Whether you love or hate the term “phablet,” there’s no denying these larger phones are catching on with mainstream consumers. Research firm IDC thinks that will drive big growth for handsets with with screens measuring between 5.5 and 7 inches, sharing its latest estimates for device sales on Wednesday. Over the next four years, IDC expects phablet shipments to grow at a 60 percent annual rate.
This year alone, the firm thinks phablet shipments will rise 209.6 percent from last year alone with 174.9 million big-screened phones shipping in 2014. Part of this year’s growth would be boosted by the introduction of a 5.5-inch Apple iPhone, widely expected to launch next week. In 2018, IDC figures 592.9 phablets will ship, accounting for 24.4 percent of all connected devices that year (connected devices include traditional smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops).
Some are just now seeing the benefit a larger screen can bring to a phone, but the potential was always there. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 back in 2012 and found that the 5.5-inch screen provided a more immersive consumption experience for video and web content. When Samsung added support for running two apps at once on the larger screen, I gained a better way to multitask as well — something that’s much harder to do on phones with smaller displays.
Is there an upper size limit to what people will comfortably carry around? Everyone’s different, of course, so that answer will vary based on our own individual needs and choices.
But I don’t think our phones are done growing quite yet. I’ve already suggested that tablets will replace smartphones for some as the two devices meet in the middle when it comes to portability — we just need voice capabilities added to small tablets, or bigger phablets, depending on your perspective. I suspect that Voice over LTE will surely enter into this equation over the coming months and years. Now if we could just change the name of these things.