LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note II

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Introduction and Design
Introduction

It is evident from the design and screen size that the LG Optimus G Pro is shooting for Samsung Galaxy Note II's market niche, so a heavyweight fight between the two is warranted from the get-go.

The G Pro so far has been announced in two versions – the 5.5” one for Korea we use for the comparison, and a 5” one for Japan's DoCoMo spring lineup. LG also said it will be arriving to North America in Q2, but didn't specify which exactly screen size will make it.

One of the numerous virtues of the Note II is that it houses a stylus as an alternative input method to take better use of the giant display, while the G Pro doesn't have one. Has LG managed to make it sufficiently tasty to fight on equal footage with the versatile Note II? Read on to find out...

Design

Both phones sport 5.5” displays, but the Optimus G Pro is lighter and more compact than Samsung's wide Note II, thanks to the minimum side bezel. LG has gone with a more narrow, elongated chassis, which is easier for one-handed navigation. If it wasn't for the back Android key that LG slapped on the left, and you almost drop the G Pro each time it has to be used with one hand, that is.

LG Optimus G Pro
Dimensions

5.91 x 3 x 0.37 inches

150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Samsung GALAXY Note II
Dimensions

5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches

151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm

Weight

6.44 oz (182 g)

LG Optimus G Pro
Dimensions

5.91 x 3 x 0.37 inches

150.2 x 76.1 x 9.4 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Samsung GALAXY Note II
Dimensions

5.94 x 3.17 x 0.37 inches

151 x 80.5 x 9.4 mm

Weight

6.44 oz (182 g)

See the full LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung GALAXY Note II size comparison or compare them to other phones using our Size Comparison tool.


Other than the width, the two phones look almost identical, save for the much narrower home key underneath the G Pro display. They both have faux metal side rims, tactile volume rockers on the left and power/lock keys on the right, and both sport plastic removable back covers, which let you swap the battery, or add extra storage. LG blinged the back a bit more with a pattern on the plastic cover, and a large metal ring around the camera lens, and that's that.


The Note II might sport a stylus tucked in a silo at the lower right, but the Optimus G Pro also introduces two differentiating pieces – a physical QButton on the left, which lets you launch any app on the phone you've mapped to it, and an infrared sensor at the top to control your TV, AC, home stereo and the like. Which features are more important here depends on personal preferences, as you might have waited for a long time to bring it back to that annoying bartender that switches the channel in the middle of the football game.



Displays

The two 5.5” screens aren't created equal, as the G Pro sports 401ppi density on account of the 1080x1920 pixels of Full HD resolution, whereas the Note II has 720x1280 display with 265ppi. The Full HD resolution in the G Pro looks marginally nicer if you are a screen purist. However, thanks to the large screen size, the Note II also displays fine text (e.g. in the internet browser) well.

The screen technologies are very different, so the IPS-LCD of the G Pro features much more natural, toned down colors than the oversaturated ones reproduced by the Note II, and which ones you like is a matter of taste. The G Pro has a very good contrast rating, which is still no substitute for the deep blacks of the Super AMOLED display, while both technologies sport very good viewing angles.

The Optimus G Pro has a sufficiently bright display for decent outdoor visibility, but the Note II carries the brightest AMOLED Samsung has produced to date, so when we add the low reflectance, things are about equal in the sunlight visibility department.



LG Optimus G Pro 360-Degrees View:



Samsung GALAXY Note II 360-Degrees View:



Interface and functionality

We get LG's usual Optimus UI and Samsung's Nature UX overlays on top of the Android 4.1.2 interface. Both offer connectivity toggles and brightness adjustments in the notification bar, but LG kicks it up a notch with a full landscape mode for the Optimus UI, which Samsung doesn't offer.



Samsung, on the other hand, handles multitasking much better via the multi-window mode that lets you split the big display and use any two apps at once, complete with a hovering keyboard on top. LG has the QSlide apps function, which lets you pin one or two apps like the calculator, video player or the browser, in pop-up windows, floating over any screen underneath. The QSlide apps can be activated from the notification bar slide, resized and made transparent, but there are only seven of them in total.

The Note II's S Pen stylus is another formidable advantage here, as it lets you doodle or handwrite on the display with precision, and also intros AirView functionality that previews a picture or selects a link before you've even touched the display.

LG counters with two features the Note II doesn't have, like the QRemote app that uses the IR blaster to control the electronics around, and the QButton that lets you map any application to it, like the camera for example, then use it as a physical shutter key.

Processor and memory

The Optimus G Pro flaunts the newest generation quad-core Qualcomm chipset – 1.7 GHz Snapdragon 600 – while the Note II has a quad-core Exynos 4412, clocked at 1.6 GHz. The newer Qualcomm design has the upper hand in benchmarks, but in reality you won't notice any of the two phones to be underpowered around the interface or apps.


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
LG Optimus G Pro122391879859.2
Samsung Galaxy Note II58061351558


Both LG and Samsung have graced their handsets with 2 GB of RAM, but the basic Note II comes with 16 GB of storage plus a microSD slot, while the G Pro is more generous with 32 GB of internal memory in addition to the card slot.

Internet and connectivity

There are two excellent fast stock browsers on the G Pro and the Note II, which are a joy to use at this screen size, and both allow you to sideload Adobe Flash. Samsung's S Pen again adds additional functionality in the browsing sessions, though, as it lets you quickly crop a section of the website, for instance, and share it in various ways.

The Note II offers 4G LTE and/or HSPA+ connectivity, depending on the carrier, though at slower 21.1 Mbits than the G Pro, which on top of that has a more versatile integrated multi-band 4G radio. We also get all flagship staples like Wi-Fi, Wi-fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, DLNA and NFC, while the G Pro tops it off with Miracast.




Camera

The Optimus G Pro offers a 13 MP camera on the rear, while the Note II goes with an 8 MP unit. Both phones offer HDR shots, but with LG the wide dynamic range footage applies to video capture as well. Samsung's camera app interface sports more scene presets and color effects than the Optimus UI, but LG counters with tasty options like virtual 360 degrees panorama stitching, as well as a Dual Recording video mode, that captures footage with both the front and rear cameras at once, picture-in-picture style.



The Optimus G Pro produces well-defined and accurate photos, which, however, look bland compared to the contrasty images outed by the Note II. Both phones have spot on white balance measurements that don't introduce weird casts into the frame.


Indoors the Note II makes a tad sharper and more natural-looking photos, whereas the G Pro sometimes casts cold hues over the image.


Both phones can capture Full HD 1080p video with 30fps, and do it without skipped frames or excessive artifacts. The Note II uses a slightly higher contrast in processing, making the footage more appealing, and it also musters the low-light settings a tad better.

LG Optimus G Pro Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy Note II Sample Video:

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LG Optimus G Pro Indoor Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy Note II Indoor Sample Video:

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Multimedia

Both picture and video galleries have a few tricks up their sleeves, and we don't mean their built-in picture editing. Samsung, for instance, splits the screen in two, with the folder structure on the left, and the content on the right, taking advantage of the large display to make navigation easier. LG, on the other hand, offers a handy thumbnail zoom function that rescales the thumbs size by pinching with your fingers directly in the gallery interface.



Samsung's music player lets you select equalizer presets and sound modes from within the interface, while LG only has a Dolby Mobile surround switch for headset mode, but features a handy YouTube button that takes you to an automatically created video playlist of the song currently played. The loudspeakers on both handsets are not some exceptional performers, but do the job comparatively loud and clear.

Both the Optimus G Pro and the Galaxy Note II sport excellent functional video players with plenty of settings like pop up play function, loop and subtitle support, as well as zoom during playback. The phones also support any popular format out of the box, and the footage looks gorgeous on the large displays. Of course, when you load a Full HD movie, the G Pro will show it in its full glory, but the deep blacks and saturated colors of the Note II make every footage appear so vibrant that you might dismiss the hardly perceivable at normal viewing distance differences between HD and Full HD definitions.

Call quality

The Galaxy Note II sports better voice quality in the earpiece than the hollow and somewhat muffled sound from the G Pro. We've got noise-canceling mics on both, though, which weed out the ambient sounds, and send our voice across the ether in a clean and recognizable form.

Battery

The G Pro and the Note II sport almost equal battery capacities – 3140 mAh vs 3100 mAh. Those large Full HD displays have shown they aren't the power vampires they were cracked up to be, due to their modern production tech, so we can expect top-notch endurance from both handsets. The phones would last you at least a weekend with moderate usage, and also sport batteries that are easily swappable if you need more juice when you are away from outlets.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Note II has an ace up its sleeve amongst the big-screen phones in the form of an S Pen stylus, which offers a much more precise input than your fingertips. How useful is having another input method like that is up to personal preferences - our quick poll not long ago showed that about a third of respondents think the S Pen is indispensable on everyday basis, while the majority put it in the “nice to have” category.

The brilliant Full HD display and powerful new chipset of the Optimus G Pro arrive in a more compact chassis to boot, and this could sway people looking for a giant screen phone, depending on the price tag; when we add the mappable QButton, plus the handy IR blaster LG has equipped the Pro with, it becomes at least as compelling.

LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note II video comparison

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