It’s been a full year since Samsung introduced the cringe-inducing term “phablet” to describe its new phone, the Galaxy Note. With a 5.3-inch screen, it was almost double the size of phones which were popular at the time, and was met with shock and disapproval from most critics.
The phone went on to sell really well, and today, though most smartphones are getting bigger, the 5-inch territory is still largely left alone. Two new contenders have launched this year though, the more recent LG Optimus Vu, and the Samsung Galaxy Note II, which launched in August.
Both phones are actually very impressive. The Vu, which is smaller and less powerful than the Note II, is still fast enough to handle all the tasks we were able to come up with. Games load quickly and play without any lag, and movies run without even a little stutter in the frame rate. The Galaxy Note II, on the other hand benefits from a year of refinement, with a more hand-friendly shape and new features that actually make good use of the giant screen.
Read on for our head-to-head comparison:
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LG Optimus Vu
Screen size: 5-inch HD-IPS LCD
Resolution: 768x1,024 pixels
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Android version: 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
CPU: Quad-core 1.5GHz
GPU: Adreno 220
RAM: 1 GB
Camera: 8 MP
Battery size: 2080mAh
Dolby sound can dramatically improve video-watching
Price: Rs. 29,999
Our take: The Optimus Vu has a nice screen, but the 4:3 resolution is a bit odd. The pictures look squashed or stretched out, depending on the orientation of the screen, and the design of the phone makes it extremely wide, and hard to hold comfortably. The textured plastic along the sides does provide a better grip, but this really shouldn’t have to be necessary in the first place.
The design of the phone is very generic too—it lacks a visual flourish to give it a unique identity, beyond its squat, blocky shape. While it’s underpowered compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note II, we couldn’t find any apps that really slowed down the phone in comparison to the Note II.
The wider aspect ratio is very good, both for reading books and websites, though movies do look better on the Note. Games look good on the Vu as well, so unless you’re watching a lot of movies on your phone, the Vu is actually a pretty good option. The battery should last a full day between charges, which is definitely good and falls short only in comparison to the Note II. Overall, it’s a good buy, but there are st
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Samsung Galaxy Note II
Screen size: 5.55-inch
Resolution: 1280x720 pixels
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Android version: 4.1 (Jelly Bean)
CPU: Quad-core 1.6 GHz
RAM: 2 GB
Camera: 8 MP
Battery size: 3100mAh
Split-screen multitasking for specific apps.
Price: Rs. 36,999
Our take: The Note II might be too much of a good thing. The battery actually lasted two days with calls and games and movies being run, which borders on the unbelievable. Despite the weight, it’s remarkably comfortable to hold—it’s narrower than the first Note, and fits much better in your hand. The 16:9 ratio is also optimal for watching HD movies. The multitasking feature is a great addition—you can write an email while running the browser to look up a reference at the same time, on the same screen, the way you would on the computer. This doesn’t work for all apps, but when it works, it’s simply amazing.
Reading books and checking websites on the Note is obviously good given the display size, though the slim design is a little inconvenient at times. Even with the redesign, the phone looks enormous, particularly when you hold it up to make a phone call. If you can get past that, it’s possibly the best Android phone right now. Just don’t try and keep it in your jeans pocket.