I still fondly remember that snowy January morning a few years ago when my Nexus One arrived. I was so excited for what was going to be my first ever truly high end smartphone, but what I couldn't believe when I opened that box was how massive the screen was. A full 3.7 inches of gorgeous AMOLED joy! I marvelled at that screen before I even bothered to insert the battery and switch the device on.
Less than a year after my Nexus One moment I was at a family tea when someone pulled out an HTC Desire HD. I think my jaw literally dropped as that step towards an even larger screen had been taken. I knew then that I had to have one and indeed I did. I was bowled over by the expanse of beautiful glass that I held in my hand!
Fast forward a few years and having gone through various devices and various screen sizes up to the full 4.7 inch goodness of the HTC One, I decided it was time to find out - what are these Phablets all about? After a brief dalliance with the Asus Fonepad as a phone (read Paul's review to find out more) and discovering it is a tablet which makes calls and not a Phablet, I managed to get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - surely the ultimate Phablet at the moment. Would I now be able to answer my own question of how big is too big?
For some reason I was expecting the Note 2 to arrive in a massive and unwieldy box, but all was rather normal until that moment when I lifted the lid and there it was in all its glory. And wow, it is a seriously big phone. Even for someone used to 4.7 inch screens, the Note 2 is almost overwhelmingly large at first. As I fumbled trying to work out how to hold this large slab of a device, something unusual happened. For the first time in about two years I dropped a phone! I am very careful with my devices, but the Note 2 almost immediately got the better of me. Having borrowed it from Paul, I am sure his heart skipped a beat reading the last few sentences, but fear not Paul, it had a soft landing!
Once I managed to clumsily remove the back of the phone, insert my SIM card, reattach the typically Samsung flimsy cover and switch the device on, I could feel the excitement of trying a new device flooding through my nervous system. The blue flash that is the Samsung logo animating on startup only heightened that feeling and once I was logged in to my Google account I could not wait for my first test. I had dozens of unread emails that needed dealing with and I had thought this would be a good first task with this phone. And how right I was! Yes, I couldn't use the phone single handed, but triaging my email was a rapid and painless affair.
As that first day progressed and I spent more time reading on the Note 2 and interacting with it, I came to realise that the Phablet is certainly not going to be a passing fad even though there are far fewer devices that fall into that category than the popular tech media would have you believe. Reading anything on the Note 2 is simply fantastic. I had the joy of taking the phone on holiday with me and I chose not to take any other devices when normally at least one tablet and perhaps a Chromebook and a backup phone would also have made the trip. What a great device for reading a book, watching a film and entertaining my daughter. Having such a relatively compact - compared to a tablet - all in one media device was a pleasure. And as a function of its size, the battery is large and comes with great endurance as standard. Taking the usual array of terrible beach photos allowed me to play around with the included stylus to touch up the pictures and add trite annotations to boot. What a joy.
On my return I tried to continue using the Note 2, but like with many holiday dalliances, it was not to be. Such a large device is simply not necessary when I have a good tablet and laptop at home, rendering the expanse of the Phablet unneeded. Even commuting over my short - thirty minute - train commute does not require such a large screen when I leave my home with its array of devices and head for work where I have another pleasurable large screened computer to use. The pocket-ability of a more normal sized phone has won the day, but this is only my experience.
I now understand precisely why the Galaxy Note 2 is so popular and next time I go on holiday I will be asking Paul if I can have another loan of the phone. I don't hold much hope though, he already told me not to get too fond of it! Phablets are here to stay and the only argument left is trying to define which devices fall into this category. On second thoughts perhaps there is another argument - can we get rid of the ridiculous term "Phablet"?