The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has remained the undisputed tablet king ever since it scored well in Stuff’s review last year.
Not content with its South Korean rival stealing all of the gigantophone limelight, LG announced the G Pro 2 at Mobile World Congress in February, and with its release date imminent, we’re seeing how the two super-sized phones stack up.
Plastic vs plastic
Fans of the iPhone 5s’ metal build or the Xperia Z2’s glass-clad body will be left feeling disappointed with both the Note 3 and G Pro 2, but that’s not to say they’re poorly built.
Both feel solid in the hands, but the Note 3 offers a little more grip, thanks to its faux leather textured back.
Opinion on Samsung’s fake stitching is split, but some people will find it a little bit too tacky for their tastes.
The G Pro 2 looks like an embiggened G2, and that’s because it is. The power and volume buttons are in the same position on the rear, and the textured plastic is a big improvement over the G2’s slippery plastic shell.
If you’ve ever held a G2 then you’ll already know whether or not you’ll get on with LG’s rear button layout. The G Pro can also be locked and unlocked with a screen tap combination if you’re not a fan of the button placement. More on that later.
The G Pro 2 also shares the G2’s sexy slim bezels, cramming more screen into a smaller body.
It’s tricky to choose a winner here. We rather like the G Pro 2’s rear button placement, but the Note 3’s grippy back is welcome, especially as phones of this size can be precarious to use with one hand.
The Galaxy Note 3’s removable rear cover reveals a replaceable battery and microSD slot. The G Pro 2 (unlike its smaller G2 brother) also has these options, so media hoarders and road warriors will be happy with both devices.
Both the Note 3 and G Pro 2 have stunning full HD displays. Colours and viewing angles are impressive on both, and despite stretching a 1080p resolution over more than 5 inches of screen, you’ll have no sharpness complaints.
The Note 3 sticks to Samsung’s preferred AMOLED screen tech, which means deep, true blacks and vivid colours.
LG has stuck with an IPS+ LCD screen. LCD displays tend to serve up purer whites and more realistic colours than their AMOLED counterparts. Which one you prefer is largely up to you.
For cramming in a slightly larger display into a body that’s not much larger though, the G Pro 2 takes this round.
Winner: LG G Pro 2
Both the Note 3 and G Pro 2 have 13MP rear cameras. Both devices can record 4K video at 30fps, 1080 video at 60fps, and slow motion 720p video at 120fps.
So far so even.
The G Pro 2, being the newer device, has a few more tricks up its sleeve however. For starters, it’s built on the already excellent OIS (optical image stabilisation) of the G2, and its OIS+ technology promises even better performance in low light conditions.
Like the Galaxy S5, the G Pro 2 lets you refocus on different parts of a shot after you’ve taken a photo. LG calls this Magic Focus, and we were impressed with it during our hands-on time with the G Pro 2 at MWC.
Magic Focus works by taking two different shots at different focal lengths, before letting you can tap anywhere on the screen to bring a particular area into focus.
Both cameras have impressive specs and performance, but the G Pro 2’s extra tricks win this round.
Winner: LG G Pro 2
Power and battery life
The G Pro 2 and Note 3 both have identical quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 brains, along with 3GB of RAM to help run hordes of apps simultaneously.
As you’d expect, both phones blaze along without a problem. Although we’ve yet to carry out a full in-depth review of the G Pro 2, we can’t see it struggling with anything Android throws at it.
Both devices pack in a removable 3200mAh battery. We’re reserving judgement until we can test how quickly each device runs out of juice side by side, but both offer the convenience of hot-swapping power packs while you’re on the go.
This is where things get interesting. Both phones run heavily skinned versions of Android, and each one has a standout feature that will appeal to different people.
Doodlers and scribblers will love the Note 3’s stylus. It’s the best smartphone stylus we’ve used, offering pressure sensitive accuracy and impressive handwriting recognition.
The G Pro 2 lacks a stylus, and although you can buy one of your own, it wont be pressure sensitive like the Note 3’s Wacom-powered display.
The Note 3’s stylus also lets you scribble out email addresses and phone numbers before converting them into digital text which you can then use to message people or ring them directly.
If you’re not much of a drawer though then the G Pro 2’s Knock Code feature is likely to appeal to you much more.
The LG G2’s Knock On feature was one of our favourite features of the device, letting you double tap to lock and unlock the phone in an instant. LG has developed the concept further, creating a new feature called Knock Code.
Knock Code supports up to eight separate tap combinations across the G Pro 2’s display, and LG reckons there’s up to 80,000 potential combinations.
It works really well, and it’s a feature we wish was baked into all Android devices. Given that LG has patented the feature though, we don’t expect that happening anytime soon.
Again, this round is up to personal preference. If you’re a big stylus user then it goes without saying that the Note 3 is the better choice for you.
If you couldn’t care less about tapping away on a phone with anything other than your fingers though, then the G2 will probably be the better choice.
Both phones offer the ability to run two apps split across a single screen at once, and you can shrink down both UIs for easier one-handed use.
As you can tell by the number of draws, this is one of the closest on-paper battles we’ve ever had.
Despite being released months after the Note 3’s release, The G Pro 2’s insides aren’t any more powerful. On paper, both devices are as speedy as each other, but they offer vastly different designs and extras.
The S Pen sets the Note 3 apart, but unless you’re really after a stylus then we think the G Pro 2 edges out ahead, thanks to its excellent Knock Code feature and extra camera tricks.