Archive: Mobile Phones 2007-08

REVIEW / LG Optimus 2X P990

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Romain Thuret Published on April 10, 2011
Updated on April 10, 2011
Translated by
 
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SPECIFICATIONS

  • Operating system (OS)
  • OS version tested
  • Screen size
  • Screen resolution
  • Weight 147 g
  • Dimensions 123.9 x 63.2 x 10.9 mm
Until recently, LG didn't have much coverage in the Android market, with only the rather entry-level Optimus One on offer.  The Korean manufacturer has decided to step things up a gear, and before releasing the Optimus Black and Optimus 3D, it's launched the new Optimus 2X P 990, billed as a super-powerful smartphone.  And so it should be: it's the first of a new generation of handsets to have a dual-core processor, the now famous 1 GHz Nvidia Tegra2.


To make sure that users feel that their (hopefully) super-fast new phone is worth the investment, LG has added top of the range hardware to match, including an 8 Megapixel camera capable of shooting 1080p video, 8 GB of internal memory with room for up to 32 GB via a microSD card, as well as a micro USB port at one end, and at the other, a mini HDMI next to the headphone socket.


Optimus: All Man

At first sight, the Optimus 2X has a very imposing, masculine look.  And if you dare sneak a second glance, you'll probably come to the conclusion that it definitely is designed to be in the hands of big, hard guys.  Like some of HTC's handsets, the Optimus 2X adopts a sober, reserved approach, with a mixture of blacks and greys and sharp edges.

LG's style is simple and effective, and involves a mixture of decent quality plastics, a well-fitted soft case at the back, aluminium trim and rounded corners on the touchscreen display.  Our only complaint is the little strip of aluminium on the back that it turns out is just there for decoration.  LG could have made an even more serious statement with its phone by using much aluminium, but that's splitting hairs.


It's easy to hold LG's new smartphone in the palm of your hand and the material used on the back ensures a steady grip.  The touch-sensitive controls underneath the screen are just as sensitive as they need to be, while the physical controls (the power switch and the volume) and the cover for the mico HDMI port are as seriously made as the rest of the Optimus 2X.

Average screen—but there's nothing wrong with that

Trying to crack the high-end smartphone market with a screen that only just makes the grade would have been a very bad idea.  Thanks to LG's expertise in the area, we get an 800 x 480 pixel IPS screen with a more than decent display.  We measured a contrast ratio of 965:1, which although lower than on the excellent HTC Desire Z, is still higher than the majority of smartphones on the market.  That said, blacks still look underexposed and whites washed out with tones of grey ...

The screen has a blue tinge, but overall, the colour reproduction is pretty reasonable.  The deltaE score of 5.1 is a long way from the target value (below 3.0), but is still considered a good result for a smartphone.  The same is true of the ghosting time, with the IPS technology betraying itself with a time of 19 ms.  That might sound a lot, but the four-inch screen looks fluid to the naked eye.

LG hasn't ruined the reputation of its new smartphone with a shoddy screen—especially given how bright it is.

High definition eye candy

This is Android 2.2 Froyo, so the interface isn't hiding any surprises.  LG has tweaked a few of the widgets, and although it's nothing revolutionary, it can be a bit garish if you leave all of the effects on.  In total, the Optimus 2X has seven homescreens for your apps and widgets.  Any of the games we tried launched in an instant, and all of the 3D eye candy makes the Optimus 2X a real treat to use.


Finding your way around the phone's features is very quick, and is a great first impression of what the Tegra2 processor can offer on a mobile.  Even with all of the visual bells and whistles turned on, the Optimus 2X never skipped a beat.  Every single aspect is lightning fast, and web browsing works very well as a result.  The pages load quickly and are easy to zoom into.  Even switching over to Firefox Mobile and browsing with loads of tabs at once didn't pose any problems.

The Optimus 2X supports Flash, and for once, we're glad to report that the phone didn't take too long to display interactive content on the sites we visited.
 

LG falls back to Android for multimedia content, so you'll need MPEG4 for video, although AVI container files are also accepted.  If you want to be able to play more video formats, you'll have to download it yourself from the Android Market.  You can play video up to 1080p and the picture is fluid, even if you skip around during an HD video.


Some smartphones sometimes have trouble displaying your photo album, but here, your photos are on screen in a flash.

The audio quality, on the other hand, isn't much to write home about.  The speaker isn't the most powerful we've heard and produces a muffled output.  The headphone jack suffers from the same problems.  All of this despite the fact the Optimus 2X boasts a graphic equaliser and a Virtual Surround mode ... both of which are absolutely useless.

Using the camera is a real treat.  It's only reasonable to expect a certain amount of detail from an 8 Megapixel sensor, and it's there all right.  Apart from the flash, which is a little over enthusiastic and leads to too much over exposure, the Optimus 2X's camera does a great job of reproducing colour with a very respectable amount of detail.  The only exception is around the edges of frame, where a few details are missing.  Overall, it's certainly up there with the best smartphone cameras we've tested thusfar.



As for video, there's only one thing we're interested in: 1080p.  The Optimus 2X does a great job of recording video at this resolution, and is also impressive at displaying it.  There's very little jerkiness with a generally smooth output.

Lightning fast—but gone in a flash

So far, LG has produced a phone that's full of possibilities, but here's the sticking point.  Despite having a 1500 mAh battery, the Optimus 2X rarely managed to last more than about five and a half hours without needing to be recharged.  When you turn on all of the features, that falls to around four and a half hours.  Of course, the amount of battery life depends very much on what you actually decide to do with it, but we couldn't help but get frustrated with the Optumus 2X.  What's the point of being lightning fast if you're gone in a flash?  We're convinced that the poor results are caused by a mixture of inappropriate support for the dual-core processor as well as the extra-large screen.

 
It's also worth pointing out that recording 1080p video is particularly resource heavy, something which is even more disappointing because the results are so effective you're likely to want to try it more.

So consider yourself warned: unless LG adjusts the firmware, the Optimus 2X is going to keep on using power—a lot of power.  It's still a great addition to the smartphone world, and LG is definitely back in the game.
The Optimus 2X as a phone
The phonebook on the Optimus 2X combines your SIM card, Google contacts and Facebook friends. You can then link all of a person's details into a single contact, which is handy.
It does a great job of picking up signal and voice calls only rarely suffer from interference, although there is a quiet crackle.
Typing text messages or e-mails is great, and LG has chosen to add an iPhone style virtual keyboard rather than the one that usually comes with Android phones. There's plenty of room between the keys, even in portrait mode. The predictive text is sometimes a little over enthusiastic but you soon get used to it.
Text input can be tricky when you're typing very quickly and every now and then a few letters can disappear.

PROS

  • Fast and powerful
  • Speedy web browsing
  • Attractive software environment
  • Serious build quality
  • Great camera with support for 1080p video

CONS

  • Poor battery life
  • Looks and feels too mascline
  • No notification LED
  • Doesn't have its own media player
  • Audio quality could be improved

CONCLUSION 4/5

The Optimus 2X is a super-powerful smartphone that represents the opening salvo in a new battle for dual-core mobiles. Only poor battery life lets it down, which is all the more disappointing because of all it's capable of. LG has still managed to produced a well-made handset that's more than capable of taking on even its most serious competitors.
4 LG Optimus 2X P990 DigitalVersus 2011-04-10 00:00:00
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