Android Side by Side 3

Published on April 29th, 2012 | by Richard Cartwright

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Can a smartphone be too big?

Ok, our society is always bigger, stronger, faster. Mates compare the size of their respective flat screen televisions like their significant others compare the size of …other things.  The more we demand out of our smart phones, the more features the handset makers cram into the devices. In fact, most leading edge smart phones are more powerful and capable than our desktop computers of not too many years ago.  Once one makes the decision to buy either a Android, Apple, Blackberry or Windows Phone from there features are the only way for one handset carrier to distinguish itself from another. Even Apple and RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, differentiate their respective offerings based on price and capabilities.

There is a price for all of this power in our hands. That price is of course paid by the battery.  The more we demand of smart phones, be it bigger screens faster processors, LTE data (someday Ofcom willing), or better streaming media all extract increasing demands on the battery of a mobile phone. Alas, Moore’s Law has not made it to battery size and power, so the  demand is always outstripping the supply as it were.

The result is either frequent charging, battery swapping; or bigger batteries.  Smartphone makers, and users, on the whole usually dabble in all three. However, with the increasing demands on a smartphone to replace a computer, many carriers are moving to kill two birds with one store and make bigger screens that in turn allow for bigger batteries. Even Apple, whose iconic co-founder the late  Steve Jobs derided over sized smart phones as undersized tablets, is credibly rumored to be coming out with a larger screen with the iPhone 5.

The question remains:how big is too big for a smart phone? Many say that anything over four inches is too big. Much larger than that and the phone no longer easily fit in a shirt or jacket pocket or purse. Not only size but weight is also a factor, past a certain point going over email on a heavy phone is less like being connected and more like working out. That is what people have said about devices  with screens up to 4.7 inches. Then you have the Galaxy Tab, a monster at 5.2 inches and widely held out as the current size champ.

When the Galaxy Note came out, I for one was convinced that it would fail miserably in the market. The specs are pretty good and the screen is first rate abet at the cost of poor battery life. But the size. How many of us want to ride a train or walk down a street looking like we are talking to a copy of National Geographic?  However, if sales numbers are to be believed, talking to copies of National Geographic is an up and coming fad. Samsung reports excellent sell through on the device and the American carrier AT&T is particularly pleased.

iPad, Galaxy Note and Blackberry

Something I found interesting was a post from American Internet curmudgeon Mike Cane. (Note: @mikecane is well worth following on Twitter. He has a take no prisoners attitude in his posts and blog that is more than a bit refreshing) Mr. Cane lives in New York City and in his meanderings about the city notices that the Note was being embraced by the  every man rather than the tech elite and suits. This set me to wondering if people were buying into the Galaxy Note (and by implication other oversized) phones instead of buying a smartphone and a tablet. If that indeed is the case, then the rumored “mini-tablets” may find getting traction in the market to be a hard slog indeed. Why buy a mini tablet when you can buy a slightly smaller Galaxy Note or its like?

Tells us what you think is too big in a smartphone. Or do you want your smartphone super sized?


About the Author

Richard Cartwright is the American correspondent for Mighty Gadget (because let's face it-it's pretty bloody late in London when a lot of the good gadget announcements are made in the US) He is a OG (original Geek) who has been interested in gadgets before most of his readers were born.



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