Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 23, 2017
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Open wide, here comes the phablet

With over 85 percent of the smartphone market in Canada, Apple seems secure at the top of the heap. There are about 20 million wireless subscribers in the country and 1.8 million of them have iPhones. Home-grown Blackberry come in a close second at 1.6 million. Globally, iPhones also dominate with a 52 percent market share, compared to just 3.2 percent for Blackberry.

The players to watch are phones using Google's Android operating system. With 15 percent of the market, this is where growth is likely to be over the next year.

Of the various providers, Samsung's Galaxy line is the one that looks most like the iPhone challenger. Apple holds the edge in apps and music, and its voice-activated Siri is superior to the Android version. Google Maps outperforms Apple’s GPS functions, but third-party apps sometimes run choppy.

With the introduction of Samsung’s Galaxy Note last month the discussion switched to size and styluses. The Note has a humongous 13.5-centimetre screen. It’s less than a centimetre thick, about the size of a passport and weighs only 40 grams more than an iPhone.

And, yes, it has a stylus that lets you draw, scribble and save notes as text. The hope is that it will become the go-to device, with users ditching their cells and tablets.

Within 24 hours of its release it had been dubbed the “phablet” (phone+tablet) and a few hours later, LG added to the category with their new smartphone with a similarly sized screen.

Many reviewers of the Note wonder about its size: it fits easily in a purse and will slide nicely into the inside breast pocket of a man’s jacket, but in a trouser pocket — not so much. And nobody wants to be caught holding the slab up to their ear.

Then there’s the stylus. The main complaint is that it’s laggy, which is frustrating if you’re taking down a phone number on the fly. On the other hand, it’s pressure sensitive and has a button on the side that allows you to customize the nib — great for sketching.

All in all, it’s sharp looking with spectacular movie-screen resolution. Good battery life will easily take you through a busy day. To see it is to love it.

But do you need a phablet? Maybe.

Available at Best Buy and Future Shop. $199 with a three-year agreement with Bell or Telus. $149 with a three-year agreement with Rogers at Best Buy. Samsung.com/ca.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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