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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  • solipsism - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    I can see uses in certain industries that a handheld device that can recreate images well and/or allow for good reading and data input where a phone-size is too small and a tablet-size is too big, but I can't see much use in the consumer space. Am I missing something that will appeal to the average user?
  • Bote - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    There is a market for those of us over 6 foot. The enhanced capabilities because of size are a benefit to be sure, but I've used a Streak for nearly 2 years and it is about the only thing that feels and looks right in my hands. This month I will upgrade to the nearly identically sized Note. And really only because Dell has not properly supported my phone. I still get great comments when people see it, use it more often than my tablet and can hold a conversation comfortably.

    Even her Infuse looks oversized in my girlfriend's hands. With so many options on the market, can't it just be about comfort?
  • djfourmoney - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Comfort? Why you have a GF with small hands? My girl is 6'0 tall...
  • chucknelson - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Disagree with your first sentence there. I'm 6'5" and don't see any need or desire for a gigantic phone. Just because you and I may be taller does not mean holding a giant 5" device to our head looks normal - it will still look ridiculous.
  • dasgetier - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    Not to criticize you here, to each his own, but:
    I don't think it should be about how you LOOK while holding your phone, it should be about you, feeling comfortable (physically) doing so.

    We have been trained for conformity so much, such things shouldn't bother us as much as they do..
  • Patanjali - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    As a phone, I can hold the Note against my head with open fingers, whereas I have to hold a 4s tightly with my fingertips for fear of dropping it.

    It fits easily into business pants pockets and sometimes I have to check that I have got it because it feels so light.

    And almost no-one notices the size of the phone in use. It is only 23% larger than a GS2. It only looks large the first itme one sees it face on. After that, it is a very useful phone and out and about web browser.
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I'm on the fence on this one. There are certainly times I wished a had a bigger screen, but I also like a phone not taking up too much space in my pocket. Maybe they should come up with a better way to make a dual screen phone.
  • jjj - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Too much energy is being spent on the screen size,doubt LG or Samsung would argue it's the best size, it's just another option just like ... 3.2".Each has it's own plusses and minuses.
  • djfourmoney - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    I just got a Infuse 4G, I am 6'1 my hands are above average size. I wanted the Note but I am saving for other things and I got the Infuse for free + contact continued for another 2 years and I had to pay for tax ($46).

    I like the large display much better to type on for a phone without a physical keyboard. Battery life is decent, you need to charge it and completely discharge it twice before you get full life and you also need to make sure you charge it full.

    Considering Europeans are generally smaller and Asians even smaller and they like to large phones just means most Americans are size phonic and locked in on the size of the IPhone as the "ideal" size.

    The other companies had to do something to break the strangle hold Apple has on the smartphone market. Size is one way to combat that, I welcome these larger devices.
  • dasgetier - Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - link

    A larger display makes it MUCH more "fun" to type on the phone. I recently switched from 3.2" to 4.2", while typing on the 3.2" screen was utterly frustrating, typing on the 4.2" screen is OK.

    PS: AFAIK (wikipedia seems to say so too) the average European male isn't smaller than the average American male, regarding the body height.

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