For better or worse, big phones are here to stay — say goodbye to the 3.5-inch standard once and for all. We’ve seen a deluge of bigger devices over the past several months — from 4.0-4.8-inches — finally culminating in Wednesday’s monstrous Galaxy Note II. Standing at 5.5-inches, this is a device that obliterates the past convenience (see: one-handed use) afforded by smartphones from 2010. No longer can one just grab-and-go; now, people need a forklift to transport their device around town. This perfectly feeds the excess we have fallen in love with.
Everything bigger, please: TVs, cars, processors, megapixels, sodas. People aren’t happy unless companies present them with a glut of oversized mutant products, and it’s filtered down to technology in a dysmorphic way. While tablets get smaller, smartphones are growing; 5.5-inches is one step away from being a Nexus 7. Where will the line be drawn? You know somewhere someone out there is wishing for a smartphone with a 7-inch display. Hulk smash want big phone. This is like those ridiculous TV remotes for old people with bad eyesight.
Many of the TechnoBuffalo Herd have openly sung the praises of Samsung’s behemoth. It works tremendously well for their needs, and fits perfectly within their gadget arsenal. But not for me; it’s like looking at someone wearing clown shoes. The abnormally large screen goes against the grain of what’s humanly and comfortably usable as a smartphone — tasks like texting, digging through settings, or talking — unless you possess the mitts of a silverback gorilla. I don’t want to wield an elephant gun in order to tame my smartphone. And I don’t want to have to stretch — I’m talking reaaaally stretch — my thumb just to bring down the notification shade or tap on an icon.
But we love technology, and we’re obsessed with our smartphones: Isn’t that what it’s all about? The phone experience is no longer centered around calling family or texting friends. We want to play games, watch movies and eyeball vacation photos. Above all, we want to be productive on the go. Normally those pursuits are confined to a computer or tablet because of their larger screens. Samsung figured why not knock out the middle man and give us the tablet/smartphone combo — the company brazenly went with the phablet buzz word at its IFA event — in a single device that’s with us all hours of the day; I guess good on Samsung for identifying the market first.
That’s the point of the Galaxy Note II. Using apps, watching Netflix and liking Facebook photos in an enormous package. Everywhere, all the time. Bigger browsing, more information, more consuming. So what if it bulges out of your jean’s pocket? It invites use because of its large screen, and happily accepts more imprudent swipes, taps and multitouches than any other phone out there. The Note II can’t be denied because it nurtures — and ultimately hypnotizes — our desire to interact with shiny, large, responsive.
But, ugh. This? A 5-5.inch smartphone that’s doing everything it can to imitate the physical (S Pen) by super-sizing its circus act. What was originally perceived as a contrivance is now becoming the benchmark by which all other handsets are being measured. If it’s not big, it’s not good. Companies are quick to follow successful performances (the original Note has sold over 10 million worldwide) — just look at LG’s comical Intuition that’s headed to Verizon.
I really shouldn’t care — to each their own, live and let live — but I’m worried. Will the Note II be the only direct path to smartphone satisfaction in the future? I would’ve hated to carry a 5.5-inch device around my school’s campus. But it’ll likely be in everyone’s faces, protruding out of bags and purses during lectures. If you adhere to the smartphone etiquette guide (a made up document of unwritten rules), this about burns that to a crisp. The Note II will be that much more distracting in the car, at the movies, or walking around cities. You didn’t see that Stop sign because your entire field of view was blocked by a plastic cutting board.
It’s because we love to go big. Bigger jumps, bigger buildings, bigger houses. Humans thrive in wide open, big spaces, which could explain why we always want more. All you can eat buffet, new tech, Hollywood sequels. More smartphone real estate is the next logical step. And the Galaxy Note II is here to awkwardly fit right outside your pocket. It’s here to compete with the size of your dinner plate.
Our smartphone needs are different, and I’m obviously not the Note II’s target demographic. I’m not asking anyone to agree that we’re going too big, or to think twice about purchasing Samsung’s super-sized device. We’re already smitten with its oversized mug, and there are millions of fans out there perfectly happy with the Galaxy Note. Fine. I’m just curious to see where it’ll go in a year. 6-inch screens? I don’t doubt it’s being considered. By then we’ll be saying to ourselves, “Look, there’s a person attached to that smartphone… somewhere. But I don’t see them.”