It started in San Francisco. Three weeks ago. My sister flew in from West Palm Beach and we met in Union Square. Hugs. Kisses. Snaps. SNAPS! Pictures of course. It was at this moment my Samsung envy began. We had a week together, on vacation, carrying around each day nothing more than a wee little purse and our smartphones.

Look. We're talking two middle aged ladies here. Neither of us had the very latest. My IPhone the Model 4S, Laura the Galaxy S3. What baby boomer doesn't just love immediate gratification? That is what your smartphone gives you. Any information, anytime. Anywhere. Finding a restaurant. Tram schedules. Getting from A to B. Checking emails. Talking to clients with Skype; the kids with Viber (without spending a penny as both apps use voice over internet). Map my walk tells me how far and exactly where I walked (GPS) and calories burned. The alarm for waking up. Music, audio books, reservations amalgamated in one spot. Of course I can go on.

But what my iPhone didn't have was the stunning size of Laura's Galaxy S3. I had my voice recognition turned on, but the Iphones' didn't seem as awesome as the Galaxy's.
As the days passed, I became more jealous. The photos she was taking were marvellous and it looked so easy to use (not that the iPhone isn't).

When I got home, I put a throw- away line on social media about making the switch. A lovely co-incidence was that my Telecom two year plan was up for renewal at the end of February. This meant I had an option of going on another two year plan with a reduction in price on a new phone. I went schmoozing the malls, looking at the Galaxy's.


Do I really need a new phone? Which phone? Is it worth spending $600 to $900? Am I being shallow? You might think size does not matter (tee hee hee). Perhaps to teens, twenty somethings. Thirty something's. But to someone that uses a smartphone 16 hours a day, a larger screen size that fits in hand makes a significant difference to this lady that can't see without that pair of $2 shop magnifying glasses perched on her nose over her contact lenses, or the phone held about 5 inches from her face with contacts off. This was before I saw and held the Galaxy Note 3.

The Note! A screen that is 14.5 centimetres!!!! 13 megapixels camera (oh the screen shots and photos I could take). Stylus and touch. Light as a feather. Now it was not only do I really need a new phone, but do a need one that big, or would it be a hindrance?

And the big question: Do I really want to go through the pain of learning a whole new operating system? Not a minor matter.

The heavens must have been shining down - all from my throwaway social media line. This afternoon I got a 'loner' Galaxy Note 3, as well as the new Galaxy Tablet which I'll write about in the near future.

First, why would one consider a Phablet (Phone + Tablet)?
If you're like me, and don't make and receive phone calls constantly (how ironic as we are talking about a phone), then these larger devices are stunningly useful. If you delight in having the convergence of useful technology that fits in your palm, with screens large enough to enjoy what you are looking at -then the Note sized phones are for you. Plus as you have Siri on the iPhone, Samsung Voice can help you go handless with calls.

Pain of changing operating systems?
You should keep your set up apples to apples so to speak. If you are tied to one family of operating systems such as having a Mac, an iPad and an iPhone, it doesn't make sense to switch one of the devices. You lose the ability to effortlessly sync one with each other. I use my laptop with MS Office as my work involves writing, writing, writing. I'm saving everything on my laptop AND on OneDrive and Dropbox now). Only my phone was Apple.

The Switch
One thing I didn't anticipate, and this is really HUGE, is how dead simple the switch to a different phone system is. Dead simple if you have been using cloud based apps. Insert your sim card, then you simply sign into your Google accounts, your Onedrive account (Microsoft's free online software), go to the app store and start downloading the new operating system specific version of your apps. Then log in to them. So whew, the switch has been smooth. But now comes the hard part.

How will I know what to do
These little dears don't come with instruction manuals do they? It could take you 2 minutes to figure out how to turn it on or panic when the phone rings then you finally figure out how to answer it just before voice mail catches your call. I've only had the phone for six hours. I know all the wonderful things you can do with smartphones - but wouldn't have a clue with this one. We're not programed in our state of life to automatically swiping here there everywhere (if you touch the screen in certain places, different menus pop up). You have to learn new terminology. New ways at looking at things.

So with no manual, and if you want to get the most out of your phone, do what I do.

Don't get flustered. Don't get angry. Realise that your investment is not only in the purchase of the phone, it is also an investment of time learning it. Time that will pay off multiple times over in the productivity boosting things you'll learn instead of simply how to use the basic features.

If you have a computer, laptop, tablet also, turn it on. Open up your favourite browser. Then type in your questions. For example I typed 'beginner user basics galaxy note 3'. Then with your new smartphone in hand, follow the instructions of the video or article.

Next week, I'll detail top features of smartphones and how to use them to your advantage.