Phone makers pushed the limits of decency this year, rolling out devices that are bigger than a handheld device has any right to be. And you know what? People loved them.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Galaxy Note 2 is, technically speaking, as big as a Sunday ham. Josh Miller/CNET

As manufacturers released new smartphones with larger screens, people began to ask themselves, "How big will these things get?" But as we saw with the Samsung Galaxy Note, which debuted at the tail end of 2011, phones can get much, much bigger.

With its 5.3-inch HD screen, the Note redefined the trend by pushing the limits of smartphone touch screens, while testing user tolerance for size. Of course there were skeptics. Were people ready for such a gigantic screen? And are users seriously going to use that stylus? While the term "phablet" -- a portmanteau of "phone" and "tablet" -- was endearing, it also carried a smug connotation that if the Note were to flop, we could all say we saw it coming.

But lo and behold, 2012 showed the success of the phablet. Within nine months, 10 million Galaxy Notes were sold. LG released its own 5-inch phablet in the U.S. called the LG Intuition , and the Note's successor, the Note 2 , also sold well -- which just goes to show that bigger apparently really can be better.

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About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.


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