Despite name, “phablets” to be big sellers: 208M in 2015


If you haven’t yet heard of “phablets,” you might want get familiar with them, because ABI Research expects 208 million to sell in 2015. The word is a combination of “phone” and “tablet,” just like ABI’s definition, which is a smartphone with a tablet-like large screen. Specifically, phones with displays ranging in size from 4.6 to 5.5 inches fit this category for ABI.

I’m not a fan of the term ABI is using, but there is some recent precedent for the research firm’s sales estimates, which also include a tenfold rise in shipments this year from last. Samsung’s Galaxy Note is probably the best-known example of such a device, due to its 5.3-inch display. By the end of March, the company sold 5 million Galaxy Note handsets in just five months, with the bulk of those sales overseas. AT&T(s t) began to sell the Note with LTE support in mid February, and my review showed a capable Android device that’s large but still pocketable.

Regardless of what we call these devices or exactly what the range of screen sizes should be for them, I think ABI is on to something here. With rich media consumption on the rise on mobile devices — particularly as we get faster 4G networks and more Wi-Fi networks to supplement them — a larger display is desirable. The same can be said for Web browsing, which is one of the most popular activities on a mobile: Why scroll and zoom when a larger display minimizes such efforts?

Provided these handsets are still pocketable, consumers will adopt them because they combine the portability of a smartphone with the more immersive experience found in a tablet. That’s not to say 10-inch slate sales will fall; these fit a totally different use case for most, as they are less portable and are better suited for casual computing or consumption in a given location. A recent Viacom study, for example, found that 74 percent of tablet use is in the home.

As far as the definition of a “phablet,” I think ABI is spot-on with the screen size. Why? This gets back to the key question I suggested people ask themselves with regards to the Galaxy Note’s size: Are you a one-handed or two-handed smartphone user? Screens this large will require many to use two hands for typing and navigation, much like a tablet. I have always been a two-handed smartphone user, so the Note and my 4.65-inch Galaxy Nexus work perfectly for me. But if you’re set on one-handed smartphone use, these aren’t the devices for you, as I illustrate here:



Don’t bother coming up with a name for them – they won’t be around long enough to warrant it.

Roshan Shrestha

Phablet reminds me of “Phallus”! PhonePad, or PadPhone (or PadFone, I think already used by Asus) is a better name.


take part of what you said and we can call them slabs :) instead of phablets


Okay… can’t resist this one… it even has the right first three letters… Is that a phablet in your pocket or are you just…


I wonder if these are more commonly bought as alternatives to tablets or phones?

I have noticed when traveling in some countries that many people carry a small basic phone for calls and a second smartphone with for data only(or mostly). I wonder how many of these are that data only/mostly second phone.

Peter da Silva

I call them “That’s a -ing big phone”.


I don’t get these big phones. For me I think 4.2″ is the max size for a phone. I’ve not tried the Note but it seems to be a jack of all trades master of none. Personally I’d like a 4″ phone, 7″ tablet (still pocket-able) and a 10″ Transformer Prime-like Windows 8 machine but maybe I’m being greedy!


A phone, a tablet and something small with a keyboard that can drive external monitors. That may be the future lineup. The past is the phone, a laptop and a desktop machine. Part of the inevitable miniaturization and a way point on the road to ubiquitous wearable computing.

Peter Mullen

I think smarblet is a better descriptor for the form factor. Phablet is a stupid word.

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