Every inch counts, at least when you’re trying to distinguish between a smartphone and a phablet. By definition, the latter has to have a display size that’s between five to seven inches. Think Samsung Galaxy Note and Note II, LG Optimus Vu, HTC One X, and Toshiba Muse. Meanwhile, the former can be any size as long as it is small enough to fit in your pocket and "smart" enough to call, text, and function like a personal computer.
More ‘phabulous’ than smartphones?
The way we see it, it all boils down to preference as phablets are basically just supersized smartphones. On the one hand, you’re working with a screen size that is less likely to give you eyestrain. On the other hand, you have a giant phone that’s going to look silly and feel mighty uncomfortable when you try to shove it in your pants’ pocket. Still, if a recent analyst report is to be believed, we’ll see more phablets this year. In fact, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli’s market tracker report, more than 60 million units will ship this year. That’s actually double the market share compared to 2012’s 25.6 million. So whether you can or can’t live without them, it looks like these hybrids of phones and tablets are not going away just yet.
Year of the phablet
We could all blame Samsung for starting the bigger is better trend. Back in October 2011 when the South Korean company launched the 5.3 incher Galaxy Note, Apple’s iPhone4s (released the same month and year) was sporting a 3.5 inch screen. In terms of sales, one site reported that Samsung sold 5 million units in just five months, which is amazing considering some critics deemed it too big, going so far as to say that the iPhone is still the smartphone to beat and that bigger isn’t necessarily better.
But of course, you don’t need us to tell you that the enormo-phone that is the Galaxy Note has successfully turned the tables on its naysayers. After all, why else would Samsung produce the even bigger Galaxy Note II if the first one didn’t do so well in the market? Consider too, the way other handset makers such as Sony, Huawei, Lenovo, Alcatel, and ZTE are coming up with their own phablets. Even Apple reluctantly or not has increased the pane on the iPhone 5, adding half an inch to its predecessor’s 3.5 inches. We can only surmise that the phone-cum-tablet phenomenon is not just a craze, but a trend that will most likely define 2013, as the year of the phablet.
Is a phablet in the cards for you?
Again, we would have to say that it all depends on what your mobile needs are. However, you can expect phone service providers to push such products in the days/weeks/months to come. If you’re the type who consumes more visual content (ebooks, videos, etc) on your phone, then you’ll definitely benefit from the larger screen. But if you use your handset to mainly call and text, then a phablet’s heft may be too much of an inconvenience to ignore.