I finaaaaaaaally joined the ranks of smart phone owners. I used to own a dumb phone, defined as a phone that you can only use to make calls and write SMS. No way to install any apps. It also did not run one of the standard OS for mobile devices: Android and iOS.
And the reason for this is that I found a phone that I really liked. Well, should I say phone? I would better call it mobile device, since phoning is the the thing I have been doing by far the least with it so far (less than 5% of total usage).
Before this phone, I did not really like anything I saw. The devices were often too expensive and too limited. And I was not looking forward to do a phone contract with the “Cellphone-Mafia”, if you look at the TCO (total cost of ownership) of one of these puppies, with a 2 year contract, it is staggeringly expensive.
With my dumb phone I used to be on MetroPCS and that was HALF as expensive than what I pay now with the current “Don” that I am patronizing... well, against my will.
So which phone am I talking about? I fell in love with the Samsung Galaxy Note from.....
Well, you notice here that I am not mentioning which provider I am using. Yes and that is on purpose: the phone’s brilliance does not depend on the phone network I am using it on. Less informed people seem to think that Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or whatever are building these phones or write the software for it. Let me just tell you: They don't.
This phone is so brilliant thanks to no other than Android (Google, maker of the software) and Samsung (maker of the hardware).
So what is so great about it? Well to name the first thing: The screen!
It is the biggest screen you can get on any smart phone on the market currently, 5.3 inches.
The display is more than double as big than a iPhone 4 and the Apple device looks really like a children's toy next to it.
And I found that the screen makes or breaks a smart phone really, as it is the main interface point between the user and the device. And a big enough screen opens up all kinds of new possibilities. So for example map browsing:
Where am I now, where do I need to go, what is nearby? A thing that you would do on a real road map.
On a small device with a tiny screen you zoom and pan like crazy and have no overview. And likely, you would not even consider it viable as an overview. On the Note’s screen, you can actually see it all.
The 285 dpi screen density does help a lot (Apple would call that retina, I just call it “higher resolution screen”, because it is not something magical just because Apple calls it a fancy “normally referred to as part of the eye anatomy” term). I'm often shocked how people seem to latch on these marketing terms and how they seem to pretend that is signifies something special. Screen resolutions have always been raised, step by step, there is absolutely nothing new to this. I has been very painful though, I have waited for 300 dpi screens for the last 10 years and they have hovered around more like 150 dpi, which is totally ugly to the eye.
The Note is also using the most advanced display technology: OLED .OLED is what I have been waiting for so many years, as I have found LCD and the way it works ugly as hell.
LCD works by having a light source and then filtering out the bits that are not white. This is a pretty stupid technology, as it causes these problems:
- You need a glass plate, the display cannot be bent ever, and stays thicker and heavier than OLED.
- Black is never really black, as black means that the filters are at maximum, theoretically not letting anything through. Black is always a kind of dark grey.
- It is wasting a lot of energy, as you first beam brilliant light, just to neutralize it in the next step. Everywhere where it is filtered, i.e. where it hits black or a dark color, it gets absorbed and creates heat.
- In LCD, no matter what you display on the screen, the energy usage is always the same, be it all white or all black.
- View angle: LCD has a narrow view angle, if you surpass this, the picture is not recognizable anymore.
- LCDs are too dim to be viable in full on sunlight. Remember that scene from 2010 Space Odyssey where Roy Scheider is preparing for his trip to space? There is a scene where he is at the beach, in full sunlight, working on a laptop. And ever since this scene, I dreamed about being able to do that. Well, you can't read a LCD screen when the sun glares on it, sadly enough. You can do that though on a OLED. LED and OLED carry a lot more punch than LCD and go check which technology is used with large scale screens in Las Vegas or on road sides where daylight readability is a must.
LCD used to have a lot more problems, which have all been resolved over the years (like speed and blurring)
Now OLED on the other side, has these advantages:
- Less energy usage, OLEDs are extremely efficient. You only use energy for a pixel that lights up
- More brilliant: OLEDs can be used in plain sunlight. LCDs cannot.
- More vivid colors
- The screen can become super thin (check out some OLED TVs, you won’t believe how thin they are, it makes your LCD TV look like a huge block). An option for OLEDs is that the display can be bent. There are not that many displays around yet, but one of the ideas for the future is to have a pen that you can pull out a large screen that you can unroll. A vision of mine is also that in the future, you would have work spaces that have a display that is rolled up and then be pulled up (the roll being on the table) and then hooked up to some metal rod that stands vertical. So your screen would not be taking up any space, when it is rolled up in the cylinder on the table, but become 19 inch large, when you pull it up. It would only be a foil, really thin and look more like an mobile expandable movie screen that you use for projectors.
OLEDs do also have some drawbacks and one of them is longevity and production cost. Also, OLED displays are still size restricted.
The Samsung device uses a SUPER AMOLED, which is their term for it.
And I love how the screen looks, with almost 300 dpi, it reaches the resolution that we have in print media (the minimum resolution that is) and it is the border where you cannot see individual pixels anymore and curves and circles look really round, not the jagged pixelated mess that is everywhere else on monitors. Using anti aliasing helps a little, but it is a really ugly and messy way to just smear everything.
So having such a huge screen has endless advantages. One of them is that you can actually use a full size keyboard on screen and watch movies in wonderful quality.
Thanks Google for creating Android and MOST OF ALL, basing it on Linux. And it being open source, instead some ugly as hell piece of proprietary poo that is closed and nontransparent.
The Note also comes with another quite unique feature that no other cellphone has: A stylus and a pressure sensitive wacom graphical tablet built into the screen. This enables you to draw with precision far beyond what a normal tablet or touch screen can do. Me being ahead of the curve, I have loathed paper for an eternity, wanting to replace it with digital data.
Having to scan in all paper notes has annoyed me for years and finally, this problem has been layed to rest.