Running the 1GHz Tegra 2 chipset, the LG Optimus 2x is the world’s first Smartphone with a dual-core CPU. But the insane amount of horsepower isn’t the only thing going for the Optimus 2x; 4″ LCD touch screen, 8MP camera, 1080p HD video recording, 8GB of internal storage and Android 2.2 Froyo are all present and accounted for in the Optimus 2x likewise in the ex-colonial version, the T-Mobile G2X.
But is the extra horsepower worth it? Do smart phones that live in your pocket need to have this much computing power? Should you get this instead of other dual core smart phones such as the HTC Sensation, the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Atrix?
Read on to find out!
Dual-core smartphones have always intrigued me; are they worth it or are they over-hyped? So I was delighted to discover that I was going to be doing the review of the world’s first dual-core Smartphone, the LG Optimus 2x.
Before I start, this is a review of the Optimus 2x which being sold in Europe and I will comparing it and reviewing it from a European angle. However, don’t disregard it just because of that; the US version, the T-Mobile G2X is exactly the same sans the fact that it has vanilla Android rather than LG’s own skin.
The big selling points of the LG Optimus 2x are centered around the hardware so that is where we are going to start.
Despite the screen on the Optimus 2x only being a standard LCD on paper, the quality of the screen in reality is actually quite astonishing in real life. I don’t know what LG have done but the colours literally pop out of the screen, especially warm colours such as red, orange and yellow. I haven’t personally seen the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S in a long time and Galaxy S II at all, but from what I can remember from the former, the screen on the Optimus 2x is on par with the super AMOLED screen seen on Samsung’s device. I cannot comment on the latter but if the screen is the most important aspect of the Smartphone for you, I would recommend you travel to a shop with working demos of both of these handsets and decide for yourself.
The resolution at 800 x 480 found on the Optimus 2x is quickly becoming inadequate in high end handsets when you are competing with the retina display on the iPhone 4 at 960 x 640 and qHD resolutions seen on the Motorola Atrix and the HTC Sensation. Mind you, the resolution is perfectly good for everything you could imagine; pictures, text, browsing etc. but I would prefer LG to keep up with the current spec of their competitors. If not, there’s a danger they’ll get left behind.
One of the criticisms of the LG Optimus 2x’s hardware by people who haven’t handled the device is the size of the bezel beneath the screen. I was one of these people and was apprehensive about what the larger than normal bezel would do to my user experience of the Optimus 2x. However, my initial concerns were irrelevant because it seems that LG have just moved some of the bezel that they were going to have at the top of the screen down beneath the screen. To be honest, I am not sure why LG made this move; it could be because of engineering issues such as something to do with the sensors or it could just be a design choice. The latter seems more likely but there are certain people (myself included I might add) that prefer symmetry on devices. It is just one of those things strange people like me have a pet peeve about.
Clocking in on the scales at 139g, the Optimus 2x is just about average in terms of smartphones, and when coupled with the size of the handset, it is the perfect balance of weight to size. Light enough so it is not a pain to hold or lug around but at the same time, it has enough weight to make it feel like a really quality phone.
On the subject of build quality, the LG Optimus 2x feels incredibly well built. The back may be made out of some sort of plastic, but it never creaks and when you are holding the handset with one hand, your index finger automatically and naturally slides up to the indent next to the camera which gives a really solid and reassuring grip on the phone. And because of the placement of your index finger on the chrome bar, it creates some sort of illusion that the entire back is made of metal.
Now on to why the LG Optimus 2x has been given so much hype – lets talk about the internals. Powering this beast is the 1GHz Tegra 2 from Nvidia, that is truthfully mind bogglingly fast. Everything seems so much quicker and snappier. Apps open as soon as you press their icon, rendering speeds in the browser seem so much faster than on single core handsets and games perform beautifully. All the credit and praise that’s been heaped on the wonderful Tegra 2 chipset and the 2x moniker is rightfully earned.
The Optimus 2x is exactly the same in terms of hardware as the T-Mobile G2X.
On top of Android 2.2 Froyo, LG has placed its own custom skin that is very reminiscent of Samsung’s TouchWiz Android skin, and therefore in Apple’s eyes, it looks like iOS. But anyway, the gist of it is that the skin is alright. I wouldn’t say it was the best, but it isn’t the worst. I have noticed what seems to be lag when scrolling side to side on home screens and sometimes when using certain apps. The solution of the former for me was by installing a new Launcher (I used Launcher Pro) which completely removed any lag on the homescreen. Despite this awkward excuse for solution, the lag still remains. It often occurs when LG has said that the update to the latest version of the Android operating system, 2.3 Gingerbread will shortly be available after release of the Optimus 2x, but as I write this review, the handset still remains on 2.2 Froyo.
Whereas, I feel that LG has made a better decision in the US by getting rid of this skin and leaving it on vanilla Android 2.2 Froyo, sans some pre-installed apps. I feel that if LG had done the same here in the UK and in the rest of Europe it would be much better for users and power users alike.
You get past the lock screen by simply sliding your finger up the screen.
From there you are greeted by the home screen which like every other Android home screen, allows you to put anything you want on to it as long as it is either an app, widget, shortcut or folder. But there is a nifty feature of LG’s Android skin, and this feature is that you can change the amount of home screens you have. 3, 5, and 7, are available for your choosing.
At the bottom of each home screen there are 4 unchangeable buttons; phone, contacts, messaging and applications. Personally, I really hate unchangeable icons. Why? Because I like having control over where I want things to go. The Phone app and Contacts app are both present which is quite stupid and really doesn’t make any sense. It takes about 1 second longer to get to your contacts, by pressing the icon at the top of the phone app. Actually , I self dial most all the numbers I most frequently call so for me, there really isn’t any point in having both of these apps in the bottom dock and there’s even less point in making them unchangeable.
While on the subject of the phone app, let’s talk about the first and foremost function of this device, and that is that it is a mobile telephone. It seems to be just a slightly altered version of the standard Android dialer, except this one has more colours and it has a nifty predictive number trick up it’s sleeve. As you start typing, it shows the people in your contacts have a number made up by the ones you are dialing. It is really quick and easy and further enforces my point of the contacts app in the dock being a pointless decision.
To get to the rest of the apps, you press the Applications icon in the bottom right hand corner. Just like all other phones running Android, the app drawer is where all the installed apps are found. There are three styles that you can choose between for installed apps: Horizontal grid, vertical grid and list views.
To get to your notification bar, just like nearly every single Android phone, you touch the bar at the top of the handset and simply slide down to the bottom. Once you have done this, you will not just be shown any notifications that might be there, but some useful widgets are present as well. Toggles for ringer modes, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and lock orientation are all present, as well as music controls.
LG has included a feature, which is, in fact the same in every way as HTC’s Leap feature. For those not in the know, this displays all of the home screens in a miniature form for fast switching between them.
LG has included some of their own widgets on the Optimus 2x. There are way too many for me to talk about or even mention (22 if anyone is interested) but there are a couple good ones, such as the clock and weather widget. As you might guess, this particular widget displays the time and the current and future weather conditions for an area you can select or it can be based on your current location. The maximum and the lowest temperatures are displayed as well as the current temperature. There is also a drop down menu that displays the same information for the week ahead. There is also a nice calendar widget, FM radio widget, a Yahoo! news widget, some nice social networking widgets and some more clock widgets are included as well.
Google services are one of the best things about Android. Everything from email to calendar through to contacts is all natively built into the Optimus 2x and work great.
Like most Android handsets, the Optimus 2x comes with two email clients. The first is LG’s own that works with services such as Microsoft Exchange or any other IMAP or POP email service. So if for some reason you are still using Yahoo! mail or Hotmail, you are covered. The second is the Gmail client from Google that works great with, as you would guess, Gmail. I would personally recommend Gmail however if you are stuck with non-Google email, your options are limited to LG’s pre-installed email client.
The calendar on the Optimus 2x is, as you would expect, is also a very good experience. You can either view appointments in an agenda, day, week or month view. This can sync with your Gmail account for ease of use and just in case the worst happens, all of your appointments are stored in the cloud so you will not lose them. There are two calendar widgets available; LG’s one and the standard Android calendar widget.
Contact syncing is one of the all time great things that have come out of Google. Those who have read my other reviews, will know that I have lost/broken/smashed many phones and I have lost all of my contacts way too many times. So with Google to the rescue, it doesn’t matter if you drop this off a cliff, you will still have your contacts saved with Google.
Text Entry and Keyboards
There are three ways of entering text into the Optimus 2x, which is the standard on most Android handsets. The first is the portrait QWERTY keyboard that will most likely be the way that most people, me included will enter text. Typing on this keyboard is a fairly good experience; no lag, text prediction is good and the letters are about the right size for fast typing. However, there are some pretty big issues. For some unknown reason LG has neglected to place a full stop or any form of a punctuation key on the main typing screen. You can press the spacebar twice in rapid succession to signify that it is the end of the sentence, however many normal users do not know about this shortcut and the fact that you have to navigate to the punctuation screen to do just that, seems unnecessary and pointless. Personally I would much rather have a punctuation key than a smiley key .
The landscape variant of the keyboard on the Optimus 2x is very similar to the portrait one, except that the keys are larger. Everything stays the same, the predictive text, the QWERTY style of the keys and even the lack of a punctuation key.
Voice input is probably the coolest text entry method on Android phones. It is one of the key bullet points on the list of how Android is better than iOS ( I didn’t say it was a long list but there is a list). The ability to simply talk into your handset and for it churn out what you say as text on the screen is a huge plus. I have found voice input on the Optimus 2x much more successful than on any of the other Android phones. I don’t know if it is down to a better quality microphone or something that LG did to the software, but the phone definitely understood me better than any of other Android handsets I have tried. It got it pretty much 95% of the time but there was an issue when I said “LG Optimus 2x Review”, it came back with “LG Optimistic 2 x Review”, I assume that this is because Optimus isn’t actually a word so we’ll let if off that one and the rest of the time returned back exactly what I had said – don’t knock it.
Web browsing is one of the main Smartphone attractions so making it a good experience should be the top of the agenda for any Smartphone manufacturer and it doesn’t disappoint on the Optimus 2x. The browser is the same as those on most other Android handsets and it supports multi touch, pinch-to-zoom, it renders pages extraordinarily fast (which I suspect is down to the Tegra 2 dual-core CPU inside the Optimus 2x) and navigating web pages is a treat. Text reflows to accommodate how far you are zoomed in, so you don’t have to scroll all around the page to read an article or piece of text.
While on the subject of text, words look crisp and clear on the Optimus 2x’s 800 x 480 display but text is not the only thing that looks great on the screen. Pictures and graphics look great in the browser and on the screen as well.
As you would expect, the Optimus 2x’s browser takes advantage of the built-in accelerometer which means you can view the web page that you have loaded in any orientation that you want.
Flash 10.2 is supported in the browser (just like every other phone running Android 2.2 or above) and it works as well as it can on a phone/touch screen.
Unlike most of its Android counterparts, media on the LG Optimus 2x is actually quite good. The music app and music player are both really slick and intuitive and the video player also hits the spot.
The YouTube app pre-installed on the Optimus 2x is exactly the same as any other Android device. You can browse through videos in a number of different categories such as most popular, discussed and most featured. You can also navigate to specific YouTube channels or videos by using the search bar. In terms of video quality, you can either choose between HQ (which is the default when viewing videos on Wi-Fi) and standard quality (which is the default when viewing videos on 3G) but they do playback smoothly most of the time on both of the internet connection types.
You can either view the videos in portrait or landscape. In portrait, the video is at the top and the video information such as the description; comments and related videos are at the bottom of the screen. But landscape is focused on just watching the video. In this orientation, the video fills the entire screen with no disturbances or distractions. You can go between these modes by either turning the handset in the desired orientation or by double tapping the video itself.
LG is giving users a total of 10 pre loaded apps to optionally install on the Optimus 2x, but for those who hate bloat ware, don’t panic, they aren’t installed, they are just present. If you navigate to the Pre Loaded Apps App, you can install any of these 10 apps free of charge. Some of them could actually be quite useful such as Layar, Movie Finder and Shrek Carting.
But LG has also included some non-removable apps as well. F-Secure is a mobile security piece of software that is similar to Lookout Mobile. It scans installed apps and your phone to make sure there aren’t any malicious apps or pieces of data present. But there is an anti-theft setting in this app which I assume can locate, lock and wipe your phone if it gets lost or stolen.
App advisor is another pre-installed app on the Optimus 2x that does exactly what it says on the tin; it advises on what apps you should install on your device. It seems to be topical and location aware as I got recommendations for Royal Wedding apps and London guides. Could be useful for some but I have Google if I need anything!
Remote Call is an app that has puzzled me. I don’t really know why it has been installed, as this app is basically an app that lets a Remote call representative control your phone. No idea why you would need this because the Optimus 2x is an easy phone to understand and use. It might be in case something brakes but a quick reinstall or reboot should squash most bugs. Weird choice LG.
The Optimus 2x has an Tegra 2 chipset inside it so you can use TegraZone, an app congregator that only displays apps that work on Tegra 2 devices. This could be useful for those people who want to get the software that will work best on their phones but I really don’t see a point in this. The Android Market is sufficient.
Camera & Video Recording
The camera UI on the Optimus 2x is different from the stock Android UI, and I think for the better. The buttons are much better looking, there are more options and it seems to be more responsive.
There are many options for taking pictures, more than I can talk about but I will cover the basics. As you would expect, there is a digital zoom, a white balance slider, flash options and image size options. But this is really a feature packed camera and camera UI so there are focus settings, scene modes, ISO settings, colour effects, stabilization and more. It really is filled to the brim with everything you need to take a great photo and the results are great.
At 8MP many would expect the camera on the LG Optimus 2x to be good, and they would be right. It seems to perform well in lowlight situations even without the flash, be able to handle fast moving objects such as cars, and even does well with close up objects.
Check out the pictures below to decide for yourself but in my eyes, they seem to lack something. I can’t put my finger on it though.
To the best of my knowledge, the LG Optimus 2x is the first phone that can record video in full 1080p HD resolution (1920 x 1080). As you might expect, the video produced is very detailed, colours look like the real deal and frame rate is smooth. Whereas the video may be good I have found the audio recording is where it falls down. It isn’t the best but it can handle every day demands and I would say you could replace any ordinary handheld video camera with the video camera on the Optimus 2x.However it’s not going to impress the semi-professional and professional video creatives.
HDMI out is a feature not seen on many devices, but it is a good one. It basically takes whatever is on your phones screen and pushes it out to your TV. This includes games, videos from apps such as BBC iPlayer and photos. Quality seems good, especially when playing videos and games with no lag or artifacts.
As soon as you plug-in the included HDMI to Micro-HDMI cable, it automatically goes into HDMI-out mode which means you do not need to change any settings which could be helpful for non-techie owners.
As you might expect, the Optimus 2x blows away everything in it’s path when it comes to benchmark tests. Scoring 2706 in Quadrant is definitely impressive and this score is certainly one of the highest on any non-rooted device. Doubling other phones tested on this app this should reassure you that this phone is one insanely powerful beast. No doubt that this amazing score is down to the dual-core 1 GHz Tegra 2 CPU inside the Optimus 2x.
Battery and Heat
There was some talk late last year before we had any dual-core chipsets inside any of the phones that there would be extreme issues with the new chips such as it would get incredibly hot and that the battery would suffer beyond help. These concerns are rightfully banished and the Optimus 2x is cool to the touch and battery, if anything is better than most other Android handsets; such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play and the HTC Desire HD.
Signal & Call Quality
My house is in somewhat of a dark spot for mobile reception, especially on Orange and O2. Despite this, the Optimus 2x hasn’t dropped a single call since I have been using it as my main phone. This phone has had the best signal I have seen for a long time in my home, much better than my Desire HD and other review units that I have tried on the same network.
Wi-Fi signal seems normal for what I get around the house. Where I get 2 bars with my Desire HD, I get 2 bars with the Optimus 2x; seems good!
As for call quality, I am pleased to report that voice quality seems as good as any other device that I have used and that if you are in a good signal area, you will not drop the call and will maintain good quality call.
So dual-core, do you need it? No. Should you want it? Yes! Any power user or any smart phone user in fact should really look into upgrading to a smart phone with a dual-core chipset inside it. Why? Well everything is so much faster, your device will be future-proof for the next year and all the latest and greatest apps will go straight to the high-end devices.
However, should you get the LG Optimus 2x (or the G2X for that matter) over any of the other contenders out there like HTC Sensation, the Samsung Galaxy S II and the Motorola Atrix? Well if you are in Europe, I would definitely wait another month or so as you will be able to have more choice in dual-core handsets then rather than now but if you are in the US, I would definitely recommend the Optimus 2x’s cousin, the G2X.
But even though the Optimus 2x is the only dual-core beast on the market, don’t do it down: the screen is fantastic, the speed is truly mind-blowing and the HDMI output is a really cool feature. The hardware capabilities and features are fantastic but my only concern is with the skin placed on top of Android by LG. You can use it with no problem, but it does lag at random times and certain apps that I’ve never had to force closed on my other devices, have had to undergo the “have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again” treatment on the Optimus 2x. These may be teething problems but I am just reporting what I have experienced and as a power user, I found it really annoying.
The LG Optimus 2x is a good phone and smart phone If it just gets over what I hope are just teething problems with the software on the Optimus 2x will be a sure hit for LG, but I think the US counterpart, the G2X will be an even bigger hit as it has vanilla Android rather than LG’s own skin.
Life will hopefully be good with the LG Optimus 2x.
LG Optimus 2x (LG-P990) Specification:
- Operating System: Android Version 2.2 (Froyo) [2.3 Gingerbread update expected after release]
- Processor: 1Ghz Dual Core nVidia Tegra2 AP20H
- Expansion Slot: MicroSDHC Capacity (Up to) 32GB
- RAM: 512MB
- Internal Storage: Capacity 8GB
- Display/Screen: 4″ TFT-LCD Capacitive touch screen 480 x 800
- GSM/GPRS: Frequencies 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- 3G/HSPA: Frequencies 900/2100 MHz
- Bluetooth: 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate, A2DP
- Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
- DLNA: Yes
- Video Out: HDMI
- GPS: A-GPS
- Camera: 8 Megapixels Autofocus and LED flash, Recording 1080p@24fps, 720@30fps
- Front Facing Camera: 1.3MP
- Sensors: G-Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Light Sensor
- Battery: Capacity 1500 mAh
- Dimensions: 126.4 x 63.8 x 10.9 mm
- Weight: 139 g
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