LG Optimus 2X

It won't win beauty pageants, but the 2X stays ahead of the pack with its blazing-fast performance and great multimedia experience with HDMI out.


9.0
CNET Rating
8.6
User Rating

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LG is probably a brand you have throughout your house; in your living room, your kitchen and your laundry, but it's unlikely, given its local market-share, that you carry an LG in your pocket or purse. The Korean jack of all trades has long produced phones with style and a focus on media, but mostly without guts. Well, not any more. In 2011, LG is hoping to turn the tide on its co-patriots Samsung and make a dash for smartphone supremacy with the latest Nvidia hardware.

Design

Perhaps the most unremarkable part of the Optimus 2X is its physical design. As we continue on through this review we'll highlight tech firsts and class-leading features, but none of these pertain to the look and feel of the phone. At 10.9mm, the 2X is on the chunky side where many of the top dogs have produced phones slimmer than 9mm. It's heavier too, at 139g, adding 20 per cent to the weight of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

There are two standout features to take note of, however. Firstly is the HDMI-out port on the top of the handset, used to mirror the phone display on a large screen display, like a TV or computer monitor. This feature works well, with the output image capable of presenting up to 1080p resolution.

If you don't feel ready to plug your phone into the telly, or you can't be bothered forking out for a micro HDMI cable (LG doesn't include one in the box), you'll be left staring at the handset's 4-inch WVGA display, and what a beautiful display it is. LG employs its In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD technology in this panel, similar to the screens the company reportedly sold to Apple for its iPhone Retina display, and the results are equally good here. The colours are rich and bright, the blacks are decent, the screen is sharp and clear. Even when you view the screen off-axis you still get a great image. LG also opts for Corning Gorilla Glass, so this stunning screen should be safe from the keys in your pocket.

LG powers the 2X with a suitably sized 1500mAh battery and includes a microSD card slot under the battery cover so that you can expand on its 8GB of internal storage with up to 32GB using a third-party microSD memory card..

User experience

Previous LG smartphones have been almost universally tainted by bad user experiences. Either LG bakes in a clunky, confusing custom UI, as it did in the past with phones like the LG Arena, or, as it's done with earlier Androids, it avoids contributing to the user experience altogether. The 2X is the first time we can remember enjoying our time using an LG smartphone. The Android system has been customised, but not to the detriment of usability or speed. The 2X is astonishingly fast, and the LG UI layer on top of Android is well thought out with some great short cuts hidden across the home screens and app drawer.

For example, when you pull down the notifications windows you'll find quick settings toggles for Wi-Fi, GPS, auto sync, screen brightness and a screen orientation lock. This is a simple addition, but it saves you cluttering up the home screens with similar tools and helps to remind you of the ways you can extend your battery life. LG has also incorporated a pinch preview for its seven home screens, allowing the user to reveal thumbnails of all active windows with a pinching gesture on any home screen. We also like the new options in the app draw, with three ways to lay out your various pages of apps, and the option to delete apps from within the app drawer using the "edit" option, rather than having you dig around in the system settings for the Manage Applications menu.

Camera

Given the slick, fast UI and the glorious screen, we were a bit disappointed when we discovered the performance of the 8-megapixel camera wouldn't match this pleasing trend. It's a passable shooter, with a flash, autofocus and the range of software tweaks we're used to seeing in a camera phone, but the pics it takes are nothing to write home about. The camera is reasonably fast, and the focus is good, but the sensor struggles with bright light sources, and colour reproduction tends to be pretty flat and dull.

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

Media and the web

With its Tegra processor, the Optimus 2X is extremely capable at both online activities and multimedia. Running on Android 2.2 means that this headset is Flash compatible and that it makes use of a very good mobile web browser. Accessing mobile sites like YouTube and Vimeo is both easy and fast, though we would recommend you switch Flash playback to on-demand for best performance in everyday browsers (browser settings > Enable Plug-ins > On demand).

The Optimus 2X is also a well-rounded media player, with 8GB of storage and file support for DivX, XviD, H.264, MP4 and WMV video, plus MP3, ACC, WAV and WMA audio. Video playback in particular is fantastic, with fast execution of files and seamless timeline skipping even on high-resolution files. This becomes important when you put the handset's HDMI-out port to the test. Once connected to a TV the 2X mirrors on the second screen what you see on your handset. Playing movies looks and works extremely well, the only thing to keep in mind is once you output a high-resolution image to the TV screen you will see a dip in the performance across the system. This is nothing to be too concerned about, we still found that processor-intensive tasks, like games, didn't suffer too much, if at all.

When you first connect the 2X to a PC you'll be prompted to install the latest version of LG PC Suite off of the phone's internal memory. With PC Suite you can sync and back-up contacts, messages and media created on the phone, but we were disappointed that the software doesn't transcode and optimise video on your computer before pushing it to the handset. The backup features are great, but if you only use PC Suite for media transfers it is simpler to just drag-and-drop files from your PC.

Performance

As we've mentioned several times already, the Optimus 2X is a fast smartphone. We did notice some minor animation stutter while the phone caches elements of the home screen and menus when you first power-up the phone, but after this, if your experience is like ours, it should be smooth sailing all the way. That said, we'll be very interested to see how the phone performs after LG pushes out the upcoming Android 2.3 Gingerbread update, with all the code tweaking and stability enhancements Gingerbread brings.

Speaking of firmware, we have read numerous reports of software instability with the 2X, with early adopters in Europe and South Korea complaining about their handsets randomly rebooting as often as once a day. Even our friends at Ausdroid had this experience with an imported handset. The good news is that these issues appear to have been ironed out in a recent firmware patch and that all new Australian stock should work as intended. We haven't experience a single reboot or crash during the weeks we have been testing the 2X and, fingers crossed, neither should you.

The battery life that we experienced using the 2X averaged out at about 16 hours between charges, which is not terribly exciting, but it is better than the battery life we've seen from other dual-core smartphones so far this year. We didn't have any difficulty getting through a busy day with the 2X, but we always put it on the wall charger before going to bed in the evening.

Overall

There is a lot to like about LG's first dual-core smartphone. The combination of its superb display and excellent performance should be enough to satisfy most people looking for a top-tier smartphone, but once you add its excellent media playback and HDMI output, we think you'll find a phone that represents excellent value, especially at LG's RRP of AU$649.

It's not quite perfect, of course. We wish the camera was better and we'd like to see more internal storage included, plus its physical design lacks the flair we had come to expect from LG's design team, but these are minor quibbles in regards to everything this phone does right. Plus, a quick scan of the XDA forums suggests this is an easy phone to root and tinker with, an important consideration if you're looking for a phone to modify with custom software.



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PravXY
3
Rating
 

"May have been the first dual core phone, but is plagued with bugs"

PravXY posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great display & ok battery, could work better if rooted

The Bad:Read below

I whole-heartedly agree with AlbertoM, this phone may have been the first dual-core phone produced with the nVidia Tegra chipset, but boy does it come with its problems. This phone is so horrible that it has convinced me to never purchase a LG phone ever again.

The 2X was supposed to be my "upgrade" from the iPhone 4 as I wanted to switch to android. As there weren't many "next gen" options early last year (only the Atrix, the 2X and the SGS II in pre-order) I selected the 2X as I heard there were a plethora of issues with activating and cellular network dropouts on the Atrix.

The software absolutely DESTROYED the phone as Gan said. It has a great display, practically can't see much difference from the iPhone 4 display and it sports IPS. But man, the stock LG rom/software is trash. Phone reboots by itself almost everyday for me and it occasionally heats up extremely fast for no apparent reason which causes me to take out the battery. Not to mention the multiple freezes and the horrible lag when left alone for some time. This phone will frustrate you to the bone especially if you need to get information fast.

If I had known these issues, I would've undoubtedly waited for the SGS II. The phone doesn't have great design either -- it's pretty much a flop. The only way I can see this being a decent phone is through rooting, otherwise don't even think about getting this garbage.

I generally give more optimistic reviews, but I just cannot bare the 2X's bugs -- it kills you inside.

DuaneT Facebook
8
Rating
 

"Very good phone, might be better with gingerbread."

DuaneT posted a review   

The Good:Smooth great screen feels solid. Everything works. Stable

The Bad:Battery flat after 15-16hrs. No gingerbread yet.

Great Phone
I have had this phone a week and love it. Everything works and has been completely stable, running latest version of OS. I hope gingerbread comes out soon as I think this is what its missing.

 

"The worst thing technology has created"

AlbertoM posted a comment   
Australia

The Good:All is just great

The Bad:Nothing works properly

1 battery drains in less than 15 hours using it without using it may be 22
2 lg software is just lame not working properly create so many problems with the android
3 RRR Random Restarts Rebooting continuously
4 Overheating noticed bit of temperature during gps use and then gone shut down by it self have to remove battery in order to turn it on again
5 LG customer support sucks up tight people careless of the customer rude I bought it on asia and they say sorry we can't give you support the mobile wasn't bought in Australia what king of answer is that in this global market aaas
6 software update not available for Mac just for pc
Conclusion is like having the best car in the whole world without support and no engine so is just good for photos !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MichaelE2 Facebook
10
Rating
 

"Who cares about the camera? This phone is the ducks guts!"

MichaelE2 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything, amazing phone for the price. The screen is GOD! I have never seen anything like it!

The Bad:Camera not so good. Effort to use power button a little annoying.

I researched phones to buy, extensively, because I wanted to get it right this time with so many hits & misses over the past couple of years......first there was iPhone, o.k. but not fantastic plus I hate being locked into an operating system that tells you what it wants you to do (isn't that like Communism?). Steve Jobs should read '1984' by George Orwell. He could learn a thing or two about trying to control people vs. what they want! Next was a couple of HTC's. No real complaints there I guess. My original Desire with an AMOLED screen was brilliant (then they went to cheapo LED screens which really spoiled the experience). I 'upgraded' to a HTC Desire HD which had great screen real estate but was a bit of a let down in terms of low light performance (primarily due to another low lit, low colour res LCD screen) & then I really missed my original Desire! I was looking at going back to Apple faced with the choice vs. cost of current phone choices. In the end, the Apple is simply too expensive for what you get. I'm not paying $800 for a phone which has basically been proven flawed in many areas & I didn't want Steve to 'own' me again so I went looking again....& looking.....&looking....Getting released from the Desire HD contract (not the phones fault because I could live with that phone, rather disgraceful carrier issues) I needed a phone outright (off contract). I originally set my limit at $350 for a phone. Enter the HTC Wildfire S. My association with HTC probably ended at this point. Disgraceful phone, poorly made, tinny, lasted 2 hours before crapping itself. Back to the drawing board :( I decided at this point to move out of my comfort zone & try some brands that I had not had much to do with over the years. I increased my budget to $500 realising that the $350 price bracket wasn't going to yield the results I was looking for. Enter the LG Optimus Black for $499. WOW!!! I freaken love this phone! Before you say, 'It's too light and flimsy. Why plastic when all the others are using aluminium etc? Well, most people said the same about Carbon Fibre originally but how long do you think it will be before we see mainstream phones made from this to keep the weight down? As far a plastic goes, it's really quite solid. It actually has a really nice, light but solid feel to it. Much superior to Samsung's Galaxy. It belies belief that something so simple can pack so much grunt both in speed, graphics, brightness/clarity (amazing! worth the RRP alone!) useability etc. I love this phone. It is a keeper for sure & to be quite honest, the other phones are now a distant memory. Could I be an LG convert? If they keep producing this stuff.......Absolutely!!!!

VaughanE Facebook
6
Rating
 

"Everything great apart from the Camera, it sucks"

VaughanE posted a review   

LG really let a great product only become a good one with the huge let down in the camera department, smartphones are suppose to do pretty much everything and do it well, instead LG let everyone down in this area by making the camera just work "ok" , I'll be buying another product that is great in every area.

 

kevin_lau89 posted a comment   
Australia

I've heard that LG products aren't so good but looking at these current reviews they seem to be pretty good and i'm pretty set on getting an LG optimus 2x but was wondering if anybody could let me know if LG are any good or is it just their other products that aren't very good compared to the mobile. Thanks in advanced.

 

Tegra2 posted a comment   

This handset is awesome..I'm using one and also the Optimus Black and both handsets are unbelievable..the Optimus 2X is SuperFast, Responsive and fun to use..the Optimus Black is lightweight,great Nova Screen..quick and responsive and some really great Quirky Gesture features..
LG have done a great job on both handsets...And wait till the 3D gets released. All I can say is I have used it already...and...HANG ON...samsung ain't got nothing on any of these phones. LG has lifted their game and will now only get better as the Mobile Communications Division matures.


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User Reviews / Comments  LG Optimus 2X

  • PravXY

    PravXY

    Rating3

    "I whole-heartedly agree with AlbertoM, this phone may have been the first dual-core phone produced with the nVidia Tegra chipset, but boy does it come with its problems. This phone is so horrible t..."

  • DuaneT

    DuaneT

    Rating8

    "Great Phone
    I have had this phone a week and love it. Everything works and has been completely stable, running latest version of OS. I hope gingerbread comes out soon as I think this is wha..."

  • AlbertoM

    AlbertoM

    "1 battery drains in less than 15 hours using it without using it may be 22
    2 lg software is just lame not working properly create so many problems with the android
    3 RRR Random Restarts..."

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