A number of manufacturers unveiled new Android smartphones at CES 2011, but the phone everyone was talking about came from LG. The LG Optimus 2X is an absolute beauty. The new Nvidia Tegra 2 processor provides dual-core processing power for the speediest operation yet. It’s liable to pop up in a lot more smartphones over the coming year and you’ll also find it in the Motorola Atrix 4G. The LG Optimus 2X also has raft of other impressive features which we’ll get into in a moment.
This release marks a new strategy from LG. They battled their way into the Android smartphone market at the budget end, although they have enjoyed some success with their mid-range Optimus line. Taking a leaf from Samsung’s book with the Galaxy S carrier branding, LG did the same, releasing the LG Optimus T, M, S, U and V. The LG Optimus 2X is a major step up for the line and it looks like LG are now launching an assault on the high-end of the Android market.
The LG Optimus 2X is due out in Q1 of 2011, and it is liable to be the most powerful smartphone on the market, for a while at least. New smartphones come out at such a rate that it will be overtaken, but getting a dual-core beast like this out early does give LG a real chance to grab some high-end custom before their competitors. We’ll just have to wait and see if it will lead to long term success against stiff competition from HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola.
Design (5 out of 5)
The LG Optimus 2X features a classic candy bar style. The front is one huge piece of glass with the touchscreen and the four standard Android controls beneath. The Menu, Home, Back and Search are all touch sensitive and only faintly visible when the backlight turns off. The back is matte black plastic. It’s not the thinnest phone, the dimensions are 4.88x2.49x0.43 inches and it weighs a fairly light 4.9oz. It has rounded corners and is comfortable to handle.
The microUSB port is on the bottom, along with speaker and microphone grills. The right spine features the volume controls. The left spine has nothing at all. On the top you’ll find the power button, mini-HDMI out (with cover) and the 3.5mm headphone port. The back of the phone has a silver strip down the middle sporting the Google logo. You’ll also find the 8MP camera and the LED flash. There is a front facing camera for video calls as well. Sadly there is no dedicated camera button so it’s onscreen controls only.
The 4 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display features a resolution of 800x480 pixels but unfortunately it doesn’t have LG’s NOVA technology which is supposed to increase brightness and reduce the battery power required by up to half (found in the LG Optimus Black). It certainly remains readable in most lighting conditions and features good viewing angles.
User Interface (4 out of 5)
The phone will likely ship with Android 2.2 which is a big disappointment since Android 2.3 is out now. No doubt it will get an update but how soon? LG has decided to tweak the interface so it’s not stock Android. They’ve basically added four shortcuts along the bottom of the home screens (Phone, Contacts, Messages and App Launcher) and they’ve tweaked the layout a bit. It might have been more sensible to stick with vanilla Android and then the upgrade would be that much easier, but there’s nothing wrong with the changes they’ve made. The user interface offers a typical Android experience and it is very easy to navigate around and find what you want. The swipe animations are slick and thanks to the powerful processor everything runs very smoothly.
Features (5 out of 5)
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the features of the LG Optimus 2X. The big thing is obviously the new processor. Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processors are set to start appearing in several smartphones this year. For fans of gaming and high definition movie watching, this is going to be a big boost. For casual users it might not be such a big deal.
The LG Optimus 2X has 8GB of storage and you can expand it up to 32GB with a microSD card. That’s going to be plenty for most people. It has a good music player with virtual surround sound and there’s a mini-music player option, so you can control tracks without having to enter the app.
The camera is a step up from the standard 5MP at 8MP and the camcorder can record high definition 1080p footage. With the HDMI out option that’s going to be great, and it will be easy to hook it up to your TV and watch your videos back.
There are no real surprises with the other features - all high end smartphones have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and speakerphone functions. Naturally you can surf the web, send emails and access social networking sites. There are also plenty of messaging options and voice recognition support.
With access to the Android Market you’ll be able to download a wide variety of apps and games, and the LG Optimus 2X is powerful enough to run everything beautifully.
Performance (5 out of 5)
The Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor offers high speed performance and it makes using the LG Optimus 2X extremely smooth with no lag. This is a definite boost over the standard high-end 1GHz single core processor smartphones and is especially noticeable when watching HD movies and playing demanding games. The processor is backed by 512MB of RAM which is a bit disappointing when you consider the Motorola Atrix boasts 1GB of RAM.
The battery is a 1500mAh which is another disappointment when compared to the Atrix which has a 1930mAh battery.
Verdict (5 out of 5)
The LG Optimus 2X is an excellent Android smartphone. It is one of the most powerful offerings due to hit the market in early 2011, and the ability to capture 1080p footage puts it ahead of the competition. Unfortunately the camera and camcorder is the only feature that puts it ahead of the Motorola Atrix 4G and for people seeking the highest specs possible, the Atrix looks like a better bet. Much will depend on pricing, which is still to be announced, although early pre-order information suggests that it will be cheaper than the Atrix.
Check out the LG Optimus 2X vs iPhone 4 comparison.