Where’s the Phablet Segment Headed?

In its fairly short existence, the ‘phablet‘ segment has managed to win over millions of people, alienated some, and made others scratch their heads. Recently, we’ve seen phablets that have pushed the boundaries of what the segment is all about, coming uncomfortably close to the slot occupied by 7-inch mini tablets. So we ask, where’s this segment headed?

Phablet

• Identity Crisis

Ever since the beginning of their existence, the phablet has been a cross-breed. It’s a product that’s designed to meld the smartphone and the tablet computer into a form that can still be brought anywhere and everywhere while being extra-functional. With recent products like the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Mega being announced by manufacturers, it looks like the identity crisis is still as strong as before.

The trend with telephones, business phone systems, computers, and generally every other machinebefore, was to make them more compact while retaining essential features. Smartphones and tablets these days are exactly the opposite—it’s all about providing bigger, higher-definition screens.

The giant phablets, in particular, are encroaching on tablet territory; although marketing departments will be keen to point out the difference, even as phablet form factors stretch out with 6.4-inch displays. That’s the absolute limit, however, and it’s hard to speculate on the next trend once this ‘bigger is better’ approach fades.

The Xperia Z Ultra, for example, is already at the limit of how thin one can make a device. There’s talk of how devices can’t get any thinner now because the connection ports have to be of a particular thickness. Unless there’s a total revamp of the connector hardware, this is probably as compact as it gets for phablets. No matter how thin you make a phablet, though, it’s still awkward to look at someone making or taking a call on a 6-plus-inch handset.

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• Can Anyone Break the Samsung Stranglehold?

Phablets have a clearly defined market, and that market is of a considerable size. You’ll be surprised to see how many people will attest to how great the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is and, judging from the online pulse, there’s a considerable deal of anticipation for that phablet’s successor, which is yet to be announced.

While other companies—from the big names to the smaller ones from overseas—are coming out with their own offerings (even Apple is rumored to at least be thinking about coming up with a phablet of its own), Samsung still has a stranglehold on this segment because of the Note line’s success. Until the competitors can come up with a product that’s as polished and as robust as the Note, there’s only one clear-cut winner.

Of course, if Apple does decide to launch one, that product will clearly see millions in sales because, well, Apple is still Apple. No matter what manner of iPhablet comes outof Cupertino, you can count on it to sell like pancakes. If the company behind the iPhone and iPad can effectively meld those two products—really, it’s pretty hard to doubt Apple these days, stock drop notwithstanding—and make iOS transition seamlessly onto that device, we might just see the Samsung Galaxy Note lose its firm grip on the phablet segment.

It’s great that the phablet segment has gained traction in the ever-competitive mobile device market. There are many benefits to having a phablet, and the continued efforts to improve existing offerings as well as come up with new innovative products is a good sign that the segment is headed in the right direction. There’s clearly a lot of demand for high-quality products in this segment, and that’s only going to spur development and innovation in an increasingly competitive field.

Then again, theory and practice are two different things—while manufacturers can say all they want about why this or that product has this or that attribute, in the end, it’s up to the market to decide whether or not a product is worth its price tag.


What’s your view on phablet segment? Do share your views in the comment section, we’ll be glad to hear from you.

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