Via Vikram Bath, Mat Honan says not to buy another smartphone and instead buy an LTE tablet. Well, that’s not quite right. He says that increasingly, we are already buying tablets:

[W]hat we really use these devices for, according to network operations powerhouse Ericsson, is to move data—increasingly over the 4G wireless tech called LTE. You might think LTE just means a faster Instagram feed. It does. But LTE is also the main reason our smartphones are getting so large. Power-hungry LTE devices want bigger batteries. Bigger batteries mean bigger phones. It’s no coincidence that Apple, Samsung, LG, and Google have all rolled out 6-inch phonelike flagships since the end of 2013.

I say phonelike because, come on, these are tablets. They barely fit into a front pocket. They won’t fit into a back pocket—or at least not most back pockets. The average Levi’s have a back-stash that’s just 5.25 inches deep.

So is that a tablet in your pocket? Yes. LTE didn’t just change our phones into things that look like tablets; it also changed them into things that act like tablets. Older cell networks, even 3G, used dedicated connections to move your voice, just like a landline. But LTE turns your voice into data packets like the rest of Internet traffic. Until last year, carriers were mostly using older networks and technologies to carry voice calls, but now everything’s moving to voice over LTE, or VoLTE. It’s basically VoIP—like Skype.

I got a tablet for Christmas, which has a screen size of 8.4″. It stands next to my Note 4, which has a screen size of 5.7″… the latter still feels like a phone, and the former like a tablet (ditto my wife’s 7″ tablet, which at this point is a glorified Kindle). I don’t know where the line is, but there is one.

On the other hand, my hand is big and so I still have touch capability over most of my Note. For someone that has to use their Note the same way I use my tablet (with two hands), perhaps it is more tabletesque.

One thing that I find kind of annoying is that even though my Note has the size closer to that of a tablet than that of my first smartphone, the apps make a strict tablet/phone distinction. So the text on my email app is unavoidably large, meanwhile on the same app on the tablet is really small. The developers figure, I guess, that they are safe to put more stuff on a tablet than a phone. Which makes sense, except that I keep my tablet farther from my face. But I can’t because the text on some apps is too small. Then some apps that are perfect on the tablet would look much better in tablet mode on the Note, but it doesn’t quite work that way.

First world problems defined, I suppose.


Category: Market

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