The T-Mobile G2x is one seductive superphone. Running Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 processor, this handset turned in the highest performance scores we've seen from an Android device, and its 4G connection speeds rank among the fastest, too. The G2x also records 1080p video and lets you view that (and any other) content on a big-screen TV. Not a fan of fancy skins? Then you'll be psyched to own the G2x, which is pure Android all the way. The question isn't just whether this device is the best for T-Mobile customers--though it does face stiff competition from the Samsung Galaxy S 4G--but whether it's the best Android phone on any carrier.
From the minute you place it in your palm, it's obvious the T-Mobile G2x is a high-end handset. It's sleek, trim, and sculpted in smoothly rounded edges. Ringed in an elegant metallic silver, the device has a black face and is metallic brown on the back. Soft, rubberized material coats the phone's rear, providing a good grip and adding to the G2x's luxe feel. Some may lament the lack of aluminum on the back, but we don't mind.
Measuring a slight 4.9 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches, the LG G2x has almost the same dimensions as the Samsung Galaxy S 4G (4.8 x 2.5 x 0.4, 4.2 ounces) and the Motorola Atrix (4.6 x 2.5 x 0.43, 4.8 ounces). That said, at 5 ounces, it's slightly heavier than both of those handsets. Even so, the LG G2x was compact enough to easily slip into our shirt pocket, and it's definitely lighter than larger 4.3-inch Android phones.
The front of the G2x is unadorned save for the 1.3-megapixel camera and the four backlit capacitive buttons below the display: Back, Home, Menu, and Search. These buttons provide a haptic buzz when pressed.
On the top of the G2x are a 3.5mm headphone jack, power button, and flap-covered microHDMI port for video output to HDTVs. The G2x's right side has two slim volume keys, while the bottom houses a set of stereo speakers and a microUSB port. On the back is the G2x's 8-MP camera with flash. Echoing the design of LG's G-Slate tablet, a brushed metal strip runs lengthwise down the middle. It looks like a kickstand, but it's just for decoration.
Display, Keyboard, Audio
Many--including us--have sung the praises of Super AMOLED displays like the one found on the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, but we found the T-Mobile G2x's 4-inch IPS screen (800 x 480) to be just as crisp as the display gracing its closest T-Mobile competitor. For instance, the whites bordering web pages were much whiter. Contrast was better on the Galaxy S 4G's screen, though, with greater detail in dark areas. Neither device, however, can match the sharpness offered by either the Motorola Atrix with its qHD (4-inch, 960 x 540) screen or the iPhone 4's Retina (3.5-inch, 960 x 640) display.
By default, the virtual keyboard on the T-Mobile G2x is stock Android, but users can opt for the Swype input method. Swype, which allows for a single finger to drag lines through letters to form words, makes one-handed text entry much easier. Both keyboards offered light haptic vibration, which we like.
Camera and Camcorder
On the back of the T-Mobile G2x is a high-resolution 8-MP camera with flash. Also included is a specially crafted camera menu system that features a wealth of settings. Nice additions include manual ISO adjustment, scene modes, image stabilization, and color effects such as sepia and black and white.
In our test shots outdoors, the G2x snapped outstanding images for a phone. Even on an overcast day, colors popped, detail was clear, and contrast was high. Under low-light conditions, the G2x performed admirably as well; we didn't notice a lot of noise. The phone's flash is bright, which can blow out subjects when shot too close. Autofocus was responsive for a phone, with the camera taking about a second to make a lock. There's no dedicated camera button, however, so users must use touchscreen controls.
The G2x is one of the first smart phones that can record up to 1080p resolution. The clips we shot exhibited a great degree of sharpness with lifelike color. In fact, this is some of the best footage we've seen from a smartphone.
Android purists will appreciate the T-Mobile G2x's clean Android 2.2 Froyo operating system. We'd prefer the new Gingerbread version of the OS, but an upgrade hopefully isn't far away. You're greeted with the tried-and-true lockscreen that displays the time, date, and carrier. Sliding the lock tab to the right quickly unlocks the device, while moving the sound tab left toggles sound on or off.
Once the phone is unlocked, you'll have access to five customizable Android home screens to populate with apps and widgets. On the bottom are tabs that pull up the dialer, application tray, and web browser. Dragging a finger down from the top of the screen exposes the notification shade.
Opening the app tray launches Android's 3D app menu. It lays out all the phone's applications alphabetically in a vertically rolling grid, the tops and bottom edges of which are folded over in perspective. It's fun to look at, and the LG G2x scrolled through it all nimbly.
One drawback to stock Android is the lack of strong social media integration for contacts. While many handsets from HTC, Motorola, and Samsung offer custom UIs that strive to link contacts with Facebook and Twitter accounts, plain Android does not.
Apps and Media
The G2x is pre-installed with the usual Andriod applications, such as Gmail and e-mail software to connect to Google, POP3, IMAP, and web mail accounts. Users can also link the phone to Microsoft Exchange servers for corporate e-mail, contacts, and calendars. A Video Player and Music Player offer basic media file playback as well.
Distinctive extras include the T-Mobile TV app, which provides on-demand movies and TV shows, plus live TV from networks including Disney, Fox, and MSNBC for a monthly subscription. Amazon MP3 lets you purchase, download, and play music, and also connects to the company's Cloud Music service. Accessing and sharing pictures, music, and video over networks is made possible by the SmartShare application; using it, we were able to listen to music stored on DLNA-enabled computers without a hitch.
While Google's standard Navigation app is pre-loaded, TeleNav GPS also provides both basic free and premium GPS navigation. The premium option costs $2.99 per month and includes extras such as real-time traffic alerts, re-routing, speech recognition for addresses, and lane assistance on freeways.
The handy Polaris Office app enables users to view and edit office documents on the go. Also included in the application is a link to the Box.net paid file service for remotely sharing and storing documents.
For video chat, T-Mobile bundles the Qik app, which works with the phone's front-facing VGA camera. Video calls we conducted over Wi-Fi looked better on the G2x than on other T-Mobile phones. Video did not stutter and audio remained in sync.
Thanks to Nvidia's Tegra 2 dual-core processor, the T-Mobile G2x doubles as a powerful mobile gaming device. The phone comes with the high-octane racing title Need For Speed Shift HD. Negotiating tight turns and dodging other cars using the G2x's felt immersive on the 4-inch screen. There's also a demo version of N.O.V.A, a futuristic shooter similar to the Halo series. Playing this game was fun, too, and we had to pull ourselves away from taking out evil aliens with abandon.
We then downloaded some titles from Nvidia's Tegra Zone, a portal featuring games tailored for the Tegra 2 processor. In Riptide GP, a jetski racing game, the G2x was able to smoothly and realistically render effects, such as reflections on water surfaces and splashes. We also had a blast ringing up high scores in Pinball HD, a demo that creates a virtual pinball machine in three dimensions and uses vivid backgrounds.
Specs and Performance
The G2x is the first T-Mobile smartphone powered by Nvidia's 1-GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, and the second we've tested so far (the Motorola Atrix 4G being the first). In addition, the G2x has 512MB of RAM. There's 8GB of onboard memory, and a microSD slot sits under the battery cover. Thankfully it's next to the SIM card, so it can be removed without taking out the battery or fiddling with the SIM.
We can't emphasize enough just how swift the T-Mobile G2x felt in our hands. Menus and apps instantly appeared, and we swiped through screens with zero lag. The G2x backed up our hands-on experience with record-breaking benchmark results. This device garnered a lightning-fast Linpack score of 34.9, nearly three times the average Android smart phone (12.6), and enough to squeak past the Tegra 2-powered Motorola Atrix 4G (32.7). The 1-GHz Cortex A8 processor in the Samsung Galaxy S 4G (12.7) was no match.
Other benchmarks told the same story. On An3DBench, the T-Mobile G2x notched a blazing score of 11,074. By comparison, the Atrix 4G turned in 6,305, with the Samsung Galaxy S 4G doing a bit better at 6,549. The venerable T-Mobile G2 managed a solid 5,933 here. Highlighting the sheer horsepower of Nvidia's dual-core Tegra chip, the LG G2x achieved an impressively high Benchmark CPU test result of 2,422. That beat out the Motorola Atrix 4G's once-record score of 2,369, with the G2 not far behind at 1,763. The Galaxy S 4G trailed all three devices, logging 1,449 on this test.
Part of the G2x's speed advantage must be due to the fact that there's no software skin riding on top of Android 2.2. That's the beauty of "with Google" phones.
4G Data and Web
The G2x was designed to operate on the second tier of T-Mobile's 4G HSPA+ data network, with the handset capable of theoretical peak download speeds of 14 Mbps. The Samsung Galaxy S 4G and Sidekick 4G are rated for 21 Mbps. As it turns out, the G2x is super fast when it comes to data performance, too.
At an optimal 4G location, the G2 pulled down an average data throughput of 6.7 Mbps with results ranging from a low of 4.6 Mbps to as high as 7.7 Mbps. While not as fast as the Thunderbolt on Verizon's LTE network (8.3 Mbps), it bested the Samsung Galaxy S 4G (2.4 Mbps average) and the Sidekick 4G (6.1 Mbps).
Similarly, the G2x's an average upload speed of 1.7 Mbps was well below the Thunderbolt (4 to 7 Mbps), but it blew past both the Samsung Galaxy S 4G (976 Kbps) and the Sidekick 4G (1.3 Mbps). When we tested the G2x and Galaxy S 4G side by side while in a moving vehicle, the G2x notched 3.7 Mbps down and 512 Kbps up, compared to 2.1 Mbps/520 Kbps for the the Samsung. Our theory is that the G2x's sheer horsepower simply helps it process data faster.
Mobile versions of ESPN and The New York Times loaded on the G2x in 6.4 and 6.7 seconds, respectively. The full version of Laptopmag.com took a little longer, loading in an average of 12.2 seconds.
The T-Mobile G2x can also act as a mobile hotspot to provide wireless Internet access for up to five devices. Additionally, you can get connectivity by tethering to computers over a USB connection. T-Mobile offers this service for $15 per month, and users will have to dig through the phone's settings menu to activate the feature.
All that dual-core power does have a price. On our battery test (continuous web surfing over 4G), the T-Mobile G2x lasted for just 4 hours and 38 minutes. That's almost an hour less than the typical Android phone. To be fair, in regular use the device made it through a full workday, so endurance will depend on usage. While it bested the HTC Thunderbolt's regular battery (3:56), the Samsung Galaxy S 4G managed to run for a much longer 7:05.
On our test calls with the T-Mobile G2x, callers said we sounded very clear without any clipping or distortion. On our end, voices through the earpiece were also clean and warm. We just wish the volume were louder. The phone's speakerphone, piped through twin speakers on its bottom edge, had enough volume to fill a medium-size conference room.
Here's the deal: We absolutely love the T-Mobile G2x. The combination of this device's dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and pure Android OS make it the fastest smartphone we've ever tested. It ripped through our benchmarks and games, and it also offers surprisingly speedy 4G data performance. The $199 Samsung Galaxy S 4G offers better endurance and a bolder Super AMOLED screen, but the T-Mobile G2x is a superphone in every sense of the word.