REVIEW: T-Mobile G2X Review – Android at its finest

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-on
T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-on

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 3DDroid 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.

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onSpecifications (Spec-sheet)

  • 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 Good

  • 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

The Bad

  • 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

Hardware

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onBy 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

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onThe 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.

Software

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onLike 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

Web Browser

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onThe stock Android browser isn’t actually anything special from an aesthetics point of view, but speed and power are a whole different story. Google introduced the JavaScript V8 engine in Android 2.2 Froyo, giving it a significant boost over the competition in JavaScript processing when it was announced. However, if you’re using Adobe Flash on your handset, and it’s enabled to be “always on”, the speeds of the browser slow down quite a bit. Because of this, we suggest going into the browser’s settings menu, and selecting “On Demand” in “Enable Plug-ins”.

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.

Multimedia

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.

Camera

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onWe 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.

very low light settings, indoors, default settings

outdoors, sunny, default settings

outdoors, sunny, default settings

partly cloudy, on the sunnier side, default settings

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

Call Quality

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

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.

Coverage

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?

T-Mobile LG G2x (Optimus 2X) Android smartphone review hands-onThe 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Yu/100000989859895 Simon Yu

    I think the resolution on the Atrix comes into effect on the Graphics Benchmark.

  • Anonymous

    This is by far the best phone out on the market. I have tried them all including the I-Phone, this bad boy just blows them all away. If you don’t believe me just go down to a local T-Mobile store and check it out, you won’t put it down. This thing is so fast it is mind boggling.

  • Anonymous

    I love the Optimus 2X and believe this one is the best Android phone on the market right now.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AOLNIQ6DVEUJ5SZMOKXSNAFBEM Diego

    Nice review, but that pics doesn´t seem so good as the review says, they are far far away of being “quality shots” for a modern smartphone camera.

    • Anonymous

      We’ll have some better shots out soon. Like most cameras on smartphones, you need optimal conditions to show just how good it is, which is exactly what the review says.

  • Anonymous

    I loved this phone the minute I got to play with it at CTIA. It feels so solid and I actually like the contoured glass over the display. Glad LG really stepped up its high-end smartphone game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560795878 Kevin Passino

    This phone makes me sad that I’m still in contract with Verizon. If I had the disposable income, I’d just go pick one up anyway. Alas, it’s not to be at the moment.

  • Refuged_discord

    phone is coming tomorrow….can’t wait to pick it up. i hope tmo’s good for the next 2 years….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QPAUH7YZAHCOPNG4FSM7HAJ3IM Raghavendra

    Its a pity about the design. When you are shelling out 500 EUR for a small device which does not need that much of imagination to make it nice to look and hold.
    In this competetive world of smartphones, every bit counts.
    Look at the IPhone, whatever one can say about it and maybe I will never go ahead and buy one. I can see why it is so popular. They do put in a lot of effort in every single thing.
    LG is counting a lot on the 2X and the 3D, they better start thinking or the rest will gobble them up and it will be a pity because their devices have stock androids and are rootable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=17204119 Matt Peters

    I really like the idea of tapered edges. I can also say that the stock Android experience is one of the best ones available for speed. I wish over carriers would follow T-Mobile’s lead in releasing, high-end devices with the vanilla experience. Those HSPA+ speeds make my Verizon iPhone pretty jealous, too. Unfortunately, we don’t have T-Mobile here, and LTE probably won’t roll out in my area for another year and a half.

    I’ll agree with others about the quality of the photos. The colors seemed washed out. I’m glad LG/Nvidia spent time improving the stock camera interface.

  • Ehhowudoin

    I was just wondering if I get this unlocked would it work in Asia and Canada for 3g data?

    • http://twitter.com/_elemenopee_ Kavin Nguyen

      I bought this phone and got it unlocked for AT&T. 3G and 4G (supposedly it has AT&T’s 4G bands) did not work on AT&T. Others are having the same problem. Many are guessing LG is locking those bands on the radios per request by TMobile until the acquisition finalizes.

  • http://www.gadginator.com Dunnion

    Does it have free wifi tethering? that would be a deal breaker for me if it doesn’t. I know it’s a mostly stock Froyo, but it seems like that aspect gets glossed over in all the reviews.

    • Anonymous

      yes it does

  • JD

    This phone is disappoint, my girlfrien has gone through2, and i am about to exchange mine. FIRST WILL NOT CHARGE, will overheat and shut off. Second will shut off since the first day purchased and with the battery over half way full, no apps downloaded. Mine now after 15 days will loose signal ever minute or so. Reception is good at my house, master reset to default settings was done to clear the possibility of a bad app but yet the problem exits. Yes it is fast, good looking, but the battery simply sucka. Shutting of gps, setting the 2g option to conserve battery, and using app killers still will not get you thoru a full day, even with minimal use and screen brightness set to it min. Tried it its sucks. You can not depend on you phone to go to work or anywhere if you forget you chager.

  • Bensworld4

    I purchased my G2X on April 25th and I can’t put this damn phone down! (LOL) I love everything about it  from the gorgeous 4inch IPS -LCD display (480 x 800) it’s 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor in one word (fast) it’s 8mp camera with it’s boat load of high end extra camera features it’s front facing camera for video chat it’s 1080p HD Video recording it’s mico HDMI port 1080p HD video playback on HD TV and HSPA+ support (14.4Mpbs) for T Mobile. Oh and its home screen shot straight out the box. I have down loaded app after app after app and this phone is like is this all you got? It can handle web browsing with multiple web pages open without a strain.
    Iv’e heard the phone reboots over heat and cuts off fortunately I haven’t had one of those issues. The design is solid, sexy, sharp, masculine and unique. Navigating through the phone menus is butter smooth and super fast. Gotta love the straight up stock android. The battery last a full day but yes you will need to charge it every night.

    I feel strongly this is the best android phone on the market.

    Excellent review BLAKE!!!!!!!!!!

  • Danaly Howe

    You forgot to mention that the G2X also comes with the super durable Gorilla Glass!

  • Mssi2

    The review above saying he played some games and some light apps and the battery lasted 11 hrs is just plain BS… Im lucky if I get 6 hrs with no games, no apps and no wifi and only make a few calls.. The phone shuts off all by itself on occasion.. I sit it right next to my wifes g2x that we bought the same day, Mine will have 1 bar of reception and hers has 4…. Reception goes in and out.. I cant make a call from my couch because I dont have reception.. I always had full reception with my other tmobile phones from the same spot… I love the computing power of the phone but they have to get the glitches out of this thing

  • http://www.decidebay.com/ User Reviews

    If it’s to be compared with other phones, make sure you do a test on how well it handles Flash.

  • Stanskill60

    There is an ap called powermax that saves battery all day with use too.

  • Mike

    the G2X is the worst phone every built, every day I want to take it and smash it into a wall.

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