The Optimus G Pro and Galaxy Note II have a lot in common in terms of looks and design. The Note II features the Samsung "nature inspired" design, and is smooth and rounded. LG, too, has opted for a similar look, straying away from the industrial design of the Optimus G.
The all-glass build is gone too, as LG has leaned towards plastic with its phablet (we presume cost and weight concerns have played their role here).
Despite the omission, the glossy plastic back cover of the Optimus G Pro sports an interesting design, which reminds us of the Nexus 4 back. The pattern uses squares instead of dots, but they still "move" as you tilt the phone. The metallic LG and LTE logos are engraved on the plastic.
The back of the Galaxy Note II looks similar with its hyperglaze finish (basically, there's a transparent layer over the opaque plastic), but lacks the punch of the moving dots. The plastic below the transparent layer has either a brushed aluminum pattern or no pattern at all (it depends on which color option you get).
We find the LG Optimus G Pro a bit better looking, but perhaps it's our eyes clinging to the fresher design solution - Samsung's design has been around in one form or the other for more than a year now.
Moving to the front, we find similarly sized screens; both measuring 5.5" with 16:9 aspect ratios. However, the LG Optimus G Pro takes the edge packing a 1080p resolution, while the Note II display is just 720p.
We'll cover the screens in more detail in the next chapter, for now we'll focus on the rest of the hardware.
Other items of interest on the front are the Android keys. Both handsets sport two capacitive and a Home button configuration. The Home button is in the center with the two capacitive keys placed on its left and right sides. The major difference here, is that LG has placed the back capacitive key on the left side of the Home button, while on the Note II, it's on the right side.
Another slight distinction comes from the shorter, yet wider Home button of the Optimus G Pro. We find it a bit harder to press, compared to the Note II's taller, yet equally wide Home button. A nice touch by LG is the LED notification light which surrounds the Optimus G Pro home button and illuminates in various colors.
The similarities continue when taking a look at the controls and ports of both phones. They have the Power/Lock keys on their right and the volume rockers on their left. We find this configuration very usable, considering the mammoth size of both handsets - buttons are easy to reach and comfortable to press.
Notably, the Optimus G Pro packs an additional button dubbed Q-Slide. It is placed on the top left side of the phone and is user customizable, which is nice to have.
Anyway, the top and bottom sides of both phablets are similar as well, safe for the addition of an IR blaster next to the 3.5mm headphone jack on the Optimus G Pro. On the bottom, both phones pack MHL-enabled microUSB ports and a mouthpiece.
Here, on the bottom right, the Galaxy Note II has a special stylus slot for the S Pen, which is the smartphone's signature feature and enables some cool functionality together with the Note II Wacom digitizer. The stylus itself isn't perfectly round like the original S Pen, so it doesn't rotate in the slot, making it easier to put back in.
A peek under the battery covers of the two phablets reveals a similar configuration: a hot-swappable microSD card slot, a microSIM card slot (obstructed by the battery on both devices) as well as a beefed-up battery. This means you can carry a spare battery and easily swap it when you run out of juice. More importantly, you can extend the storage on both phablets with a microSD card.
Both phones have similarly large batteries - the one on the Note II is quoted to have a 3100mAh capacity, while the Optimus G Pro's has a typical capacity of 3140mAh. We'll take a close look at the battery life just as soon as we're done with this chapter and the screen comparison.
The cameras on the back of the phones are placed in the center and don't protrude as much as some other offerings from the companies' portfolios. As such, they aren't so prone to scratching and don't make the phones wobble as much.
Overall, the LG Optimus G Pro has a more compact body, due to its smaller side bezels. Ultimately, this results in a better fit in hand compared to the Note II. Rather interestingly, both have exactly the same thickness - 9.4mm.
Additionally, the Optimus G Pro is 9g lighter, which while virtually unnoticeable at first, adds to the better in-hand feel and helps prolonged usage. At the end of the day, the Optimus G pro and Galaxy Note II are strikingly similar in their design and all of them are solidly built - we wouldn't advice you on picking either due to aesthetics or size alone.
Winner: The LG Optimus G Pro. LG's smartphone has a fresher design and more compact size, even though the lack of an S Pen is both a downside and a reason for the more compact size.