Large displays need software features to make it worthwhile

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: April 8, 2013

When Samsung unveiled their first Note device back in 2011, everyone said it was too big. And, to be fair, at 5.3-inches, it was indeed very big. The “phablet” word started popping up, and we all couldn’t help but wonder if that’s where the new wave of popular smartphones was headed. Fortunately, the Galaxy Note was the only really popular 5-inch or bigger device, so we at least avoided a new bandwagon for manufacturers for a little bit.

In 2012, we were all wondering the same thing all over again when the Galaxy Note II officially broke cover. At 5.5-inches, it wasn’t a giant increase from the original Note, but it was still noticeable. So was this it? Was this the catalyst for us to see other huge phones start raining down upon us, and forever flooding the market with their monstrous size?

We did see some other rather large handsets make the rounds. HTC, here in the States and with different variations in other markets, unveiled the DROID DNA with a 5-inch display. And other companies, like Huawei, have their own responses to the “phablet” craze that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Apple’s staying steadfast with their sub 5-inch displays, and while I think a larger display iPhone is a great idea, I think they should stick to around 4.7-inches, and avoid going any bigger.

Going bigger, though, isn’t something that Samsung is apparently afraid to do. You have probably already heard the grumblings across the Internet that the Galaxy Note III will be bigger than the Note II. How big? No one knows quite yet, but when you’re looking to get larger than 5.5-inches, the approximate size probably doesn’t matter so much anymore.

Earlier today, our own Alex Wagner wrote a report on some new information provided for a pair of new Samsung-branded devices: The Mega 5.8 and Mega 6.3. Now, as you can imagine, the numbers at the tail end are indicative of the screen size for these rumored, still unannounced devices. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t look like either device is meant to be the Galaxy Note II successor we’re all eagerly awaiting. Instead, they look to be both of the mid-range variety:

The Mega 5.8 will reportedly feature a qHD display, with a 960x540 resolution. Inside, you’ll find a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and a 2,600mAh battery. There’s supposedly an 8MP camera on the back, with a 1.2MP front-facing shooter on the other side. It will be running Android Jelly Bean, and will obviously boast Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz user interface.

The Mega 6.3 will feature an HD display, but the resolution isn’t speculated. There’s a 1.7GHz dual-core processor under the hood, with 1.5GB of RAM. It will have an 8MP camera on the back, and a 2MP camera on the front. The battery is measured in at 3,200mAh, and it, too, will be running Android Jelly Bean out of the box. More TouchWiz UI in there, too.

As you can tell, these devices aren’t meant to blow anyone’s minds specifically looking for a new flagship device. Moreover, they are both rumored to feature a dual-SIM functionality, which indicates more international markets, rather than a local affair.

Now, keeping in mind that these devices are being offered for specific international markets, it shouldn’t be a surprise that they don’t have the Note designation, and therefore shouldn’t have the same functionality. Specifically, no S Pen support. Meaning we’re just looking at some really big, mid-range devices here. Is that terrible, considering the market that Samsung is going to try to sell these in? No, not at all, but I do feel like a word of caution here is essential.

Because just throwing bigger phones into the mix isn’t going to provide anything new to the industry, or woo a ton of new customers. I’ll be perfectly honest when I tell you that the Galaxy Note was too big when it launched, and I didn’t go anywhere near it, even with its S Pen. But you should all know my feelings about the Galaxy Note II at this point: I love it. I love the size, but only because of the S Pen and its wide range of abilities with the device proper. Just having the big display doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t actually offer anything more than, well, a big display.

Point in fact, the DROID DNA. With its five-inch display, it is the prime example. Sure, it’s got a big display, but what does that get you? Just a big screen. But if you look at the Galaxy Note II, you get a big display and a stylus that allows you to draw, color, manipulate, and write accurately to take advantage of that bigger display. The software and hardware work together, just as it should be.

As we move through 2013, and we get ready to see new phones being launched for the rest of the year, all I can hope is that any manufacturers that do have a desire to launch big phones, realize that just throwing a huge display at customers won’t make a huge impact if they don’t offer something to make use of the bigger display. The features have to work with the hardware, and vice versa. This is me hoping that Huawei, Motorola, LG, HTC, and whoever else out there don’t continue to hope bigger phones will equal success if they don’t add features to make use of it.

Do you think companies should aim to just create bigger phones, for no other reason than to have a big display? Or should they make sure that the features in the phone make the experience of having a huge screen worth it? Let me know what you think.