Is a phablet good enough for reading e-books?
August 14, 2016 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning to buy an Amazon Fire (for mostly reading Kindle e-books) and, in three months, renew my smartphone. Then I saw a lady with a Samsung "phablet" (I guess a Galaxy E7) and the lightbulb turned on!

My best e-book reading experience is a Samsung Galaxy Tab E 7" tablet. Having this in mind, is reading e-books on a 5.5" smartphone as good as a 7" tablet? Is a "phablet" a Solomonic solution or should I go for separate devices?

I should add I read books in color (art, drawing, comics), so no need to suggest an (otherwise fantastic) Kindle e-ink device. Thanks!
posted by jgwong to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I've read hundreds of books this way on a Galaxy Note 2, a Galaxy Note 4, and now on a Galaxy S7 (which is not a phablet). It's just fine. It works for me almost the way I like it (my gripes are UI things that maybe I'm alone on). Certainly the convenience of always having something to read with me is wonderful.

I think the main difficulty for a lot of people is that phablets are not quite large enough to prop up. You end up holding the phone in a way that is a little less relaxed than you would with a true tablet, Kindle, or a book. It's fine for me, but my wife doesn't care for it.

Also, the white background can be too bright if you read in a darkness or dimness; I use light text on a black background, which is way easier on the eyes. Also, if you are used to reading in direct sunlight, most phones and tablets are really hard to read, whereas e-ink devices do not have this problem at all.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:06 PM on August 14, 2016

This is a YMMV kind of question. I've read ebooks on small phone sized devices (palm pilots, etc.) since the mid 90's without problem. It was always nice to have a pile of books ready for bus rides etc, on a small pocket sized device and have room for text books, or a change of clothes, or whatever. My friend Tim, on the other hand, can't abide reading on anything smaller than a laptop screen. Would it be a multi purpose device or will it be nearly exclusively this? If you're planning on upgrading your phone anyway and this isn't make or break, I say get the phone. If on the other hand, this is it's main purpose, you might want to try it out first.
posted by evilDoug at 6:38 PM on August 14, 2016

Best answer: Galaxy note 2 here (5.5" screen) and I use the "moon reader" app which is free, wonderful, and customizable a bazillion different ways in detail (margins, background, justification, font, etc). I have mine set up to look like pulp fiction (the aged paper background for this is really nice) and I love it. Book covers seem to reproduce rather nicely, but you might want to go with a dedicated app for graphic novels and the like...
posted by sexyrobot at 6:42 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding that this is a YMMV question, and it also depends on whether you're willing to put up with the iconveniences of a giant phone. I love my 5c because it actually fits in my hand and I can operate it without the size driving me up the wall. I would not be able to manage a bigger phone, and happily have a separate iPad to read on.
posted by Tamanna at 7:12 PM on August 14, 2016

Response by poster: I have handled a friend's Samsung Galaxy E7 and my first impression was positive. She didn't have the Kindle app, which is why I'm asking for this specific aspect.

Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by jgwong at 7:57 PM on August 14, 2016

Best answer: Kindle is surprisingly good on even smaller screens in my experience (5"-ish Nexus 5 and Moto G). It's not my first choice for device---that's my 9" tablet---but a kindle book on a phone has been a lifesaver for me on many a plane ride.

Kindle doesn't have all the options of Moon Reader, which I also use, but it has enough: small margins, compact line spacing and a decent font choice allow a good amount of text on the screen that even my aging eyes have no trouble with. I'm very happy with it. Kindle works really well for me even on smaller devices than the one you're considering.

However, comics are a different story. For that the phone isn't good enough. Typical text in speech balloons is not really workable for me at that size. Even at 7", I struggle. The 9" page is good enough for comics though, and that's why I prefer that screen size.
posted by bonehead at 8:54 PM on August 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The "Kindle for Samsung" app, if you can use it on the E7, is nice because it has a night-time option with adaptive yellow lighting kind of like f.lux. In bed, I read with that setting over a black background and it's wonderful for preserving sleepy-time. It gets darkest with the OS-based "Power Saving" setting turned on.
posted by teremala at 5:03 AM on August 15, 2016

What stops me from reading on my smartphone is that I don't want to run down the battery. especially while traveling. I carry around a larger Samsung tablet, or a black and white e-reader, largely for that reason.
posted by BibiRose at 5:06 AM on August 15, 2016

Best answer: The Galaxy E7 has an incredibly low resolution (pixelated) screen, so I wouldn't recommend it. All of the Kindle Fire HD (not HDX) devices have the same problem. There basically aren't many (any?) high resolution Android tablets any more that get security updates, so as much as I don't like iOS, I'd recommend either a recent, high-resolution iPad mini, or if you need Android, a Nexus 9, Nexus 7 (2013), and NOT the earlier Nexus 7 model, or the Nvidia Shield K1 tablet, if you can find one that isn't outrageously expensive.

I have a 5" phone, and I only read on it to the extent that I don't have a choice. My first choice is my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4, which has a custom ROM, because again, no updates.
posted by cnc at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2016

I used to read on my smartphone exclusively; however that changed when I started getting headaches even with my glasses. I bought a Kindle Paperwhite and I love it so much I'll never read a book on my smartphone again. On the Paperwhite, I can read for hours without my glasses and for me it's a much better experience than a backlit screen.

My obvious choice is a Kindle but barring that, if you prefer a phone, I'd choose the kind with the screen that gets darker (amoled or something?) so you can read at night without being blinded by the light of the screen.
posted by onecircleaday at 12:02 PM on August 15, 2016

I'm sorry, I missed your last sentence about the e-ink devices. My bad!

Nthing others above who suggest high resolution devices (i.e. non-pixellated screens).
posted by onecircleaday at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2016

Ya, I've read a ton of books using Kindle app on my iphone... I considered getting newer big iphone (like phablet) - but the e-ink, book-primarily Kindle hardware is so much nicer after reading a bunch that way that I don't want to go back to reading on my phone.

I suspect that someday (perhaps that day is here and I just don't have a nice enough phone?), reading on a color all-purpose screen will be just as glare-free and easy on the eyes as my Kindle, at which point, they will become truly obsolete.

HOWEVER I do not think, imho, that a regular Kindle (e-ink) b&w device right now will really do comic/color art books justice. So I still end up getting comic books that I like in dead-tree format for now. But since I don't read a whole lot of comics these days, it's not a dealbreaker for me. : )
posted by bitterkitten at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2016

I use an iPhone 6 plus for my e-reader. Mom has a Kindle paperwhite and I find that bulky for reading in bed compared to the phone.
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:01 PM on August 15, 2016

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