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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  • Exophase - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Thanks Anand.

    I'm surprised to hear that shot was from IMG, given that it was an IMG employee who made the comment originally about Tegra's 16-bit banding being evident on it, from the screenshot. Whoops. I do wonder what could be causing this, then.

    Nonetheless, while that definitely makes my 16bit color claim invalid the depth buffer one should still hold. We might need to wait and see how much of a difference this actually makes, or rather how effective nVidia's 16-bit depth space is.

    I'm glad to hear that you're as concerned about benchmarks on Android as I am. It's especially frustrating when I see people using them to try to indicate Atom being substantially better clock for clock than Cortex-A9.
    Reply
  • Exophase - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Managed to miss this:

    "The test ramps from around 3k vertices to 15k vertices per frame, and 190k to 250k triangles per frame"

    That line doesn't make any sense. How would you have hundreds of times more triangles than vertices? You must have meant something else.
    Reply
  • sid1712 - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Great review as usual but i'm disappointed about the lack of details on the Sound Quality of the phone. A comparison of the sound quality (via headphone jack) alongside the iPhone 4 and the Galaxy S (with Voodoo kernel preferrably) would give a good idea about the SQ of the phone. Reply
  • ScentedKandle - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Related to this, the audio codec lists "lossless" but doesn't mention what format. Can the audio chip natively decode FLAC? Reply
  • teldar - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    The order of buttons if the same as my droid x. Reply
  • Pjotr - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Does it really record 1920x1088? Does this unorthodox resolution play well on TVs, if you put it on a USB stick, for example? Reply
  • Brian Klug - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    It plays back from the phone properly, and most of the playback software just does a crop. A ton of devices actually produce 1088 and don't make note of it, it should playback fine.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • unmesh - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    For active aka switching transistor power consumption, C*V^2*f (C is capacitance and f is frequency) is a better proxy than V^2/R.

    The conclusion that operating voltage has a huge effect remains the same.
    Reply
  • Kevin098 - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Hey, can you make a video comparison between the iphone 4 retina display and Optimus 2x ? Reply
  • StormyParis - Monday, February 07, 2011 - link

    Pages and pages of (apparently not very acurate, too) perf data, and not even one line on sound quality, which is one of my key buying points for a phone.

    No info on whether I'll be able to stream PC-resolution videos off my server to my bed over wifi.

    Overall, not a very useful review. More like a dick size contest.
    Reply

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