I got a Nexus 5 from Google for Christmas; it replaces an old Nexus S used as a dumbphone. But in some ways I was happier with the S, even though the 5 is way more capable. I’m thinking (once again) that Size Matters.

Once again, you say? · I have a special claim to the Size-Matters tech-blog territory. Back in 2009, I fell in love with the first 7" device, the original Galaxy Tab, and wrote a mega-review, then really drilled into the device-size trade-offs with Ten Theses on Tablets , then hammered on the issue some more in my Nexus 7 review. Others in the Size-Matters camp might want to check one or two of those out.

Important · Let’s put the main conclusion first: For mobile Internet access, the Nexus 7 wins. It totally wipes the floor with any Android handset ever made by any manufacturer. This applies for reading mail, Web stuff, apps in general, Ingress in particular, maps, photos, games, and keying in text. Not. Remotely. Close.

I suspect that over on the Apple side, the iPad mini similarly stomps any and all iPhones for general-purpose Internet access.

Screen density · The Nexus S was 235 dpi, the 7 is 323 and the 5 445, but that doesn’t matter any more. All modern mobile devices have pixels that are sufficiently intimate with each other. True “Retina” densities (287 dpi per Bryan Jones) are perceptible and pleasant, but anything reasonably close is good enough. After all, Apple’s non-Retina first-gen iPad Mini (163dpi) was generally considered a great product.

This reminds me of the digital-camera megapixel race, which is now mostly over, thank goodness. As the capabilities of mobile Internet devices converge, screen density is something that marketers can trumpet, but doesn’t matter much.

What surprised me was · Compared to the Nexus 5, the old Nexus S is a happier handset: smaller, curved, comfy in the pocket and the hand. The 5 is dramatically better on every technical dimension: Screen, performance, networking, GPS. But maybe who cares? If I want those things I’ll grab the Nexus 7.

So what is a handset for? Holding up to the side of your head for that telephony stuff (and for that to work you need the Android contacts infrastructure).

Also, perfunctory email and messaging while you’re in too much of a hurry to stop walking and use both hands.

Also, high-quality small-form-factor cameras. By the way, when a handset is as small as the Nexus S, there’s no particular reason that it needs to be terribly thin; so there’s room to squeeze in a decent-ish lens.

Two-part device · I think I want a single “Android device” that comprises a tablet and a handset. I always want Internet within arm’s reach, and I always want something one-handed to take a phone call or a picture. But why do I need two operating systems and two Settings menus and two SIMs and so on?


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Terence Eden (Dec 21 2013, at 13:06)

Have you considered (and I despise the word) a phablet?

I've just moved from a Galaxy Note 2 to a GN3. The sub 6-inch screen is perfect for fitting in an (adult male) pocket, the screen is huge, and the battery is decent.

I've taken a look at some others like the Sony Ultra, and Galaxy Tab, and I have the Nexus 7 - they're just too large to be truly portable. My Note is always in my pocket and has a screen that feels immersive without being oppressive.


From: MikeD (Dec 21 2013, at 14:02)

Any thoughts on the Asus Padphone range seems it might do what you need


From: Scott Laird (Dec 21 2013, at 14:27)

You may have been happier with the form factor of the Moto X--it's quite a bit smaller. Motorola has done a great job putting modern-sized screens into smallish phones.

I agree with the Galaxy Note comment above, though--I had a Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 and when it died I moved to the Note 2, and it's largely replaced both devices. It's big for a phone, but I have big hands so it doesn't bother me, and sort of small for a tablet, but it's big enough. I've mostly stopped reaching for the N7 now that I have the Note.


From: Chris Swan (Dec 21 2013, at 23:18)

I've found the S4 mini just right in terms of size etc. as a companion device to my N7. The dual SIM 'duos' version is very handy if you're frequently crossing borders.


From: Andrew Ducker (Dec 22 2013, at 01:12)

I have a Nexus 5, because I want the internet in my pocket.

I couldn't have a Nexus 7 with me at all times without carrying a bag around with me, and then to use it I'd need to get it out of the bag, which would take significantly more time than reaching into my pocket.

And when I'm at home/work I'm largely within 5 feet of a desktop/laptop, which has the advantage of a much larger screen and a keyboard.

So I haven't found a use for a 7" tablet yet.

(I do love my 12" tablet though. It's an amazing comic reader.)


From: Felix Oghină (Dec 23 2013, at 01:59)

Have you thought about using the Nexus 7 for that telephony stuff as well? With a bluetooth headset, of course. I've always wanted to do this, but I'm afraid to commit to this setup because I may not like it, and it would also mean getting a new tablet (only have a Wi-Fi N7 currently).

Also not sure if the N7 can handle telephony stuff without rooting. But rooting is easy. Also, there are some very good Samsung 7-inch tablets that definitely do it.


From: Ian Barnes (Dec 23 2013, at 02:16)

"Two-part device" Just a thought: perhaps something with a hinge? While folded up it's a phone, when unfolded it's a tablet.


From: ebenezer (Dec 28 2013, at 11:29)

Minor correction: There was not a Galaxy Tab until some time after the iPad came out, unless I’m greatly mistaken, and in fact the first article linked to after “Back in 2009” is dated September 2010.


From: Paul Lange (Dec 31 2013, at 09:50)

I really, really want to believe in the Nexus 7 as an all-around device with an accessory for voice communication.

But I can't get past the requirement to carry some sort of man purse or handbag or messenger bag or just outright in my hands if I want to go "out and about" as it were.

What are the rest of y'all doing on this front? I'm genuinely curious to know. Is a "Nexus bag" unavoidable?


From: Tim (Dec 31 2013, at 16:12)

Paul Lange: Jacket or vest works for me, they all have pockets that will fit an N7. If you’re strictly a jeans & T-shirt person, you might have a problem.


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