The advantages of carrying an oversized smartphone
The big phones only get bigger, it seems.
We’ve been clamoring over gigantic phones since the original Galaxy Note announcement, and possibly even before that over phones which are now comparably quite small.
Personally, I’ve been carrying large phones since January 2012, not long after the original Galaxy Note made its way stateside. And I’ve been back and forth between loving and hating giant phones ever since. They come with a handful of advantages, and just as much baggage.
After all is said and done, though, I’m always happy to come back to a larger smartphone (within reason) due to several reasons.
Better battery life
This may sound obvious, but it’s worth pointing out. Due to their larger stature, manufacturers are able to cram larger capacity batteries inside larger smartphones. The Galaxy Note 3 bears an impressive 3,200mAh battery; the Optimus G Pro has a 3,140mAh cell; and the LG G Flex has a massive 3,500 battery.
For those who closely follow my work, you know how much I value battery life. My start in the industry was with BlackBerry, and the three to four days of battery life spoiled me. I’m rarely satisfied with smartphone stamina these days, until I pop my SIM in one of the giant phones sitting on my desk. Phones like the Nexus 5 and Moto X struggle to power me through an entire day – I typically need to bump the charge around mid-afternoon to last until I go to sleep.
When I reviewed the Galaxy Note 3, Z Ultra, and Optimus G Pro, I didn’t have this problem – at least not on a day to day basis. Ultimately, this is why I always come back to a larger smartphone.
More screen real estate
Yes, that’s a fancier way of saying, “It has a bigger display.”
But it means more than that, at least for the makers of so-called phablets who know what they’re doing. Case in point: Samsung with the Galaxy Note series, Multi-Window, and Pen Window. Hands down, Multi-Window and Pen Windows are two of the most compelling features found on any larger smartphones to date.
LG and Sony, respectively, have their own take on the simultasking feature: QSlide and mini apps. And they certainly do their jobs – no on will contest that. But Mutli-Window has a certain utility to it others have failed to capture. Two apps side by side is infinitely more helpful than a window floating atop another app, which you constantly have to move around, resize, hide, and bring back.
The other helpful advantage of larger displays is the ability (on Android, at least) to lower the DPI – virtual dots per inch, which operate separately from the physical density of the display, or pixels per inch. When manufacturers lower the DPI on a larger smartphone, it aids in making the device feel much more like a tablet. The home screen grid size is increased, more information is displayed at a time within a single application, and, in just about every way imaginable, the UI is utilizes more appropriately.
In other words, if the manufacturer takes the time to set the proper DPI setting, it means less scrolling in your Twitter client, Web browser, and more information displayed at any given time.
Easier typing, reading
The extra real estate is helpful in other ways, too – ways which may not always directly benefit you or I.
One that does is typing. If you go from typing on a smartphone like the Moto G (which I reviewed this week) to something like the LG G Flex (which arrived at my office just the other day), it feels like going from an iPhone to an iPad mini. There’s so much room to type, you can’t quite wrap your head around how utterly easy it is to do at first.
After days or weeks of typing on a giant phone, going back down to something like the Moto X or even the HTC One almost feels … wrong. It’s cramped and unless you use gesture typing, you must prepare yourself for a week or so of typos and frustration (unless you never got used to typing on a bigger display, which I would find difficult to believe or understand).
Before my mother had eye surgery, she used set the font to the largest possible. (This setting is found in the accessibility options, not the text size settings under the General submenu.) But I couldn’t help but laugh at her Messages application because only one or two words would fit to a single line at a time. The text message, “Thank you!” takes up two lines by itself.
On a much larger smartphone, font sizes like this certainly look less ridiculous and are much more fitting. It gives users with visual impairments a reason to want or need a larger smartphone.
The downside is that if the DPI is set too low, the text becomes even smaller and much more difficult to read. Fortunately, Samsung and LG have managed to slip in text size adjustment settings.
Bigger sound, bigger sharing
The larger stature of these particular smartphones comes with a laundry list of advantages. One of the more niche benefits I’ve come across in the time I’ve been using them is how much easier it is to share your screen with others.
For example, when I had an interesting video I wanted to show a group of friends in person last week, the Moto G obviously wasn’t the ideal smartphone. The speakers weren’t loud enough, the display was too small, and it just wasn’t a great experience. Everyone was bumping heads and getting a little too close for comfort.
Showing an entire group a video with the Note 3, which I have done many times, is a broadly more pleasing experience. The extra display size means more people can see it with ease, and the louder speaker makes volume less of an issue.
As obvious as the advantages of giant phones may seem, they’re real and keep me (and many others) coming back for more. Every time I switch to a smaller phone, there are certain limitations I have never ran into with something like a Galaxy Note or a similarly sized smartphone.
What say you, Pocketnow readers? What are your favorite advantages of phablets (or whatever you choose to call them)? The same ones listed above? Different advantages we missed? Take to the comments below and let us know what you love about giant smartphones the most!