When you’ve faded into the background of the smartphone market, it often takes something really special to get you noticed again. LG certainly grabbed headlines when they announced the world’s first dual-core smartphone, the LG Optimus 2X, in December 2010, and after a miserable year filled with mediocre feature phones, they deserved a break.
Now, not only are expectations high for the first serious smartphone the Korean firm has released in a while, but being the first of its kind, the Optimus 2X also has a benchmark to set. We took it for a ride to find out if it speeds ahead of the rest.
Our first impressions of the LG Optimus 2X were good but not great. The plain black design isn’t particularly eye-catching although the metal Google-branded strip that lines the middle of the back panel gives the handset a hint of personality.
Taking front and centre is the 4 inch TFT 480 x 800 resolution capacitive display with four touch-sensitive navigation buttons lining the bottom. The front panel’s plastic covering feels a little flimsy but the solid smooth rubber backing redeems this design faux-pas and gives the Optimus 2X the premium edge it deserves. It may be on the larger end of the size scale but this handset is a pleasure to hold. It weighs in at 139 grams (although it feels lighter than that), and is thin too, measuring 10.9mm thick.
Power and Operating System
The magic starts to happen as soon as you turn the LG Optimus 2X on. Before we even start putting its speed to the test, we’re greeted by a fantastically bright and crisp picture that really brings this handset to life. Surprisingly for a top of the range smartphone, the Optimus 2X will ship with Android 2.2 Froyo rather than Google’s latest Gingerbread offering. We’re promised an update in the near future but if we’re being completely honest, we didn’t feel like we were missing out on much when we were having a play.
LG has layered a custom semi-skin on top of Froyo which brings with it some nice touches like 3D widgets including a weather one which shows a “feels like” temperature as well as what is actually forecast. The manufacturer has also taken a leaf out of HTC’s book and come up with their own take on the Taiwanese firm’s intuitive ‘pinch-to-leap’ view which allows the user to see all of their homescreens in one go. As you would expect from an Android smartphone, there are seven homescreens on offer, and LG has also gone to town with pre-loading apps onto the Optimus 2X, although some are more useful than others. Facebook, Twitter and MySpace apps come as standard however, when opening an app marked ‘Preloaded Apps’ we encountered an empty menu with no files in it so we’re not quite sure what purpose it’s meant to serve.
Powering the LG Optimus 2X along is a mighty 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core offering. We were promised a speed demon by LG and they’ve certainly delivered as this Optimus baby is extremely whizzy and is likely to satisfy even the most impatient of users. Apps open in an instant and even basic tasks such as swiping through the homescreens is effortless. Pictures render in next to no time but you really see the Optimus 2X come into its element when browsing the web. It isn’t phased by masses of content with text and pictures loading almost immediately, even Flash banners. This could partly be down to LG sticking GPU accelerated Flash onto the handset, a tweak which makes it run more smoothly than other Flash enabled phones. The accelerometer is extremely responsive too and pages render in a snap when you switch between landscape and portrait view. The same goes for watching YouTube videos which play without a hitch, even when you change from one view to another.
If we had one gripe, it was that we found all the whizzing around a little too quick for us and we sometimes ended up hitting the wrong link or knocking the virtual QWERTY away. It’s certainly not a bad thing on LG’s part – we just need some more practice!
Internet: The Optimus 2X comes with a WebKit browser which, as we already mentioned, is a dream to work with. Pages render in an instant and the pinch to zoom function is very responsive. Adobe Flash 10.1 support is on board and as such, the 2X has no problems with playing online animations and video. 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity is available too.
Camera: There are two cameras on the Optimus 2X – an 8 megapixel rear snapper and a 1.3 megapixel front facing imager. The 8 megapixel job comes with an LED flash plus a whole host of shooting options and is also capable of shooting and playing back HD video at 1080p.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – Supports MP3, WAV, WMA, eAAC+ files
- Video player – Supports DivX, Xvid, MP4, H.263, H.264, WMV files
- 8GB internal storage
- 512MB RAM
- MicroSD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB
- Bluetooth 2.1
- HDMI port (cable included in the box)
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 7 hours 50 minutes talk time
Aside from the dual-core processor, there’s no stand-out feature on the Optimus 2X. Yes, from a speed perspective it’s top of the class, but if it wasn’t for that best in the market processor, there would be nothing special about this handset. The dual-core processor element might give it an edge right now but with the Samsung Galaxy S2 recently announced and other dual-core offerings in the pipeline, the 2X may struggle to maintain a ‘wow’ factor to keep punters interested long.
The LG Optimus 2X sets out what is was born to do and does it extremely well. Its lightning speed transitions are a real people pleaser and whatever you ask of it, the 2X will deliver within seconds. Of course, we have some hang-ups over what else it brings to the table but considering what LG has come out with in the past, this is by far one of their best ever smartphones. One thing’s for sure though, once you go dual-core, you will never want to go back!