The smartphone market has grown rapidly over the past several years. Thanks to the innovation of companies like Apple and Samsung, smartphones are more advanced and affordable than could even be dreamed about a decade ago. Along with smartphones, tablets have come from being an essentially non-existent market to a massively lucrative market, with over 180 million units sold in 2013.
As both of these devices have grown in popularity, many users have started demanding a form factor that is somewhere between the smartphone and the tablet.
There are a number of reasons this demand makes sense. Tablets, while highly portable, are still difficult to carry around with you all day, unless you are willing to carry a briefcase, bag, or are willing to risk the device being dropped or stolen out of your hands.
Smartphones, on the other hand, have screen sizes that are just a bit too small for certain functions. Looking at documents, watching videos, and Internet browsing are just some of the activities that can be less than ideal on the small screen of a smartphone.
As a result, a hybrid smartphone/tablet niche has developed, and is growing rapidly. These devices, commonly known as “phablets” solve many of the problems users found with both smartphones and tablets. Their proponents argue that the phablet could eventually become the all-in-one device that replaces two devices simultaneously.
Scottsdale Arizona entrepreneur and industry expert said, “Phablets are definitely a market category worth watching. While some users might find the form factor unappealing, early adopters seem to be loving their phablets.”
Should I get a smartphone or a phablet?
Choosing a smartphone or a phablet ultimately comes down to personal preference and the functions you expect your device to fulfill.
- Portability – There is no doubting that the smartphone is more portable than the phablet form factor. While a smartphone will fit into almost any pocket, a phablet can sometimes be too big or bulky for some pockets, particularly women’s jeans. If extreme portability is one of the most important considerations for your mobile device, a smartphone is the way to go.
- Image Quality – Phablets obviously win this category outright. With one or more additional inches of screen real estate, phablets are far easier to use as e-readers, web browsers, and picture/video viewers. If having the biggest image possible from your mobile device is the most important consideration for you, then a phablet is almost certainly the best option.
- Cost – Cost can be a bit more complicated than portability or image quality. Although phablets tend to be on the high end of the mobile device price spectrum, the difference is typically marginal, especially when paired with the standard 2-year contract discount. In addition, if the phablet can actually serve as a replacement for both a smartphone and a tablet, then it could presumably save you hundreds of dollars on the secondary device.
- Battery Life – Phablets are currently not known for their particularly great battery life. Part of this has to do with the fact that displays are one of the biggest consumers of battery power. The larger screen size of the phablet, while certainly the most alluring feature of the phablet form factor, ultimately makes the device far more power-hungry than its smartphone brethren. If day-long battery life is important to you, and you don’t typically have access to a power source at your desk, etc., then the phablet might not yet be ideal for daily use.
- Weight – Although the weight difference between most phablets and smartphones is fairly negligible, for the most discerning of users, there will certainly be a difference. For most people, however, the weight shouldn’t be a reason to avoid the phablet.
Although the phablet is still a relatively new phenomenon, it is proving to be quite popular, particularly outside the United States. As the demand for regular tablets begins to plateau and even stall, the phablet could find a growing niche in the overall mobile computing market.
As far as personal use is concerned, you can essentially boil it down to a decision between mobility and screen size. In the case of the mobile communications device, the evidence is indicating that one size does not fit all.
About the author: Amy Taylor is a technology and business writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, Arizona. She has taken that knowledge and experience and brought that to her unique writing capabilities. She really enjoys new business related issues that are tied directly to technology.