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LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 [video]

In one corner, the Optimus G Pro boasts the power of the benchmark-smashing Snapdragon 600 system on a chip. In the other, the Note 2 shows off its rich set of software abilities and the versatile S Pen. Who will win? Let the battle begin.
February 25, 2013
LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 aa (1) - 600px

I know many of you hate the term “phablet”, so I promise to use it only once more in this post. In today’s battle of the phablets (there, it wasn’t that bad, was it), we pitch two amazing 5.5-inch devices, the LG Optimus G Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

In one corner, the Optimus G Pro boasts the power of the benchmark-smashing Snapdragon 600 system on a chip. In the other, the Note 2 shows off its rich set of software abilities and the versatile S Pen. Who will win? Let the battle begin.


Optimus G Pro vs Galaxy Note 2 Specs 2


Let’s face it. Unless you really love AMOLED displays, you don’t have much of a contest here.

The Optimus G Pro sports a 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS LCD with a pixel density of just over 400 pixels per inch. The panel is bright, accurately calibrated, and crisp beyond belief.

On the other side, the Note 2 measures the same 5.5-inch, but offers only an HD (1280 x 720 pixels) resolution, which translates into a much lower 267ppi density. The Super AMOLED screen is of the RGB subpixel matrix variety, meaning it does not suffer from the flaws of PenTile panels. Blacks are deep, colors are superbly vivid, but place it by the Optimus G Pro and the difference in crispness will become visible.

Click for larger version
Click for larger version

Now, many users might not even notice the difference, but assuming you  have close to 20/20 vision (and you are not an AMOLED fan), you will likely prefer the Optimus G Pro.

Build quality and design

The glazed finish and smooth curves of the Note 2 tend to polarize people. Regardless if you like it or not, there’s nothing I could tell you that will make you change your mind about it. Still, no one can dispute that the Galaxy Note 2 is a device that doesn’t feel very premium, at least not when you compare it with devices like the HTC One or the Sony Xperia Z.

For the Optimus G Pro, LG’s designers seems to have drawn inspiration from the Galaxy Note 2, perhaps enough to confuse some less savvy users. However, the G Pro is slightly narrower and lighter than the Note 2, but almost of the same height and thickness. The back of the device features the “holographic” pattern we know from the Nexus 4 or the Optimus G, but without the plate of glass.

LG Optimus G Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Note 2 aa (8) - 600px

We’ll call this a draw, as neither device seems particularly superior in terms of build quality.

Hardware, camera, and battery

Given the six months age difference between the Galaxy Note 2 and the Optimus G Pro, you’d expect the LG flagship to power ahead in this area. But if that happens, it’s only because of the new Snapdragon 600 processor, with the rest of specifications being quite similar.

The quad-core Snapdragon 600 system-on-a-chip is a beast, and early benchmarks have shown it handily beating previous record holders.

LG Optimus G Pro aa (5) - 600px
Insane score for the Snapdragon 600
The Note 2 is by no means a slacker, mind you. Its Exynos 4412 processor is still holding on admirably, and is likely to power most real world applications like a champ. The Optimus G Pro is simply a bit faster.

The LG phone has the nominal advantage in the camera department, but, as HTC is so keen to teach us, it’s not all about megapixels. We’ll have to wait for some photo comparisons before we hand out the laurels. The G Pro does however feature a couple of interesting camera features, such as the ability to record with the two cameras at the same time, and a panorama mode that is very similar to Google’s Photo Sphere.

LG Optimus G Pro aa (7) - 600px
Dual recording in action
The memory, storage, connectivity, sensors, and even the battery are nearly identical on the two phones. While the Optimus G Pro features a 3140 mAh battery (as opposed to 3100 mAh on the Note 2), the Samsung device could have in theory an edge, due to the less demanding display. Again, this is a contentious issue, so we’ll restrain from drawing conclusions.

My verdict here is a win for the Optimus G Pro.

Operating system, software, and user interface

Samsung has been doing a relatively good job at updating the Note 2, but the phone still runs Android 4.1.2 as of this writing, with an update probably coming after March 15, the date when the Galaxy S4 will launch. The Optimus G Pro comes with Android 4.1.2 out of the box.

The big strength of the Note 2 is its set of features and apps that Samsung calls the Premium Suite. Moreover, the S Pen and the apps that accompany it give users a whole new level of control and productivity. The multi-window capability is impressive.

LG has begun to emulate its larger rival by offering its own set of customizations and productivity apps. For instance, the Q Slide feature reminisces of Samsung’s Multi Window, with the difference being that LG’s implementation supports up to three apps simultaneously. However, the LG Optimus G Pro lacks a stylus, and that could make the difference for many users.

I am going to give this round to the Note 2, which simply offers more bang for the buck when it comes to software.

LG Optimus G Pro aa (10) - 600px

Pros and Cons

Optimus G Pro Pros

  • Better display
  • Faster processor
  • Supports wireless charging
  • Slightly narrower and lighter

Optimus G Pro Cons

  • No stylus

Galaxy Note 2 Pros

  • Samsung apps and S Pen
  • More color options

Galaxy Note 2 Cons

  • Lower resolution display
  • Bigger and heavier
  • Slower processor

Hands-on video

Wrap up

The LG Optimus G Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 are surprisingly similar in many ways, from the design to most specifications. The Optimus G Pro is the better device hardware-wise, but it doesn’t feature a stylus, which may or not be a deal breaker for you. The Note 2 has better software, but it’s outgunned in the other departments.

If you absolutely need the stylus, go for the Note 2. If the S Pen is not something you see yourself using constantly, I’d recommend choosing the LG Optimus G Pro. With LG working on the software side, there is no reason to say pass.

Which phone do you think it’s better? Vote in our poll.

[poll id=”218″]