We may be dealing with a pair of the finest species of phablet, but size is still something to definitely consider. For some people, even a 5" screen is beyond what's comfortable to hold and operate. Although clearly unable to offer the ultimate portability, these two devices deserve credit for design and efficient use of the available space.
That said, the LG G Pro 2 is a tad larger than the Galaxy Note 3 and the 0.2" difference in screen diagonal accounts for the slightly larger footprint. The G Pro 2 has inherited the ultra-slim bezels of the original, which help it achieve a screen-to-surface ratio of 77.2%, against the Note 3's 74.8%.
8.3mm of thickness, which the two Korean phablets share, is nothing spectacular (the Xperia Z line has gone below 7mm in both phablets and tablets) but it's slim alright and they both feel great in hand.
The LG G Pro 2 is heavier by just 4 grams - which isn't a difference you'd feel or notice.
Both smartphones opt for plastic build, but that's where the similarities end, as they're very different in terms of finish and button layout. The LG G Pro 2 sticks to the rear-mounted lock key and volume controls. The front and sides feature no physical keys whatsoever, which is one of the cleanest looks to have in a smartphone. The G Pro 2 is essentially an up-scaled G2, and that's a compliment rather than a complaint.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on the other hand goes for a completely new kind of finish creating a convincing leather look and feel. The faux stitching very much contributes to that and the overall result is quite pleasant. Had this been the first iteration for both designs, we'd probably have a hard time taking a side, but since the Galaxy Note 3 is the one to bring a dash of novelty we are giving it the nod when it comes to looks.
At the front, the impressively big and sharp screens get all the attention but you'll probably notice the G Pro 2's stylish earpiece grille. The Galaxy Note 3 traditionally has a hardware home key below the screen at the bottom, which makes it instantly recognizable.
By the way, the finish isn't the only thing that sets these two apart. Although very similar in terms of size and even what goes under the hood, the G Pro 2 is subtly curved for a modern, streamlined look, while the angular and masculine Note 3 is slightly more conservative and businesslike. Anyway, both devices have a solid feel in hand and uncompromising build quality.
The G Pro 2 is said to have a non-slip metal mesh finish on the back cover for a more secure grip. The polycarbonate back is impressively lightweight and resistant to cracks too, which are both important attributes of a removable cover. Sadly, we can't back LG on the "non-slip" finish. The feel is nice, but rather glassy. The Galaxy Note 3's back has a lot more texture to it, resulting in a better grip.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has the standard three-button layout of a physical Home button and capacitive Menu and Back keys. The two capacitive keys illuminate when touched, but when their backlighting is off they blend in and seemingly disappear.
Above the screen, around a prominent earpiece are the usual proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as a 2MP 1080p-video-capable front-facing camera.
With the hardware controls moved around back, there's very little going on at the LG G Pro 2's front. Above the big and sharp IPS display, a 2.1MP secondary camera, proximity and ambient light sensors and a LED status light are scattered around the earpiece.
The back is a lot busier, the optically-stabilized 13MP camera lens sharing a stylish chrome plate with the power/lock button and the volume keys. There's also a 1W speaker here, which LG says offers Hi-Fi studio quality. Now, that might be a bit too much to ask from a speaker this tiny, but the sound it delivers is crisp and loud nonetheless.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has the power button on the right side and the volume rocker on the left in the typical Samsung fashion. The microSIM and microSD card slots, along with the removable battery are located under the back cover.
The microSIM and microSD card slots on the LG G Pro 2 are under the battery cover too, which on the Korean version of the phone is removable. Although the rear-mounted lock key may feel a bit awkward at first, and take some time to get used to, it's not your only option. The Knock-on feature lets you wake the screen up by a simple double-tap. The novelty in the G Pro 2 is a more secure unlock routine called Knock code - unlocking you screen using a series of taps only you know, and you don't need to wake the phone up for that to work..
Overall, the power button and volume rocker on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 are harder to reach as they are placed too high up on the sides, while those same keys on the G Pro 2 are right where your index finger rests on the back.
The noise-reducing secondary microphone on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is placed on the top of the device next to the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The other thing to note there is the IR emitter, which can be quite handy for controlling home appliances and TVs.
At the bottom lies the speaker under a small grille, the primary microphone, the S Pen holster and a microUSB 3.0 port (which is fully backwards compatible with microUSB 2.0).
While the LG G Pro 2 also packs the nifty IR blaster, it only has a microUSB 2.0 connectivity port.
The 3.5mm headphone jack sits at the top of the G Pro 2 alongside the IR blaster, whereas the microUSB port is placed at the bottom.
The 13MP camera lens and single LED flash create a small bulge at the back of the Note 3.
The LG G Pro 2 on the other hand keeps the rear profile as streamlined as possible - and that's quite impressive considering the built-in optical image stabilization. There's a single LED flash here too, on the right side of the lens. The second microphone is on top, next to the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Overall, being phablets, these are not the easiest devices to handle and operate single-handedly. For one, reaching to the top corners of the screen would be nearly impossible single-handedly. Both however offer single-hand mode - and the Note 3 can argue that it's not meant for single-hand use in the first place. The S-pen is of course making a massive difference and is something the G Pro 2 just doesn't have a meaningful response to. The rear-placed controls and the excellent screen-to-surface ratio are its weapons - and they're well used.
Winner: A tie. Blows were traded but neither managed to decisively get the upper hand. The LG G Pro 2 has the rear-mounted hardware buttons, impressively slim bezels, great build, Knock on and Knock code. The difference in screen size is offset by the virtual on-screen controls eating into the available real estate. The slightly more compact Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has USB 3.0 and looks extra sharp emulating leather and metal. The leather-like finish is the styling of choice for all the premium devices in the Galaxy lineup.
In the end though, it's things like memory expansion, a user-accessible battery and flagship-grade build quality going both ways that make this a definite tie.