5 reasons my phablet is fabulous

Crave's Michael Franco has been living with an awfully big phone for just over four months. His conclusion? Size really does matter.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Note 3. Yeah it's big, but that's the point. Sarah Tew/CNET

Not long ago, I wrote about some trepidation I was having about giving up my iPhone and switching to an Android device for the first time. That hesitation largely disintegrated once I held my new phone in my hand. It was the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and it felt big, but good.

After having gotten to know the Note 3 for a few months, I'm back to say: iPhone? What iPhone?

This big new slab of tech has been much more satisfying to use than my iPhone ever was. Sure I miss some of the ease with which my old phone integrated with iTunes, but beyond that, I can't really think of a reason I'd rather go back to Mac than forward with the Note.

Now before you accuse CNET or me of being a shill for Samsung, please know this is a personal piece about a personal decision to buy the Note 3. It just happens to be the phone I own, not some kind of publicity stunt from Samsung (although I wish they had given me this monster for free!).

Now that that's out of the way, here are five reasons I'm loving my phablet, and why you might consider upsizing as well.

Bigger really IS better

(You knew that was coming, didn't you? )

Far and away the best thing about this phone is its downright huge screen size. Sure I've had to put up with jokes from friends who ask to borrow my "mini TV" when they need to look something up or make a call, but I chalk that up to jealousy.

Clocking in at 5.7 inches, the Note 3's screen is big enough that I can actually enjoy a night of binge-watching "Supernatural" without feeling like I'm viewing the episodes through a keyhole. It also makes surfing the Net a super-pleasurable experience. I can actually read the text and view the photos -- no squinting needed. Lastly, I pretty much do all my e-reading on this thing now, from books to magazines. In fact, I haven't had to boot up my old iPad for use as a reader since I got the phone. Heck, it's almost the size of a small paperback anyway, so it seems natural for this purpose.

So I've come to the conclusion that big is good. Sure, it can be a bit tricky to pull the phone out of the pocket of my jeans when I'm driving, but otherwise, the size has been a non-issue in terms of carrying the thing around. The fact that it's super thin means you get used to having it on your person in about two days.

I will say, though, that I find Samsung's split screen feature a little silly. The screen's not THAT big, so I'm not sure you'd ever see value in having two different windows open at once on the thing, but maybe there are people out there who take advantage of the feature. I'm not one of them.

The 'write' stuff

I'm a writer, right? So since I got this phone, I no longer need to carry around a separate pad to write down story ideas or bits of bad poetry the world will never see. Instead, I just whip out the pen and actually write down whatever's on my mind. It's a super fast process and I find that there's a real difference between what I produce when I actually write words instead of thumbing them out. Somehow thumbing seems too utilitarian for creativity. It's perfectly suited for texts and quick emails but not so much for writing down more detailed reflections or story ideas. For that I like going old school on my new-school tech by using a pen.

One of the cooler features of Samsung's S-Note app is that you can actually send your handwritten notes to someone as PDFs in an email attachment, something I discovered when a friend asked to see the reading list a bunch of us had compiled on vacation a few weeks ago.

Plus, I'll admit it. I just feels super cool to slide that pen out and wield it like a sword over the battlefield of my phone (can you tell I watch too much "Game of Thrones")? So few people have the Note that the pen is still a novelty that gets you noticed. The Leo in me likes getting noticed.

That being said, I don't really use the pen's handwriting-to-text feature. I find it a bit awkward, sort of like the shorthand freakshow some of us tried to master in the early days of PDAs. But for jotting down actual thoughts, shopping lists, movie recommendations and stuff like that, the pen is mightier than the thumbs.

Swiftly swooping

I know you can get the SwiftKey predictive keyboard on other phones, but when the keyboard is as big as it is on the Note 3, you can really fly along when you're typing text or emails. My manly pointer finger seems downright dainty swooping over those jumbo keys.

Gargantuan gaming

I'm a big tower defense guy, so getting to play Tower Madness and Field Runners on this thing after using the diminutive screen of my iPhone for so long was like going from an early Game Boy system straight to the arcade of the future. Puzzle games like The Room are super gorgeous, and when I play Border Siege, I can easily taken in the whole world map -- a vital component of planning world domination.

Pretty as a picture

The Note 3 takes really nice photos thanks to its 13-megapixel camera. But what good are great photos if you're looking at them on the screen that's roughly the size of a post-it note. With this generous screen size, you can really satisfyingly ogle the photos you take, enjoying many more details than you'd see with a smaller screen. I even recently downloaded the 500px app just so that I could enjoy the work of photographers who are leaps better than me on my nice big screen.

You can also actually seriously edit your shots on the Note's screen without the need to get back to your computer.

Bottom line

Like you, I know that Apple is promising a bigger screen for the iPhone 6, but I'm sure it's not going to be the size of the screen that graces the Note, so I'm not all that worried that I didn't wait for yet another i-iteration.

Yes, at first I would have liked to have had my phone back in the i-fold with my Apple TV and MacBook Pro, but after lots of Googling, sorting through some workarounds, and finally switching over to Spotify, there's really no reason why my phone and my computer need to chat. And I can use the Streambells app to send content from the note to the Apple TV, so device harmony exists once more.

After four months of phableting around, I've come to one important conclusion regarding my relationship with my phone: size really does matter. When I borrow other people's phones, I feel like I'm being a bit hobbled in my efforts to surf, text, or otherwise interact with the world in the big beautiful way the Note lets me. I have seen the future, and the future is phab. Frankly, as the world goes increasingly mobile, I don't understand why people wouldn't want to have the biggest screen possible on which to do e-everything. Why squint?

Any other phablet lovers out there? Let's hear from you in the comments below.

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About the author

Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for Crave and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.

 

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