LATELY, I've been having second thoughts on phablet (smartphone/tablet) phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note.
Now don't get me wrong. I love the Galaxy Note. I love the fact that I am carrying a smartphone/tablet hybrid and with that giant 5.3 inch screen real estate, I can do more for most of my daily tasks on my device.
In fact, I leave my iPad at home because the Galaxy Note almost fulfills my tablet needs while I'm on the go (I want to carry as less as possible when I'm out).
But eventually after several months of use, I started to miss carrying smaller smartphones. Why? Because I find it difficult to use the Note with one hand.
This is my only gripe towards the Note, and possibly towards all the other phablets that are going to come out soon. The size of the keyboard (on vertical mode) is a love-hate affair for me.
Often times, I actually like the bigger keyboard because I can type faster, and it lets me to get really productive when I start typing.
This is only possible with two hands, and as proven by Blackberry over the years, thumb typing is a godsend for those who write a lot of stuff on their smartphones.
Unfortunately, the larger keyboard becomes a problem when I only have one free hand, which happens at most times (driving is not one of those reasons).
When standing vertically, the width of the Galaxy Note stretches beyond thumb reach.
I have looked for solutions to counter this problem. One of that is by enabling the 'one-hand operation' option on the keyboard settings.
This feature is part of a software upgrade that happened earlier this year to fulfil the requests by some early Note users who asked Samsung to fix the oversized keyboard dilemma.
Did it fix the problem? Not entirely. While the option does shrink the keyboard by 1/3 to accommodate your thumb coverage, it doesn't solve the girth of the device. The grip still feels awkward on your palm as you type, or even do anything on the Note with one hand.
Also, I don't like having to frequently fumble through the settings to change the size of my keyboard where necessary. It's not smart enough to determine when I need to do one-hand operation and automatically set it for me.
Coming from a 4.3-inch HTC Sensation which I had throughout last year, I knew exactly how efficient one-hand operation is for the user. Its what we naturally do with our mobile phones for decades.
And as there will always be a time and place for two-hand operation, smartphones today are already smart enough to accommodate that; just switch to horizontal mode.
It's going to be a real setback as smartphones continue to get larger in size each year, unless of course, if two-handed operation becomes more of an 'in' thing over time.
And this is exactly why the iPhone have stuck with the same 3.5-inch size for five generations. Though rumours have speculated that the next iPhone will sport a larger screen, it makes sense if Apple decided not to go too far in increasing its display size.
At most, the next iPhone will probably have a 4-inch screen, but Apple will want to retain the width of the device to allow the human thumb to be able to reach the other end of the display. The screen, however, would be wider horizontally.
Other popular smartphones, however, such as the HTC One X and the Samsung Galaxy S 3, have found their way into the 4.8-inch display arena, and its hard to imagine where they're going next.
A 4.8-inch display may not be as outrageous as a 5.3-inch display of the Note, but it's still quite large for the hand. One-hand operation is possible, but you have to struggle quite a bit.
Whereas a 4.3-inch display of last year was considered the sweet spot for a larger display smartphone for almost everyone, especially those who felt that the iPhone's 3.5-inch display is too small to see or do anything on.
This is the dilemma which you must face when deciding your next smartphone. Do you want a larger screen and lose portability? Or do you want a smaller screen and lose the benefit of being able to glance at everything on the screen?
Or do you mind carrying two devices (a smartphone and a tablet) with you at all times?
The views expressed by the author are his own and do not reflect those of The Brunei Times. The Brunei Times
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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