LG Optimus 2x in-depth review -

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Look and feel

The weakest thing about the LG Optimus 2X. It's not that the build quality is bad, it's just it lacks that prestigious feel its counterparts ooze.

Ease of use

Whether it's synching your social networks, setting up email or simply navigating your way around the LG skinned Android UI, you'll be up and running in no time.

Features

A four-inch display, eight-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, A-GPS and social networking feeds are all powered with a dual-core processor.

Performance

The dual-core processor ensures a lightning fast experience in all that you do, while the HD video recording options are exceptional.

Battery life

An acceptable battery life of 70 minutes talktime and 400 hours standby, though be careful of any apps running in the background as this will rapidly reduce your juice levels.

 LG Optimus 2x Review -
4

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/18/2011 10:05:54 AM

10

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

6

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Dual-core processor, four-inch display and eight-megapixel camera that is capable of recording video in high definition.

Cons:

The look and feel of the phone lacks the wow factor of some of its contemporaries.

LG likes world firsts. They were the first to introduce a true watch phone, and only this year they unveiled the world's first ever 3D mobile, in the shape of the LG Optimus 3D. From the same family, the LG Optimus 2X is another debutant in that it's the first handset to boast a dual-core processor which, at least in theory makes this the most powerful handset to date. However, firsts aren't always those that last in the memory. Hopefully LG will prove this sentiment wrong.

Look and feel

The centrepiece of the LG Optimus 2X is the domineering four-inch display. To accommodate it, LG has made the handset a rather long device. There's quite a bit of room both above and below the display, but these are filled by a front facing camera and various touch-keys respectively. Despite its length, it's far from bulky maintaining a slimmish waistline. This is achieved by the back of the handset curving in behind the phone. The back of the phone has its own centrepiece. Running through the middle of the phone is a metallic strip with 'Google' emblazoned across it. Yes in case you were in any doubt this is a Google Android phone. We found it to be a bit of an eyesore and think that if LG (or perhaps Google) had to include it then it could have doubled up as a lens protector for the eight-megapixel camera that sits exposed just above it. Especially when we tell you how good the camera credentials are, though you'll have to wait a little longer for that.

 

Apart from the volume keys found on the right hand side of the device, and the power/lock key found at the top there are no actual hard keys on the Optimus 2X. As mentioned, just under the display are four touch-keys; Settings (these relate to what function you are in), Home Key (press this once and you'll return to your main homepage, but press it again and you'll see thumbnails of all seven of your home screens), Back Key, and a Search Key. The search key unsurprisingly takes you to a Google search engine, but as well typing in your text you can also press the microphone key that enables you to dictate it. Ok so we've seen this function on Android devices since version 2.1, but it's worth highlighting here as it works exceptionally well. You can even switch the locations setting on so that all your results will be in conjunction with your current position. For example, say 'restaurants' and the search will bring up a list of those currently closest to you.

Overall we were far from bowled over by the design of the LG Optimus 2X. It's by no means an ugly duckling or badly assembled - you can easily remove the back which is handy if you often hot swap your memory cards - but it lacks that wow factor and the fashion conscious among you will be drawn to more eye catching devices such as the HTC Desire HD or the iPhone 4.

Google Android

The LG Optimus 2X may be sporting the world's first dual-core processor, but sadly it runs on Android 2.2. Froyo. The good news is that a Gingerbread update is around the corner and besides the only real key features that the Optimus 2X will be missing before the update is a superior battery life and faster processing power, something that you won't be left wanting as the dual-core processor ensures the handset is already no slow coach. There's also no near field communication (NFC) technology installed so even when the 2.3 update arrives you won't be able to utilise that facility. LG has however, included a front facing 1.3-megapixel camera, which will enable video calling.

Dual-core processor

Ok so this dual-core processor, what does mean? In a word, "speed". The product of NVIDIA, a graphics processor developer, the dual-core Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip promises faster web browsing, better multitasking of applications and a less bumpy ride when gaming compared to single-core processors. How did we find it? True to its word. The loading process, be it of applications, or webpages really was electric and when we initially returned to using a single 1GHz processor  handset we found ourselves irrationally impatient. This bodes well for the future as LG isn't the only manufacturer to unveil plans of embedding their handsets with dual-core processors.

 

The gaming process was also top notch, offering a true high definition experience. There's a host of titles to choose from, from the pre-installed Tegra Zone, which not only lists what's available but also has a news feed with all the latest titles available and what's coming soon. Our only gripe lay with the fact that there didn't appear to be any demo option and with some titles costing in the region of $9.99 we can't help but feel this is a big ask of faith.

Customisation

Despite its firepower LG has made the Optimus 2X a cinch to get to grips with. LG has put its own skin on the UI, but those who have used Android phones before will be up and running in no time. Setting up your various social networks along with your email accounts, be it Gmail or other, is a simple case of typing in your username and password. The user interface coupled with the 480 x 800 pixels display is impressively clear, though again it didn't blow is away like the Samsung Galaxy S' Super AMOLED display or the iPhone 4's Retina Display. With seven home screens you can of course customize them with the usual array of widgets and shortcuts, while you can also create and name folders. So for example you could store all the contacts from your football team in a folder titled, I don't know, 'football', or all your games in another called 'games'.

 

The menu can also be customised. Firstly to fire it up press the applications virtual icon found in the bottom right hand corner of all the home screens. You can then change the menu from a vertical grid system (i.e. one you slide up and down) to a horizontal grid (i.e. one you slide from left to right) to a simple list format with all your applications and programs arranged in alphabetical order. You can even create your own categories arranging what apps go together making it easier for you to locate them.

 

As with generic Android phones, there's a pull down bar at the top of the home screen where you'll receive any text or email notifications. However, LG has tweaked this as well. There's still the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS on/off keys, but there's also a mute and auto-rotate facility. Below this are the controls for the music player, which in itself is capable of playing a booming sound thanks to the dual speakers found at the bottom of the device. In something of a masterstroke however, you can still access the music controls when the phone is locked. You'll need to awaken the phone by pressing the power key and the music player already needs to be playing, but then you can slide the top of the display in a downwards motion to reveal the music keys. It's a useful function for when you're on the move and you can't be bothered to open up the menu and the way its designed means you won't need to worry about accidentally hitting the pause button while it rests in your pocket.

 

LG has preloaded the Optimus 2X with a host of its own apps, some of which are kind of quirky. Of course you'll get a much better selection from the Android market, but the 'News & Weather' app was a particular favourite of ours, correlating headlines and links from all the major news outlets and categorising them into weather, top stories, UK, sports, and entertainment. LG's 'social feeds' app does a job, in that it regularly updates your Facebook and Twitter news feeds, but they are kept separate and while we personally prefer this, we know that many of you like them integrated, which is why an Android download may appeal more.

Camera credentials

The still photographic credentials of the LG Optimus 2X are excellent with a feature packed eight-megapixel camera complete with LED flash, touch-focus (which enables you to highlight on the screen the area of the shot you want in most detail) and those snappy stalwarts smile and face detection. However, all of this is in pale significance when compared to the video camera. Not only is the LG Optimus 2X capable of playing high definition video, it can also capture it. While both look great on the handset's four-inch display, sometimes you just need more. LG has kitted their powerhouse with an HDMI jack (sadly a lead is not included) and once hooked up to an HDMI TV, voila you'll be able to watch your movies with all the family. Don't have an HDMI TV, but have a DLNA compatible device? Then you're also in luck. Through LG's nifty SmartShare app you'll be able to stream any content saved on your Optimus 2X wirelessly. Often with these functions, the video files can appear a tad pixelated on a larger screen. Not with the LG Optimus 2X, giving you a true high definition experience.

 

There's no dedicated camera key, a particular bug bear of Mobile Choice but the results are so good that we forgave this omission. Once you've shot your video or snapped your photo there's plenty of post editing functions you can use to tweak your work while you're a few clicks away from uploading them to the web.

Conclusion

The LG Optimus 2X is a beast of a phone. In terms of speed and power, we're yet to encounter a true rival. If you're a heavy browser or keen gamer then this handset is worth serious consideration. Likewise the video camera is capable of capturing some of the best footage we've seen on a mobile phone. Yet sadly it doesn't quite have that X factor that some of its rivals do. That said it's great to see LG showing the rest of the class what's possible, and we can only hope they follow suit, learning from both the Optimus 2X's virtues and shortcomings.

Danny Brogan