It looks like LG is ready for round two with Samsung in its phablet fight. The company today announced its new 5-inch Optimus Vu II, which will serve as a direct competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy Note II. Sporting a 5-inch display with a unique 1024 x 768 resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio, the Vu II, like its predecessor, is a decidedly square looking device. At 4.7 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches, the Vu II is shorter but wider than Galaxy Note II (5.9 x 3.2 x 0.4 inches).
Inside you get a 1.5 dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage, which can be augmented via a 32GB microSD card slot. The Galaxy Note II, by comparison, includes a quad-core 1.6-GHz Exynos processor. Overall, the Vu II performed well during our brief hands-on, with no visible lag or slow down when switching between apps or using the camera.
LG had a stylus on display with the Vu II to demonstrate the phablet’s handwriting capabilities. Unfortunately, the Vu II lacks any kind of stylus port, meaning there is a greater chance of misplacing the accessory. The Galaxy Note II’s stylus is integrated and therefore has its own slot built into the phone.
Unlike the rest of LG’s new devices, the Vu II will initial launch with Google’s now outdated Android Ice Cream Sandwich rather than the newer Android Jelly Bean OS. That means you won’t get access to Google Now or offline voice search. Running Ice Cream Sandwich also means the Vu II doesn’t include LG’s excellent QSlide multitasking feature.
Despite that, the Vu II does offer several LG exclusive apps including the company’s Vu Talk and QRemote universal remote. Vu Talk allows you to make a voice call and, while still on the call, instantly share your display with the other caller. During out hands-on time with the device, we were able to share a photo and map of our immediate area and edit them on both screens in real time.
The Vu II’s QRemote app lets you control your entire entertainment system via an infrared transmitter located on the phablet;s top edge. During our demo we were able to change video sources and raise and lower the volume on a test TV without issue. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab tablets offer a similar technology, though that company uses the third-party Peel app, which provides users with a programming guide, something QRemote doesn’t.
Based on the early standings, LG’s Optimus Vu II has an uphill battle if it’s going to compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Note II. Not only does the Samsung device have a more powerful processor, but its display resolution is higher and it offers a dedicated stylus slot. Still, we’ll hold off on our final judgement until we have a chance to properly review the Vu II.