It’s a move dusted with mad genius: Why not release a phone so gigantic that many people can’t even hold it up to their ear without using two hands? That’s Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, which was just unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Note 8 is either the world’s largest phablet or an 8-inch tablet that just happens to be able to make calls.
Samsung seems to recognize that the logic of this device might not compute in the US, where the Note 8 will be released in a WiFi-only version that can’t be used as a phone. Stateside, this version is aimed directly at Apple’s 7.9″ iPad Mini, which has been a breakout hit for Apple.
But in the rest of the world, Samsung’s comically huge phone makes sense. As I’ve outlined before, for consumers in emerging markets with limited budgets, it doesn’t make sense to spend money upgrading two separate devices—a phone and a tablet—when a phablet is a good-enough solution to both needs.
What’s more, as improbable as it might sound given how absurd people will look while making calls on the Note 8, giant screens have become status objects unto themselves. One recent survey by T-Mobile indicated that 77% of consumers would prefer smartphones with screens larger than the one found on the iPhone 5. In a world in which staring at our phones has become a global pastime, some consumers like having the biggest, flashiest “phone” in the room.
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