The dual-core Android smartphones have landed. After months of ogling tradeshow photos and poring over press releases and spec sheets (well, that's what I was doing, anyway), you can finally walk into a store and buy one.
The first cabs off the rank are the LG Optimus 2x, the Motorola Atrix and the Samsung Galaxy S II. I've had the pleasure of testing all of them, and there are a few differences between them you should know before handing over a fist-full of your hard-earned money.
Samsung's Galaxy S II: only phone of the three with release schedules for all major networks
For those that prefer buying phones on contract to subsidise the price tag, the Motorola Atrix is a Telstra-exclusive, while Samsung has spread the Galaxy S II thin to all the major networks - although Optus is the only carrier that has them available right now. Vodafone has them for pre-order for delivery by end of June, while 3 and Telstra have announced a general 'July' availability.
The LG Optimus can only be bought by outright purchase through Harvey Norman, but it's the cheapest option by far at $649. The outright pricetags are a good reflection of each smartphone's relative capabilities; the LG is followed by the Motorola Atrix at $849, then the Samsung Galaxy S II at $899.
LG's Optimus 2x: cheapest outright option of the three dual core phones
Both the Atrix and the Galaxy S II are highly impressive smartphones, and in my opinion the $200 premium over the Optimus 2x is easily justified. We'll save any verdicts for our in-depth reviews, but suffice to say that the Galaxy S II's stunning 4.3in Super AMOLED Plus display, impossibly light and skinny shell, and blistering benchmark performance - the best of the three, by a comfortable margin - made it a clear favourite in my books. The fact that it's the only one running Gingerbread out of the box helps its cause, too.
But I certainly wouldn't kick the Atrix out of bed; the higher-res qHD screen (960x 540) works a treat for web browsing and even just reading my Gmail missives (the other two smartphones use a standard 800 x 480 resolution). I preferred the Atrix's slightly thicker body, as it makes it feel more substantial without crossing the line over to chunky, and I like the look of its innovative companion accessories, namely the Lapdock and the HD Multimedia Dock.
The Motorola Atrix: A Telstra exclusive
As for the LG Optimus 2x, it's a great smartphone for the money, but I was turned off by the frequent performance spikes that left me hanging for a couple of seconds each time I woke it up from sleep and unlocked the lockscreen. I don't know about you, but I do a heck of a lot of both throughout the day - several times within the hour, actually - and the time (and annoyance factor) does adds up. The touchscreen was frequently unresponsive as well. Judging by discussion forum chatter, it seems the performance bottleneck is due to the Optimus 2x's unoptimised ROM (oh, the irony), so the good news if you're an enterprising power user is that you should be able to wring more performance out of this cheaper smartphone by loading a custom ROM. Read our First Look at the LG Optimus 2X.