In-Between Sized Phablets Attract Consumers

Scientific American

Click here to listen to this podcast

A new class of oversized smart phones has emerged called “phablets”—a hybrid between a phone and tablet. Samsung kicked off the trend with its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note in October, 2011. And Huawei’s Ascend Mate, displayed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, measures 6.1-inches, less than 2 inches smaller than the Apple iPad Mini. And market-intelligence firm ABI Research forecasts 208 million phablets will be sold worldwide in 2015, more than twice as many as in 2012.

After decades of shrinking down to a manageable size, why are mobile phones returning to their roots as ergonomically challenged paperweights?

Partly, it’s vendors trying to sell us more gadgets, of course. Another explanation came from a Qualcomm executive at the Vegas show, who pointed out that the larger form factor plays well in China, the world’s largest smart-phone market, due to the size of the characters in their alphabet. And a recent iPhone to Galaxy convert told me that he’s come to think of the device as a true tiny tablet. On which, in a pinch, you could even make a phone call.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast]

Follow Scientific American on Twitter @SciAm and @SciamBlogs.

Visit ScientificAmerican.com for the latest in science, health and technology news.

© 2013 ScientificAmerican.com. All rights reserved.

View Comments