Apr 26 2011

LG Optimus 2X review

I've been using the LG Optimus 2X (hereafter called the o2X which the americans would be familiar with as the g2X) as my primary device for the last two weeks, which has given me a pretty good impression of the device. And it's a mixed bag of nuts to be honest.

On the hardware side, it seems good. Well, mostly good. The screen *is* really good. I don't know if its an IPS-panel, at least I haven't been able to confirm that, but it's vivid, clear and sharp with good color representation. And it's fully readable even in direct sunlight. Coming from the HTC Desire that's a nice change.

- Design

Well, it a big one and a bit on the heavy side, isn't it? The camera bulge on the back seems like a bad choice in my opinion. I have huuge hands, so it fits me well, but it's no girl's phone. The *design* is a matter of preference, but despite the brownness of it all, I kind of like it. Build quality seems great, the screen curves slightly down the sides and the seams with the frame fit well. No creaking plastics.

- Camera

The 8MP camera takes decent pictures that are good but not *that* good. Then again, anyone who understands anything about photography already knows it's not about the megapixels. I would have accepted a good 5MP camera over the bulge on the back of the device.

- Video

It takes decent video with vivid color reproduction, that looks *magnificent* when viewed on the device. The HDPI output works fine and is a zero-setup function - plug it in and the device is mirrored on your TV. It handles portrait/landscape changes without issue, and mirrors whatever is on your device screen to your flat screen, except video which is only displayed on your TV. But! Seeing my recorded 1080p videos on my 40" Samsung I wouldn't guess it's 1080p. I'd hardly peg it at 720p, actually. It runs smooth but there is blocking and odd compression artifacts. It looks like halfway between a good "720p" YouTube video and a bad 720p mkv encode, if that means anything to you.


As for the hyped up reason it's called "2X" ... meh? I mean, there's no doubt it's fast, as it should be running Android on a dual core cpu, but it's not *that* fast. I can't honestly say I feel a stunning performance increase compared to a HTC Desire running Oxygen 2.0.3, for instance. Go Launcher still lags when swiping between homescreens. ADW Launcher Ex doesn't, but it didn't on my HTC Desire either. Angry Birds Rio still lags a bit when you restart the levels and zoom in/out. I could go on but I won't. I get the frustrating feeling I'd associate with running 32-bit Windows Vista on a quad core PC with 8 gigs of ram. Or racing a Porsche 911 on an icy lake. The power is there, but it isn't being transferred to something useful.

- Software

That leads us to the real issue. The stock LG software on the o2X isn't bad, it's f****ng terrible. Sketchy beta release terrible. Straight out of the box, this thing is disappointing, if not useless. It bundles obsolete and redundant social networking apps that you can't get rid of. It hangs and lags and sprinkles Force Closes and Sleep-of-deaths generously. If you leave a Wi-Fi network and come back, the o2X doesn't hop back on. You have to turn your Wi-Fi function off and back on, or it just stays on 3G. Maybe that's why LG chose to include a toggle widget for the notification drawer, giving easy access to that function, which is useful at least. Unfortunately the drawer also features a music control that takes up a full 20% of the notification drawer while keeping the Music app persistent at the expense of your battery. Can you turn it off? Sure but it pops right back up, because as we remember, the o2X doesn't remember. It tends to forget saved settings, including saved Wi-Fi networks altogether btw, and it drinks a full battery up in less than 8 hours while doing absolutely nothing.

It has to be said that the g2X presumably ships with stock Android and might be another story altogether, and that LG has promised a Gingerbread update "soon" , that may or may not do wonders, depending on what their plan for the device is. As it was, I only managed to live with the stock software for a day, including a thorough test drive, and proceeded straight to rooting and a custom ROM. And at the moment that's sort of the way forward here. Most notably o2X owners should keep a close eye on the LG Optimus 2X section at 2X.MoDaCo.com and the corresponding Optimus 2x Android Development section at xda-developers. CyanogenMod is on it's way with Gingerbread for the g2X, so presumably the o2X as well.

I'm going to be building my CirclesMod specifically for the o2X for the foreseeable future, of course.
My Mod is shown here [link removed, no longer relevant] on MoDaCo Custom ROM Fr12. I've modded all relevant statusbar icons and removed that damn music control drawer widget.

- Conclusion

"CAVEAT EMPTOR" with big goddamn letters, people. If know what you're doing, you can pound this beast into submission and have a great Android experience with it. But if you're not willing or able to root and customize your handset yourself, I promise you it'll end in tears. I think the best that can be said about the LG Optimus 2X at this point in time is that it has the potential to be a really great device. In many ways, this has the potential to be the developer reference phone that the Google/Samsung Nexus S fell pathetically short of. But it needs the proper software support. Not just a half-assed GingerBread update, but a stock Android option with better and properly maintained platform of open source hardware drivers.

Comments (1) -

5/2/2011 2:11:38 PM
Nightlies should now be available from CyanogenMod at