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LG Optimus 2X

Seems like it was just yesterday when dual-core CPUs began to proliferate as the dominant processor technology. Features like multi-threading and multi-tasking became the expected norm when it came to performance. Fast forward to 2011 and we're now looking at quad-core and hexa-core technologies on desktops and notebooks. Not to be outdone, smartphones have also ramped up their processing power, joining the bandwagon this year with the introduction of dual-core units from major manufacturers, and LG leads the charge with the Optimus 2X.

The LG Optimus 2X is officially billed as the world's first dual-core smartphone, powered by Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor clocked at 1Ghz. Given Nvidia's position as one of the leaders in visual technology, it's no surprise that one of the selling points of the 2X is its video and graphics performance. And it's not shy about touting its abilities here, boasting a microHDMI port at the top edge of the unit from where you can stream the 1080p footage you've shot using the 8 MP camera at the back to your HD display.

Video quality is decent when shooting in good lighting, though it does tend to drop some frames when used under low-light conditions. Stills taken using the back camera are passable but nothing to write home about. We probably would have traded in a megapixel or two for better image quality. It also has a 1.3MP front facing camera for making video calls. 

As with most phones of this class, the 2X is huge. But don't let that turn you off, as experienced smartphone users will appreciate the size trade-off with its 4-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen. While admittedly a notch below the Retinas and Super Amoled displays of the world, it still offers great looking colors and brightness even under direct sunlight. Ergonomics are ok, and the slightly curved edges of the screen as it falls off the sides is a nice touch.  The back cover, though made of plastic, nevertheless evokes the feel of a high-end phone. Only the presence of the Google branding on a strip of brushed aluminum hints at some campiness.

Navigation is responsive and smooth, and there are the usual menu/home/back/search soft keys below. The ubiquitous 3.5mm stereo jack is located beside the microHDMI port on top, and there are dual stereo speakers at the bottom flanking the micro USB slot used for charging. External sound quality is ok, but output from the stereo jack seems to lack the clean, crisp sound we've come to expect from phones at this level. It's especially noticeable when paired with a decent set of cans.

The 2X comes packed with LG's own customized launcher. While not as visually appealing as HTC's Sense UI, or modified to the degree of Samsung's Touchwiz UI, it's still able to deliver an acceptable Android experience.  In any case, you can choose to download and install any of the dozens of third-party launchers available in the market to customize the interface to your taste. Battery life wasn't a standout, as we were able to get around a days worth of moderate use playing games and using Wi-Fi to browse and get our social networking fix before needing a charge.

For us, the biggest boo-boo with the 2X stems from the fact that it ships with a somewhat ancient (Froyo 2.2.2) version of Android. You might get away doing this with lower-end phones, but Android-savvy buyers will definitely take notice when looking over the specs of a top-shelf phone. Don't get us wrong, Froyo already has loads of improvement over the previous versions of Android, but why not go with the latest stable version (Gingerbread)? This is even more glaring once we experienced a few crashes and forced-closes when using certain applications. Of course, the software can easily be upgraded to address this issue, but LG could have saved owners the trouble by pre-loading a more recent version.

The LG Optimus 2X is the pioneer in bringing dual-core to the mobile space, and compared to previous generation of phones, the muscle underneath it is undeniable. Tested with benchmarking software against the best single-core phones, the scores of the 2x blows the rest of the field out of the water. 

Simply put, this is one of the most powerful smartphones available out there. Being the first should have given them a tremendous advantage in cornering the market if not for some shortcomings in software and performance. However, LG shouldn't be resting on it's laurels as some real competition is on the way with HTC's Sensation and Samsung's Galaxy S II making their local debuts. Only time will tell how the 2x will stack up against them. Click here to view the LG Optimus 2X in the Buyer's Guide.

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