Large smartphones, known as phablets grabbed a 21 percent U.S. market share in the first quarter of 2015, according to Kantar Worldpanel, a market researcher, who has just released its survey.
That smartphone-tablet genre quadrupled its share from the first quarter of 2014. Could the traditional smartphone be on the way out?
Hybrid phablets have an advantage over regular smartphones in that they have a larger screen, so can be easier to use for work—the larger screen makes it easier to edit and read documents.
The devices are classed as having screens of between 5- and 6.9-inches, mobile analytics provider Flurry, says.
The devices have been considered premium, due to cost, but that’s changing. I’m using a France-purchased, $232, Chinese-made 5.5-inch Asus Zenfone 2 and have found the experience to be pretty much faultless, for example.
This new genre of cheap, highly-specified, large-screened phones promise to capture the attention of buyers if the media excitement over the upcoming U.S. release for the Asus device is anything to go by.
Asus will be making an announcement about the launch on May 18th, 2015.
I’ve written about that groundbreaking phone’s upcoming U.S. launch before for Network World in “Upcoming $200 ASUS smartphone ideal for contract ditchers.”
Although popular in Asia, the cheaper phablets, like the Zenfone 2, are so new in the U.S., that they’re extremely unlikely to be factoring in Kantar Worldpanel's U.S. market share numbers. So it’s the expensive variants that are driving this large-screen shift.
As the cheaper, but equally well specified models come to market, we could expect to see the numbers escalate.
Screen sizes of 5.5-inches and up account for up to half of users in Asian markets already, Samuel Gibb says writing in the Guardian newspaper about Flurry data.
Why the fuss? The things are bigger, so manufacturers have more space inside the device to provide greater processing power—component-locating is not such a tight fit.
This increased performance allows for faster graphics and higher frame rates, which consumers like, and multitasking becomes possible.
Pocket-size isn’t an issue. Screens reach right to the edges now, so bezel is reduced and overall form factor doesn’t increase much. The things still fit in your pocket.
Because the displays are larger, it’s easier to play games, read e-books and send e-mails.
It was screen size that was the principal reason for buying a particular phone in the Kantar Worldpanel survey. Both Apple and Android buyers said it was the main reason at 43 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
And that screen-size should, theoretically make it easier to multitask, which is a new way to use a smartphone. Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4’s Multi Window system, and the LG Vista’s Dual Window functionality means you should be able to open multiple windows on one screen and run two apps at the same time.
Mobile Network Operator Verizon, on its website reckons that multitasking is one of the main reasons to get a phablet. I haven’t tried it, though
Best screen size?
Flurry is seeing increased consumer interest in the $749 iPhone 6 Plus, at 5.5-inches. A peruse through China-originating discount websites show abundance of new 5.0- and 5.5-inch devices.
By the way, as a side note, be careful if you go this purchasing route as the LTE radios operate on different frequency bands outside of the U.S.
And what this means for IT is that BYOD is going to become even more prevalent, because the large screen sizes mean that the devices are alright for working on—finally.
In fact, I was talking to someone in the sports marketing vertical the other day, who I know hasn’t traveled with a laptop for some years. He told me that he was no longer traveling with a tablet either. As of this year, he’s just been carting the $749 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4 around.
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