2015: The Year of the Phablet

The Fluidity Of Size

In the 1980s, cell phones were the size of bricks. Then, in the 1990s, they started to shrink. First they came down to the size of a standard home handset, then about the size of a deck of cards, and they really tiny. Of course, those phones had minimal functionality; there wasn’t much you could do with them besides talk to someone and maybe play a few hand-cramping games of Snake.

Lately, however, phone size has been moving in the opposite direction. When the first iPhone came out, it felt huge. But then, phones slowly got bigger, and soon companies like Samsung and Nokia released smart phones that had extra large screens. Other companies followed suit, and when Apple finally released its iPhone 6, the trend was confirmed: the phablet was here to stay. Now, we’re all left wondering just how big these things will get.

The Rise Of The Phablet

The word itself is a portmanteau of phone and tablet. It may look funny, and it may be odd to say, but these large smart phones offer lots of advantages. Most apparent, of course, is a bigger screen. Many phablets offer HD resolution and are therefore perfect for streaming TV shows and movies. Next, it’s much easier to type on a phablet, as that extra screen space makes it easier to hit the right letter (and avoid embarrassing typos and autocorrects). It’s also much nicer to read on a phablet than on a standard sized smartphone.

With so many consumers upgrading to phablets, it makes us wonder what the future of the smartphone will be. However, the phablet may ultimately impact the tablet market. Tech writer Hamish McKenzie asserts that the interest in phablets is “not so much a big rush to a spangly new device as a movement away from the idea of the ‘phone’ and toward the optimisation of the tablet.” It’s a good point: why carry two devices when you can carry one?


A Choice Of Models

If you’re in the market for a phablet, you’ve got lots of choices. Apple fans will gravitate to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, which are actually two of the smaller Phablets on the market at 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively. Looking for one of the bigger Phablets that you can get your hands on? Then you’ll want to check out the Nokia Lumia 1520, which has a stunning six-inch display.

You’ve got some other choices too. Popular Android-based phablets include the Sony Xperia line, the Google Nexus, the LG G3, and the HTC One Max. Don’t like using your finger to control your device? Samsung’s Galaxy Note (currently in its fourth iteration) comes with a stylus — a throwback to the days of Palm Pilots, for sure, but totally useful.

Some Minor Complaints

Not everyone loves phablets. Many complain that they’re just too big, both in terms of physical size and weight. You need two hands to use them, as opposed to the one hand for regular smart phones. Phablets also don’t fit comfortably in your pants or shirt pockets.

As for price, phablets are expensive. Smart phones can be affordable when you get them with a talk and data plan, but phablets can set you back a couple hundred pounds, even with a plan. Also, not that smart phones are used all that much for actual phone calls, but phablets are especially awkward for talking on the phone. You can connect a BlueTooth headset to make calls easier, but then that’s just one more thing to buy.

What’s Next?

Will the phablet kill off the standard sized smartphone? Maybe not, but if consumer response continues to be high, it’s quite likely that we’ll be seeing more of these big-screened devices. And, many industry watchers think phablets will have more of an impact on the tablet market. Molly Wood, the deputy technology editor of The New York Times, predicts that the phablet “will be the device that gets rid of the seven and eight inch tablet completely.”

We can say one thing for sure, though, and it’s this: 2015 is shaping up to be the Year of the Phablet.

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