Bigger phones traditionally called for deeper pockets, but are phablets now the new normal? We spoke to Stuff reviews editor, Tom Morgan, and T3 mobile devices editor, Spencer Hart, about the burgeoning smartphone revolution…
Bigger is better. It’s become the unofficial motto of smartphone manufacturers worldwide as screen sizes continue to increase. But what does this surge in screen size mean for the future of our phones? We talked to two top tech commentators about the next big thing in mobile, and whether phablets are passing fad or permanent fixture. But first…
What exactly is a phablet?
No points for creativity here, a phablet is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Bigger than your standard phone, yet smaller than a tablet, the phablet is a phone-tablet hybrid. Phablets are commonly accepted as having a screen size between 5.5 and 7 inches. But that’s most flagship phones on the market these days, right? Which is something that’s led us to ponder:
Will the term soon become obsolete?
According to Stuff reviews editor Tom Morgan, potentially yes:
“With both Samsung and LG stripping out screen bezels in their latest hero handsets, we expect the rest of the mobile world to follow – and the term ‘phablet’ as we know it to die out in the process,” he explains.
“The old way of thinking doesn’t really make sense when you can fit a 6.2-inch screen into something barely any bigger than the phone you’ve got squeezed into your pocket right now. Bigger screens mean more space – more text on each line of your eBook, more Candies to Crush, more Facebook updates without constantly having to scroll.
“The expanded aspect ratios are better for video too, giving your mobile Netflix binges a more cinematic feel. You can bank on seeing a lot more of them in the future.”
So, while Tom believes we’ll continue to enjoy larger screens, we’re no longer talking about the massive, unwieldy phablets of the past. Nor are we talking super small handsets, although they will always have their admirers:
“There’ll always be something more manageable out there for dainty digits to wrap around.”
T3 mobile reviews editor, Spencer Hart, takes a similar view:
“For years, manufacturers focused on getting their phones as small as possible, resulting in [older phones like] the super thin Motorola RAZR, and tiny Sony Ericsson T681,” he says.
“Then Apple introduced the 3.5-inch iPhone, and as soon as HTC decided it could do the same thing but larger, smartphones began getting bigger and bigger. If you picked up the original iPhone today you’d be shocked at how small it is, especially in comparison to brand new phones which feature screens larger than 5.5-inches.”
To him, the upsides are a no-brainer:
“The benefits of a larger screen are clear. They’re perfect for watching a bit of Netflix on the train, games are more immersive, and the battery life is longer as there’s more space for a hefty power pack. Even simple things, such as typing, are easier thanks to larger keys.
“The extra space also allows manufacturers to be a bit more innovative – such as Apple, including a dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus.”
But does that mean phablets are here to stay? And will they end up replacing smaller smartphones entirely? Spencer remains unconvinced:
“Some people simply prefer smaller screens, it’s easier to reach the entire screen using just one hand, and they fit better in skinny jean pockets.”
But, like Tom, he believes phablets as we know them could soon be confined to history, as manufacturers get smarter about space:
“We’ve recently seen the introduction of bezel-less smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6. By reducing the wasted space on the front of the device, these phones manage to stay a similar size to their predecessors, but feature much larger screens.
“These sorts of devices offer the same benefits of a traditional phablet, such as the larger screen for consuming media, but aren’t as unwieldy. We’re expecting even more manufactures to follow suit in the coming months and years.”