My favorite piece of tech is one I can't keep in my pocket. At least, not when I'm sitting down. So it's usually hanging out on the table or the bar in front of me even when I'm not obsessively checking Twitter or Google+. When people see it, their reactions tend to fall within a predictable range:
"Oh my god, it's so huge!"
"How do you even use something so big?"
"I could never handle anything that massive!"
"I can't even wrap my hand around it!"
No, they're not talking about some giant dildo, they're talking about my phone.
For the past year I've been rocking the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and a few weeks ago the company sent me the new Note 3 to review. Being the bearer of a large-screen smartphone means that people are often as curious about it as they are dismissive of the very concept. Phones are getting too big! they say... until they play around with the Note and then ask how much it costs.
Ever since the first Galaxy Note came out, the conversation around big phones has been too focused on the wrong things. What's most odious to me is when I see a tech pundit go on about how women don't or shouldn't like large screen phones because our hands are small. Seriously, I see red. Because:
1. Not all women have small hands.
2. Not all men have big hands.
3. Hand size is not the real issue.
What women (and men) should focus on is how you use your phone and how you'd like to use it. That's way more of an indicator of giant phone needs than your hand size.
There are a bunch of large phones around these days, including the new Nokia Lumia 1520 (6-inch), the HTC One Max (5.9 inch), the LG Optimus G Pro (5.5 inch), and the Samsung Galaxy Mega (6 inch). I still prefer the Galaxy Note series, which currently has a 5.7-inch display.
The Note 3 balances just right in my hand and I rarely feel like I'm going to lose control of it the way I do with phones even just a bit bigger. I've always been a two-handed smartphone user, so I don't get frustrated trying to type or navigate with just one hand. If you do mainly use the phone with one hand, the size is going to be more of a problem.
One of the reasons I got used to two-handed operation is that I find typing on smartphone screens very frustrating. I have fingernails. Narrow keyboards are not designed for people with nails. Before I went big, I always switched to landscape to type long emails. Now I don't have to since the keys are big enough to accommodate my sloppy typing.
And when I get tired of typing, I switch to writing. The Galaxy Note series comes with a stylus called the S Pen, and this thing is super useful. Thanks to really good handwriting recognition in the Note 3, I can write whole emails at decent speed (faster than I type, at least) and the text needs very little correction. And when I need to jot a quick note, I can use the Action Memo app to do that, no typing required. I love the S Pen.
Once I started using the Note 3, I stopped carrying a tablet regularly. I'm a fan of smaller 7 and 8-inch tablets for reading fiction and playing games but I already carry too much stuff as it is. The Note's screen is big enough that I can read without turning pages too often and, thanks to the high resolution (full HD 1080p) screen, if I make the text smaller it's still crisp. Browsing the web is great since I can look at the full website instead of the mobile version and not feel cramped.
The camera on the back is not as top of the line as the iPhone 5S or the Galaxy S4, also from Samsung. It's still quite good and I like having the bigger screen for framing shots and shooting video.
The good outweighs the bad on this phone, but the drawbacks can be dealbreakers.
My biggest annoyance is what I mentioned before: the Note 3 doesn't fit comfortably in my pocket when I'm sitting. And unless you have big, deep pockets like I have in my jeans, it might not fit at all. If you have to wear pants with terrible, useless pockets all the time, anyway (and I know some of you do), then you're used to carrying your phone in your bag. Guys tend to find this more of a hassle.
The geeky, tech nerd crowd may take exception to the interface on the Note 3, which is not standard Android. It's called TouchWiz and does make the phone look a bit more like a toy than I'd prefer. I'm a bigger fan of the features and apps Samsung builds in like the handwriting recognition and note-taking stuff I mentioned before. There's also a translator app, fitness/health stuff, and more cool writing/pen tricks.
Large screen smartphones aren't for everyone. No one phone is right for everyone. But just because a phone is big doesn't mean it's not right for you. Forget hand size or pocketability or how silly you might look holding that slab up to your face (just get some Bluetooth headphones, trust me). Concentrate more on what's most important to you in a mobile device. Do you want to read, leave paper Post-Its behind, type comfortably, lighten your tech load? You might just need a massive phone. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure you can handle it.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and other regional carriers for $199 - $299 on contract/payment plan.