When Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note at IFA, we were excited, but a bit perplexed. The Galaxy Note's 1280x800 HD Super AMOLED display could be a big winner, but the phone's size seemed too ungainly to make an effective phone. Later PR seemed to confound expectations further by referring to it as a 'phablet' rather than a phone or tablet. After strong European and Asian sales, though, the phone has been released on AT&T in the States, and interest is quite high. So it should be no surprise to see other entrants into this oversized phone space.

LG's Optimus Vu has been teased and leaked numerous times over the last few weeks, and so its announcement this weekend didn't come as a huge surprise. Unique to the Vu, versus the Note, is a 4:3 aspect ratio, which gives its 5" display a more squat appearance than the elongated 16:10 slates we're used to. The IPS display touts a 1024x768 resolution, so it's pixel density isn't quite as high as the Note's, though if it is an RGB screen its subpixel density should be impressively high and its color reproduction should be a bit more accurate than Samsung's SAMOLED display. 

Most recent Optimus devices have put Qualcomm's S3 processors to use, with the MSM8660 finding its place in the Optimus LTE recently, alongside the MDM9600 for LTE connectivity. Though Krait SoC's are just around the corner, we expect based on development times that the Vu will feature a similar MSM8660/MDM9600 combination. We have AT&T's Optimus LTE variant in house and so we know what kind of performance we can expect from the device. From a graphics standpoint, the Mali-400 GPU in the Note's Exynos SoC clearly outpaces the Adreno 220 in Qualcomm's S3. Compute performance should be comparable, but with the GPU being leveraged to a greater degree in Ice Cream Sandwich, the user experience delta might grow when both are updated later this year. 

When the 4:3 iPad was chased by 16:10 Honeycomb tablets, part of the discussion focused on the ergonomic differences of a slate that's so wide while in landscape mode. So while viewing widescreen content on a widescreen device might be a bit more satisfying, actually using the wider device can be a bit more of a hassle. LG is obviously hewing to the user data that says that larger devices benefit from the 4:3 form factor, and it'll be interesting to see whether the Note or the Vu feel better in the hand while being used as a tablet. 

Physical Comparison
  LG Optimus Vu Samsung Galaxy Note Dell Streak Galaxy Nexus LTE Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX
Height 139.6 mm (5.49") 146.9 mm (5.78") 152.9 mm (6.02") 135.5 mm (5.33") 130.7 mm (5.15")
Width 90.4 mm (3.56") 83 mm (3.27") 79.1 mm (3.11") 67.9 mm (2.67") 68.9 mm (2.71")
Depth 8.5 mm (0.33") 9.7 mm (0.38") 9.98 mm (0.39") 9.47 mm (0.37") 8.99 mm (0.35")
Weight 139 g (4.9 oz) 178 g (6.3 oz) 220 g (7.76 oz) 150 g (5.3 oz) 145 g (5.1 oz)
CPU 1.5 GHz Dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.2 GHz Exynos 4210 Dual-core Cortex-A9 Qualcomm Scorpion @ 1GHz 1.2 GHz Dual-core OMAP 4460 Cortex-A9 1.2 GHz Dual-core OMAP 4430 Cortex-A9
GPU Adreno 220 ARM Mali-400 Adreno 200 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 540
NAND 32GB NAND 16 or 32GB NAND, up to 32GB microSD 16GB micro SD + 2GB integrated 16GB NAND 16GB NAND, 16GB Class 4 microSD preinstalled
Camera 8MP AF with LED Flash + 1.3MP Front Facing Camera 8MP AF with LED Flash + 2MP Front Facing Camera 5MP AF with dual LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 5MP AF with  LED Flash + 1.3MP Front Facing Camera 8MP AF with LED Flash + 1.3MP Front Facing Camera
Screen 5.0" 1024 x 768 IPS 5.3" 1280 x 800 HD Super AMOLED 5" 800 x 480 4.65" 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED 4.3" 960 x 540 Super AMOLED Advanced
Battery Integrated 7.7Whr Removable 9.25Whr Removable 5.661 Whr Removable 6.85Whr Internal 12.4Whr

But these are phones, and as such, we're concerned about the feasability of putting such a large device up to our heads. Anand spent some time with the Dell Streak as his only phone, and found the experiencing satisfying and the size a non-issue. What's notable is that the Streak, though longer than the Note and Vu, was also somewhat narrower. The Note and Vu are within a centimeter of each other in both height and width, but the Vu comes in nearly a half inch wider than the Streak. Portability could be a concern, too. With each device pushing six inches of length and over three inches in width, the ability to slip these devices into a pants pocket could be challenged. 

So, this begs the question? Are you interested in a phone this big? Is this meant to somewhat canibalize the small tablet market? Could this be your next phone? Let us know in the comments, we'll have more on the Vu next week, at MWC.

Source: LG

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  • Patanjali - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    Which means that most could use a larger phone, and those who don't use a phone solely single-handed will not be limited by size in the same way.
  • djfourmoney - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    About as much energy is spent writing that post or running your mouth.
  • rykerabel - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    The streak was the perfect size for me. Just Dell did not support it properly and AT&T gimped it. I can't wait to get my hands on the Galaxy Note when my contract ends but I'll be buying off contract this time. :)
  • jiffylube1024 - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    This thing looks chunky; it takes the worst aspect of the Galaxy Note (the width, which makes it very hard to use in one handed operation) and makes it even wider and a bit shorter. 1.5 GHz Snapdragon (slower than 1.2 GHz Exynos), 1024x768 IPS screen (the RGB stripe is nice, but give me AMOLED anyday), and a much .smaller battery make this look like a loser compared to the GNote.

    This thing will be better than the GNote at reading webpages and documents in portrait mode and..... that's about it. For Youtube, video, and anything in landscape mode, the Note will absolutely crush this.
  • dasgetier - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    I agree, the 4:3 aspect ratio doesn't seem to be a good choice for this kind of device.
  • abergon - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I have been using a Galaxy Note for a few months now (since it came on the market) and I find the size just right. It has replaced a previous phone, a tablet, a GPS, a netbook, a Kindle and a point and shoot camera. I am out of home for 100+ days a year so it makes a big difference. As far as size is concerned, the question for me is: does it fit into a shirt pocket? The Galaxy Note does, but I have doubts about anything wider.
  • djfourmoney - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Shirt pockets and skinny jeans, c'mon people. I don't have shirt pockets, i don't work some corny office job.
  • Basilisk - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I agree: anything that doesn't fit a shirt pocket ceases being a primary phone to me, and the Note's about as wide as fits.

    I'm sure there's not a wasted mm inside, but I do wish they could near-eliminate the wide bezel ends (top and bottom) making nearly all of the face a screen. The size of the camera chip probably limits narrowing the top bezel, but ICS reduces the need for the Std 4 Buttons at the bottom -- and 'not sure I'd mind them being moved to the back. Make it shorter and it would be more stable in the pocket.
  • Patanjali - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    The top and bottom parts in portrait come into their own in landscape as one is usually holding each end between thumb and fingers. There would be a tendency to cover the viewable area, or trigger off things inadvertantly otherwise.
  • Plastichairball - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I must say I am pleased that Samsung, LG and other companies are continuing to explore the larger phone or "phablet" designs. I have had my Streak for half a year now and although support from Dell has been non-existent the user community is hugely active and enthusiastic, which is great and testifies to the popularity of the phone.

    In terms of usage, I use mine for a lot of entertainment consumption. The screen for me is perfect for gaming, watching Youtube on the train to and from work and I get all my reading done on my Streak. Typing is also a breeze because everything is just bigger and I don't find myself accidentally Swyping into the wrong letters like I do on smaller phones. I've since used my wife's much smaller phone and now find it incredibly cramped for reading and typing, and gaming is out of the question altogether as the screen is just too small!

    Whenever I take my phone out people are generally wowed by it, but many question it's portability. I honestly can say it fits easily in my pocket and when I take it out jogging it hardly feels like it's there. I'd say it's about an inch taller than my wallet but much slimmer. When the time comes to move on from it I really hope that the 5 inch phone will have grown in development and I will have a viable upgrade to choose from!

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