Rivalry between Samsung and LG runs strong - the two companies took thinly veiled pot-shots at each other's neighboring booths during press briefings at the Korea World IT Show today - and so with a brand spanking new LG Optimus Big on hand and a Samsung Galaxy S II in our pocket, it seemed fitting to see how the two uberphones compare. Read on for the first foray in what's likely to be a lengthy battle royale.
In a spec-sheet war, Samsung edges ahead of LG with its overclocked 1.2GHz processor; the Optimus Big makes do with the 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 instead. As we've seen from the Optimus 2X, NVIDIA's chip is certainly capable of some power, but our time with the Galaxy S II suggests it edges ahead. Samsung's battery optimization and clever automatic CPU throttling also does wonders, stretching a single charge out to two days of regular use in our experience. LG's frugality, however, comes in its NOVA display, with a claimed 50-percent reduction in battery demand. We'll have to wait for review units to know whether its 1,500 mAh battery is capable of Samsung-style magic.
Display technology comes high on the agenda for both the Optimus Big and the Galaxy S II. We've already waxed lyrical about Super AMOLED Plus and its vivid colors, sharp contrast and - thanks to a surfeit of pixels - detail that belies the WVGA resolution. In comparison, LG's NOVA lacks some of the instant eye-appeal, with colors that are a smudge less saturated, though the whites are paper-bright. Still, the semi-matte finish is a welcome differentiator on the Optimus Big, making it less susceptible to reflections in strong light: while you may be able to see the Galaxy S II's display outdoors, some poorly angled sunlight and the reflections scupper even Super AMOLED Plus' abilities.
LG has Samsung beat on connectivity options, too, with a separate HDMI and microUSB port versus the Galaxy S II's combined MHL/USB port. Both offer WiFi Direct along with the usual 3G and Bluetooth. Samsung gets points for launching with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, whereas the LG lags behind with 2.2 Froyo; both have some reasonably significant reskinning, which may introduce delays in future OS upgrades.
Physically, despite having the same size screen, the Optimus Big is longer and thicker (10.1mm versus 8.49mm) than the Galaxy S II; it's heavier, too, at 151g versus 116g. LG owners will have to make do with a 5-megapixel camera instead of the Samsung's 8-megapixels, too, though both will shoot 1080p Full HD video (and the LG makes it easier to share it with its dedicated HDMI output).
The Galaxy S II's waifish build, faster chip and Super AMOLED Plus display leave us leaning toward it, but we'll wait until we have a LG Optimus Big review unit before making our final judgement. No word on North American or European release dates at this stage.
For more on the Samsung Galaxy S II, check out our full review!