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It is very easy to make a snap judgment on the 5.3-inch-screened Samsung Galaxy Note. Yes, it is significantly bigger than the smartphone you use now. It even makes the Galaxy Nexus seem petite in comparison.

The dimensions of the Note put it somewhere between the biggest smartphones you ever saw and the 7-inch tablet form factor made popular by Amazon, BlackBerry, Motorola, Samsung, and pretty much everyone else except Apple.

However, the Note makes and receives phone calls, so it is a phone and it should be judged as such, right? End of story?

That is where you are mistaken. The phone functionality on the Note is a tertiary function at best. I see it as more like a reason to not carry a phone as well as the Note in your pocket. With that said, for a growing number of people, myself included, the actual “phone part” of a smartphone is very low on my list for what I want to do with the device in my pocket.

I make or receive only a few calls per day, and most of those are while I am at home/office with Google Voice and a headset or home phone. Therefore, other things rank higher on what I want to do with a device like this:

  • Maps are becoming the most used and most important feature on my phone, except for secondary review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc. I get all of my travel lookups from the Maps.app. I do almost all of my turn-by-turn navigation and lookups on this device much more efficiently with its huge display and fast network connection.
  • The Web Browser is the most important app outside of Maps. I would love the Note to somehow get the Chrome Browser before Samsung gets around to upgrading it to ICS. Alas, the stock browser is still unbelievably fast/crisp.
  • Gmail/Calendar/Contacts. You know…work.
  • AIM, GoogleTalk, GoogleVoice, and other instant messaging.
  • Social: Twitter, Google Plus Facebook, etc.
  • Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, and other Music and Videos.
  • Various other apps, such as my bank’s check cashing app, WordPress, Kayak, and a bunch of Angry Birds-type games.

Without exception, I can do any of the above better on a 5.3-inch 720P display than on a typical smartphone display. The one caveat: (As you can see from the gallery) moving my mid-sized thumb from one side of the portrait screen to the other is a bit of a stretch when using it one-handed. This does not turn out to be a problem very often, though, perhaps only 5 percent of my time. This is not a one-handed device.

Therefore, the Note is about tradeoffs:  Amazing, huge display = better experience vs. portability. In my particular use-case, I am happy to make the trade. Here are the details:

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