Two is better than one - LG Optimus 2X reviewed

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Two is better than one - LG Optimus 2X reviewed
Highlights
  • When a phone makes the Guinness Book of World Records, people are bound to sit up and take notice. The LG Optimus 2x holds the record for the world’s first dual core smart phone.
Introduction

When a phone makes the Guinness Book of World Records, people are bound to sit up and take notice. The LG Optimus 2x holds the record for the world's first dual core smart phone. It's also the first twin core powered device to arrive on Indian shores. Powered by the NVidia Tegra 2 the Optimus 2x boasts of a formidable feature set. Naturally, expectations are sky high. Does it live up?

Packaging and Content

LG has really stepped up their packaging and the device is very neatly presented. It includes an USB based wall charger, which also doubles as the USB cable. It also includes a nice case made of felt-like material that cleans the device as it is taken out of the case.

Hardware and Styling

At 139 grams and 10.9mm, the LG Optimus is not the most slender smartphone on the market, when compared to lightweights such as the Sony Ericsson Arc and the Samsung Galaxy S II. But in no way is it a large device like the HTC Desire HD.

The build quality of device feels very premium with its construction predominated by high quality plastics.

The back of the device houses the 1500mAh battery and the 8-megapixel-image sensor. The back is covered with a rubberized plastic which gives the device a premium feel.

The front of the device welcomes the user with a glossy 4.1 -inch IPS screen (800x480) with four touch based Android keys.

The top of the device holds the HDMI port, which is covered with a neat flip-out mechanism. On the bottom end of the device is placed the USB port, which also doubles as a charging port.

On the whole, the build quality of the device is first class and matches the iPhone top to toe, but design wise it feels quite mundane and boring. It feels somewhat like a large shiny brick but is pretty comfortable to hold.


Interface

The Optimus 2x is powered by Android, just like its sibling the Optimus, but unfortunately it is running the dated 2.2 Froyo build. LG also opted to jazz up things with their custom UI which, in our opinion, does not add very much besides visual pizazz. The interface is laced with a neat looking weather widget, a calendar widget and the icons are redesigned.

We have noticed a disturbing trend in the field of Android skinning, as most manufacturers opt to redesign Android in the mold of the iOS, in an attempt to mimic the icons found on the iPhone. LG is no different and the icons look very much like those found on the iOS.

The main problem with the LG UI is that in its attempt to spruce up things it ends up as a major resource hog, making the interface slow. While swiping between the home screens we faced constant lags and the Optimus 2x did not feel like a dual-core processor powered device. Undoubtedly the UI is to blame, as the US variant, which ships without the LG UI, has received accolades for its speed.


Multimedia

The Optimus 2x is billed as a multimedia beast and luckily, in-spite of the laggy UI, it performs splendidly.

It comes loaded with a host of features such as 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording capabilities, an extremely vibrant 4.1inch display, Dolby audio support, 8GB of internal memory and a HDMI port.

In our testing, the camera shot sharp images but the flash had a tendency to overcook the images.  In comparison to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, the images contained many artifacts and a lot of noise.

As far as the 1080p recording went, the device performed decently and for the most part matched up to the Xperia Arc camera, which shot at 720p. But under low light situations, the Xperia's Exmor-R technology showed its worth and though the videos of the Optimus 2x were of a higher resolution, the color saturation and overall stability of the videos were better on the Xperia Arc.

As far as audio went the built in audio player blasted tunes enhanced by the Dolby technology.

The in-built Android player also came with equalizer settings, which is an enhancement over the stock Android audio experience. For once, the LG enhancements worked in favor of the device. There was no noticeable difference in the sound quality with the bundled headphones, but the moment we engaged our Bose puppies the channel shifts were apparent.

Even the loudspeakers were pretty loud and clear - coupled with two speakers, it gave a neat stereophonic effect to the sound.

LG has also bumped up the screen for the Optimus 2x, which provides an enhanced contrast ratio and is very bright. Interestingly LG manufactures the 'Retina Display' for Apple but have not managed to catch up on the pixel density battle. The iPhone is still sharper and has slightly better contrast ratios, but all that happens in a smaller 3.5inch display.

LG recently announced the Optimus Black which has their latest 'NOVA Display' but for some odd reason they did not include it in their current flagship device.

The device is DLNA enabled, which meant we could stream our content to DLNA, powered HDTVs. This trend is catching on and the incoming Samsung Galaxy S 2 will also feature similar functionality.

HDMI mirroring was seamless and we could play games easily.

PC Sync and Market

As with all Android Phones, PC sync is quite painless thanks to Google's clever cloud computing strategy. All that one has to do is insert one's sim card in the Optimus 2x and sync it with one's Google account. Even the built in social networking app syncs all Twitter, Facebook and MySpace feeds but unfortunately we don't get a social aggregator which would integrate phone contacts, email and social networks all in one.

The onboard email application does a brilliant job of syncing email although this is true of all Android devices.

We also get dedicated Facebook, Twitter and MySpace apps for the Optimus 2x. However, these are not very different from the standard Android apps.

Essential Apps

Unlike the Vanilla Android experience found on the Samsung Nexus S, the LG Optimus 2x is loaded to the teeth. The sheer number of apps borders on bloat-ware.

LG has graciously included a Car Mode, which offers a 'Windows phone' like tile interface providing quick access to all major functions of the device such as phone, messaging, email and handsfree mode. This is a neat touch as many people use their devices while driving (we advise against this!) and touch screens are notorious for being difficult to use with a single hand. The large screen provides quick access to all functions. We have seen this feature before in the Google Nexus devices and, ideally, it's meant to be used in conjunction with a car dock but we are guessing many people are going to use it anyway.

LG has included the F-secure antivirus and it's a pretty good thing to have as the Android malware situation is slowly exploding into a Windows like situation. One should note that the anti-virus is a massive resource hog while it scans.

Besides Android Market, LG has provided its own app Advisor which basically helps users in selecting applications. But in no way does this app offer different content from the Android market.

Polaris Office provides brilliant document editing capabilities and it also doubles as a file manager. It handles all the Microsoft Office formats easily.

The Video player supports various video codecs such as DivX, XviD, and Mpeg-4. But unfortunately some .Avi files don't work properly. The mirror app facilitates HDMI mirroring.

Performance

The hype around the Optimus 2x mainly involves its lightning fast NVidia Tegra 2 processor. But all is not good as currently most of the software available on Android Market is not optimized for the dual core processor.

In daily use, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc felt snappier in comparison to the Optimus 2x. The much heralded dual-core 2x performance was mysteriously missing. This is not to say the phone was slow - in-fact it was quite fast: just not twice as fast as a single core Android phone and in the case of the Xperia Arc it was struggling to keep up.

In the Quadrant test the device scored a blistering 2479 which eclipsed the Xperia Arc's score by more than 1000 points. More interestingly, in comparison to the Acer Iconia Tab it scored poorly as the Iconia smashed the Optimus 2x by more than an 1100 points. Currently all these benchmarks are subjective as they are not optimized for dual core processors.

In the Linpack test, the device scored in 35.73 MFLOPs in 1.3 seconds which was pretty impressive considering the next best Xperia Arc scored 37.93 MFLOPs in 2.21 seconds.

In the BrowserMark test, the Optimus 2x disappointed as it only managed to score 42436 while the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc was not far behind at 41076.

In the Benchmark Pi test, the device calculated Pi in 700 milliseconds which beat the Xperia Arc by a good 400 milliseconds.

Overall call quality was extremely impressive. Calls were loud and clear. Battery life was, sadly, fairly average as the phone struggled to last a day. Our usage involved constant Wi-Fi use, a few calls; web browsing, and a bit of the Wi-Fi hotspot functionality. We can hope for a Gingerbread upgrade, which might elevate the performance and battery issues.


Verdict

Lets be clear, it's not the Formula 1 car everyone thought it would be. Having said that, it's still one of the fastest smart-phones currently available. It also is running an older build of Android with a laggy LG UI running over it, which is not a good thing. Aside from that there is not much to complain about, as it is quite reasonably priced.

In a nutshell the Optimus 2x is a jack of all trades but master of none. So if you are looking for a phone which can do it all, then this is the one, but you are looking for some extra oomph then we say hold out for the Samsung Galaxy S 2.

Pros:

Fabulous Build Quality
Reasonably Priced
Feature Set

Cons:

Underwhelming Performance
Android 2.2 Froyo
LG UI
Spartan Design
Average Battery Life


Ratings
·         Performance:  3.5
·         Price: 4
·         Ease of Setup: 4
·         Ergonomics: 3.5
·         Wow Factor: 3

 

product When a phone makes the Guinness Book of World Records, people are bound to sit up and take notice.
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