Move over tiny screens because the numbers are proving that bigger is better. The phablet – typically defined as a smartphone with a generous screen size between 5 and 7 inches – has become the fastest growing smartphone category thanks to the success of high profile devices released by Samsung and Sony. Now phablet sales are starting to cut into tablet sales and there is some serious momentum behind those figures. These jumbo size phones may have struck us all as odd when we first saw them, but a Business Insider report released earlier this year predicted that global phablet shipments will hit 1.5 billion in 2019.
Obviously we’ve changed how we think about screen size.
As to why, it turns out that most of us would prefer not to tote around two or even three devices: one for talk and text, one for reading and watching and maybe one for work, too.
When a smartphone is handy there’s no reason to pack a tablet to stream media on the go – except, of course, for screen size. With nothing more than a boost to a phone’s screen real estate there’s no reason not to knock out a couple of company emails during the morning commute. Everyone has photos on their phones. Isn’t it nice to be able to show them off without having to transfer files to a laptop? Bigger is definitely better when it comes to maps, apps, presentations, movies, books and games. And with a phablet you also get the classic ability to make and receive calls. Imagine that!
One newcomer to the phablet scene, the LG G Flex, is proof that device companies are starting to understand and respond to the demand for a single crossover device. Samsung may have paved the way but other companies are now scrambling to catch up – in some cases successfully. The back of the pack has plenty of help, too, from carriers like T-Mobile, which gave away an LG devices every day in June 2014 to help build buzz and continues to offer amazing data and usage plans designed for the way most people use phablets.
Predictions aside, some have argued that phablets are nothing more than a fad. But saying that is almost like saying that watching TV on the train is a fad. According to a Nielsen Digital Consumer Report from early 2014 Americans are consuming more media than ever before. Time in front of desktop computers and live television has dropped but overall screen time (especially mobile screen time) has gone up, more than compensating. The way people consume media is changing so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the devices they use to do it are also changing. Case in point: plenty of people called smartphones a fad.
To understand why the evolution of mobile device sales is practically inevitable look no further than South Korea. There, phablet sales are already outpacing laptop and tablet sales. In the US tablet sales have taken a big bite out of laptop sales thanks to people choosing to put off upgrading their computers. After all, why upgrade when there are powerful high-end tablets along with plenty of low-end options that are practically disposable? Is a laptop even necessary for the average user?
Phablets are likely to have the same impact on the tablet market as time goes on and more consumers decide that one device is plenty.