We need a Galaxy Note II competitor
I hate the word phablet. But the devices they describe rock. A phone has become so much more than just for calling and texting, and the extra screen real estate is greatly appreciated by some users such as myself. There's only one decent option that offers the real estate that I want, the Galaxy Note II.
So I should have a pretty easy time deciding which phone to get, right? Wrong. There is some issues that I have with it.
THE PROBLEMS WITH THE NOTE II
The same thing that I love about the Galaxy Note II is the same thing I don't: the screen. That SAMOLED screen really bothers me. The colors are all hyper-saturated and calibration still pales in comparison to quality LCDs like the one in the One X. As a frequent web browser,I know the white kills your battery life even faster due to SAMOLED's increased power consumption with the color white. Also, the blue-green-ish tint almost makes the screen sickening to me. I am also the owner of two Galaxy Nexus devices, so I know what happens to them under extended use. The burn-in and screen retention are awful. Plus discoloration at the status bar and onscreen buttons is ridiculous. The phones have also dimmed considerably since I first got them. While the Note II does not feature the infamous PenTile layout (which is very noticeable to me, but not everyone), its still not standard RGB layout either. It's not all negative however. The size is fantastic, and at 267 ppi (same as the retina iPad), its still plenty pixel dense for me. But the other trade-offs that have to be made make the display an overall negative for the device.
TouchWiz also bothers me. Why not just get a different launcher? you might ask. Because the skin lurks in the shadows with everything you do, not just the home screen, lock screen, and keyboard, which are easily changed. The sickening green in the notification shade's quick settings is horrible. The skinned apps even replace the stock apps in some cases (like Calendar). The skin also hampers performance a little bit. Maybe not now, but it will, as the device starts to bog down over time. S-Voice is not nearly as useful as Google Now that I enjoy on my Nexus devices right now, or Siri on my iPad. The fact that Google Now is hidden in the multitasking menu irks me to no end, because its now a crucial part of my workflow, and S-Voice is definitely no replacement. We all know skins hinder update speeds as well. There's just no escaping it, TouchWiz is definitely not what we as heavy smartphone (and phablet) users need or want.
Possibly one of the worst things about the Note II is the all plastic construction. It doesn't feel premium in the way that the Lumia or similar phones have, and I know this sounds a bit nitpicky, or I could just get a case, but if I spend a few hundred dollars on a device, it better feel premium. The home button at the bottom and the capacitive keys flanking the side aren't much better either; especially with the back button being exactly opposite of where it should be in my opinion. I prefer the soft keys on the Nexus, and wouldn't mind giving up a tiny bit of screen space to it, especially if it made the device a little less tall.
My big issue is that there isn't a device that is the same size that doesn't have these same issues. The Droid DNA is not the same size, and Sense is even worse than TouchWiz in my opinion. The LG Intuition is a joke, with a disgusting skin, horrible design (4:3 on a phone... no), and poor construction. Most modern smartphones have screens in the 4.3-4.8" range, far from my 5.3"+ dream device.
A 720p/1080p LCD 5.3-5.7" screen with solid feeling hardware, great battery life, soft keys, and an inoffensive skin would be perfect for me. This is where I would love to see Motorola come in. Or maybe LG could do something in a 16:9 or 16:10 ratio instead of the horrible 4:3 they used in the Intuition. Or Sony could be amazing at this. Their Xperia hardware design language (like Moto's) isn't the best, but it would definitely feel better in your hand than the thin plastic of the current Galaxy series. And Sony doesn't do much in the way of customization.
I'm just hoping that the great sales of the Galaxy Note series show other OEMs that there is demand for devices this size, and that they respond with devices that can compete (unlike the Intuition). A Nexus in this size would be ideal. But I'll settle for a skinned device if the hardware is right (and probably root if possible). Until then, I'll have to use my aging little Galaxy Nexii...