The Phablet Trend: Is Bigger Really Better?

The Phablet Trend: Is Bigger Really Better?

The state of smartphone displays has been an up and down roller-coaster affair, with size being a major talking point. But with consumers now craving bigger and better screens, we have to ask ourselves – is bigger really better?

Whilst the debate is definitely a cogent one, it’s not a simple choice to make for many. Dare you risk the portability of a small smartphone for a chunkier display? Hopefully we can offer some guidance on the subject…

The numbers

Smartphone screen sizes were once thought of as something which needed to be small – with the cultural love affair of small phones gripping the late 90s and early 00s. Since then, phone displays have seen a drastic change of flavour, with users actually supporting the increase in size.

This is proven by plenty of statistics, most notably with usage rates. For example, in 2013, just 6.9% of mobile users had a phone which boasted a screen size upward of 5”, just one year later that number climbed to 17.9%.

This also goes along with the average screen size in the same period of time, with 2013 totalling an average of 4.3”, whilst 2014 topped the 5” mark.

This makes for big business for mobile manufacturers as well, which can expect to rake in £76.2bn from phablet devices in the year of 2018 (according to sales forecasts).

Smartphone size

The average smartphone screen measured 5″ in 2014, 0.7″ more than in 2013. This growth is expected to continue.

The reason for this massive market comes down to their obvious popularity, but also because they also boast the highest price amongst smartphone types as well.

Currently, the average phablet costs £260, compared to £190 for a phone under that size barrier, this results in an extra £70 per phone sold – providing a solid motive for manufacturers to continue the phablet hype for as long as possible.

The wanting is also there from a public perspective as well, with 27% of current smartphone users after a larger screen when their contract is up. Compare this to just 4% who’d like a smaller screen and it’s easy to see that the phablet hype is in full effect.

It’s not only small phones which will feel the crunch as well, tablet are also set to take a hit as phablets begin to cannibalise the market. In fact, by 2019 it’s expected that there will be three times more phablets than tablets.

The case for big screen smartphones

The trend is an obvious one, but just why have bigger screens suddenly drawn such a large amount of attention? There are a number of advantages to having a sizeable display, but are there enough to warrant the current swoon surrounding them?

More screen equals more fun (or work)

The biggest and most obvious advantage for phablets is the added real estate on the screen. This means you have a better experience with games, video and apps – possibly resulting in a better overall time had with the phone.

This obviously makes the larger screened phones more productive for workaholics, making them ideal as business smartphones – even if they lack a physical QWERTY keyboard.

Better resolution

Typically, having a bigger screen normally means that you’ll be getting a better resolution coming along with it. This provides a better viewing quality which is reaching the likes of QHD in some flagship devices.

This 1440×2560 resolution is just a step down from 4K quality and only available on mainstream devices above the 5” mark at this point in time. So, if you’re after a sharp display you’re probably going to have to plump with a phablet.

Swanky specs

This isn’t written in stone for every phablet which hits the market, but in general specs tend to be stronger on larger screened devices. Evidence of this can be seen in the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and iPhone 6 Plus, both of which rock the best specs of their class with their 5”+ displays.

This isn’t true for all devices, so even though you might opt for something under the 5” mark, you can still get some great specs – you might have to do a bit more hunting however.

Why not buy a phablet?

There are lots of arguments supporting the growth of phablets, and whilst these are valid, there are still some reasons to avoid larger screens. But why should you avoid them?

Bigger screens drain battery

If you’re in need of a phone that lasts longer then you might struggle with a larger screened device. This is because the extra light that needs to go behind the screen tends to be a bit of a problem for batteries.

Whilst the majority of larger screened devices do make up for this with a more sizeable battery, it can still be an issue for some consumers – especially if they’re after anything over a two-day recharge cycle.

How big is too big?

Whilst many of us love larger screened devices, there is a point where we should begin to question the validity of larger screens. This tends to be an issue when displays reach 6”, making them a nightmare for smaller pockets.

This is also a dicey area as it also makes them hard to handle as a phone, giving them more of a tablet feel. However, it’s not often we see phablets hitting these 6”+ sizes, so it is becoming less of an issue.

The best big screens in the business

Samsung is the current market leader on the phablet market (with a 73% market share), thanks in part to the Galaxy Note line-up. Now in its fourth instalment, the Galaxy Note has become synonymous with powerful specs, fancy features and large displays.

Other manufacturers have also seen the potential behind larger screens, with HTC, Sony and plenty more all jumping into phablet-rich waters.

The Apple iPhone 6 Plus is offering the biggest competition to the Note 4, mostly thanks to the iOS operating system finally tapping into the large screen seeking Apple fan base. The iPhone manufacturer has seen huge success so far with its first phablet, although we’re yet to discover just how much damage it’s done to Samsung’s profit margins.

Will the phablet fade?

Whilst the growth in smartphone screen sizes are set to slow, with many analysts predicting that there will be few devices above the 5.8” mark over the next two years, it’s unlikely that they’ll be dropping anytime soon.

This is because users want to do more and more on their phones, obviously requiring more of a screen to play with. This means that we should be seeing phablets grow more and more popular over the coming years – much more than a passing trend…

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