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Phone or tablet? A wrong Galaxy Note question to ask

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note might be suffering an identity crisis as people decide what to call it, but sales certainly aren’t hurting. Last month the company announced it had sold 5 million Galaxy Notes worldwide. AT&T(s t) offers an LTE version of the Galaxy Note in the U.S., and a review unit arrived over the weekend. I have a full review forthcoming, but for now, I wanted to quickly tour the hardware on video and address a key question about the Note. Why? Because too many are asking the wrong question about the Galaxy Note, trying to classify it as a phone, a tablet or even a “phablet.”

As I explain in this brief video, the correct question to be asking is: Are you a one-handed or a two-handed smartphone user?

Frankly, if you use one hand for most or all of your smartphone activities, I’d suggest passing on the Galaxy Note. But not because it’s a bad device. Instead, it’s a bad device for you. On the other hand, I’ve always used two hands with my smartphones; I even type with two thumbs on the iPhone(s aapl). And for that approach, the Galaxy Note is a perfect fit.

Sure, I swipe through apps and pages in my Kindle(s amzn) books with one hand. And I can scroll or zoom with one thumb as well. But for input, I’m a two-thumber, which is ideal for the Galaxy Note. Videos, of course, don’t require much input at all, and they’re more immersive and enjoyable on a larger, high-resolution display.

So let’s stop trying to fit the Galaxy Note into one device class or the other. The handset actually does a nice job of handling both phone and tablet duties in my limited testing so far, plus it fits in a pocket like any other phone on the market: no questions asked.

10 Responses to “Phone or tablet? A wrong Galaxy Note question to ask”

  1. Kevin, I bought the original Note from a vendor in London back in November. I’m amazed at the chatter about how “Big” a phone the note is. For me, the Note is my goto travel tablet and emergency backup phone. When I travel, if it doesn’t fit in my sportcoat it has to go in a bag – which I’d rather not pull out on a plane. Besides, if I must carry a bag to take my Ipad, I opt for my Macbook Air 11. It’s only a little bigger and does a lot more. Back to travel…my Iphone goes in one breast pocket and my Note goes in the other. I use my Iphone to talk and do on the fly commo — texts and quick emails. My Note serves as my reader as well as a device for more in-depth reading/responding to emails, attachments, etc. The note with the sim card is a full-time connected tablet for me and an emergency back-up phone — always has been and always will. Unless Apple shrinks the Ipad down to between 5 and 7 inches — a size that fits in my coat pocket when I’m on the go — the Ipad shall forever remain on my night stand by my bed.

  2. I’m not sold on the form factor to be honest: I can’t imagine carrying a 5″+ smartphone in my front- or backpocket. I’m sure there’s a market for it, but it isn’t the people wearing regular pants.
    What I would like to know: You call the display “larger, high-resolution”. It is my impression that it is in fact not very high in resolution considering it’s screen size. Care to explain?
    Pentile 1280×800 is, depending on how you count, _real_ resolution of 853×533 or 1045×653 – either one is low on 5″.

  3. It looks so small compared to the 7.7″. Can you really have a tablet experience on it?
    It surely is a bigger screen than other phones, but does it truly bring tablet reading/browsing/viewing comfort?

    • broke in texas

      for me its a winner. why? cost of internet. I am able to surf web on my phone plan at same cost. I am waiting for someone in the android market to do what apple ipad does on their 3g business partnership: no contract, month to month. 25 or 30 dollars for 3gb is ok. no questions asked, no 2 year contract commitment. Hopefully this will work out for money conscious people (translation) broke people.

  4. triangledroid

    Excellent point. Looks like a great device for those who use 2 hands. Once you get used to a larger screen, it’s hard to go back to something that’s much smaller.

  5. Kindroid

    Kevin. Excellent job of evaluating the Galaxy Note. You laid out the parameters for judging the phone as a prospective buyer perfectly. This is how a review should be done. It allows the potential buyer to address the decision based on his or hers need. And I like that you didn’t judge one better or worse in absolute terms.

  6. christinalundy

    I think the tablet part of the Note fits nicely in that category, but you’re right – it doesn’t quite fit in with the phones. I recently ordered the Note and I’m still playing around with it but I will say I love it more for what it can do tablet-wise than I do for its phone attributes.