Phablets Are The New Normal

As trends go, it’s been hard to miss this one: Smartphones are getting bigger. Much bigger. Samsung has been championing huge phones for well over a year, introducing its original 5.3-inch whopper — the Galaxy Note — in 2011, and firing out a 5.5-inch successor last year, going on to ship more than 5 million Galaxy Note IIs in the first two months. More recently CES was awash with whoppers – from Sony’s 5-incher to Huawei’s 6.1-inch beast (incidentally, screen size inflation also struck in the tablet space: witness this 20-incher). Even Apple hasn’t been able to stand firm against the ever-expanding waistlines of its rivals, adding half an inch to the iPhone 5’s pane last year, pushing it up from 3.5 to 4 inches.

But unlike many a flash-in-the-pan craze, the so-called phablet (phone-cum-tablet) phenomenon is, I would argue, here to stay — and I say this as a person with small hands who still uses a phone with a 3.5-inch screen because it’s the perfect size to fit into my palm. But this no longer feels normal, or, increasingly, entirely functional. The thing is, phones are getting bigger for a reason: what we use them for is changing. This is technology evolution in action.

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