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Review Summary:LG Optimus 2X 3.5

The Optimus 2X was the first dual core smartphone to make it to the UK and set the benchmark for all future high end smartphones. The 2X has a vibrant screen and plenty of entertainment and social networking features to enjoy.

  • Positives
  • Dual core powered
  • Bright screen
  • High quality camera
  • Negatives
  • Interface can be sluggish
  • Unremoveable preloaded apps
Review by on 09 Jan 2012.
Introduction

The Optimus 2X was the first dual core powered smartphone to be released in the UK and has since become available on contract with O2, Orange, Vodafone and T-Mobile. The 2X offers a lot of power for intensive features such as gaming and video entertainment, and also has an excellent screen for web browsing.

LG Optimus 2X Angle View

The Optimus 2X is an all-round performer and is excellent for people who need a lot of entertainment and online features to play with. This includes great music and video support, excellent social networking as well as high connectivity for virtually all conceivable situations.

As there has been a barrage of new dual core smartphones released after the 2X, the LG device is now one of the cheapest next generation smartphones that is currently on offer, and can be acquired for as little as £15 per month on contract. However, the phone is let down by an interface overloaded with junk apps that can cause some sluggish behaviour that you would not expect from such a high powered device.

Design

The Optimus 2X has a fairly standard touchscreen look and feel and is a similar size to the Xperia Arc from Sony Ericsson. While it is only marginally smaller than the Galaxy S2 from Samsung in terms of height and width, it is a bit bulkier in the depth department. Rather than being a drawback this actually makes the 2X a more comfortable device to hold and makes it feel more like a phone than the Sony Ericsson and Samsung offerings that may be a bit too thin for some peoples tastes. The 2X is weighty but is not going to be difficult for most people to hold.

While the battery cover is very slim it is also easy to remove without any concern to breaking it. There is a little slit at the bottom of the battery casing which you can easily use to pull it off, although if you have smaller finger nails you might find this a little trickier.

LG Optimus 2X Disassembled

The 2X has a single glass panel on the front which looks pretty elegant, with the four standard Android buttons at the bottom in capacitive form. The only physical buttons include volume controls on the side as well as the power button on the top. This is next to the HDMI port and headphone socket, with a microUSB port placed at the bottom of the phone.

Features

The 4" IPS LCD screen on the 2X is one of the more vibrant smartphone screens I have played with, and is only really beaten here by the iPhone 4 and Galaxy S2. Not only is it bright and vivid with 16 million colours but the WVGA (480 x 800) resolution offers an excellent level of detail and sharpness. In my mind the 2X offers just the right compromise between a spacious screen and comfortably sized phone.

This screen is capacitive and so comes with the usual array of multitouch gestures. While responsiveness is very good there are perhaps more responsive screens on offer, and the 2X´s screen is let down by problems with the LG interface.

The screen also offers better viewing angles than standard LCD screens such as those found on phones like the Xperia Arc. It is bright and sharp, provides vibrant colours and deep blacks and is just a short step away from Super AMOLED in terms of quality.

The 2X has an 8 megapixel camera that includes an LED flash and 1080p video recording. The camera does offer some excellent settings and effects to play around with, with black and white, sepia, emboss and also negative imaging on offer. The only thing I found slightly irritating about the camera settings is that you have to tinker with them in landscape mode, as they will not rotate to portrait, but you are not likely to be using many of these settings all that often anyway.

The camera comes with 1080p video support, although you can also record in 720p, TV, VGA, QVGA and QCIF. You can also apply the same image effects as you can with still photographs, allowing you to record in sepia or black and white, or even create an embossed video if you should ever actually need to do so. It is also a simple affair to upload images and videos to services like Facebook or YouTube.

LG Optimus 2X Top

The 2X has plenty of connectivity options on board including microUSB for charging and connecting to a home computer, as well as HDMI to connect to a TV. There is also a headphone socket at the top, next to the HDMI port and these are the only external slots on offer, as microSD cards are inserted inside next to the battery. Along with HDMI you can use DLNA Wi-Fi to connect to other devices on a wireless network, and there is an excellent SmartShare app to help you achieve this.

Internally the phone has 8GB of storage on offer, but with the microSD slot you can add another 32GB making a potential of 40GB. For most people this will be plenty of room to store a good deal of music or videos, and you will not find many phones that offer more space. The microSD slot also makes the 2X a lot more flexible as you can swap data around as you see fit, although it does involve removing the battery.

Performance

The 2X has a 1GHz dual core chip and 512MB RAM powering everything it does. This provides plenty of speed and performance for most intensive apps and features on offer. The 2X also has a ULP GeForce graphics chip giving it some excellent graphical prowess. However, despite this hardware prowess the Optimus 2X does suffer from noticeable lag in certain areas, particularly with the LG interface it uses.

Although mostly it is fairly seamless, there can be occasions when scrolling through applications or homescreens, or trying to launch apps, can be a real chore. After just trying to do a basic Google search I found the browser to freeze up and crash, which is not something that I should be experiencing on such a high powered phone.

LG Optimus 2X Performance

There are a number of explanations for this sluggish behaviour. One is that the LG interface is not particularly good, despite its aesthetic appeal. Another is the amount of bloatware that has been added on to the phone and cannot be removed. Additionally, some people are stating that the Tegra 2 chip used by the 2X is not particularly compatible with Android Froyo, which may go some way to explaining why all the other Gingerbread powered dual core phones don´t have the same performance issues. If this latter reason is true then the 2X should get itself sorted out with an upgrade to Gingerbread, although it could take several months for this update to be issued. It is of course possible to do this yourself, provided you know what you are doing, although really you shouldn´t have to go to all that effort just to get your new phone working normally.

The 2X has a 1500 mAh battery that offers a fair amount of battery life, although like with most feature filled smartphones extended use does seem to drain it quite substantially. On the whole, the 2X is one of the better performing smartphones in terms of battery life and will not leave you lacking juice with a good day or two of normal usage available without charging.

Usability

The Optimus 2X currently ships with Android 2.2 Froyo. LG have promised an update to Gingerbread at a later date, although this has already been delayed from its original June 2011 date. As an Android device the 2X comes with plenty of apps to enjoy from Android Market, although there may be some Gingerbread dependent apps that will be unusable for the time being.

The 2X comes with lots of apps included such as some navigational apps for driving, Polaris Office for document editing and social networking apps for Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace. The Optimus 2X also comes with some "preloaded apps" for you to play around with. These are essentially shareware apps that have been included for promotional purposes it seems, although they are not installed by default. They provide some functionality but will require you to purchase a full version to use properly. Some titles on offer here include Shrek Kart, Guitar Hero and the Layar artificial reality app.

The Optimus 2X also comes with many preloaded apps that you may not wish to use and which, annoyingly, can´t be removed from the phone. This includes apps that aren´t necessary and can be granted quite a lot of permission rights with nothing you can do about it.

An example is the mirror app, which makes use of the front facing camera to provide you with a mirror for makeup or whatever. This is particularly pointless as it doesn´t offer anything that you couldn´t do with the camera itself and it doesn´t even work that well because the front camera is offset to the side. It is also granted access to my GPS location, which is information I am not too happy about giving to an app I can´t remove by choice.

This ´bloatware´ has been one of the biggest criticisms of the 2X and is also one of its main disappointments considering the unnecessary drain it produces. It is somewhat akin to buying your favourite movie on DVD and being forced to sit through 30 minutes of unskippable adverts every time you watch it. Fine if LG wants to make some extra money by pushing certain services, but they should give their customers the chance to opt out if they are not interested.

LG Optimus 2X User Interface

The bloatware is probably one of the main causes of the LG interface being sluggish in some areas, which is a shame because it is one of the nicest looking and most user friendly Android interfaces going. Particularly, the interface seems to be a bit sluggish moving between homescreen panels and can offer up a fair amount of lag while apps are opening, downloading or installing. I have also experienced lag when trying to unlock the phone and with entering text in the web browser or message app.

A lot of this sluggish behaviour can be solved by resetting the phone. This is a bit like when you leave your computer running for too long and performance starts to diminish. Turning it off and on again solves a lot of the problems, but this quick fix could get annoying if you come to use the 2X after an extended period of it being idle.

The interface is brightly coloured though, and enjoyable to use despite the occasional lag. It comes with four buttons permanently at the base of the screen for making phone calls, accessing the contacts menu or messages and for switching between the applications menu and homescreen. It also includes quick controls to enable or disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and change the volume within the notification tray.

Web browsing is one of the main areas that the lag will cause a great deal of frustration. Doing a simple Google search can cause the phone to freeze and scrolling can be a bit of a nightmare. Typing in text to a search bar is also laborious with a good couple of seconds often elapsing between your button press and the text appearing in the search box, causing you to often repeat the same characters and have to use the backspace button, which also comes with its own lag included.

When working properly the web browser is pretty efficient, and includes Flash support. It is easy to scroll around and zoom and the larger screen is ideally suited for web browsing. Browsing on Wi-Fi the 2X loads web pages at a decent speed and the phone also offers good 3G connections. I have also found clicking on links to be easier and more accurate than some other Android phones, particularly the Galaxy S2.

In terms of connectivity, I have found connecting a USB cable to a computer to be more difficult than on other devices. The settings menu of the 2X does not seem to provide an easy way to connect, as is found on the Galaxy S2, and connecting the cable to a computer causes it to try and install drivers that won´t install.

The 2X does come with an HDMI port on the top of the phone, which is nicely positioned, and allows you to stream content to a TV. An HDMI cable is included with the phone so you don´t need to go out and buy one separately to enjoy this. Alternatively, there are other ways of connecting the 2X to devices.

There is DLNA Wi-Fi and the 2X comes with a SmartShare app, making it easy to connect to other wireless devices to transfer content. With this you can access devices such as wireless media hubs to play music and video stored on them, without having to store the media on the phone. This can also be used to connect to more modern televisions (i.e. DLNA enabled) to provide a similar functionality to HDMI.

Like all Android phones running on Froyo and above the 2X can make use of live wallpapers to customize your phone. Live wallpapers do have a tendency to make the interface more sluggish than usual and can add to a disappointing experience. All in all the 2X is about as customisable as any other Android phone, with plenty of apps on offer from Android Market to help you with new themes and buttons.

The 2X features good email support with great support for Gmail (obviously) as well as multi-account supporting inbox that also supports Microsoft Exchange. Typing emails can be an arduous task if the 2X is going through one of its tantrums, but otherwise the onscreen keyboard is responsive and accurate. It also comes with predictive typing, which offers up some pretty good recommendations. When typing SMS messages there is an easily accessible button for entering smiley faces although it is strangely a little bit more difficult to enter a full stop or comma (although this is still easy to do with email composition).

LG Optimus 2X Browser and Facebook App

For social networking the 2X comes with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace apps preinstalled. However, these are "for LG" apps rather than the standard app for each service, and they offer a slightly different experience. For example, the Facebook for LG app offers a more streamlined experience that doesn´t provide as much information as the standard app. Although you can download the standard Facebook app, Facebook for LG is one of the bundled apps that can´t be removed. Because of this you will need to have 2 Facebook apps installed if the LG one isn´t to your liking.

Entertainment wise the 2X comes with a preinstalled YouTube app through which you can stream videos, comment on videos as well as record and upload your own videos, although these seem to be limited to QVGA. The 2X also has a decent video player with good support for most video formats. This includes virtual surround sound, making use of the phone´s double speakers at the bottom of the phone. These provide decent sound quality and you can also use headphones if you want more discretion.

The music player includes virtual surround sound as well. You can play some music and then go on and do other things, and the 2X includes easy to use controls in the notification tray for you to pause or skip tracks. The music player lets you easily scroll through your collection by flicking through album covers. While there is 8GB storage within the phone you can add another 32GB with microSD.

Conclusion

Despite being the first dual core smartphone the 2X suffers from a lot of bloatware that causes it to be very sluggish on many occasions. This is the main drawback of an otherwise excellent phone. The 2X features a good interface, a superb screen and plenty of hardware to play around with, but the software issues are the main reason it has not been more successful than it has been.

I like the 2X – it looks nice, it feels nice to hold. I like what LG have done with the Android interface in many respects, it is brightly coloured and the shortcuts in the notification tray are really helpful to have to hand. It offers good web browsing and also has a decent camera, but the Optimus 2X could have been so much more. I am sure that the sluggish behaviour is due to some software issue that could probably be rectified quite easily by LG, there is just no guarantee that this will happen any time soon.

After playing around with some memory management apps from Android Market I am coming to the conclusion that a lot of the lag is due to a large amount of background processes eating up the memory. Some of these are from bundled apps, and killing them off improves the performance of the 2X quite substantially. However, doing this on a regular basis is tedious is not necessary on other phones.

If it was not for this disappointing performance I would be happy to have this as my phone because in all other areas it is quite superb. Perhaps an update to Gingerbread will make the 2X the phone it was supposed to be, but at present it falls far short of consumer expectations. Even phones with significantly slower processors offer a faster and more reliable experience than the 2X.

You could replace the interface with a stock Android OS and an update to Gingerbread may solve some of the problems, but how the 2X stands at present is a bit of a let-down for the first dual core smartphone. Restarting the phone does alleviate some of the problems for a short while, but this is not something that you should have to do just to have a smooth running smartphone.

If it did not suffer from a sluggish interface and periodic freezes this would easily be one of the best smartphones on the market, but those problems are likely to cause most users to either send the phone back or throw it at a wall in frustration. It is ironic that LG's marketing campaign for the 2X involved issuing fines for people walking slowly down Oxford Street, when they themselves should be fined for inflicting this phone on so many people and being extremely slow to correct the problems.

LG Optimus 2X Back

Also Consider

Samsung Galaxy S2 - Another dual core phone released shortly after the Optimus 2X, although the S2 features a newer Android version and doesn't suffer from the same software lags as the 2X.

LG Optimus Black - Belonging to the same Optimus range, the Black is not dual core but does offer a similar experience. It also has one of the brightest screens to be found on a smartphone and is quite slimmer than the 2X.

LG Optimus 3D - The Optimus 3D is similar in many respects to the 2X although its most noticeable difference is its 3D screen. With this you can enjoy 3D movies and stereoscopic images, and even record your own 3D videos with the camera.

Preview

With a superb quality 4" Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen the Optimus 2X offers up some of the most impressive visuals to found on a phone. With 16 million colours and a very sharp 480 x 800 pixel resolution the Optimus 2X beautifully shows off the Android OS in use. Initially running on Froyo this can be upgraded to Gingerbread. The phone uses sensors including the now standard accelerometer and proximity sensors, but also a new gyro sensor. The gyro sensor operates on a similar principle to the accelerometer but allows control in many more dimensions ushering in a new era of app and mobile game development.

These apps and games are available through Android Market although many come included with the phone. One of the main areas of interest with the new Optimus 2X is with its 8 megapixel camera, which not only features 1080p recording for videos but can also output 720p via HDMI. This truly is one of the best phone cameras currently available in terms of all-round performance and certainly one of the highlights of the LG Optimus 2X.

With 32GB of microSD space available there is plenty of room for captured video and photographs, or other media content of your choosing. There´s also a secondary front facing 1.3 megapixel camera that can be used for video calling. The Optimus 2X comes with fantastic music and video support as standard, as well as support for YouTube.

The Optimus 2X features email and instant messaging including Google Talk. There is also social networking integration straight out of the box. Web browsing really is a breeze on the Optimus 2X thanks to the spacious Super AMOLED screen in use.

The 2X is powered by an ARM Cortex 1GHz dual core processor that makes the Optimus 2X one of the most seamless and speedy handsets currently on the market. This is particularly impressive considering what an intensive array of features that the Optimus 2X has under its hood.

With Wi-Fi and 3G support the Optimus 2X is connectible in just about any situation and features Bluetooth with support for A2DP wireless headphones. Even though it is released at the very start of 2011 it could still prove to be one of the year´s most impressive handsets.