With Barcelona's Mobile World Congress just weeks away, a couple of manufacturers got in early and unveiled some exciting handsets at this year's CES tech show in Las Vegas. The big news was the introduction of the world's first handsets to be powered by dual-core processors - in the form of the LG Optimus 2X and the Motorola Atrix. We engaged the two heavyweights in a spec-based tear-up to see which looks like the best contender.

Winner: Atrix
117.75 x 63.5 x 10.95 mm; 135g
Loser: 2X
123.9 x 63.2 x 10.9 mm; 139g

No matter what's going on under the chassis, physical size is an important consideration when it comes to looking at mobile phones. We all want big screens, but we don't want that to mean that we have to lug a brick-sized handset around with us all day long. The Motorola has a slight advantage in this round - despite being identical in thickness to the LG and almost the same in width, it's managed to shave valuable millimetres off the length. Not only does this mean that it's slightly more compact than the LG, it also means that it weighs a whole 4g less. It's debatable whether you'd actually notice that small difference, but in our tense spec-off it helps the Motorola to win this round.

Winner: Atrix
4-inch, 960x540, QHD TFT LCD
Loser: 2X
4-inch, 800x480, LCD

We've already mentioned that size is important when looking at mobile devices, and nowhere is that more relevant than with the screen. Both the Motorola Atrix and the LG Optimus 2X have 4-inch screens so they're pretty evenly matched in terms of size. However, while the LG can only muster a relatively standard 800 x 480-pixel resolution, the Motorola dives right in with an impressive 960 x 540 and also boasts Corning Gorilla Glass for extra durability. The Motorola easily coasts to a win in this category.

Winner: Atrix
NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 1GB RAM
Loser: 2X
NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 512MB RAM

No surprises here, with both handsets sporting Nvidia's Tegra 2 dual-core processor they're both speedy as hell, and then some. The only difference is that while the Motorola boasts a solid 1GB of RAM, the LG runs on an industry standard 512MB. Without taking both of the handsets for a proper spin in a detailed review, it's unclear just how much this difference in RAM count will affect performance, but it's safe to assume that there will be some noticeable difference when it comes to speed of operation. It may well be that this is counter-balanced by the Motorola's power-hungry high screen resolution-count, but in terms of specs, its 1GB of RAM wins the Atrix another round.

Winner: Atrix
16GB microSD expandable
Loser: 2X
8GB microSD expandable

Memory size is a vital consideration when comparing smartphones, particularly those of the Android variety as your on-board space can run out surprisingly quickly. Although you can switch apps from your phone's memory to the microSD card, not all apps will actually let you do this yet, so built-in memory capacity is of paramount importance. The Motorola chalks up another winning round thanks to its 16GB memory that can be upgraded to 48GB using a microSD card. The LG only offers 8GB of space, which is expandable to 32GB.

Winner: 2X
8MP, LED flash, front cam, 1080p video capture
Loser: Atrix
5MP, LED flash, front cam, 720p video capture

Camera and video capability has improved by huge leaps in recent years, and even from one model to the next. The LG handset pulls ahead for the first time in this spec-off thanks to the inclusion of an 8-megapixel camera, while the Atrix has a far more standard 5-megapixel snapper. Both phones offer a flash along with a front-facing camera for video calls, but only the LG offers full HD 1080p video capture and playback. The usefulness of including such high-end video capability on a smartphone is debatable, but it still puts the LG a firm step ahead of the Motorola and its 720p recording function. Both phones offer an HDMI port for hooking up to a high-def TV. LG wins its first round.

Tie: 2X
Optimus UI + Android 2.2 (soon to be upgraded to 2.3)
Tie: Atrix
MOTOBLUR UI + Android 2.2

Both of the dual-core handsets will run on Google's Android 2.2 (Froyo) at launch, although it has been confirmed that the LG device will soon be upgradable to 2.3 (Gingerbread). We haven't yet heard any such confirmation from Motorola, but we assume that a swift over-the-air update will be issued just as soon as it's available. Both of the phones use their own customised versions of the Android interface with the LG operating its Optimus UI and the Motorola running its own Motoblur equivalent. As there's very little between them, and the difference between UIs is a matter of personal taste, we have no choice but to declare this round a tie.

Tie: 2X
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, DLNA
Tie: Atrix
Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1, DLNA

Just like the last round, there's not a great deal between the two phones in terms of connectivity. Both have Wi-Fi with the identical 802.11 b/g/n standard and both also have DLNA capability. This can be useful if you want to stream content between compatible devices such as a TV or home server, but for many people it will be a feature that they never actually use. We were surprised to see that both phones include Bluetooth 2.1, rather than the latest version (3.0). While it's true that there aren't many devices that are compatible with the new version just yet, we would have thought that both handsets would have been as future-proofed as possible. Not exactly a deal-breaker though. Once again, the identical specs lead to a draw in this category.


You can have the fanciest smartphone in the world, but if the battery conks out after a couple of hours then it's not a lot of use. The Motorola wades straight in with a no-nonsense 1930mAh which is by no means small, but it does have a lot of features to power, not least the high screen resolution. The LG has a slightly less powerful battery (1500mAh), but it does have slightly fewer demands on its power supply. However, we have to give the win to the Motorola as its battery is considerably more powerful and both phones do run the same clock speed.

As with most things in life, final decisions will be made on cost. There are no confirmed prices just yet - that will depend on which carriers offer the phones and what deals they come up with, but we would expect the Motorola to have a slightly steeper price tag than the LG.

When it comes to the number of winning rounds, the Motorola 4G emerges as the clear victor. Although it will be available on 4G in the US, that particular bonus won't be an option when it comes to the UK. However, its fantastic screen, speedy processor and impressive memory capacity should help to sweeten the pill. There will also be a number of accessories available for the Atrix, such as a custom made laptop, which comprises of a screen, keyboard and battery. When the Atrix is inserted into the back of the laptop, the screen fires up and, suddenly, you have a fully functioning net/notebook, running off of the phone.

Despite losing out to the Motorola, the LG Optimus 2X is by no means a bad phone - in fact, it looks quite the opposite. Although being slightly behind the Atrix in terms of specs, its own spec count is still extremely impressive and it remains the only handset currently capable of capturing full HD 1080p footage.

We'll be getting both phones in for in-depth review as soon as we can, so stay tuned.

What do you think about dual-core smartphones? Will you be investing in one? Let us know in the comments box below.

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