Age of Giants: Rise of the phablets

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Phablets- a term virtually unknown till 2011 is now a rage amongst the consumers and tech companies alike. All the major manufacturers have one or more offerings in their portfolio with many more companies jumping on this trend. What’s more, several analysts suggest that the Phablet sales are eating into the market share of tablets (Source: Business Insider and IDC).

Rise in Phablets

But, before discussing how the phablets have risen in such a short time, let’s backtrack a little bit and understand what we mean by a phablet. Phablet is a portmanteau of two words- Phone and Tablet, essentially signifying that it is a hybrid of these two devices. This also means that the screen size of a phablet would be in the range of 5 inches and 6.9 inches. While there were several companies trying with large screen sizes such as Dell with its 5 inches Streak device, actually it was Samsung which kick-started this category with a 5.3 inches Galaxy Note back in 2011.Samsung Galaxy Note 3

In the starting, many people laughed at the Note thinking how one would hold such a large device in their hands and how ridiculous it would look against one’s ears. However, the sales of the Note series defied all these logic and other companies also started to follow the suit of Samsung. Now, let’s understand why the phablets were able to catch people’s imagination-

1)      First and foremost is the screen real estate, i.e.; such a large screen can be used for work related tasks like viewing and editing documents, for entertainment purposes as watching movies in the big screen is bound to be a better experience than a small screen, etc.

2)      Many phablets such as Samsung Galaxy Note and Sony Xperia Z Ultra comes with stylus support allowing artists to unleash their creativity anytime and anywhere, which means they don’t have to carry pen and paper with them.

3)      In comparison to tablets, the phablets are portable and can be carried in pockets comparatively easier.

4)      Phablets also have a cellular connectivity, thus doubling up as a phone and allowing internet access on the go. On the other hand, very few tablets have SIM card support.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Now let’s see which global and Indian companies have already dived in to the phablets revolution-

1)      Samsung started this trend, and they still dominate this market with two different series. One being the Note series which is a flagship device just like Samsung Galaxy S series, and currently it’s in the third iteration aptly called Galaxy Note 3, which is due to hit the markets soon. Just this year, Samsung also launched a Galaxy Mega series which offers phablets of 5.8 and 6.3 inches display in mid-range segment.

2)      LG has recently launched its flagship G2 device flaunting 5.2 inches Full HD display, while its Optimus G Pro was launched in direct competition to Galaxy Note 2.

3)      Sony recently marked its entry to this market with Xperia Z Ultra with probably the largest screen size of 6.44” for a phablet.

4)      Huawei’s Ascend Mate is one of the most value for money phablet one can buy with a display of 6.1 inches.

5)      Lenovo K900 is the company’s flagship device sporting a large 5.5 inches screen.

6)      While we’re talking about these global companies, its actually home grown manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn which have enabled customers to buy such devices at an economical price. Micromax’s Canvas Doodle series offers all the capabilities of Galaxy Note at one-third of the price.

There are other companies as well which are contemplating to launch a phablet. Rumors are rife that HTC will launch a 5.9” One Max soon, and Nokia will announce a 6” Lumia 1520 (code named Bandit) soon. According to several rumors, even Apple is testing out screen size as large as 6 inches for its future iPhones.

That brings us to the thought whether it’s just a short term phenomenon which will die down quickly or in the actual phone will eventually become phablets and lower size tablets won’t exist anymore. If the consumers’ preferences are anything to go by, it surely means that phablets market would further rise especially when the companies are able to bring more screen size in the smaller form factor thanks to the narrower bezels and more.