Devices iPad News Samsung Tablets, , , , , — January 8, 2013 14:51 — 0 Comments

The rise of the ‘phablet’

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The Samsung Galaxy Note: it wasn’t the first ‘phablet’ but Samsung has made the category its own

More handset makers are shaping the way we consume content, ‘smaller was better until phones got smart, became visual’

Samsung’s Galaxy Note ‘phablet’ was the surprise hit of 2012 and now other companies are scrambling to steal the South Korean manufacturer’s thunder by releasing their own versions of the oversized smartphone.

The Consumer Electronics Show 2013, which is taking place in Nevada this week, is the launch pad for new devices from Chinese telecommunications giants ZTE and Huawei Technologies.

“We expect 2013 to be the Year of the Phablet,” said Neil Mawston, UK-based executive director of Strategy Analytics’ global wireless practice.

Reuters reports that ZTE, which collaborated with Italy’s designer Stefano Giovannoni for the Nubia phablet, is scheduled to launch its 5in Grand S, while Huawei brings out the Ascend Mate, sporting a whopping 6.1in screen, making it only slightly smaller than Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet.

“Users have realised that a nearly 5in screen [measured diagonally from corner to corner] smartphone isn’t such a cumbersome device,” said Joshua Flood, senior analyst at UK-based ABI Research.

Driving the phablet’s shift to the mainstream is a confluence of trends, the Guardian reports. Users prefer larger screens because they are consuming more visual content on mobile devices than before, and using them less for voice calls – the phablet’s weak spot.

And as tablets with Wi-Fi only become more popular, so has interest among commuters in devices that combine the best of both, while on the move.

John Berns, a Singapore-based executive who works in the information technology industry., sums it up best when he told Reuters: “Smaller was better until phones got smart, became visual. I think phone size was a preconceived notion based on voice usage.”

Samsung’s original Galaxy Note was launched two years ago when 4in smartphones had become commonplace, and the leap to 5in was no longer such a chasm, says Mawston.

Since then Samsung has bet big on bigger: its updated Note has a 5.5in screen and its flagship Galaxy S3 – the best-selling smartphone in the third quarter of 2012 – has a screen that puts it in the phablet category for some analysts.

Falling component prices will add to demand, reports Reuters. The total cost of an upper-end phablet, its bill of materials, will likely fall to 2,000 yuan ($323) this year, says Gai from Barclays, and will halve within two years.

Horace Dediu, a Finnish analyst who runs a technology consultancy, Asymco, says the rise of the phablet is part of a wider march of computing power into wherever we reside – the living room, the train, bed or work.

“It makes sense that we’re moving towards a time where we are served not by a computer or a netbook or a phone, but rather that we have these screens scattered around and available for us to play with,” he said. “In a way, the phablet is not a bulky phone but a very delicate computer.”

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About the author

Tony Myers has written 866 articles for Smart Movie Making

Fooling around with the iPhone since 2010. Taking it to the next web by writing about new media, new technology, new wave cinema and the digital revolution.

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