The term ‘phablet’ is perhaps the most cringeworthy in consumer tech right now.
The blurred space between smartphones and tablets is pretty much impossible to categorise, but appears to be developing as a pretty strong niche, as huge sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note 2 attest.
The latter shifted two million in as many months when it first landed and it seems Sammy is not willing to stop there.
The Galaxy Note 2 already packs what some might term a pretty capacious 5.5-inch display.
Others might say it’s too big, awkward to fit in all but the biggest of pockets and taking the demand for larger screened smartphones too far.
But Samsung is having none of that.
This week news has emerged of two new devices in a new range dubbed Galaxy Mega.
The smaller of the two will be the Galaxy Mega 5.8, with a, yes, 5.8-inch panel.
The larger, Galaxy Mega 6.3 will rock a 6.3-inch display. Both are apparently being primed for a summer release. The former won’t actually look much different to the current Galaxy Note.
But the latter is surely taking things a step too far. Asus has already shown off a similarly-sized device, its Fonepad, which packs a seven-inch screen.
The Galaxy Mega 6.3 would barely be smaller than a Google Nexus 7, which is very much a tablet, not a smartphone.
Recent research by analysts at research firm Flurry has suggested that ‘phablets’ like these Galaxy Megas are simply fads.
That’s perhaps harsh seeing how well Samsung is already doing in the space.
But surely, as daily-use devices for those who want to make calls without looking like a Dom Joly character, they are at best a niche concern. In fact, it would perhaps be better to see the Megas as small tablets rather than large phones.
They’ll offer a better reading and movie viewing experience than smaller devices, no question, but fielding calls without appearing absurd will require a headphones or a hands-free kit.
Perhaps this is where Samsung sees the whole space going, believing that the days of whipping out your phone and clamping it to your ear are numbered.
That’s unlikely in the extreme, although with its current clout, you can surely expect other mobile makers to be muscling in with their own takes on the Mega.
Sony is said to be prepping a six-inch-plus phone for later this year and surely LG and HTC will fancy a slice of the action.
What is clear is that there’s only so far a smartphone can go size-wise.
The iPhone has proven that staying small doesn’t always work, but the current and forthcoming crop of phablets suggest that punters are quite happy with devices between four and five inches.
Any bigger and things start to feel faintly ridiculous.