Release of the Next Generation Larger Format Mobile Phone (Phablet) – is Imminent – This time it might change the whole marketplace.
8 April 2014
by Loren W
Even the name Phablet is part of technological ambiguity. PC Magazine used the word in 1993 to describe the AT&T EO 440 a personal computer, perhaps even a mistake in the current context of the word, but it was tablet of sorts with a modem in it and could be used as a phone. It was 5.9″ x 4.3″ and quit being made in 1994.
However, the Samsung Galaxy Note I circa 2011 (my 1st phablet) is normally referred to as the first phablet. By early 2013 it was estimated that 25.6m phablets had been sold worldwide and numbers were expected to grow to 60m in 2013 and 146m by 2016 depending on what your definition is of a phablet is of course. For the sake of this article we will assume a phablet is primarily a mobile phone larger than 5.89 in and less than 7in.
Phablets Lagging Behind and One Step Ahead
Most phone manufacturers have launched Phablets months after they announce the more popular smaller form factors, and thus often before the next generation mobile depending on your perspective. This has been true of Samsung, HTC, and Sony. This often means features of Phablets (other than the size) usually offer less features than the next mobile phone based on this evolutionary conundrum. For instance the Sony Z Ultra was announced soon after the Sony Z1 and way before the Z2. Unfortunately it was made to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note, so offered less features than the Z1 or naturally the Z2.
All the phablets on the market offer similar features in some respects very different ones in others usually depending again on the release date vs its competitors.
For example the Sony Z Ultra is the largest of the main group coming in at 7×3.6×0.26 inches, but is waterproof to 30m, almost identical screen quality, but with a much lower quality camera than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, has less memory than the Samsung but was announced 3 months before the Samsung. It has the same CPU as the Samsung so is almost identical in benchmark tests. The HTC Max is a lower spec phone but less expensive.
The Apple & Marketplace Phablet 3 Bears Conundrum
The late great Steve Jobs said tablets should stay big, phones should stay small period. Later Apple released the now very popular iPad mini. It is no secret Apple is testing a larger iPhone the iPhone 6, Google is sponsoring the Nexus 6, Nokia has the 1520. A recently leaked internal document by Apple shows concerns over losing sales to Phablets.
The next round of Phablet Wars included HTC, Google, Samsung, Apple, and Even Microsoft / Nokia.
Phablet Winners / Losers Summary – Android – Samsung wins the high end spec race (matched by a earlier released less market savvy known, Sony Z Ultra 2). Nexus 6 wins on the best value front, HTC will draw interest from the 1 Max but with a low spec camera perhaps in line with the Nexus 6 , Motorola will draw a lot of interest with its 1st Phablet the X +1 and Microsoft will draw increasingly more interest with the Lumina 1520 and its replacement perhaps the Lumina 1820 due to windows 8.1 and Cortana voice assistant. . Apple might slip in under the minimum Phablet size but call it a Phablet anyhow, but might remain the one to watch. If they launch a phablet, (6inch or larger) it would change the phone demographic forever.
My Tablet is a Phablet – On the WTF side of things many new tablets continue to come out with phone features, as this happens folks will move to headsets vs talking into tablets as these less portable devices continue to trickle out.