In many ways, the smartphone platform has evolved following the same kinds of steps we saw in the early days of the PC—lots of different software and hardware platforms, rapidly changing lead players, faster and faster platform update cadence, the slow emergence of obvious majority leaders. Anand and I have talked extensively about just how striking the similarities are between the PC evolution and the current mobile one, but one of the striking differences is just how much faster that evolution is happening in the mobile space. The reason is simple—nearly all the hard lessons have already been learned in the previous PC evolution, it's just a matter of porting that knowledge to mobile under a different set of constraints.

2011 is going to be a year dominated by multi-core smartphone launches, but there always has to be a first. So just like that, we have our first example of said category of smartphone, the LG Optimus 2X, with Nvidia's dual-core 1 GHz Tegra 2 AP20H at its heart. The Optimus 2X (simply the 2X henceforth) hasn't changed much since we saw it at CES—the hardware is aesthetically the same, and software at first glance is the same as well. We weren't able to publish benchmarks at that time purely because LG hadn't finalized the software build on that test hardware, but we definitely can do so now.

First off are the hardware specs. There's a version of the 2X already shipping on South Korea Telecom which is similar but not identical to the version we were sampled—what we're reviewing is the LG PP990 rather than the SU660. You can look at the specs of that Korean version and compare yourself, but the differences boil down to a few things. The South Korean version ships with 16 GB of internal storage compared to 8 GB like ours, Xenon versus LED flash, likely a different build of Android (more on that later), and a physically different set of Android buttons. The Korean version also has T-DMB for mobile TV. LG hasn't officially announced what carrier the 2X will launch with stateside, nor has it been specific about what UMTS or GSM bands that final version will work with, I'd expect that announcement to happen at MWC. Needless to say, I was surprised that the 2X immediately hopped on HSPA when I inserted my personal AT&T SIM. Regardless, just know that what we're reviewing here is something between the international model and what will be launched in the US. The 2X will launch running Android 2.2.1 and is already slated to move to Android 2.3 at some time in the future.

Physical Comparison
Apple iPhone 4 Motorola Droid 2 Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate Google Nexus S LG Optimus 2X
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 116.3 mm (4.6") 106.17 mm (4.18") 123.9 mm (4.88") 123.9 mm (4.87")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 60.5 mm (2.4") 63.5 mm (2.5") 63.0 mm (2.48") 63.2 mm (2.48")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 13.7 mm (0.54") 9.91 mm (0.39") 10.88 mm (0.43") 10.9 mm (0.43")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 169 g (5.9 oz) 127 grams (4.5 oz) 129 grams (4.6 oz) 139.0 grams (4.90 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz Texas Instruments OMAP 3630 @ 1 GHz 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird NVIDIA Tegra 2 Dual-Core Cortex-A9 (AP20H) @ 1 GHz
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 PowerVR SGX 530 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 540 ULV GeForce @ 100-300 MHz
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 512 MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR1 512 MB LPDDR2 @ 600 MHz data rate
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 8 GB integrated, preinstalled 8 GB microSD 2 GB, 16 GB microSD (Class 2) 16 GB Integrated 8 GB integrated (5.51 GB internal SD, 1.12 phone storage), up to 32 microSD
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5 MP with dual LED flash and autofocus 5 MP with auto focus and LED flash 5 MP with Autofocus, LED Flash, VGA front facing, 720P Video 8 MP with autofocus, LED flash, 1080p24 video recording, 1.3 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 3.7" 854 x 480 4" Super AMOLED 800 x 480 4" Super AMOLED 800 x 480

4" IPS-LCD 800x480

On paper, the 2X is impressive. Highlights are obviously the AP20H Tegra 2 SoC, 4-inch IPS display, 8 MP rear camera and 1.3 MP front facing camera, and 1080p24 H.264 (Baseline) video capture. We're going to go over everything in detail, but starting out the review are our hardware impressions.

LG Optimus 2X Hardware Impressions
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  • matt b - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - link

    Just curious because I've heard rumors that HP will use the Qualcomm chipset and I've also heard rumors that they will stick with Ti for their new tablets/phones. I just wondered if you know for sure since I know that you met with folks at CES. I hope that we all find out tomorrow at the HP event.
    Great review.
  • TareX - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - link

    I'd like to see Tegra 2 on the Xoom compared to Tegra 2 on the Optimus 2X.

    Why? Well, simply put, the only Android version that seems to be optimized for dual-core is Honeycomb.
  • Dark Legion - Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - link

    Why is there no Incredible on 2.2? I could understand if you had both 2.1 and 2.2, like the Evo, but as it is now does not show the full/current performance.
  • Morke - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    "It’s a strange dichotomy that LG sets up with this launcher scheme that divides “downloaded” apps from “system applications,” one that’s made on no other Android device I’ve ever seen but the Optimus One. The end result is that most of the stuff I want (you know, since I just installed it) is at the very last page or very bottom of the list, resulting in guaranteed scrolling every single time. If you’re a power user, just replace the launcher with something else entirely."

    You are not right there.
    First you can create additonal categories (aside from system applications and downloads) and move applications between them.
    Secondly you can rearrange the ordering of the applications inside a category (allowing you to have those on top which you access most frequently). You can also delete applications right away in this edit mode.

    There is a youtube video demonstrating this:
    See time index starting with 4:21.

    Maybe you should correct your review on this?
  • Morke - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    The correct youtube URL demonstrating application launcher management is actually
  • brj_texas - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    A question on the statement in the benchmarking section, "the SunSpider benchmark isn't explicitly multithreaded, although some of the tests within the benchmark will take advantage of more than one core. "

    My understanding was that all of the tests within sunspider are single-threaded, but a dual-core processor can run the javascript engine (and the sunspider tests) in a separate thread from the main browser thread when you call sunspider from a browser window.

    Can you clarify which tests support multi-threading in sunspider if that is in fact what you meant?

    On the topic of multi-threading, we've used moonbat, a multi-core variant of sunspider, to explicitly test multi-core performance with javascript code. I wonder if you have any other benchmarks under investigation that measure multi-core performance?

  • worldbfree4me - Saturday, February 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks for another thorough and in-depth analysis. But I have a question to ask,

    Should we upgrade (break our 2 year contract agreement for this phone) or ride out our contract?

    We trust and value your our opinion. Tom’s hardware does a GPU hierarchy chart every few months, can you do a phone hierarchy in the future?
  • lashton - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    They have a really good idea and lead the market but it falls short because its not quite right
  • tnepres - Tuesday, April 5, 2011 - link

    I now own a optimus 2x. The first was dead on arrival, but this one is perfect. The LG software is innovative and pleasing to the eye. In various places they made real improvements to the UI that are just brilliant,ie. the ability to sort and categorize apps. At times the UI is not as fast as you would expect, especially when adding apps/widgets to one of the 7 pages. It seems LG generates a list of widgets for you, so you can see what apps support this mode, and that takes about a second. As I recall, on HTC devices you are just presented with a list of apps and u have to try and see if you can widget it.

    The LG keybord has a brilliant feature, you tab the side of the phone to move the cursor. Sadly in other respects the keyboard is lacking, ie. when you long-pres you do not get the alternates you might wish, such as numbers.

    The batterytime is superb, using the UI consumes much less power than on my desire.

    Copy/paste in the browser does not activate via long-pres, you have to hit menu button, but on the plus side its easier to use than what HTC made.

    During 2 days of very intensive use i have had 1 app (partially) crash and that was the marketplace. No other issues so far, its my verdict that the unstability issues are overrated.

    No problems with wifi using stock ISP (TDC) supplied router. (sagemcom)

    To engadget: How on earth (!!?!!?) can you state there is no use for dualcore. When browsing one loads flash the other the rest. Its so fast you cant believe it. Try loading on a non dualcore phone and you get my drift.

    I do not hesitate to give the optimus 2x my warm recommendations.

    VERDICT: 9/10 (missing 4g)
  • Sannat - Thursday, May 12, 2011 - link

    gsmarena sound benchmark for optimus 2x isnt great...could it be a s/w issue...??

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