A surprise hit of 2012, it is drawing in more users, more handset makers and is shaping the way we consume content.
“We expect 2013 to be the Year of the Phablet,” said Neil Mawston, UK-based executive director of Strategy Analytics’ global wireless practice.
While Samsung Electronics has blazed a trail with its once-mocked Galaxy Note devices, now other manufacturers are scurrying to catch up.
At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Chinese telecommunications giants ZTE and Huawei Technologies are showing off their own.
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. 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.