T-Mobile may have grabbed one of the best smartphones available today with the G2x. Essentially the LG Optimus 2X, but with stock Android and HSPA+ support, the G2x hits all the right spots in terms of power and features, all packaged in a simple design. But is T-Mobile’s first dual-core Android handset a worthy opponent to the upcoming competition? The G2x has many top of the line features that you won’t find on many Android phones at the moment, but that’s all set to change this summer.
Devices like the HTC Sensation, EVO 3D, Droid X 2, Samsung Charge, and Droid Incredible 2 all pack a similar punch as the T-Mobile G2x, and some eclipse the features of the handset. The G2x can easily stand out in the crowd today, but can it maintain its allure when the competition arrives?
Read on to find out!
T-Mobile G2X with Google
Now available online, April 20th in T-Mobile stores for $199 on a two-year contract. Only $149 at Amazon Wireless.
- 4-inch IPS -LCD display (480 x 800)
- 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor
- 8 megapixel camera with LED Flash
- 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat
- 1080p HD Video recording
- micro HDMI port with 1080p HD video playback on an HDTV
- 8GB internal storage
- MicroSD card slot (up to 32GB)
- HSPA+ support (14.4Mpbs)
- WiFi (b/g/n)
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
- The Tegra 2 inside the G2x tears through anything you can throw at it without breaking a sweat
- Camera take fast, high-quality photos
- MicroSD card is hot-swappable
- Feels like a premium device
- No Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS out of the box
- Design may look a bit too plain for some people
- HDMI cable doesn’t ship with the handset, like the Optimus 2X
- No LED notification/charging light at the top of the screen
By looking at the G2X head on, you probably wouldn’t realize that it’s one of the most powerful phones in the world. The overall look is very minimalistic, and the only bit of “flair” on the G2x is the metallic strip on the back of the handset with Google’s logo on it. Some people may not like it, some will. Without knowing anything about the device, one of the few things that would hint that it’s a premium product is the 8 megapixel camera, making it seem somewhat worthy of your attention. But when you spot the HDMI port on the top, however, you’ll know that there’s certainly more to this phone than meets the eye.
One could easily forgive LG for making such a drab looking device, because after reading the spec-sheet for the G2x, you immediately realize that the focus was on the guts, not the design. Keeping the device minimal in design makes it a “please all” device in some aspects, but some may still like a bit more pop to the look of their handsets.
The front of the G2x is your standard Android affair. The 4-inch display covers most of the front, with the 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera above it, alongside the earpiece. You can also find the proximity and ambient light sensors on the top as well. The four capacitive Android buttons are found along the bottom, as you’d expect, but the space between the screen and the soft keys is rather large, making us wish LG gave us a slightly bigger display. One thing that you may not notice right off the bat about the G2x is that it’s screen is slightly curved along the edges of the display. It’s subtle, but it’s a nice touch.
The top of the handset houses the 3.5 mm headphone jack, the power/lock button, with the micro HDMI port in the middle of the two. The port is covered by a small tab you can pull out, which gets the job done, but we were hoping to see a more elegant implementation, like the Galaxy S line’s sliding cover. Going over to the right side of the handset will show you two separate volume keys, which feel good when pressed, giving the perfect amount of tactile feedback. The left side of the G2x is clean, with the bottom housing the charging port and stereo speakers.
The back of the G2x is done up in a soft touch finish, and is easily removed by a tab at the bottom. Here you’ll find the 8 megapixel camera and single LED flash, which is slightly raised, but less dramatic than what you’d find on Verizon’s Droid X. There’s also a metallic strip below the camera that bears Google’s logo, and while it’s nothing spectacular, we like the look of it, even if it’s useless.
Overall, the in-hand feel of the G2x is solid and it truly feels like a premium device. I was initially expecting the G2x to be a premium device and look nice, but feel cheap and light, similar to the Galaxy S devices. That’s not the case, however, and the device feels as solid as it is high-end on the inside.
Build Quality / Fit and Finish
The quality of the G2x is surprisingly solid. While I knew LG was capable of making a great handset, upon first look, you may think the G2x would be light and feel cheap in the hand. Well, it is rather light for a smartphone with it’s innards, but it feels rock solid. Rocking a 4 inch display, it’s nice to see that size wasn’t compromised in the G2x’s design. It is on the larger side, but it’s not unwieldy, and at under an inch thick, LG has provided us with a great handset, even with it’s very plain look.
The curved edges of the display aren’t completely noticeable until your finger trails off to one of the sides. It doesn’t add functionality, but this addition, while subtle, just adds more of a premium feel to the device as a whole. In fact, you’ll find curved edges throughout the entire device, which lends to a better in-hand feel.
The metallic strip on the back of the G2x sings quality, even if some may not like the look of it. It provides a nice contrast, and demands attention, possibly to offset the fact that it’s pretty much a black slab of a phone. While we’re on the subject, the back plate of the device is covered in a soft touch finish that feels great when its being held. It’s also easily taken off by a small tab on the bottom. It’s almost surprising to find that it’s nothing more than plastic, but it is on the sturdier side.
If you had worries about the build quality of the G2x, you can safely put those woes away.
Like the G1 and G2, the G2x ships with the stock Android experience, which is something you rarely find these days on a handset using Google’s OS. Having stock, or vanilla, Android theoretically should bring faster updates to the table, but even the G2 hasn’t seen the official Android 2.3 Gingerbread update yet, but we should expect it soon. The G2x will likely sell quite well, making T-Mobile try to get the update out as soon as possible, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Stock Android gives you 5 homescreens to customize with applications, folders and widgets, allowing to make the content that’s most important to you right in front of you. Some other mobile operating systems may have attempted this, but none are as good as Android when it comes to customization. The bottom of the screen gives you a small dock that gives you instant access to the dialer and web browsing applications, with the app launcher in the middle.
Since the handset ships with Android 2.2 Froyo, we won’t waste your time by going over it again when we have quite an extensive review of the now-aging version of the OS that you can find right here.
The G2x ships with a micro HDMI port, and while its European variant ships with the HDMI to micro HDMI cable in the box, T-Mobile’s version does not. Maybe because this is America and we’re such consumers, but leaving this out when it was previously included is in poor taste in my book. Either way, you can grab from Amazon for about $3, so if you’re really looking to use the feature, head over there.
While most Android handsets with HDMI ports limit its capabilities to only viewing media, the G2x allows you to mirror the entire user interface. This will allow you to surf the net, and play video games on your HDTV with the G2X as your controller. This alone may be worth it to purchase the HDMI cable the handset, and why wouldn’t you want to utilize a feature that’s found on so few phones these days anyway? While it’s not something you’ll use everyday, it’s a nice feature that you can find some value in.
We got a chance to play some upcoming Tegra 2 optimized games on the G2x, and in short, gameplay is stunning. We got an early look at Galaxy On Fire 2, RipTide GP, Pinball HD, all of which are equally addiction and beautiful. Even as demos, all games played back buttery smooth on both the G2x and a ViewSonic G-Tablet.
Another small, but very welcomed feature is that the T-Mobile G2x can take screenshots just by pressing Home and Power at the same time.
Benchmarks and HSPA+
We put the G2x in a series of tests using three different benchmark applications, Quadrant, Neocore, and Linpack. Each test was ran three times, and the results are the averages of the tests. To get a better feel for what kind of power we’re talking about, we’ll also provide the averages from the Atrix 4G, the only other Tegra 2 device available in the US today.
Quadrant (System Benchmark)
Average : 2553 (Atrix – 2431)
Neocore (Graphics Benchmark)
Average : 77.9 (Atrix – 53.9)
Linpack (Processor Benchmark)
Average : 36.08 (Atrix – 35.35)
Speedtest.net (Data Speed Test)
Average : 4.508 Mbps download / 1.745Mbps upload
The outlier test showing 15+ Mbps data speeds was left out for speed average purposes.
So while the Atrix may have similar innards as the G2x, T-Mobile’s handset beat the Atrix out in every category, even if by a small amount. What’s surprising, though, is that the graphics benchmark was significantly lower, which is a bit strange given they both share the same CPU. This is likely due to the fact that the Atrix 4G’s display has a much higher resolution. While numbers aren’t everything, having the G2x push out 24 frames per second more than the Atrix only furthers our belief that if you’re looking for a Tegra 2 smartphone today, the G2x should be the one to go to. Maybe Motoblur is sucking the life out of the Atrix?
Web Browser, Multimedia, and Camera
Speed aside, there’s a lot to be desired from the stock Android browser. It gets the job done, but we wish there were more options you could choose from. Something as simple as multi-selection for your bookmarks, not unlike HTC Sense’s browser, would be very nice to have. It’s small things like this that make the G2x’s, or any stock Android web browser seem a bit on the bare-bones side, but with a virtually unrivaled speed, it’s hard to shell out some hard complaints about it.
Another draw back to stock Android is the fact that there has been very little done to give a great multimedia experience. The music player is simple and to the point, but it’s miles away from the iPhone’s music player, or even some players from custom Android skins, which are more aesthetically pleasing. Luckily, there are plenty of third-party music players in the Android Market you can replace the stock app with, so one could consider it a non-issue if they know where to look. Plus, the next version of Android’s Music player has already leaked out to the world, and it’s looking mighty fine.
We were a bit surprised to find that the G2x’s camera software is not what you’d normally find on stock Android, but even the biggest fans of the pure Google experience will likely let this be a welcomed exception. While the stock camera application isn’t bad, it does leave a lot to be desired, and LG’s software is by far superior. The camera software brings a hefty amount of setting you won’t find on other stock Android devices, offering up focus, ISO, white balance, color effect, timer, stabilization, and more settings that make the camera just that much better.
Speaking of the camera, it’s a winner, giving you quality shots that are print-worthy. Just ask Marin. The 8 megapixel camera is definitely one of quality, and too many times do we find a sensor of this caliber, only to find that it’s still under par than you expect. However, the camera needs a bit of tweaking to give you the best experience in low-light settings, but since there are a generous amount of settings to tweak, you’re golden. I made the mistake of not changing the ISO or brightness settings, and recorded a video of my buddy Ian acting a fool at a karaoke bar. It’s unwatchable, where the right settings could have provided a decent video.
In optimal light settings, or even decent settings, the G2x’s camera is a champ, providing an even, balanced shot. Even in overcast San Francisco, the G2x pulls out great shots and HD video. It’s not a perfect camera, as it really needs great lighting to show off its capabilities, and the weather here in San Francisco has been less than ideal. Plus, the LED flash can wash out your subject completely if too close. That said, the G2x’s camera is still sure to impress.
To get get an even better idea of how the G2X’s camera performs, head over to this post here for more shots.
Call Quality, Battery Life, and Coverage
The G2x has great call quality, and I experienced no hiccups whatsoever. Both ends were loud and clear with no background noise to speak of. So if you’re one of the few people who use a smartphone as phone still, the G2x doesn’t disappoint.
Battery life was surprisingly great with the G2x, you’ll easily get a full day out of one charge. With some light gaming, and moderate usage, I still managed to get almost eleven hours out of the thing. After you load up all of the applications you want and have a lot of things running at the same time, the battery life will likely drain faster. Overall, I’m very impressed with the G2x in terms of battery life.
The handset supports T-Mobile’s “4G” HSPA+ network, and can deliver some great speeds. That said, your coverage will vary depending on how close you are to a tower. Even with full bars where I live, the G2x struggled to get past 1.5MBps. When going about 15 blocks towards downtown, the handset began to see an average of 5.4 MBps, with peaks up to 6.4. Upload speeds were decent, but nowhere near as impressive compared to download speeds, averaging just below 1MBps.
Wrap-up – T-Mobile G2x : Pull the trigger now, or wait for something else?
The T-Mobile G2x may lack the design of some upcoming competition, but it’s still as solid as they come. Having the NVIDIA Tegra 2 in the heart of the device makes it blazing fast, even if the software isn’t there to utilize it at all times. This makes the G2x something that will likely last you more than the two years you signed up for on T-Mobile, even if we’ll then be looking at quad-core processors in smartphones.
There are some things that we wish we could see the device ship with, namely Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Froyo is a great version of the OS, but it’s aging day by day.
The G2x could easily belong in the Nexus family of Android phones, and we’d pick this over the Nexus S any day of the week. The sheer power underneath the hood of the G2x makes having a dated version of the OS a bit more bearable, and it’s a handset that you won’t have buyer’s remorse for, even after a year has passed. LG has finally hit one out of the park, and more great devices are on the way. There’s also a rumor that LG may even be cooking up a tablet with Google itself.
If you’re looking to grab one of the hottest phones right now, the T-Mobile G2x is really where it’s at. Sorry, Atrix. Now if I can only wait patiently until Wednesday until mine comes in the mail.