The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 hit UK shops this week, with its 5.5-inch screen taking up some serious shelf space. It’s the follow-up to the multi-million selling original Note, and is bigger and better than its predecessor.

But where do Android handsets go from here?

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a whole new breed of device. It’s bigger than a mobile, but smaller than a tablet. (Someone even coined a term for it: ‘phablet’. For which they should be shot.) Many laughed at the original Note, saying it fell between these two stools, and that’s why it wouldn’t succeed.

Then it sold more than 10 million worldwide. And the laughter stopped.

Samsung knew it was on to something, and so went even bigger for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, bumping the screen up from 5.3-inches to 5.5-. The screen packs a 1,280×720-pixel resolution, and inside is a 1.6GHz processor. It also runs Android Jelly Bean out of the box. Which is great news, considering Jelly Bean is only on 2 percent of Android devices at the moment.

Samsung also overhauled the stylus, making it closer to writing with pen on paper. Amazing in the age of the iPad to think that a device with a stylus could succeed, but there you are.

Here’s the thing: the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 succeeds despite the fact that it alos make calls. We’ve been testing it out all this week, and it’s best when used on a tabletop surface, with quick stylus writing for Google searches and note taking – by contrast, one handed use as you’d expect with most mobiles is all but impossible.

So, the Note 2 is really more of a handheld computer that also happens to make calls. (Just put it next to the iPhone 5 to see how different they are.) But be honest, what do you use your phone for mostly? Twitter? Browsing? Texting? How often do you actually make a call?

Anyway, it is slightly ridiculous using a larger device as a phone. And when we tested the original Galaxy Tab, we found the phone function was a bit of an afterthought.

Everyone seems to be following the Samsung Galaxy cNote 2. HTC’s range-topper, the One X+, packs a 4.7-inch screen, as does LG’s Optimus 4X HD, while Samsung’s own Galaxy S3 has a 4.8-incher. Motorola’s latest, the Razr i, is being promoted as having an ‘edge-to-edge’ display, so clearly big screens are the order of the day. But not all of these devices get the balance right.

Take LG’s Optimus Vu. On paper, it sounds great. A 5-inch screen, with the same resolution as the iPad? Where do we sign?

But it hasn’t been too well received. There’s no slot for the stylus for one, meaning you could easily lose it. The 4:3 aspect ratio gives it an odd squat look as well. And it doesn’t make it ideal for movies.

Basically, what all the detractors keep coming back to is this: the Optimus Vu feels like an ill thought-out attempt to cash-in on the Galaxy Note’s success. So it’s obvious Android manufacturers can’t just knock out a device with a huge screen and watch the money roll in.

4G will mean faster speeds and higher quality videos online, which will fuel the demand for bigger screens. With even Apple enlarging its handset (though only to a 4-inch screen for the iPhone 5, which is paltry, relatively speaking), it’s obvious larger displays are the way forward.

It’s hard to know how big these devices will go. 5.5-inches really is pushing the limits of what you can call a ‘pocket device’. The Note 2 will fit in a coat pocket or man bag, but good luck getting it in your jeans. (Unless you have trousers like MC Hammer, that is.) Any bigger, and you’re encroaching on tablet territory. Though with the huge success of the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire, maybe that’s where these Android devices are headed. The line is already blurred: maybe soon there won’t be a distinction between an Android phone and tablet.

That would put some real distance between Android and the iPhone. Just as long as we can agree not to use the word ‘phablet’.

  • Baz

    I was thinking exactly the same – where do we go from here. Not just Android though, but ANY phone manufacturer. I have bought the Galaxy Note 2 and it is the most complete smart phone that has ever been released. It’s the most powerful, it’s the most useful and it’s the most flexible. It is EVERYTHING a smart phone should be. It’s also a fantastic size too. A lot of reviewers are saying it’s too big. But is it though? I’d wager a guess and say mobile phones got really popular in the mid to late 90′s. My first phone, the eponymous Nokia 5110, was 13cm long. The Note 2 is about 15cm so it’s only 2 cm longer. It’s also much lighter and you can a hell of a lot more on in than play snake too…..

  • chiko

    Phablet is such as misnomer and I agree with you that the note II is a handheld computer … and for me that is really what I am after

  • lee

    They get bigger flash storage for a start, and a miracle battery that’s last at least 2 days

  • lee

    Twin micro SD slots…….

  • lee

    A dock to plant the note ’3′ in and mirror on to my big screen or desk top with wireless key board and mouse and be my all round PC ….. Give it 128GB on boardand stock chocking about with 16GB

Hot chat, right here!

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