During the past year, the phablet has gone from object of ridicule to legit new product category. You can give all the credit to Samsung, and its surprisingly successful marketing of the Galaxy Note. Like any successful product, the Note has rivals – eager to take a piece of its pie. Let’s see how the most significant non-Samsung phablet, the LG Optimus G Pro, compares to the Galaxy Note 2.
Height is about the same, and thickness is identical. The biggest difference is the Optimus G Pro’s width. It’s about six percent narrower than the Galaxy Note II. This could make the Optimus a bit easier to grip with one paw.
If you’re buying a phablet, you probably aren’t expecting a light phone. But if you want to minimize the heft, the Optimus G Pro is 6 g (0.21 oz) lighter than the Note 2.
Also note that this weight is for the U.S. (AT&T) version of the Optimus G Pro. The global version weighs 172 g (6.6 oz).
The original Optimus G was made of glass. But for this phablet sequel, LG went with a plastic build. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the Note 2.
Big win for the Optimus G Pro here. The newer phablet has a next-gen 1080p display. The Note 2 is stuck in 2012’s high end, with a 720p screen. It’s not that the Note’s screen is bad (it’s actually quite solid, even today), but we’ve been extremely impressed with the recent 1080p phones we’ve reviewed.
It's hard to complain about the Note II's performance, but the Optimus G Pro does have an extra gear or two. Its Snapdragon 600 chip is one of the fastest mobile processors you can get in 2013.
Like most recent high-end phones, these two each pack 2 GB of RAM.
Samsung offers more storage options, but the Optimus’ lone 32 GB model should be plenty for most of us. When you factor in its microSD slot (up to 64 GB), there’s little to worry about here.
No surprise here. Both phones max out at LTE speeds (where available).
The Note 2 gets great uptime from its 3,100 mAh battery. The Optimus G Pro has a bit higher capacity, but it’s also powering a much denser display.
When all is said and done, though, both phablets should easily last a full day with typical use.
One of the drawbacks of phablets is that they make for pretty cumbersome cameras. But that didn’t stop LG and Samsung from pumping some nice components and features into their shooters.
The Optimus G Pro’s camera has higher resolution. We haven’t yet put its camera through the paces, but we were happy with the shots from the Note 2. Unless you’re a professional photographer, both phablets should suit your needs.
One nice camera feature in the Optimus G Pro is Time Machine. Basically it shoots a few frames before and after you hit the shutter to help you to find that perfect shot.
Both phones run an older version of Android (4.1.2), with their respective manufacturer skins pasted on top.
On the Note 2, we’re looking at the TouchWiz UI, which should be familiar to anyone who’s used any recent Galaxy phone. LG’s Optimus UI is pretty smooth in its own right, and has a similar look and feel to TouchWiz.
You can’t look at the Galaxy Note II without mentioning its stylus. Unless you leave it docked in the Note’s behind, it will inform everything you do with the phablet. Samsung added some cool software features that take advantage of the S Pen (like scratching memos anywhere, or scrolling by hovering the stylus over the screen).
Likewise, you can’t talk about the Optimus G Pro without mentioning that it doesn’t have a stylus. The S Pen played a big part in our positive impression of the Note. It helps to cancel out the obvious drawbacks of carrying around such a gigantic device. Stylus-free phablets like the Optimus are basically huge phones, without any extra perks other than a big screen.
Well, the Optimus Pro does have one nice extra perk: an IR (infrared) blaster. Several recent phones – like the Galaxy S4 and HTC One – also pack IR blasters, but the Note 2 missed that bandwagon. The bottom line: you can change channels on your TV with the Optimus G Pro. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Wrap-upIf the Optimus G Pro had a stylus, it would probably be the clear winner here. But since it doesn’t, this is a tougher call. LG’s phablet has more updated specs (particularly that dazzling 1080p display), but it’s a different experience using a fingers-only phablet.
If you want 2013 specs and a stylus, then you might want to hold out for the Galaxy Note 3. It’s still unannounced, but we wouldn’t be surprised to hear something from Samsung on that front around August or September.
... if you want to cast your net a bit wider – or consider a smaller phone – you can check out our updated Smartphone Comparison Guide.