The LG Optimus 2X is the world’s first smartphone with a dual-core processor- NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chipset to be exact. The Optimus 2X also happens to be an Android phone. With features and capabilities of smartphones on a furious pace upwards, increased processing power is required. Arguably the highest powered Android Phone to date, we were eager to put the 2X through the paces and see how far forward the dual-core could push Android.
LG Optimus 2X: Hardware Review
There is no doubt that the headlining feature on the Optimus 2X is the dual core Tegra 2 processor. But what’s the point in a powerful processor if it’s got nothing cool to power? Fortunately, the 2X is filled with a healthy list of features that stack up competitively against the best of smartphones on the market.
The Optimus 2X has a 4-inch screen with 800 by 480 Pixel resolution – not the most bright or beautiful screen on the market, but definitely top of the line. It’s got a solid 8MP camera (more on that later), HDMI out, 3.5mm headset jack, FM radio tuner, stereo speakers, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and a MicroSD slot capable of 32GB. It’s also got 8GB of internal memory and 512MB RAM.
The build quality of the Optimus 2X is strong. It’s slim (.43 inches) and light (less than 5 ounces), but still feels solid in the hand and is certainly pocketable. I’m not a big fan of the metal stripe on the back, but many others might. It definitely serves as a distinguishing characteristic in a land where smartphones are often hard to tell apart.
With all these great hardware features and a dual-core processor – 2 cores each running at 1GHz – I’m sure you’re wondering how well it powers the Optimus 2X software on Android 2.2. Time to find out.
LG Optimus 2X: Software Review
Running Android 2.2, the Optimus 2X is leveraging a recent but not the latest version of Android. I wouldn’t be too concerned here: while the potential for an OTA upgrade exists, this device hums along just fine without it. LG hasn’t gone through too many pains to improve the Android interface, and that’s a good thing. LG mostly adds subtle inclusions, helpful integrations, and optional widgets, leaving us with the Android we love and a dash of LG spice.
The Optimus 2X has 7 homescreens which you can tone down to 5 or 3 if you’d like. Double tapping the home button or pinching the home screen will offer an overview of your screens for quick jumping. Android’s notifications/status bar has toggle options for sound, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Auto-rotate, and music pinned to the top which is very convenient. The applications tray also comes with additional options and I appreciate the ability to re-organize them in different views, but android’s default alphabetical organization should be made the default option whereas LG initially separates your market downloads and places them at the bottom.
A few thoughtful additions were made in the overall software settings including the ability to change the font used throughout the device, everywhere from the app titles to web pages viewed in the browser. On a more functional note, LG has included gesture options, one of which I really enjoyed. If you tap on the side of your device, you can actually nudge the cursor a character over. I found this really helpful when trying to edit text messages or e-mails where you’ve made a typo. Tap the left, right, top or bottom of your phone to nudge the cursor right, left, down or up. Think of it as pushing it in a specific direction. Most of the other gestures are rather pointless, but a few definitely deserve attention.
As with most Android Phones, the Optimus 2X comes with a bunch of pre-installed applications, most of which you can ignore. The LG App Advisor, Browsing Protection, and F-Secure are all fluff. Apps like Facebook for LG and Twitter for LG you’ll want to replace with the company’s official app from Android Market. One interesting addition was the TegraZone which provides news and game suggestions from NVIDIA. This is important because it helps you discover the graphic rich games that will best take advantage of the Tegra 2 processor. NVIDIA let us know that this app won’t come pre-installed on the Optimus 2X and that instead it’ll be downloadable from Android Market- the version you see in the video is only a beta.
I did hit a couple small speedbumps. On rare occasion the notification bar stuttered for a second and on one occasion my device actually rebooted without notice. I’ve been playing with the phone a couple weeks and they are definitely the exception to an otherwise awesome experience, but I thought I should make this mention. There is also a teal color seen throughout the UI which some people might not be overly fond of… and to those people I point to Android Market.
LG Optimus 2X: Multimedia Review
The dual core processor works wonders for the multimedia features of the Optimus 2X. Whether you’re browsing the web, watching video, listening to music and multi-tasking, playing games or anything else, the Optimus 2X is fast and enjoyable. My personal favorite feature is HDMI mirroring which allows you to view every thing you’re doing on your phone on a big screen television, right down to swiping between homescreens, playing games, watching videos and browsing the web.
Similar to the software review, it isn’t easy to review something that simply works like it’s supposed to work. Putting the Optimus 2X through the paces proved to be an enjoyable multimedia experience from every vantage point. The Tegra 2 allowed high definition video and high action games to run equally smooth without any noticeable issues. I’m especially excited for the HDMI mirroring, similar technologies, and the impact they could have on Android gaming.
Multimedia buffs will benefit from the Optimus 2X processor, allowing them to enjoy their media more smoothly and multi-task without hesitation.
LG Optimus 2X: Camera Review
For the most part, camera and camcorder reviews should rest on one single criteria: how do the pictures and videos turn out? The LG Optimus 2X and it’s 8MP camera does an above average job taking both pictures and videos. Although some pictures were grainy and motion videos were expectedly choppy, remember this is still a mobile phone camera and for typical users it will be more than adequate. The flash impressed me and was better than expected and I felt the audio quality in videos was great.
Here are some of the video and picture samples taken from the device – click the pics to enlarge:
The outdoor pictures seem a little more washed out than they probably should, but I don’t blame the Optimus. Not only are the outdoors glowing white because of the snow, but it’s completely overcast and partially raining, so what you see is actually exactly how it felt/looked outside – yucky. Below check out how well the flash works both inside and outside.
In the first picture the indoor lights were on and in the second the room was completely pitch black – I was really impressed with the quality of the result:
I’m outdoors in this picture so there were no “lights”… check out the pitch black picture and how well the flash worked all things considered:
I’d say that’s pretty darn good. The movie posters give a pretty good idea at how vibrant the colors are – nicely done LG. Zoom in by viewing the full-size picture and you’ll be MUCH less impressed, but I doubt many of you are hoping to use your phone pictures for full-sized posters anyways, right?
Aside from the actual output of the camera and camcorder, I examined the options available when snapping pics and taking vids. I was really impressed with LG’s job on the camera UI, especially on the two-paned left/right advanced options settings- I loved this. I could nitpick and point out a few things I didn’t like – zoom buttons and camera/video toggle for example – but overall I walked away really impressed.
LG also offers a host of features for mobile artistry. Definitely toy around with them and find which ones you might want to use as go-to options. I find them more for fun than anything else, but who doesn’t like to have some fun?
Don’t forget the Optimus 2X also has a front-facing 1.3MP camera that can be used for self-pics, applying makeup, video calls or any other reason you may find it useful. The purpose here is practicality so don’t expect quality out of the front-facing pics, but for a 1.3MP camera it got the job done better than expected.
LG Optimus 2X: Dual Core Processor
You didn’t think I was going to do this full review without highlighting the most important feature, did you? It may not be the most sexy thing to talk about and it’s hard to visualize the results or help the average consumer understand, but NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 processor really takes the Optimus 2X from being another solid Android phone to being one of the big boys on the block.
The dual-core processor can help speed and stability across a number of tasks: CPU, web browsing and load times, graphics processing in video and games, flash rendering and much more. Take for example multi-tasking; look how the Optimus 2X is aided by the Tegra 2 performance improvements:
I’ve heard many people complaining and contending that Android 2.2 doesn’t support dual-core processors and that the Optimus 2X performance results are nothing more than myth. Well, I spoke with NVIDIA themselves who make the processor and they had this to say:
Yes, Froyo itself and various apps, especially games, are multithreaded and take advantage of the dual cores.
Performing benchmarks such as Quadrant also showed the Optimus 2X blowing the competition out of the water. You get the feeling that the processor on the 2X is powerful, but nothing beats looking at benchmarks and performing tests yourself. From what I’ve seen, Tegra 2 on the Optimus 2X works wonders for the device and it’s much of the reason you’ll enjoy the performance of this smartphone so much.
LG Optimus 2X: Odds & Ends
It’s pretty sad that call quality has gotten pushed to an odds and ends category of a phone review, but the reality is that making phone calls is only a small part of our priorities. I found the call quality to be great on the Optimus 2X: other people could hear me crystal clear, and while there seemed to be some random pops, clicks and fizz on the receiving end, that could have also been due to the other caller’s outgoing signal/clarity. Overall call quality was strong.
Battery life is a hugely important issue with smartphones and many people might even rank its importance above call quality. It’s hard to do a thorough analysis of battery life because people use their devices in much different ways. I banged on the Optimus 2X with video, calls, web browsing, games, music and the whole 9 yards and found battery life to be adequate. As with most smartphones, keep a charger handy in places it matters (home, work, car) and remember that pretty much all phones these days use Micro USB chargers so you won’t have to keep purchasing them with every new phone. Also keep an eye out for extended batteries which will make your phone more plump but definitely lengthen the uptime life.
If you have other odds and ends questions feel free to ask in the comments or discuss on the Optimus 2X Forum.
LG Optimus 2X: The Bottom Line
Welcome to Android, LG. Although the Optimus One and a couple other mid-range LG Android Phones have graced the shelves, none of them come close to reaching the class of the Optimus 2X. It will forever live in history as the first smartphone and first Android phone equipped with a dual-core processor, but more importantly the Optimus 2X marks the start of LG’s march into high-end Android territory. If the Optimus 2X is any indication, LG will be a rock solid Android competitor pumping out high-end Androids for the foreseeable future.
The LG Optimus 2X runs incredibly smooth atop the Tegra 2 processor and Android 2.2, zipping in and out of a full set of multimedia features. Multimedia and gaming are excellent, HDMI mirroring is awesome, and the the 8MP camera and HD camcorder are more than adequate. It’s hard to find something to dislike about this phone, but the obvious objection is it only runs Android 2.2. That’s a complaint I’d mostly dismiss as the Optimus 2X runs quite beautifully on 2.2, not to mention it’ll only get better if upgraded to 2.3… and keep in mind with a dual-core processor the Optimus 2X is future proof to some degree – this phone should age well.
I’d highly recommend the LG Optimus 2X – it’s a solid, overall powerful phone and won’t disappoint. Head on over to our Optimus 2X Forum to continue the discussion.