Samsung Galaxy Note II vs. LG Optimus G Pro Comparison Smackdown
It's the battle of the phablets, two super-sized Android smartphones with 5.5" displays. The Note 2 is the incumbent, first released in the US in December of 2012. The LG Optimus G Pro is the new kid on the block, having just come out exclusively on AT&T a few days ago. Both have removable back covers that grant access to very large batteries, microSD card slots and fast LTE 4G. Each runs Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with manufacturer UI and software customizations: for the Samsung it's TouchWiz and the LG has the Optimus UI. Both offer similar software features like multi-tasking with either floating (LG) or split (Samsung) windows, motion control to silence the phone and note taking apps. The LG Optimus G Pro is $100 cheaper on or off contract with AT&T. It also has double the internal storage at 32 gigs.
The Important Differences
Is the pen mightier than the finger? The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a digital S Pen with Wacom digitizer that offers precise, pressure sensitive pen input. This is an extremely rare feature on a modern smartphone, and if you're a serious note taker or an artist, this feature wins the day. The pen is a pleasure to use and it offers palm rejection and much greater precision than a capacitive stylus.
The LG Optimus G Pro scores big points for its faster CPU/GPU and a higher resolution display. Technology marches forward rapidly, and 5 months means a newer generation brain for the LG and a full HD 1920 x 1080 display for sharper text. If you're considering a really large phone for the added screen real estate and could care less about the pen, then the LG is worth a serious look.
It's almost even here: both phones are made of glossy plastic and weigh nearly the same. The LG wins points for its slightly narrower frame that makes it easier to hold with one hand. The Samsung is available in your choice of white or dark gray, while the LG is available only in indigo. They're very close in thickness and each has a removable back cover. The LG Optimus G Pro looks like many other Android smartphones on the market, but bigger: it's a black slab that's relatively tall but narrow. The Samsung Galaxy Note II isn't as narrow and to our eyes it has a sleeker look thanks to more complex side curves and a great deal of attention to design. Neither phone is well suited to small hands, but for those with more accommodating hands; the LG will likely feel more comfortable.
Winner: Tie. LG for the narrower and more comfortable design. Samsung for the more attractive design.
Super AMOLED vs. IPS. 720p vs. 1080p. The LG Optimus G Pro has a lovely 1920 x 1080 IPS display that's decently bright and extremely sharp. It's colors are less vivid but more accurate and text is extremely sharp given the 400 ppi pixel density and whiter whites. It's great for those who read eBooks and web pages frequently. The 264 ppi Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has a 1280 x 720p display, and while most folks will look at it and state that it's a stunning display, it's not as sharp when viewing text and icons. Since it's Super AMOLED, it has those hyper-vivid colors that Samsung fans love, and it might still strike the average user as the more pleasing display because it is so very colorful and bright. Honestly, you have to own a pair of sharp eyes to see the difference in resolution. Color saturation is the most obvious difference, and this comes down to personal preference: do you love better than life colors that pop, or do you prefer natural tones and sharp text. Do you read black text on white pages often or do you more often watch movies and view photos? The LG is the better choice for text and the Samsung is great when viewing videos and photos.
The Samsung Galaxy Note II's quad core 1.6GHz Exynos CPU was quite impressive when the phone launched, but it's clearly eclipsed by the LG Optimus G Pro's 1.7GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 CPU. The Snapdragon benchmarks faster on CPU and graphics benchmarks, and it is more future proof. That said, both phones are crazy fast, and current apps don't exceed their limits. So don't obsess too much on this one: they're both very fast. But if you want to be that guy or gal with the fastest phone or you worry about the landscape a year down the road, the LG looks better.
Both phones have 2 gigs of RAM, but the LG Optimus G Pro pulls ahead with 32 gigs of internal storage vs. 16 gigs on the Galaxy Note II. Both have microSD card slots compatible with SDXC cards for storage expansion, but keep in mind that you can only install apps to internal storage (that's an Android 4.x rule). If you love to play 3D games, this is important since many popular games like Bard's Tale and Batman Arkham City use 2 to 3.6 gigs apiece.
Winner: LG Optimus G Pro
The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a very decent 8MP camera with LED flash and backside illuminated sensor. The LG Optimus G Pro has an even better 13MP camera with LED flash and BSI. Pixels aren't everything as HTC taught us with the 4MP UltraPixel camera on the HTC One, but when you're comparing one high resolution camera vs. another using similar sensor and lens technology, it does count. The LG Optimus G Pro captures more image data, does a slightly better job of image stabilization and it yields more natural looking photos. It's a close race when compared to the excellent Samsung Galaxy S4 camera, but it definitely wins against the Galaxy Note II.
Winner: LG Optimus G Pro
There's much more to consider, including the software experience, data speeds and call quality, so watch our LG Optimus G Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy Note II Comparison Smackdown video to get the full story.