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The Big ol’ Phablet

It remains to be seen if the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Note Edge can recapture the company’share of the market (head over to page 16 for a first look), but the genie is out of the over-sized bottle and phablets are here to stay. But, what has driven this leap from four-inch phones to gigantic hybrid handsets? The rise of multimedia browsing has played a big part. “Phone size has been steadily increasing due to evolving needs of consumers,” said Q Beck, CEO and co-founder of Famigo, an app developer whose product is preloaded into Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Tab 4 devices. “Small screens make it difficult to watch videos, respond to emails without typos,and tend to be a reminder of the tasks you need to complete on a computer.” Further rolling out 4G and 3G connectivity worldwide is making it easier to enjoy data-heavy media on the go, with the latest Ericsson Mobility Report Interim Update showing that data traffic has more than doubled in the last year, up by 60 per cent. This is also reflected in product sales, with Canalys reporting that 80 per cent of smartphones sold in North America so far this year have been 4G enabled, though only 34 percent globally. Coupled with a preference for Wi-Fi-only tablets, consumers have been seeking out smartphones with bigger screens to watch videos on the go. As well as the increasingly rich content that is being made available on smartphones, another factor is falling component prices. Analysts HIS Technology attributes the emergence of phablets partially to the expansion of low-temperature poly-silicon LCD screens and the reduced price of large high-resolution displays. There is also the argument that Samsung launched the Galaxy Note at just the right time. When the Dell Streak launched in 2010, the average phone size was around the three-inch mark, and it was a step too far. When the Galaxy Note launched, phones had already ballooned to four inches so an extra inch wasn’t beyond the consumer’s imagination.

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