Turn the screen of the LG Optimus 2X on and while good, it doesn’t immediately leap out as being something really special. That said, the 4in IPS LCD panel has strong colours, good contrast, a sufficiently dark black level and essentially infinite viewing angles. The main issues are that the resolution of 480 x 800 pixels looks just a little soft on such a large screen (particularly compared to an iPhone 4) and its colours and contrast can’t quite match that of the Super AMOLED displays on devices like the Samsung Galaxy S II. We really are being picky here, though, and it’s excellent for everything smartphone, from watching video to browsing the web.
Of course, one of the key components of this phone is its dual-core processor, which is an Nvidia Tegra 2 model. This combines two 1GHz, ARM-derived CPUs with Nvidia graphics for a super speedy device, at least in theory. In general use, the extra performance isn’t immediately obvious with the lag from apps loading and little menu animations being about the same as single core phones.
Although this does make some sense as most of the operating system and apps don’t really take advantage of two cores – instead most apps are single threaded – there’s another reason this phone doesn’t particularly blow us away with its performance; it runs Android 2.2. One of the key advancements in Android 2.3 was the tautening up of general navigation elements, removing the slight stuttering that occurred as you moved round the interface. It was all subtle stuff but noticeable.
It’s a bit of a disappointment then to find the Optimus 2X coming with such an old version of Android (despite being only 0.1 behind the current version, it’s nearly a year old). The reason for such an old version is that LG has done a fair amount of tweaking of the interface.
Right from the off things are a bit different. The lock screen for instance requires a slide upwards to unlock, rather than a swipe across.
The general interface looks much like standard Android with a central homescreen ready to fill with widgets and three further screens off to each side. Along the bottom are shortcuts for the Phone, Contacts, Messaging, and other Applications. Unlike some devices, you can’t change these to be apps of your own choosing, which is a bit of a pain.
Where the next obvious difference occurs is when you dive into the Applications menu. Here LG has separated out all the standard apps from ones you’ve downloaded, which is quite useful for finding the latest game or utility you’ve downloaded. Once found you can then drag it to a homescreen or a folder of apps on the homescreen, just like on most other Androids. Thankfully LG hasn’t changed the applications list into a paginated layout, as seems to be common now, from its default of a single long list, which we prefer.
Another change is the notifications drop down menu, which as well as showing your latest emails and other messages, has a small music player for quickly playing/pausing or skipping a track and a series of five icons for quickly changing some useful settings; Silent Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Auto Rotate. All useful additions.
All told the general interface feels intuitive and easy to use with a few nice additions over and above standard Android. An update to Android 2.3 can’t come soon enough though as there are enough little tweaks on the latest version that make all the difference.