From The Editor | January 28, 2013

Phablet: The Next Big Trend Or Just Another Buzzword?

By Sarah Howland, Editor In Chief, Field Technologies magazine

I didn’t attend the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, but I did read a lot of news from the show to keep up on what the most talked about news and trends were from the show. During my research, I happened upon a term a number of times that I was unfamiliar with — and I’m betting some of you will be, too. That term is “phablet.” A phablet is a device that lies somewhere between the form factor of a smartphone and a tablet. From what I read, a smartphone technically includes any device with a screen size of four inches or smaller. A tablet is a device with a screen size of seven inches or larger. Phablet was created to encompass devices with a screen size between four and seven inches.

The Samsung Galaxy Note II is one example of a phablet that was referenced quite a bit in the articles I read. The Galaxy Note II is an Android-based device with a 5.5-inch touch-screen display — again, larger than most smartphones, but smaller than a tablet. It seems the phablet trend is reaching outside of the consumer device world, too. An enterprise-built, IP-67-rated example of what would be considered a phablet is the new Honeywell Dolphin 70e Black. (Honeywell doesn’t use the term phablet to describe the device, but according to the parameters I read, it would technically fit into the category.) The Dolphin Black has a 4.3-inch touch-screen display, and both Windows and Android OS versions begin shipping this month.

When Evaluating Mobile Devices, What’s In A Name?
Phablet may just be a passing buzzword that got some exposure during CES, but the idea behind it — and the reason devices that fall into the category are being created — is interesting. What’s the right balance of a large enough screen for optimal productivity and a small enough device for optimal portability? That’s clearly the perfect world phablet devices are aiming at, but I know some would argue that a traditional smartphone better fits their needs or that a full-size tablet is more effective. You may already have a mobile solution in place that you’re happy with — smartphone, handheld, tablet, or laptop-based — and have an idea of what form factor works best for you. But, if you don’t — or if you’re interested in evaluating new options — the phablet may be a category to consider.