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.