LG Optimus 2X £499

15th Apr 2011 | 14:45

LG Optimus 2X

Will the world's first dual-core smartphone prove to be a powerhouse?

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A powerful phone at a hugely compelling price - but if you're after a more polished experience, you might want to wait to check out the dual-core competitors

Like:

Dual-core power; Excellent price; Great screen; Slick HDMI mirroring; Brilliant music player;

Dislike:

Not as polished as some; Flash impedes browser performance; Didn't play some videos; Disappointing camera/video recording; Quiet speakers;

LG Optimus 2X: Overview

We knew it as the LG Star originally, and we waited impatiently for a chance to really put it through its paces. Now, the world's first Tegra 2 smartphone, the LG Optimus 2X, has arrived for our delectation, sporting Android 2.2.

The key here is the impressive dual-core Tegra 2 1GHz CPU, coupled with an impressive low-power GPU from graphics specialist Nvidia.

You can check out TechRadar's exclusive LG Optimus 2X video review;

Mobile World Congress brought us news of more dual-core smartphones to come, including the Samsung Galaxy S2. We've also now heard all about the HTC Sensation, which sports a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and an revamped version of Sense, HTC's impressive Android overlay.

Of course, none of that's the same as having one in your pocket. We're waiting on those two, but the LG Optimus 2X is here with us now.

LG optimus 2x

So what's a dual-core processor good for? Why video, of course! That'll be why LG has outfitted the Optimus 2X with 1080p video recording on the eight-megapixel camera, 1080p playback over a mini-HDMI port (cable included) and DLNA media streaming.

LG optimus 2x

Of course, we're also looking for it to make Android sing, showing what Google's OS is capable of on the Optimus 2X's four-inch 480 x 800 WVGA touchscreen.

There's also a 1.3MP front-facing camera, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, and a microSD card slot to compliment the 8GB of built-in memory.

Probably the most remarkable thing is the price. While the Optimus 2X looked set to come in at the top end of the market originally, that's not proved to be the case. Presumably in an attempt to head off its dual-core competition at the pass, the Optimus 2X is available for free on a 24-month contract at £25 per month. You can also get an 18-month contract at £30 per month.

That's a heck of a price, and puts is head-to-head with the likes of the HTC Incredible S.

Our colleagues at T3.com grabbed some LG Optimus 2X video footage which you can watch below.

LG Optimus 2X: Design and handling

LG Optimus 2X review: Design and handling

From the front, the LG Optimus 2X is a big black pane of glass, which will surprise absolutely no one who's seen a smartphone in the last few years.

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It brings to mind HTC phones such as the Incredible S and HTC HD 7 with its all-black visage and four touch-sensitive Android buttons for Menu, Home, Back and Search at the bottom.

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Unusually, the glass rounds off slightly at the left and right edges of the front fascia. It's a hard edge at the top and the bottom, but the softer edges at the sides to help the phone to feel comfortable when you're reaching across the four-inch screen with your thumb.

That screen is is the now-standard WVGA 480 x 800 that we expect to see on Android devices on this size. While inevitably not quite as sharp as the iPhone 4's Retina display, we'd go out on a limb and say it'll do for most people.

LG optimus 2x

The screen is bright, and colours are vibrant and hugely appealing when viewed straight on. Stray too much to the side and they lose their brightness and gain a slight blue cast, but text is still perfectly legible. It's not quite offering the high quality screen of the HTC Desire S, but it's more than adequate.

Above the screen is a small earspeaker and the front-facing camera.

LG optimus 2x

Moving away from the glass screen of the Optimus 2X, a kind of gunmetal grey is the outfit of choice. The right side of the phone features two buttons for volume control, while the bottom has speaker grilles and the micro-USB port.

LG optimus 2x

LG optimus 2x

On the Optimus 2X's top edge the 3.5mm headphone jack, the Sleep/Wake button (pulling double duty to turn the phone on and off) and a covered mini-HDMI port to connect to your HDTV.

LG optimus 2x

It seems a little odd that this port is covered while the almost identically sized USB port is open, but maybe it's so LG can write 'HDMI' on the cover to gloat.

The back of the phone features a long shiny strip etched with Google's logo that leads up to the LED flash and eight-megapixel camera's lens. The faux brushed metal strip will definitely get itself scratched up during your time with the phone, suffering a severe case of 'iPod back syndrome'.

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The backplate pops off if you slip a nail under a notch down by the USB port. It's plastic, and so just pops off with a bit of a bend. It feels high quality and solid when it's on the phone, but is quite thin and flexible once removed.

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Underneath is a capacious 1500mAh battery along with slots for the SIM card and microSD card - although the competition is moving to 1620mAh or even 1930mAh options these days.

You have to remove the battery to get your SIM in and out, but the memory card slot can be accessed any time.

LG Optimus 2X: Interface

LG Optimus 2X review: Interface

This being Android (and Android 2.2 Froyo at that), multiple home screens are the order of the day. There are seven provided in the LG Optimus 2X, and it's pretty clear that the LG team are fans of HTC, with several clear nods to the fan-favourite Sense UI used on phones such as the HTC Incredible S and HTC Desire S.

There's a clock and weather widgets on the first Home screen, which even has a flip clock like HTC's overlay.

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LG's actually provided a whole range of widgets in their own menu when you go the 'Add' option in the Home screen menu.

There's a range of other clocks and alarm clocks, including analogue and digital, bookmarks, calendar, FM radio control, social feeds and more.

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The social feeds app is a large widget with a tab for Facebook and a tab for Twitter, both of which tie into the LG-specific apps for these two social networks that come pre-loaded on the phone.

HTC's Leap View, which graced phones such as the HTC Desire when introduced, is replicated here. Pinch in on a Home screen to bring up all seven in miniature, at which point you can choose one to zoom in on.

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Navigating around the Home screen is quick enough, thanks to that Tegra 2 dual-core processing ticking over inside. There are plenty of frames dropped, but the phone doesn't tend to actually hang – that is to say, it does what you're asking, it skips over the animation part sometimes.

More of a problem is that it can be a picky with regards to touches. Often, pinching in to bring up the helicopter multi-home screen view both activated that view, and thought we'd touched a widget, meaning the phone would zoom out (which is what we wanted) and then suddenly launch something.

More irritating than that is the Lock screen. It's easily the slowest part of the phone to respond, which gets on your nerves when it's standing in the way of you actually doing anything. It's doesn't have this problem all the time, but often enough for us to think it worth mentioning.

Pull down the Notifications bar and you'll notice quick options for turning on and off sound, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, along with a rotation lock button. There's also a permanent music widget.

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Hit the Applications icon and you'll be taken through to the full System Applications list. There's a lot of stuff in here right from the off, thanks to a whole bunch of pre-loaded apps, including Facebook for LG and Twitter for LG.

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These two apps really show off the speed off the phone – there's absolutely no waiting around in them. Tap something and a new screen slides in immediately, not missing a step. Very smooth, very impressive.

The interface is unsurprisingly slick on the whole, considering the power behind it. In the apps that have clearly been optimised for it, it's as fast and responsive as the comparably specced iPad 2, which is no mean feat considering that Android doesn't have the targeted hardware development that Apple does.

However, we aren't that blown away by the interface overall. While it's undoubtedly fast, it's not that much faster than the likes of the HTC Desire S. Android has been running buttery smooth on HTC hardware for a while, but HTC has done more with UI design, improving on LG's efforts here.

We're not saying the Optimus 2X's interface is bad, by any means – Android's popular for a reason, and LG hasn't tinkered with that formula too much.

But when you compare a marginal – sometimes non-existant – speed increase in the LG to an improved user experience overall in HTC Sense, we'd say the latter wins every time.

If you're wondering about the LG Optimus 2X being on Android 2.2 when 2.3 is the new hotness, and already features on the likes of the Google Nexus S and HTC Desire S, then we can only tell you that LG has said a 2.3 upgrade is coming.

We wait hopefully for official word (with the rumours putting the 2.3 drop in July), since it's possible Android 2.3 might help to fix a few of the niggles.

LG Optimus 2X: Contacts and calling

LG Optimus 2X review: Contacts and calling

As is usual with Android, you can expect to pull through your Google account contacts into the LG Optimus 2X if you've got them set up. LG has also included social networking apps covering Twitter, Facebook and MySpace that can add in your contacts from each of the networks (though other apps, including the official Twitter app, can also import contacts).

The contact import options for these two apps are intelligent, enabling you to import everyone automatically, import manually or (our favourite) only import information from contacts you already have a contact entry for.

The thing is, while you would think that this last option would guarantee you no duplicate entries, we still ended up with some. If the phone was confident enough in a match to bring the details down from Facebook, why wasn't it confident enough to link them?

Merging contacts is performed by going into one of the duplicate entries and choosing to edit the contact. Facebook and Twitter entries will say you can't edit the information, but the 'Join' option is still available if you press the Menu button.

The actual contact list isn't too unusual for modern socially-minded smartphones. You can see all of the contacts in a big list with the alphabet at the side. Beneath each person's name will be an update from Twitter or Facebook if linked in.

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At the top of this list is a search box and a button to add a new contact. Overlaid at the top of the screen are tabs to enable quick switching from your contacts list to the dialler, your call log and any contact groups your have, including your favourites.

When you tap on a contact, you're given a list of all the information you have for them, as well as contextual options for each entry if it can have more than one use (such as choosing between calling or texting a mobile phone number).

All the information is big and clear on the Optimus 2X's four-inch screen. There are also tabs at the top for looking at other information related to the contact, including their Facebook photos, if their account is linked.

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You can also access many options for a contact just by long-pressing on their name in the main contact list.

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The Optimus 2X is quite strong at picking up signal, which translates into strong 3G broadband speeds. We had no problems placing calls, even in known difficult spots.

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However, this didn't translate into a great calling experience. The ear speaker sits flush to the join between the glass screen and the surround. You can't really feel it when you're holding the phone to your head, which means it can stray off slightly and you'll lose the sound quickly.

The same earspeaker also doesn't carry very well. It's drowned out by traffic noise far easier than a lot of other phones.

The sound quality on calls was acceptable, but this isn't the phone's strongest point, despite the decent signal.

The loudspeaker also doesn't get super loud. If you're on a clear line, it'll serve you well for conference calls, but throw in even a little distortion and things get murky.

LG Optimus 2X: Messaging

LG Optimus 2X review: Messaging

The LG Optimus 2X comes loaded with lots of messaging goodies. Aside from the expected SMS and email options, there are the pre-loaded Twitter for LG and Facebook for LG apps for social networkers. There's also a MySpace for LG app, in case you're planning to send the phone back in time five years.

Text messages are read in the Messaging app (there's also a Messaging widget, for quickly seeing your most recently received text). In the main inbox, you can see your conversations arranged by recipient.

Choose one of these and you'll see a threaded message view, with nice clear text in colour coded bubbles. It's easily readable, but on the whole is nothing unusual. Android users, iPhone users, Windows Phone 7 users and HP webOS users will all find it comfortingly familiar.

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To reply to a text, just press in the 'Type to compose' box at the bottom of the screen (or hit the 'New Message' button if you're on the Messaging app's first screen). The software keyboard will pop up, along with a Send button and button to attach multimedia for MMS, and you can see the last message in your conversation above it.

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Well, that's all true if you're in portrait. In landscape, you get the generic Android text entry box you get in just about every app, with no button to attach things, no view of your messages, and no context in general.

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Typing in landscape is generally preferable, so you'll have to switch back and forth if you do want to send a picture or anything. It's irritating – especially considering the 'World' key on the keyboard surely isn't used by anyone, and could easily be swapped for the attach key.

The same goes for the emoticon menu key. Do we really need help with this in exchange for losing other, more useful buttons?

It's only an annoyance, though, and certainly not an insurmountable problem.

The autocorrect is a disappointment, though. It simply isn't smart enough, and considering that this isn't the best keyboard around (it's perfectly adequate, but the iPhone's is better, for one), that's not helpful. It really can't work out that "hiw" should be "how"?

It's not difficult to move the cursor to tweak it, but it's still seems unnecessary when so many other phones do it better.

There are two email apps on the Optimus 2X – the Gmail app and the Email app. Once you've got Android tied into your Google account, the Gmail app will automatically start bringing in your emails.

It's easy to set yourself up on the Email app, too. We were given the option of Exchange, our service provider's email, or Other. Hit other, type in your details, choose if you want push enabled or not, select POP or IMAP, and away you go.

The two apps work slightly differently. The Gmail app fits more onto one screen and features threaded viewing of messages.

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However, it doesn't feature the ability to sort your emails by anything other than date in an easy way, which is offered by the Email app (are you keeping up?). The Email app also has dividing lines between days, so you can easily see where you are in your email timeline of sorts.

The Email app can also offer a combined inbox for several different accounts from different sources or individual inboxes.

LG optimus 2x

Both these apps have their good points, but we came to prefer the Email app. The Gmail interface looks slightly more cluttered to us, with options not as clearly laid out.

The apps are very similar in terms of writing emails. The Gmail app offers a slightly neater interface for writing, but the options again aren't as clearly laid out as the Email app. In the case of both, switching to landscape will bring up the generic writing view again, just as it did in the Messaging app.

LG optimus 2x

LG optimus 2x

Clicking on links in emails will bring up the browser in a fraction of a second thanks to the powerful processor, though going and back and forth between the two isn't as slick as it is on the Palm Pre 2 using HP webOS and its Stacks feature.

LG Optimus 2X: Internet

LG Optimus 2X review: Internet

With 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity and 3G on-board, we were looking for the LG Optimus 2X to impress us with its speed here, and we weren't disappointed.

The phone maintained a nice and fast connection to our Wi-Fi network, and speed over 3G was good, too. A strong ability to retain signal is converted into decent mobile internet speeds.

At least, that's the case 90 per cent of the time. Sometimes, we just couldn't get sites to load in the browser. You can reload and reload, but it ain't happening. Then it happens. One of life's mysteries. One of the Optimus 2X's niggles.

Just navigating in the browser is also inconsistent. It's frequently sluggish to respond to gestures, especially just panning around a web page. Even when it does respond, it's often slow, and sometimes won't track the full distance you dragged your finger.

Pinch to zoom is accurate enough once it gets going, but it too can be slow to respond in the first place.

Predictably, Flash seems to be the instigator of the poorer side of browser performance. Have a few Flash elements on a page (such as on the TechRadar home page) and things go south quickly.

While we were impressed with Flash video performance in and of itself (see below), that minor elements of a site can get in the way of general browsing isn't good enough. There's still a long way to go before it sits perfectly comfortably on mobiles.

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Double tapping to zoom can drop a few frames when it's also reflowing text, but it doesn't actually slow down, so you won't mind. Here again, the touchscreen's responsiveness can be a little lacking when it doesn't recognise your double-tap. It also present a problem if you double-tap near a hyperlink, because it often interprets it as you tapping the link.

Infuritatingly, it's often not that responsive when you're actually trying to tap links, especially if the page is still loading (and if there's much Flash content on a page, it can be loading for a while after the main body has appeared). Sometimes, a link will highlight and you'll get a noise, but just nothing happens.

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Pages render brilliantly, and you miss nothing as a result of being on a mobile. The four-inch screen can fit a good amount of detail into its 800 x 480 resolution, and it's no problem to zoom in a little further and have the text reflow again if you need to. It's a shame that words don't reflow dynamically while you're pinching, like on the HTC Desire S, but we can live without that.

LG optimus 2x

You can add bookmarks, and there are tabs (or rather windows), though there's no fancy graphical view for these, as there is on the iPhone 4 and even the BlackBerry Bold 9780 now, which is a shame considering you'd have to say the phone could handle it.

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There's also Google's voice search built in, of course, and it delivers accurate responses.

This is all on par with the competition, though. What we were really looking forward to was seeing how Flash performed with all this extra processing power behind.

So far, we've been fairly unconvinced that Adobe's plug-in has made itself essential on mobile yet, with spotty performance on many phones, including Android devices and the HP webOS-powered Palm Pre 2. We've already talked about its effect on general browsing, but does it work in and of itself yet?

Short answer: Yes. Clearly, it just needed Tegra 2 behind it.

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Video is almost always smooth. Playing standard web-embedded size videos generally caused us no problems whatsoever. Well, that was true for a while.

We didn't have a bad thing to say about Flash technically, until one video totally crippled the browser. It caused a bug in the Windows tab viewer that erased whatever site was top in the list, and then meant we couldn't load any web pages at all.

Which certainly sounds like something Flash would do. However, restarting the phone fixed this problem, so it wasn't a massive pain. And we have to say that the playback was so very impressive at other times that we really can't knock it too much for what may have just been a dodgy player on the website's end.

The only real problem with Flash is that the controls are rarely designed for fingers. Most volume controls in particular tend to be too small and fiddly to use in any meaningful way. Sadly, the phone's built-in volume control doesn't really go as loud as we'd like, so this can be a bit of a pain.

Similarly, many videos will pause if you click (tap) on them, so if you're trying to press a tiny 'fullscreen' button, you can end up doing a bit of a stop-start dance.

Hopefully, finger-friendly controls will appear on more players, and things will really shine.

LG Optimus 2X: Camera

LG Optimus 2X review: Camera

LG optimus 2x

The camera on the LG Optimus 2X looks like it should be one of the phone's strong points judging by the specs. An eight-megapixel sensor sits inside, with a single LED flash to help it.

1080p video recording is included, presumably to make the most of that micro-HDMI port (and the processing power of the Tegra 2 chip). At that highest resolution, it's stated to record at 24 frames per second, while lowering to 720p ups that to 30fps. 720 x 480 widescreen standard-definition recording is also available, as is 640 x 480 VGA and lower.

The stills camera has a load of options for when you're snapping, including quick access to the digital zoom, exposure adjustment and flash settings.

LG optimus 2x

Delve into the full settings and you get access to image size and quality options, focus modes (including Macro and Face Tracking), scene modes (including Landscape, Portrait and Night), ISO settings (up to 800), white balance, colour effects, self timer, shooting modes (including Panorama shot, Smile shot and Continuous), image stabilisation, geolocating and a few more options besides.

With the standard autofocus on, there's no tapping to choose the focus point, as on the iPhone 4, but get your subject in the centre of the viewfinder and hit the button to take a photo and it'll generally focus very quickly.

LG optimus 2x

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OUTDOORS:A good job has been made of dealing with the light and shaded areas. Detail's a bit lacking in the people, though

LG optimus 2x

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SIMPLE:In this simple image with block colours, the camera's output looks quite good. Colours are a little less vibrant than we'd like, but the board appears crisp and clear. Look at the background and things aren't quite as good, but it's generally fine

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MACRO:With plenty of light around, Macro mode is crisp and clear. The overall picture is a little dark, and only some of the petals have all the texture they should have, but it's an appealing shot overall

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DIGITAL ZOOM:The digital zoom at full whack. It looks OK in smaller sizes, but view this at anything larger than the size we embed them here and it's very poor

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LANDSCAPE:Landscape mode captures a nice green vista, and doesn't overexpose the sky or underexpose the other side of the valley. However, there's not much detail to see once you make the picture bigger

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SEPIA:The Sepia mode is pretty good, as far as these things go. This is one of the more convincing versions of it we've seen

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VIBRANT:The Vibrant mode doesn't really add anything to this shot, blowing out the pink blossoms to the point the barely visible

LG Optimus 2X: Video

LG Optimus 2X review: Video

The LG Optimus 2X's video options include a lot of the adjustments available to the stills camera, including exposure, white balance and colour effects, including monochrome and sepia.

The maximum video size is 1080p… ish. It's actually 1920 x 1088, but what's eight pixels between friends? 720p is also available, which should save you a bit of space if that's a concern.

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Soft is the simplest word to describe the LG Optimus 2X's output. Isn't the point of Full HD recording to add detail to a scene? Here, all you've got is digital artefacts removing any sense of texture or depth, while the whole thing is washed out, with overblown whites.

Movement is generally quite smooth, with flying birds appearing crisply in each frame, with little motion blur (there is, however, artefacting around their flight path, blurring further anything they go near – especially grass).

LG Optimus 2X: Media

LG Optimus 2X review: Media

With the advanced processing chops of Nvidia's Tegra 2 chip, LG is really pushing high-quality video as a feature of the Optimus 2X.

Aside from the 1080p video recording, we're also promised Full HD playback. Adding to that is the ability to mirror the Optimus 2X's screen through its HDMI port, so video can be output to your HDTV.

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In fact, it's not just video that goes over to the big screen – everything does, meaning that you can also play games on your big flat panel provided you're happy to sit within reach of the cable.

Mirroring to a TV generally didn't affect the performance of the phone, with transitions between Home screens and scrolling in lists both appearing smooth on the TV and phone's screen. Apps seemed to take slightly longer to load than without the mirroring, but we're only talking a second or so.

Since full mirroring is the order of the day, we were able to watch videos using the built-in YouTube app, through the DLNA streaming app or videos just stored on the device. The new iPlayer app crashed everytime we tried to use that on mirroring, so it's possible that could work too, after a little optimisation.

However, we did have some problems with video playback of HD videos we'd loaded onto the device. We loaded two 1080p videos and one 720p, all in H.264 at high quality. The phone wouldn't play either of the 1080p files, while the 720p clip was jerky.

The 720p file's issue made us think the problem was the bitrate of them all, so we reloaded the same files, but with the bitrate (amount of data streaming) halved. The 720p file now played smoothly, albeit with a significant amount of digital artefacting introduced and overall quality lowered.

However, the 1080p files still wouldn't play. There were some videos already loaded onto our review unit that played fine in 1080p with near-identical encoding and high bitrates, so the inconsistency was pretty frustrating.

We actually used the exact same files on the exact same card when we tested the Hannspree Hannspad and ViewSonic ViewPad 10s. Both are based on Tegra 2 and Android 2.2, like the the Optimus 2X, and both played the videos without any arguments whatsoever (even mirroring them over HDMI).

The video that does play mostly looks great on the 480 x 800 screen. There's plenty of detail on show, and motion is smooth. It's also bright, and colours look quite natural. However, black levels aren't too good, and certainly not a patch on the Samsung Galaxy S2's AMOLED screen.

Music

The built-in music player is a very smart little app. You can browse your music by songs, albums, artists or playlists (which can be created on the phone, handily).

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You get alphabetical lists when you have the Optimus 2X in portrait, which respond smoothly and have an alphabet on the right-hand side so you can jump down the list quickly.

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Turn to landscape and you get a Cover Flow-style way to scroll through your albums that's extremely well thought out. The scrolling pane of album covers actually has letters to show you quickly where you are, and there's a scroll bar at the bottom to skip through to a point in the list. Tap an album cover and it grows, with an 3D overlay to tell you what it is and who it's by.

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This screen is very slick, and we'd say it actually beats the iPhone's version in terms of UI.

Another brilliant UI touch is the monochrome, zoomed album covers when you actually click through into an album. It's the kind of nuanced touch that we praised Windows Phone 7 for on phones such as the HTC 7 Trophy.

LG optimus 2x

The audio quality on the LG Optimus 2X is acceptable, though not ground-breaking. The addition of a quick Virtual Surround option can boost some audio, but it's not for everyone. With the volume turned right up, there can be a bit of distortion in the high end of songs, but it's not too much of a problem.

Overall, we'd say say the music player was one of the Optimus 2X's strongest points.

Gallery

The gallery app for viewing photos and videos (there's also a separate video player) has a slick interface with some subtle 3D effects, though they're really for show than being of any real use. Images and videos appear in piles, much like on the iPad, but if you turn the phone left and right you can see that these are in 3D.

LG optimus 2x

LG optimus 2x

More useful is ability to pinch to preview the photos in a pile, also like the iPad. However, it works slightly differently to Apple's tablet. When you pinch out, you effectively create two piles that follow each of your fingers, and photos move from one to the other in a steady stream, so you can see them all in order.

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It also doesn't open the folder (or pile, or whatever you want to call it) when you pinch out fully, so if you found what you wanted, you'd have to stop pinching, and then tap the pile and find it again.

Photos load just as quickly as you'd hope with the dual-core Tegra 2 powering them, and flicking between them was completely smooth. Coupled with that crisp, bright screen, this is a great phone for viewing pictures on.

There's an FM Radio app, as well. It quickly scans for stations, though it's not able to add the names of stations itself. You need to use the headphones as an aerial, but quality is crisp and clear when you're got a good signal.

There's no recording function, but there is a quick button for switching to using the loudspeaker.

LG Optimus 2X: Apps

LG Optimus 2X review: Apps

Predictably, the LG Optimus 2X comes packed with apps already on the device. There's a range of them, including anti-malware scanners, Google's apps and the social networking apps.

Facebook for LG really feels like its been optimised for the phone. Tapping any options will bring in a new screen in a fraction of a second, with a perfectly smooth animation. The only limit is your internet connection – rest assured the phone will be well ahead of you.

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When you open the app, it will show your News Feed. It's not immediately obvious how to get to some of the other options from here. In fact, you need to hit the Back button, which will bring up a menu offering you the choice of News Feed, My Profile, Friends List, Inbox, Photos and Favorites. It's a bit counter-intuitive to hit Back to get here, but it's fine once you get used to it.

From the News Feed screen, you can also get to your profile, your messages, friend requests and there's a button to instantly upload a photo.

Most importantly, there's a text box for instantly updating your status.

The Twitter for LG app has an almost identical layout. You start off in your Twitter feed, and can hit Back for more menu options. There's a text box at the top for new updates, and a button in the same place for posting pictures.

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We said earlier there a widget for these two functions, which works well enough but there's one big omission: dual posting. Of course, there are apps that can solve this, but it seems like it should have been an obvious addition to LG's offering.

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Speaking of the Android Market, we've got the new version with the carousel at the top to keep us amused. Navigating the Market is fast and slick, making it easier to get to grips with sifting through everything that's on offer.

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Discoverability is a known issue on both the Android Market and Apple's App Store, so LG has included App Advisor, which will show you 10 hot apps of the moment.

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It's the kind of thing that could make itself useful every so often unearthing a gem, but we doubt you'll be referring to it all the time.

Most apps we downloaded seemed to be able to take advantage of the Optimus 2X's powerful processor. The official Twitter app was just as fast as LG's, while Angry Birds was as smooth as we've ever seen it.

Neither of these is the biggest test of the Tegra 2's chops, but that's the point – older, non-optimised software needs to run well on these new dual-core phones, not just the new Unreal Engine-powered games.

We went on to try the more demanding stylised top-down 3D shooter Gun Bros, which also ran like a dream.

LG optimus 2x

There are a few games and trials preloaded (sort of, you actually still have to download them) on the Optimus 2X, including a Spider-Man: Total Mayhem and Shrek Kart.

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Both of these ran as smooth as can be when playing, and we were duly impressed with that; however they're actually not that complex graphically. They're no Infinity Blade, at least.

As far as organiser apps, you've got the Calendar application, which ties into your Google calendar if you enable your Google account with the phone. This has an accompanying widget for one of the Home screens.

The month view isn't bad, though we think it could have devoted a little more space to the list of engagements at the bottom.

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The week view can get very confusing if you have a lot on, though. Tapping each block will bring up its details, but some can simply be too small to tap accurately. You can, however, tap any day on the horizontal bar just underneath the name of the month to view it larger.

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There's also Memo, Alarm/Clock and Calculator, which all serve obvious uses. The Car Home app is also available, which offers a larger, more obvious UI for when you're driving (though we'd say it's still a little subtle, with too much transparency).

LG optimus 2x

Google Maps is included, of course, and it's the shiny new version with 3D buildings in some cities and more multi-touch control. It really takes advantage of the added power of the dual-core phone. 3D panning and movement that the Desire S struggled with were handled with almost no stutters here.

LG optimus 2x

Areas loaded quickly after zooming, and the 3D buildings positively spring out of the ground (once they've downloaded, which can be the slow part), and rotating around them is impressively smooth.

Google Navigation is also here, as is usual. It looks good on the four-inch screen, but the phone's speakers don't stand out very well over traffic noise, so it may be more useful for those with a Bluetooth-enabled stereo in their car.

LG Optimus 2X: Battery life and connectivity

LG Optimus 2X review: Battery life

We weren't really sure what to expect from the Optimus 2X in terms of battery life. You might think that a more powerful processor would mean more power consumption, but Nvidia suggests that a dual-core chip should actually be lighter on the battery.

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In practice, the Optimus 2X turns out to be pretty average for a modern smartphone. The large LCD screen is always going to be a big power draw, for example, and the Tegra chip isn't going to change that.

After a pretty typical day for us (a bit of music in the morning, regular 3G Twitter checks and browsing throughout the day, about 30 minutes of phone calls, a couple of YouTube videos and some Wi-Fi browsing in the evening), the battery was at 18 per cent. That's right in line with what we expect these days.

So you'll be charging every night if your usage is comparable to ours, but could get a few days out of it if you're careful.

One of the features of Android 2.3 is better power management, so if the update does arrive on the Optimus 2X, this could improve.

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Connectivity

The LG Optimus 2X is no slouch when it comes to connections. In terms of cabling, there's micro-USB for connecting to your PC and that mini-HDMI port. The 8GB of built-in storage can be expanded by up to 32GB with the addition of a microSD card.

Wirelessly, you've got Wi-Fi covering b, g and n protocols, so you can make the most of a fast connection. HSDPA 3G connectivity means fast mobile broadband if you've a good signal.

LG optimus 2x

Bluetooth is here, but only in its 2.1 form. No speedy 3.0 version, which is a bit of a shame. However, A2DP music streaming is enabled.

There's the obilgatory A-GPS chip for location tracking, and there's even an FM radio, in case you get bored of all the modern technology.

LG Optimus 2X: Comparison

LG Optimus 2X review: Comparison

Well, it's hard to put the LG Optimus 2X in the same bracket as anything currently on the market when it comes to the internals. The Samsung Galaxy S2 and Motorola Atrix will catch up with it, as will the HTC Sensation but it's unique so far.

Samsung galaxy s2

Motorol atrix

However, from a design and software point of view, the Optimus 2X isn't a million miles from lots of phones on the market.

LG's own Optimus One actually isn't the closest around, because the front aesthetic, four-inch screen and touch-sensitive buttons of the Optimus 2X bring to mind the HTC Incredible S more than anything.

htc desire hd

Android fans looking for sharp performance would do well to check out the Google Nexus S or HTC Desire S and the improvements Android 2.3 brings. The Nexus S's, the Samsung Galaxy S, would also be worth checking out, if you can't wait for the next version to arrive.

If it's sheer slickness and speed in the operating system you're after, the iPhone 4 has to be a contender, as do Windows Phone 7 devices, such as the HTC HD7 and the Samsung Omnia 7, which sports a stunning AMOLED screen. LG also has a WP7 device in the shape of the Optimus 7 if it's the brand you're after.

lg optimus 7

LG Optimus 2X: Benchmarks

tablet benchmarks

LG Optimus 2X

How it rates against the rest - higher is better

S2

How we test

TechRadar aims to produce the most helpful phone reviews on the web, so you're able to make a more informed buying decision.

Part of this testing process includes benchmarking. It's a good way of measuring the overall performance of a product's internal hardware components.

We use Antutu System Benchmark to test tablets. It's a comprehensive Android benchmarking app and produces consistent results.

Antutu measures an Android device's CPU performance, 2D and 3D graphics performance, memory speed and internal and external storage read/write speeds. It combines the results for each test and gives the device a final score.

We test each device three times and take an average.

LG Optimus 2X: Hands-on gallery

LG Optimus 2X review: Hands-on gallery

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LG Optimus 2X: Official gallery

LG Optimus 2X review: Official gallery

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LG Optimus 2X: Verdict

LG Optimus 2X review: Verdict

Dual-core phones inevitably have an air of 'Is that it?" about them. Android already runs so smooth generally on phones like the HTC Desire S and HTC Incredible S that there could never be some quantum leap from adding a second core.

Where it should be useful is the video recording and playback, and while the HDMI mirroring does make use of Nvidia's Tegra 2 chip, the HD video recording is really let down by a below-average camera sensor.

There is a clear use for dual-core processors and powerful system-on-a-chip silicon in phones, particularly with games such as Infinity Blade on the iPhone and Dungeon Defenders on Android capable of taking advantage of fancy graphical feature, while Google Maps' new advanced features worked much better on the Optimus 2X compared to some single-core phone.

But overall this is more future-proofing than it is bringing a revolution to us now. And yet, at just £25 per month and with a possible Android 2.3 upgrade coming, perhaps future-proofing isn't such a bad plan.

We liked

The phone is certainly snappy – you'll get no argument from us about that. Slowdown was almost non-existant and that the Optimus 2X can keep it that smooth while mirroring to an HDTV is also impressive.

Some of the pre-loaded apps are quite useful, while the LG social networking apps are nice in the way they share a design, making it intuitive to go from one to the other.

It's not light, but the phone is reasonably thin, and sits comfortably in the pocket despite its four-inch screen. It's good that those who want the processing power won't be struggling with a hulking great smartphone.

The Music app is one the best bundled Android media apps we've ever seen. It's a combination of the best bits of the iPhone's and Windows Phone 7's, but with its own style. Videos and pictures both looked great on the screen, so it's a phone with media chops, as you'd expect with that processor.

We disliked

And yet, despite all the media prowess, the technical side of video playback was its drawback. 1080p videos loaded on a microSD card simply wouldn't work, even though other Tegra 2-based Android devices had no problem with them.

The 1080p video recording also proved to be a total damp squib (though videos did play back, at least). In fact, the camera's performance in general was pretty disappointing, when it really should have been a feature to make the Optimus 2X stand out even more.

More than anything though, the LG Optimus 2X is simply outdone by its rivals when it comes to software. It be more advanced technically, but that doesn't make it better to use by default. With every phone, we can see LG developing its software, and it does look like its heading in a good direction.

But it's not there yet. There are just little niggles here and there, and they add up to make the package look less polished. HTC is miles out in front on Android, and with HTC Sense 3.0 in the forthcoming Sensation, looks like it will pull even further into the lead. The iPhone 4 also comfortably bests it for overall experience.

The fact that the speakers are of such average quality, making it a pain to make phone calls in a busy area, is also disappointing.

Verdict

It wasn't that long ago we were calling the LG Optimus 2X a superphone, but it hasn't really lived up to that billing.The geek cred of the hardware is undeniable, but it doesn't lead the pack in the same way when it comes to software.

It falls down at a few of the hurdles it seems especially designed to handle as well, such as playing our loaded 1080p videos. Recording 1080p was also disappointing, eroding some the Optimus 2X's unique selling points.

However, it's at a really compelling price. The software might be beaten by the comparably priced HTC Incredible S at the moment, but it has soundly beaten for hardware. Software can be improved and optimised – hardware can't.

We've no hesitation recommending the Optimus 2X, but if it's a truly polished experience you're after, there are better options.

LG LG Android 2.2 Dual core Tegra 2
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