LG’s Optimus 2X was the first dual-core Android phone to be announced this year and provides with a taste of things to come. It’s got a cracking camera that can record Full HD video (1920 x 1088) and can play the latest and greatest high end games from the Android Market. But it also runs on Android 2.2 Froyo, instead of the latest version, 2.3 Gingherbread. But with a future update to 2.3 in the pipeline, does this matter? And what else does the 2X have to offer? Read on to find out.
What we like
There’s so much to like about the LG Optimus 2X its hard to know where to begin. We’ll start with the fact that it’s a dual-core phone (the first announced), running on Nvidia’s much-talked about Tegra 2 chip. In layman’s terms this basically means for faster web page loading, better graphics, better multitasking - a better overall smartphone experience.
For the most part, the 2X lives up to the dual-core hype. Things like thumbing through menus, switching from one app to another, to the speed at which the camera app loads are buttery smooth and lightning fast.
Obviously, the speed at which you browse the web will largely depend on your network/how good your Wi-Fi connection is. But we did notice little things like pinch to zoom working fluidly and pages quickly re-rendering once you’d switched from portrait to landscape.
The graphics of games titles downloaded via the Tegra Zone were stunning. History Great Battles Medieval in particular looked and handled incredibly well on the 2X - even more impressive when you consider it’s a game that’s ideally played on an Android tablet.
Then again, the Optimus 2X’s screen does measure a not inconsiderable 4-inches, giving you ample elbow room. And most tablets like the Motorola Xoom feature the same Tegra 2 processor, so perhaps this is a moot point. But this is the first dual-core phone we've had some proper hands-on time with, having previously only seen/briefly played these games on tablets.
The 2X is as responsive as you’d like it to be too, so whether you’re issuing orders to virtual troops, checking Google Maps, or web browsing you can click, twist, pinch and zoom with little to no effort.
The main camera on the LG Optimus 2X is really impressive. It’s an 8-megapixel beast that comes with a huge range of settings and features. We were particularly wowed by the macro setting, which allowed us to take some detailed close up shots - see our Optimus 2X photo gallery here.
As well as this we played around with the video recorder, the first of its kind on a phone to offer Full HD video recording. Little clips and videos we filmed looked great when we watched them back on both the 2X’s 4-inch screen and on a big 32-inch plasma TV.
HDMI support is a feature we’re going to see a lot of in high-end smartphones this year. Basically this means that you can watch or play what’s on your phone on an HD Ready TV, provided it’s got an HDMI input.
Obviously the main reason you’ll want to do this is to show off the high definition capabilities of your snazzy new smartphone to your mates. But it’s also good to know that non-HD stuff like YouTube videos, programmes watched on the BBC iPlayer app, Google Maps and Angry Birds looked good on a big screen as well. Ok, not amazing, but better than we’d hoped.
LG is bunging a micro HDMI to HDMI cable in the box with the 2X, so you’ve got everything you need right away.
The fact that the 2X runs Android 2.2 Froyo instead of the current 2.3 Gingerbread feels a little dumb. Not being able to manage apps or make use of the better cut and paste is annoying, but thankfully LG has promised a 2.3 update for the summer, so this should be rectified long term.
Also, since the majority of the Android apps require 2.2+ this is less of a big deal compared to a phone from last year running 2.1 (or 1.6 *cough cough Xperia X10*) when Froyo had been out for a while.
What we don’t like
We found the quality of voice calls on the Optimus 2X to be pretty poor. Though not utterly inaudible, calls didn’t feel anywhere near as clear or loud as you’d we’d have liked on an expensive, high end smartphone.
Games like Dungeon Defenders and Monster Madness perform admirably on the 2X... most of the time. Very occasionally, high end games really start to lock up and slow down.
We’re not sure if this is down to the battery getting too hot (it does seems to heat up very quickly) or the 2X struggling to do a bunch of other things (syncing accounts, emails, app updates) in the background, while juggling a high res game with thousands of polygons.
Like we said, this only happened to us every now and then. But on two occasions, this meant that we failed the levels we were playing on Dungeon Defenders. It’s ok, we’re over it now (just about), but it was pretty annoying at the time.
There are also a few graphical glitches, like the unlock animation often freezing up, which jars with the otherwise smooth user experience. Not a huge problem, one that we could easily live with. But it’s like buying a new pair of jeans or some designer threads and spotting some loose stitching - once you’ve noticed it, it’s hard to ignore.
LG has pre-installed its own Facebook and Twitter apps on the 2X. While these aren’t terrible, they’re also not on par with the official apps, which you can download from the Android Market for free. Annoyingly, you can’t seem to be able to delete these LG apps either. Well as the saying goes, if you can’t delete them, ignore them. We’d advise you to do just this and go straight for the official Facebook and Twitter apps.
Though the 2X is indeed ‘the first dual-core smartphone’, it’s by no means the last. Over the coming weeks and months we’re going to be seeing many more dual-core Android phones. It’ll remain to be seen whether the 2X can hold it’s own against the competition. But for the time being, the LG Optimus 2X is the most powerful Android smartphone out there, hands down.
Finally, it probably shouldn’t have to be said, but the battery life of the Optimus 2X isn’t great. This depends of course on what you’re actually doing on it. If you’re browsing the web or playing games then it’s going to drain battery life like a thirsty dog on a hot day.
We’d recommend to charge charge charge as often as possible. Take a USB cable/adapter with you everywhere.
The LG Optimus 2X is a seriously powerful piece of kit. We love the 8-megapixel camera with it’s settings and Full HD recording, and we love the HDMI-out option. It’s not without its flaws; call quality is iffy and you will want to watch the battery. It also remains to be seen how well the 2X will compare long term - if you’re undecided about which dual-core Android phone to go for we’d advise you to wait for now.
However if you’re not an obsessive spec-checker and just want a powerful phone with a great camera, then the LG Optimus 2X will more than satisfy.