Phabulous Devices (Part 3)

3/13/2013 6:11:57 PM

This is the category where companies bring out their big guns, their flagship devices. You get what you pay for and that is clearly evident with the contenders in this category. A person buying one of these devices clearly knows what he’s getting into. The competition is stiff.

Build and usability

The Samsung Galaxy Note is still available in the market and it’s still priced at a premium at $44,985 (at launch it was priced at $50,535). It was the device to start the phablet revolution and is still a worthy contender in this competition. It has a larger 5.3-inch display with a resolution of 1280x800. Under the hood it has a dual-core 1.4 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. In its benchmark scores today, it comes last on the list but the device ahead of it doesn’t have that big a lead. It’s still a good phablet to look at and has the S-Pen whose compatibility app library has expanded since its debut. Though plastic KY, its overall build is still quite good. Taking an already successful product and improving upon it gives us the Samsung Galaxy Note II. It is a little bigger than its predecessor with a 5.5-inch display and the design of the phablet has a lot more curves adding to the elegance as well as the style. The device does have a glossy plastic KY finish to it that reduces the grip. The S-Pen makes an appearance here as well – it’s bigger, more comfortable and packs in more utility. It is really slim as well and you can’t help but say “wow!” when you hold the device for the first time.

The LG Optimus VU has some things going for it.

Next in line we have the LG Optimus VU. The first thing you will notice about the device is that it has a very squarish design thanks to the 4:3 aspect ratios and this isn’t a good thing at all. It makes typing a pain, it’s uncomfortable to hold and one hand operation is just frustrating. This is the only device on our entire list that doesn’t give users access to the battery and you have a SIM card slot that rests on the side of the device similar to the iPhone. The placement of the camera too is in a corner making it easy to cover with your finger if you hold it in landscape mode. The design of the VU is the least appealing of them all. Last but not least, we have the Lenovo K860. This device puts the phrase; don’t judge a book by its cover to the test. It looks like a simple rectangular candy bar but is very comfortable to hold and has the best one-handed operation in this premium list. The power button and the volume rocker buttons are a tad smaller than we’d like though. The screen is 5-inches and feels just about right. It isn’t a beast like the Note II nor is it all over the place like the Optimus VU. The simple look may not appeal to all, but we think in this case, simplicity is the best.

Features and Performance

Being a first generation device, the Samsung Galaxy Note can be upgraded to Android 4.0 bringing it up to speed with the competition. The S-Pen is its most outstanding feature apart from the fact that the device is really smooth. The S-Pen is really useful especially if you are a creative person who likes to draw or paint or simply annotate images. Some of its features may seem out dated when compared to its successor but that doesn’t discount the fact that it is a great Android phablet. It would be a steal if Samsung priced it close to the $37,500 mark. All the apps from the Play store work like a charm.

the LG Optimus 4X HD

The LG Optimus 4X HD

Put simply, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is the best phablet available in the market that money can buy. That’s it. It improves upon its predecessor in every way. With the quad-core processor and 2 GB RAM, you have the ability to run two apps simultaneously in split screen. You have a plethora of customizable options making it the best customized Android experience out there. The S-Pen too has been improved with added features such as Air View. To sum it up, if you want the ideal phablet experience, the Note II is the device for you.

The Lenovo K860

The Lenovo K860

The LG Optimus VU has some things going for it. It has a fantastic display which is extremely bright which makes the apps and the interface look extremely good. The representation of colors too is fantastic. The power under the hood is good enough. Typing in portrait mode is a tad uncomfortable because of the width of the device. You also have the quick memo/note-taking app, which we saw on the LG Optimus 4X HD. The VU comes with a stylus as well, but its functionality doesn’t come close to that of the S-Pen. The stylus is nice but doesn’t match the volume of things you can do with the S-Pen. The Android OS is skinned but nothing too radical. Playing games and apps on the device is good due to the 4:3 aspect ratio of the display. This ratio however becomes a disadvantage if you are one who likes to consume video content, as you will get really thick black bars at the top and bottom and that isn’t a good thing. The Lenovo K860 is one device that surprised us with its performance. To start with, its raw benchmark performance scores were better than that of the original Note and the LG Optimus VU but behind the Note II. Its user interface is the same as its sibling, the S880, and this isn’t one of the best skins out there. The UI has a clover widget, which gives users a shortcut access to any four apps with the Play store resting in the middle. The touch sensitive capacitive buttons are a part of the display just like the Galaxy Nexus rather than being below the display like the plethora of other tablets. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table like the S-Pen or the Quick Note but as a 5-inch phablet, it is a very good performer. Did we mention the display is fantastic for consuming media content as well?

the Samsung Galaxy Note II.

the Samsung Galaxy Note II


The Best Performer was awarded to the Samsung Galaxy Note II. Let’s face it; the device has defined the phablet genre and boasts of features no other phablet in the market can match. It runs Android 4.1 straight out of the box, the S-Pen is a great accessory and with its added features, novice users to have a need for it. There are many apps available to use on the large screen device and if you love watching multimedia content, this is the device for you. All in all, it is the worthy king of the phablets. The Lenovo K860 was awarded the Editor’s Pick. We always give special credit to the underdog especially if they offer users a great experience. To start with, the power under the hood of the device is fantastic and ranks second in its category. It is smooth at multi-tasking. The call quality is good and it doesn’t feel like you are holding a brick to your face. The aspect ratio is great for consuming media content as well as gaming. If you want a premium 5-inch phablet without the skin and excess shenanigan, we’d suggest you take a look at this device.

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