Phablets were scoffed at in some quarters when capacious handsets first hit shelves. Three years later, though, they’re the dominant form factor.
The iPhone 5s and 5c, for all their popularity, are regarded as small by comparison, even if rumours abound that Apple is indeed testing a 5-inch plus device for potential release in 2013.
Recent IDC figures showed phablets outstripping tablets and laptops in the Asia/Pacific region, with 25.2 million units shifted in the second quarter of 2013 alone.
It begs the deceptively simple question: will tablets and phones soon be one and the same?
The demand for seven-inch slates is clear. Apple wouldn’t have released the iPad mini if it didn’t think that form factor was a winner.
Steve Jobs famously once said users would need to ‘sand down their fingers’ in order to use smaller tablets.
Now the larger iPad and bigger versions of Google’s Nexus tablet are seen as the alternatives, rather than their little siblings.
With Samsung’s new, not quite 6-inch Galaxy Note 3, Sony’s 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra and HTC’s incoming One Max, we’re seeing a slew of phones that aren’t afraid to go big.
Sure, holding one up to your ear might look stupid. But in the days of in-line headphones and video calling, is that such an issue any more? It’s even more interesting knowing that tablet sales have also taken a dip.
Admittedly, the slide is minimal.
IDC says shipments will come in at 227.4 million this year, rather than 229.3 million.
Not too worrying, but nonetheless an indicator that people want one screen to rule them all.
Why pay for a 4G tablet and suffer a second monthly bill when you get it all covered in one package?
Apple has argued convincingly in the past that phablets are awkward if you want to use them one-handed to thumb through pages.
But users seem not to care. The Galaxy Note 3 will doubtless prove popular this year and so will its rivals.
Imagine the sales of an Apple phablet if the new iPhones can do nine million in a weekend.
So, when will see the cannibalisation of tablets? Perhaps much sooner than has been forecast.
If Tim Cook and co out one next year, then the iPhone and iPad could well go the way of the iPod by 2015.
As the demand for second screens continues, but fears over monthly fees also go on, surely the coming together of phones and tablets is close at hand.
It’s a fascinating prospect and one that will dog the industry for months to come.
Just make sure you’ve got big enough pockets for your hefty new device.