very well to make OLED, the best TV screen technology, look even better. David Katzmaier/CNET
LG G3 sizes, series comparison
I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 65-inch LG G3 OLED TV, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. The three smaller sizes have very similar specs and should provide very similar picture quality. The largest size, the 83-inch model, lacks LG’s MLA tech so it’s not as bright – LG claims it has the same brightness as last year’s G2.
The G3 series sits at the top of LG’s 2023 OLED TV lineup. Spending less for the C3 loses you the bump in brightness and the sleek “Gallery” wall-friendly design, but it has more screen size options, namely 42- and 48-inch options (which are, notably, dimmer than the 55-inch and larger C3s). The less-expensive B3 is in turn dimmer than the C3 and lacks the company’s latest-generation A9 processor. The most-expensive models from 2022, specifically the 97-inch G2 and the 8K resolution Z2 models, will remain on sale this year rather than being replaced by “3” equivalents (and speaking of expensive, LG is also selling its new wireless 97-inch OLED TV for $30,000).
Flat and flush for wall-mounting, stand optional
The G in G3 stands for “gallery,” which is LG’s way of saying the TV is designed foremost for wall-mounting. It includes a special bracket that lets it hang close to the wall with almost no gap, and combined with the cabinet’s thin depth, it looks basically flush when seen from the side. The backside of the G3 has a fitting for a custom wall-mount so it fits flush to the wall. David Katzmaier/CNET
The downside is that, unlike pretty much every other TV, it doesn’t include a tabletop stand in the box. You can’t put this TV atop a credenza or other piece of furniture unless you purchase LG’s optional stand ($150 for the 65-inch size), which is pictured in these reviews. That’s kind of a bummer, but I’m guessing most people in the G3’s price, um… bracket, will choose to mount it on a wall.
LG kept the same remote, unfortunately. In my old age I’ve grown annoyed by too many highfalutin buttons, and I much prefer the streamlined, simple layout of Samsung and Roku/TCL remotes. As always, you can wave LG’s remote around to move the cursor, or scroll quickly through menus with the built-in wheel. LG’s remote is quite complex with numerous buttons. David Katzmaier/CNET
Smart TV? Get a Roku instead
LG’s redesigned menu system is less cluttered than last year’s but only because fully half of the screen is occupied by a big promotional space, which was showing an ad for LG’s free TV app when I saw it. Me no like. Below that is the marginally more useful row of “cards,” new for 2023, that offer things like the TV’s input, a game section, music and “home hub.”
The most useful card is the one for games, but it’s worse than Samsung, with a less-polished design and no access to Xbox Game Pass; instead LG only has Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik and Blacknut cloud gaming (there’s a reason you’ve never heard of the latter two) in addition to Twitch, YouTube and a quick link for connected consoles. The sports card lets you set up alerts for favorite teams’ scores, which feels kinda useful to me, but overall the card row still feels like more wasted space. Only the bottom row, with actual streaming app icons, would get any use in my household. The smart TV screen has a lot of options and clutter. David Katzmaier/CNET
In other words, I think most users of this high-end TV should just connect an external streaming device, like Roku or Apple TV, and avoid using LG’s system altogether.
The G3 also has a couple notable features LG debuted last year, namely a multiview that puts two images side-by-side – which remains limited and can’t show two HDMI sources – and the always-ready screen saver that can show clocks, art and other widgets when the TV is turned “off.” Elements of the latter move around the screen to reduce the possibility of burn-in.
Here’s where I remind you that, like all OLED TVs, the G3 is more subject to both temporary and permanent image retention, aka burn-in, than LCD TVs. The risk is small, which is why I don’t consider burn-in a reason for most people to avoid buying an OLED TV. Check out our guide to OLED burn-in for more. The G3’s four HDMI inputs (just two of which pictured here) all support HDMI 2.1. David Katzmaier/CNET
Well-connected, especially for gamers
LG continues to excel at connection options. Like its competition the G3 has the latest version of the HDMI standard: 2.1. That means their HDMI ports can handle 4K at 120 frames per second and variable refresh rate, as well as enhanced audio return channel and automatic low-latency mode (auto game mode). In other words, they can take advantage of the latest graphics features available from PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S consoles as well as high-end graphics cards. All four of the G3’s HDMI ports support 4K/120 – great for hard-core gamers with multiple next-gen devices.
Four HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.1, HDCP 2.2
Three USB ports
Optical digital audio output
RF (antenna) input
RS-232 port (minijack, for service only)
Ethernet (LAN) port
Picture quality comparisons: LG G3 vs. Samsung S95C
For my side-by-side image quality comparison I lined the LG G3 up against three other OLED TVs: the Samsung S95C, the LG C3 and the Sony A80L. The G3 looked the best of all of them, nosing out the Samsung and beating the other two a bit more handily – although all three looked excellent.
The LG G3’s combination of brightness and contrast is top-notch, especially in a bright room. David Katzmaier/CNET
TV and movies: Not surprisingly the two most expensive TVs, the Samsung and the LG G3, also looked the best. I started my comparison as usual with the natural scenes of mountains, forests and flowers from the Spears and Munsil benchmark, and the extra brightness of those two OLEDs was evident, in particular during specular highlights like glints of sun and bright snow.
The G3 looked brighter than the Samsung to my eye in most scenes, however, an impression confirmed by spot measurements using a handheld light meter. The setting sun at 2:10, for example, measured around 680 nits on the G3 and 476 on the Samsung, for example. This extra brightness made the image stand out in the lineup and combined with the perfect black levels of OLED, delivered spectacular contrast and overall image quality.
The Samsung was incredibly dynamic and bright in its own right, however, and beat the LG in color saturation. Its reds in particular, for example in…