Blog Post

Stretch your pockets: 150M “phablet” sales expected in 2013

I hate the term “phablet” but I do like those large smartphones. ABI Research suspects that many others will too. The research firm noted on Tuesday that it expects 150 million such devices to be sold this year, accounting for 18 percent of all smartphone sales.

So what’s causing the so called avalanche of phablets? ABI agrees with something I wrote in early 2011, when I suggested that the improved media experience on a larger display would increase demand for bigger phones and called for a 4-inch iPhone(s aapl). Here’s how ABI explains it:

“In short, people are watching a greater number of videos, reading more digital content (be it newspaper subscriptions or general Internet browsing), and playing more games on their smartphones. A larger screen enhances these user experiences, making the small increase in device dimensions worthwhile.

Obviously, I agree with ABI’s commentary there, but I take issue with their definition of what constitutes a phablet. The firm is including any smartphone that has a display size between 4.6- and 6.5-inches. That means the Samsung Galaxy S III would be counted as well as a number of other current smartphones.

Galaxy Note 2 unboxedI’d place the bottom limit at or above 5-inches for this market because at that point, it’s nearly mandatory for all to use the device with two hands. My Galaxy Note 2 is good example. Regardless of the definition debate, I’m now keen to see if another related early prediction I made will come to fruition.

Last year I said that small tablets would actually replace smartphones. Clearly, the lines between such devices are beginning to blend even more. And you can’t easily fit a small tablet in your pocket the way you can a smartphone. But once we move voice functionality to LTE networks and add that capability to tablets, I think we’ll see a migration to relying more on a 7-inch or so slate instead of a smaller smartphone. Either that or the phablet is the outcome of my vision, although I want no credit for the silly name.

4 Responses to “Stretch your pockets: 150M “phablet” sales expected in 2013”

  1. qazibasit

    Well for about a year i have been using my galaxy note. I too have been blabbing about this wonderful screen size. A 5.3 inch phone!!!! Thats what my collagues used to say in the early 2012. Most were concern how am i going to carry it as a phone. I am a surgical resident and we are always mobile, but somehow this ideal size prooved all pocket friendly, even the only lower front pocket of my scrubs hold it easily. Its has since then become my phone,watch,cam,books,journal,entertainment, internet,emails and everything. So i think 5-6 inches is what samsung taught us. These sizes were really ignored in the past and mostly it was because we didnt have ARM soc by then and these beautiful displays. So i think overall we are reaching perfection in touch and graphical interfacing.
    Phablets are prooving more a professional and student friendly device, though for some its a good console and video box. In short its an all purpose gadget. Thank God now most phones have become phablets, it felt awkward and showoff in the early days when i first used it for calls.

  2. Keith Hammel

    The main reason phablets are becoming so popular is because so many people are used to searching the internet on tablets and laptops. When you use an ipad then use an iphone, which I have, you get annoyed with having to zoom in and out. Not to mention being forced to use mobile sites, which are horrible with the exception of a few. One being Amazon which has a decent mobile experience. My girlfriend has a galaxy 3 and compared to my iphone5 I would much rather have her screen size, but would hate to lose my connection I have with the Apple experience. The quality and user interface of the iphone is still the best, but I cannot believe that Apple exec’s didn’t forsee the phablet trend, especially since their ipad was responsible for this trend. Before the ipad everyone thought it was silly to have, essentially, a giant iphone that couldn’t make calls. The ipad was the gateway to the phablet trend, but Apple didn’t capitalize on it. I think Steve Job’s would of seen this coming and would of adapted the iphone accordingly. This wasn’t a difficult trend to predict.

  3. Stretch your pockets indeed. I love the Note II and protected it with the Otterbox cover, and now it barely fits in my pocket. That’s important as once you discover that so many videos you can stream are HD (and look truly incredible on the Note II) you take it with you and began the shift to easy-to-consume video content; i watched the inauguration on the White House feed in HD. With LTE and WiFi coverage there is little buffering even on larger files.

    In the first month of use with the Note II I had 24.7GB of WiFi and 3.8GB of LTE on my 5GB plan (mostly youtube and netflix). The LTE use would have been more save for the email alert from Verizon. Assuming a 2X non-uniform distribution of traffic, that means the device consumed – on average – 185 Kbps continuously, 22 Kbps over LTE.