There aren't any major differences in hardware between the Optimus 2X and the G2x, other than the T-Mobile logo replacing the LG branding below the earpiece. Our G2x review unit came with a brown / bronze-colored battery cover instead of a matte black one like its European sibling -- that's about it. What we're looking at then, is the same elegant (if not understated) design and superb build quality as the Optimus 2X. It's clear that LG put some effort into making this a premium smartphone by focusing on the details. A glass panel with beautifully beveled sides covers the entire front of the phone, and conceals a 4-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, a cutout for the earpiece, the proximity and light sensors, plus the four standard Android keys (menu, home, back, and search). Strangely, these capacitive buttons take up a huge amount of real-estate below the display (almost an inch), making the G2x as tall as the HTC Thunderbolt
The handset feels great in the hand thanks to the matte soft-touch finish and curved edges of the battery door, which takes up the entire back. It's hefty enough to be substantial without being heavy, all while maintaining a svelte 10mm profile. A tasteful strip of brushed aluminum displaying a machined "with Google" logo runs down the length of the back, inline with the camera pod which hosts an 8 megapixel sensor and a large autofocus lens behind a glass window, along with a single LED flash. Sandwiched between the front glass and battery cover, you'll find a silver / faux-gunmetal rim that traces the entire perimeter of the device. The top edge contains the power / lock key, micro-HDMI connector (behind a flap), and standard 3.5mm headphone jack. On the bottom, the G2x takes a cue from the iPhone 4 with two small meshed openings on each side of the micro-USB connector, one hiding the mono speaker (which is adequately loud) and the other protecting the microphone. There's a simple volume rocker on the right edge, and nothing on the left. As expected, the SIM and microSD card slots are located behind the battery door, along with a standard issue 1500mAh battery. No microSD card is supplied since the G2x provides 8GB of internal mass storage.
While most of the hardware in the G2x hits the spot, we're a little underwhelmed with the display. The 4-inch WVGA (800 x 480) IPS
panel looks good on paper but misses the mark when compared to the competition. Sure, the colors are rich and the viewing angles are wide, but the LCD washes out more than expected in direct sunlight and suffers from a significant amount of backlight leaking out from the edges of the screen, resulting in visible "stains" on solid, dark-colored content. We're also somewhat perplexed as to why LG decided against outfitting this dual-core smartphone with a qHD
(960 x 540) display, à la Motorola Atrix 4G
. Obviously, we're being highly critical here -- most people will be satisfied with the G2x's display, at least until they come across one of Samsung's Super AMOLED
-equipped devices. Another item that requires improvement is the screen's capacitive touch layer, which is slightly less sensitive than on most other phones. Light touches don't always register, and while this is easily remedied by applying more pressure, it's rather disconcerting -- especially for a handset that's otherwise well designed.
Under the hood, NVIDIA's 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 SoC is the life of the party, together with 512MB or RAM and the aforementioned 8GB of built-in flash storage. It's difficult to quantify the performance improvements the dual-core silicon brings to the table -- mostly because the results also partially depend on the software -- but the G2x certainly feels snappy, especially when running tasks in the background. It also handles 1080p video recording and playback like a champ, something even low-end PCs often still struggle with. Moving beyond the Tegra 2, you'll find the usual smorgasbord of radios, including 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, quadband EDGE, and
support for 2100,
, 1700 / AWS
), alongside a generous sprinkling of sensors (light, proximity, accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope).
We've unlocked our G2x review unit and it refuses to connect to AT&T's 3G network (1900 / 850MHz). As this time we believe this is not a hardware limitation, but rather a restriction imposed by the baseband software. We're confident that, like every T-Mobile Android phone before it, the G2x supports 2100MHz 3G for Europe and Asia. We're investigating this further, and we'll keep you posted.
T-Mobile has confirmed
that the G2x is not a quadband HSPA+ device as originally advertised, and that the hardware only supports 3G bands I and IV (2100 and 1700MHz).
The G2x passed our call and reception tests with flying colors, and HSPA+
performance is on par with other T-Mobile devices like the Galaxy S 4G. Sound quality is excellent, but the audio output is quieter at maximum volume than most other handsets when paired with some headphones (such as our Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro). Battery life is pretty much what you'd expect from a high-end Android phone, providing about a day's worth of moderate use -- typically a half-hour spent on calls, a few text messages, lots of data being pushed from three email accounts and a Twitter account, plus some web browsing, picture taking, and music listening, all with WiFi / GPS enabled and Bluetooth disabled. While there's still room for improvement, we're pleased to report that the Tegra 2 SoC appears to have little (if any) negative impact on battery life. In fact, the G2x fares better in terms of power management than some single core smartphones we're recently reviewed -- yes, we're looking at you, Mr. Thunderbolt.
The camera in the G2x is a gem in the rough. As you can see in our sample shots, it takes gorgeous pictures, but we can't help but feel that the sensor and optics are being held back by the software, both in terms of image processing and user experience. The first cue that G2x might be equipped with a decent camera is the large lens opening, which allows more light to be gathered. Behind that autofocus lens you'll find an 8 megapixel sensor which, based on the impressive low-light performance we observed, is likely backside illuminated. The camera also features a bright single LED flash for those inevitable (regrettable?) nightclub moments, but sadly there's no dedicated two-stage camera button. Exposure is generally spot on, and pictures always contain a huge amount of detail even in low light, with noise rarely being an issue. Still, colors are somewhat under-saturated, and it often looks as if some of the information gathered by the camera is being unnecessarily lost during image processing -- but we're being picky here.