One of Samsung's most popular lines of Android smartphones is the Galaxy Note series, which is so large that some call it a "phablet." The original Galaxy Note had a 5.3-inch AMOLED screen, when it launched in late 2011, and was recently beaten by the Galaxy Note 2's 5.5-inch display.
Now, Samsung has apparently decided to just jump all the way to making a phablet the size of a full tablet. Just before Mobile World Congress last week, it debuted the Galaxy Note 8.0, which (sure enough) has a screen that's 8 inches across. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has all of the signature Galaxy Note features, including its Wacom stylus digitizer and specialized software package, and some models will even be able to make phone calls. This feature won't be found on the "international" model sold in the United States, but that still won't keep Samsung from setting a record for the world's largest new smartphone.
Bigger is better?
Exhibitors at Mobile World Congress (and January's Consumer Electronics Show) demonstrated a trend towards bigger and bigger smartphones. The Huawei Ascend Mate, which was introduced at CES this year and doesn't have an international release date announced yet, has a 6.1-inch screen. Its website still claims for it the title of "The World's Largest Screen Smartphone."
LG and Samsung both debuted 5-plus-inch smartphones at Mobile World Congress, while Asus introduced the "Fonepad," which is basically a 7-inch device like the Nexus 7 which can make phone calls. It appears to bear no relation to the Asus Padfone, an earlier hybrid device which docked a smartphone with a tablet screen. The Fonepad doesn't have a North American release date.
Not(e) completely unprecedented
Besides the fact that the Galaxy Note series had been creeping upwards in screen size for awhile now, Samsung actually released a 7-inch smartphone way back in 2010 -- the first Samsung Galaxy Tab. While marketed as a tablet, it was also able to make phone calls, or at least the models sold outside the United States were.
Not(e) just bigger
Besides the typical features and software found in the Galaxy Note series, the Galaxy Note 8.0 also features new apps and exclusive versions of apps. iOS annotation app Awesome Note will have an Android port shipped with the phablet, according to Joseph Volpe's hands-on for Engadget, and the version of Flipboard it comes with will have a "hover" feature which uses the S-Pen. It will also feature a "reading mode," which changes the (somewhat low-resolution) screen to look like sepia-toned paper.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.