CES revealed that a not so new mobile technology could very well be the next step in our technological evolution. Phablets (Phone-Tablet) have been around for a while, the most notable being Samsung’s Galaxy Note in 2011. Being one of the biggest supporters of these 5+ inch phones, Samsung released a second version of its beloved phablet with a slightly larger screen, the Galaxy Note 2.
At CES this year you could see that Samsung is no longer the only one pushing this trend, Sony and Huawei both came out with their own supersized smartphones. Sony went with the 5-inch quad-core Xperia Z and Huawei is showing their mettle with the monstrous 6.1 inch Ascend Mate and a 5 inch Ascend D2. Apple even increased the screen size of their iPhone 5 to 4 inches. What’s going on here?
We are in the midst of a technological evolution and the phablet is at the head of the charge. The way we use smartphones is changing drastically leading to a desire for a larger screen. We are starting to use our mobile technology for reading, watching videos and surfing the web more than just blinding holding the rectangles to our ears.
Before, the size made it difficult do anything on without the use of two hands and was in general, awkward. With the changes to our mobile usage, it is becoming clear that the benefits of a larger screen are beginning to outweigh the awkwardness that comes from such a large phone.
Finding a Niche
Smartphones are typically smaller, portable devices that can live in a pocket with little trouble. Tablets on the other hand were larger and intended to be used with two hands. They typically lived in bags and backpacks. These mobile devices have their niche, but have left a gap between them. The phablet offers more screen real estate and power than its smaller counterpart and grants the ability to have access to 3G/4G and make phone calls unlike its larger competitor. While not the device for everyone, they definitely have a market that is ready and waiting for a larger device that covers all their needs.
Our phones screens bulking up is driven side by side with the increasing richness of our data services. As our mobile networks become more robust, we see streaming video content and social gaming become more commonplace. It is also worth noting that as we grow in mobile technology, more methods of communication begin to appear. In a world of multitasking and messaging, talking on a phone has become a secondary use. Not to mention many users utilize Bluetooth headsets for one reason or another eliminating the issue of a larger phone.
Is it a Fad?
The first Phablet, the Galaxy Note, came out almost two years ago and on its release many were extremely skeptical. The idea of such a large brick against your head was laughable and even mocked. It is hard to imagine that things have changed that much since then, but with improvements in our mobile technology including Bluetooth, comes the need for a larger screen. This king of mobile device is not for everyone, but like most likely not be a quick fad.
What I Think
When I first bought a tablet I thought it was great, I wished I could carry it around everywhere and do everything with it. Going back to my smartphone to write a text or phone call seemed like a waste. This sentiment is not unique to me and it is with these individuals that share a similar thought process that I can see this round of larger smartphones being a big hit with.
I don’t want to have to carry around 2 and even 3 devices just to get a function. I believe that until the day comes when smartphones are no longer a slab, but something that we wear or incorporate into ourselves, larger data consumption devices that double as a smartphone will be around and be put to good use.
I like that Samsung stuck with their belief in their phablets, even if I dislike the name they were given. They started a trend that is being picked up by other companies, creating another competitive market where we can see innovation and improvements. There is no right or wrong answer in mobile technology, there is only preference and matching a device with your needs.
Whether the goal is to have a small device that you barely notice in your pocket or to have a coat or back pocket size slab, there will be something for you and your needs. After that, who knows? As our Technological Evolution continues to pick up speed, there is no telling where we will end up.
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