If you ask us, Samsung began marketing its Samsung Galaxy Note on the wrong foot. It was a smart move anticipating reactions to its oversized 5.3-inch screen when it first launched in Europe, but the problem with claiming that the Galaxy Note is a phone/tablet hybrid (a "phablet", if you will) is setting the expectation that it will be able to reduce your tablet dependence, or obviate the need for one in the first place. While that might be the case for casual tablet users, or for the tablet-curious, the Galaxy Note is firmly and unquestionably a Galaxy smartphone first. In the meantime, "phablet" has become a (fun, if meaningless) catchphrase for a product for which the manufacturers can't seem to decide what spin will net the most sales.
And where does that kooky-cool throwback S Pen stylus come in? The Galaxy Note's wand can take screenshots, jot your notes and respond to pen pressure — all good stuff. Yet, if you never release the S Pen from its snug plastic tunnel, you won't miss out on the Note's essential smartphone features.
So forget worrying about the Galaxy Note as a tablet, and think of it as the phone that it is. A good phone, too. If you like the idea of an oversized Galaxy S II device with a high-quality 8-megapixel camera and a huge honking screen for watching movies, reading ebooks and doing other things that you might do on a smartphone or a tablet, then this is a great device. If you enjoy the artistic promise of digital sketching, you might likewise keep it in the running. However, if 5.3 inches seems too ungainly for your hands, then leave this one be, and seek out its smaller cousins, the still large Samsung Galaxy S II, for example.