Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

Summary: AT&T and Samsung unveiled the Infuse 4G on Thursday in New York City. One of the most noteworthy and noticeable specs was the 4.5-inch display, which raises the question: is the line between smartphones and tablets becoming blurred?

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AT&T and Samsung unveiled the Infuse 4G on Thursday in New York City. One of the most noteworthy and noticeable specs was the 4.5-inch display, which raises the question: is the line between smartphones and tablets becoming blurred?

While the 4.5-inch diagonal Super AMOLED Plus touch screen isn't that far off from other large smarpthones like the 4.3-inch displays on the HTC Evo 4G and Motorola Droid X, it is certainly getting closer to some of the smaller-scale tablets such as the original 5-inch Dell Streak.

[Image Gallery: Hands-on with AT&T's Samsung Infuse 4G]

When holding the Infuse 4G initially, it definitely felt like a bulkier smartphone. Sure, it's only 8.99mm thin, making it slim enough to fit into a pocket, but it could definitely stick out of a pocket. It's not large enough in any regards to be considered a tablet, but a display this large for a smartphone is pushing the boundaries - perhaps unnecessarily.

Smartphone manufacturers and wireless providers have tried to advertise larger smartphones such as the HTC Droid Incredible as perfect for watching movies while traveling, and the Infuse 4G would definitely be the optimal choice if that's why a consumer is buying a smartphone. But video playback usually isn't the sole reason a consumer would buy a smartphone.

A 4.5-inch display just isn't necessary for a smartphone - let alone one running only Android 2.2. The large display and the thin frame are the only qualities that make the Infuse 4G stand out from the plethora of other 4G-enabled, Android smartphones rolling out in 2011. Perhaps if it was running Gingerbread or offered some other unique productivity features, then the Infuse 4G would be more significant.

At this point, it seems that mobile phone manufacturers want to push how large a smartphone display can be. While it's great that developers and designers want to push the boundaries, eventually we're going to hit the limit. Smartphones already have their own place with smaller screens, and consumers will buy tablets if they want and/or need a device with a panel that measures seven inches or larger. There is no need to enlarge smartphones to the point where they might feel like mini-tablets.

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Topics: Samsung, Hardware, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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62 comments
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  • clueless

    next will be a 5" phone because bigger is better!! no, it's not, it's a phone. it has to be pocketable. you have to find the perfect balance between screen size (big enough) and overall size (as small as possible). that's the task.

    making it bigger will only appeal to a tiny niche of geeks that like to carry a newest brick because they can tell their nerd friends: "look at this giant screen! awesome!"

    it really seems that anyone but apple is totally clueless in the smartphone industry.
    banned from zdnet
    • I agree, clueless

      @banned from zdnet<br><br>You see, there are many different needs and preferences in this world. Therefore, there is no such thing as a "perfect balance between screen size and overall size"<br><br>Your post is just a typical ignorant and opinionated talkback.
      Economister
      • I am waiting for a 5.5 inch screen, which I calculated

        @Economister
        to be the perfect size.
        :|
        Tim Cook
    • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

      @banned from zdnet as a bloke with big hands (and thus fingers) i've gone through 3.2, 3.7, 4.0 & now 4.3 inch screen android phones. for me, so far, bigger IS better. I'm sure there is an ideal/ optimal trade off, but so far i've not picked up the smart phone that was too big. Apple's 3.5" is too small for my usage and it's naive to think that it would or even could be the best option for everybody. also, my pockets could comfortably fit a 5" phone.

      as phones get more capable as tablets, i just get to use my phone for more rather than wasting money on a tablet whose only advantage is size.
      blakjak.au
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @blakjak.au I completely agree, I want one device that does what I need, not two so that I can both make a call and also read text on the web.
        fixmdude
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @blakjak.au Spot-on! I never could figure out the motivation for all the negative commentary about the size of Dell's Streak-5 -- don't try to tell people what they should consider an "optimal size". Indeed, I believe this cackle of hacks were leading the line the last time 'round. This device is yet more evidence that a significant segment of the market wants a convergent communications device -- one surmizes that this lot of techno-luddites will catch on eventually.
        J.M.S
    • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

      @banned from zdnet <br>Yes - It is just a small screened tablet.<br><br>There are a lot of things I use my phone for like I would on a tablet. Everyone in my household has a smartphone.<br>The uses we put these devices through lends credence to the need for 4" or more. My next phone(s) will have to have a min 4" screen (are you listening Apple?).<br><img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
      rhonin
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @rhonin Steve already made the pronouncement: No tablets under 9.9 inches; no phones over 3.5!
        J.M.S
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @J.M.S

        Steve-O needs to expand his horizons.... :O
        rhonin
    • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

      @banned from zdnet - larger screens can be put into smaller phones. If the iPhone had less bezel and wasted space, guess what? It could fit a 4.5" screen too. People talk about the brilliance of Apple's 'industrial design', but that's a glaring area where they failed.
      .
      Personally I have a Droid X and use it very much like a tablet. The difference in screen size is significant. I would love to see my next phone have closer to a 5" screen with even less bezel - with a 3mm bezel width all around the edge, you could easily fit a full 5" screen into a phone no bigger than the Droid X. And make it thinner. Very very pocketable, at least for me.
      ArtInvent
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @ArtInvent I have no desire to carry a cinderblock in my pocket. Everyone is different though. That's what makes a market.
        Larry Dignan
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @ArtInvent A very good point. It really is too bad a ZDNet moderator found it necessary to attempt ridicule (lame as it was) -- I mean really, a comparison to a cinderblock is even more asinine than the auto-industry post. Perhaps Larry is incapable of processing the notion that there are other means of carrying around light-weight devices . . .
        J.M.S
      • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

        @Larry Dignan

        Using the iPhone 3GS as a base, with some basic design changes and no increase in size, you could easily fit a 4.25 inch screen on it.

        Never realized the 3GS and other phones of similiar size and build were comparable to cinder blocks :D
        rhonin
  • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

    Just when we thought 4.3 was huge, here cones the 4.5 inchers. Who is this phone for Paul Bunyan?
    dave95.
    • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

      @dave95. What is it they say about little hands . . .
      J.M.S
  • RE: Samsung Infuse 4G: Are smartphones becoming tablets?

    I think 3.7 - 4" is the ideal size for a smartphone. Anything bigger just makes it too big and bulky. The auto industry does this too. They make a great small car then keep making it bigger until they have to introduce another small car so they really have a small one. We don't need this to happennn with smartphones. Just make the screens better, mot bigger!
    tgschmidt
    • 3.5&quot; inches is the most popular model in the world for a reason

      @tgschmidt: 4" is already bigger than it is convenient when using device as actual phone.
      DDERSSS
      • Clueless

        @denisrs

        But what if you spend a lot more time using the "smart" part and less time using the dumb (phone) part?

        Read your own post and contemplate the implications - IF you are capable of doing so.
        Economister
      • Clueless

        @Economister:<br><br>But what if spend a lot more time with your phone in jean's pocket, which does not feel having VHS-cassette sized Hummer of all brickphones?<br><br>Read your own post and contemplate the implications -- IF you are capable of doing so.
        DDERSSS
      • Duh!!!

        @denisrs

        Then you buy a smaller phone. You are unfortunately as dumb as I feared.
        Economister