First off, can we all agree that Phablet is a terrible name? A Smartphone with a big screen does not make a tablet. Second, let’s examine what exactly a “Phablet” is. The difference between a large phone and a small tablet is that a small tablet will run (at least in theory) tablet optimized applications, whereas the large phone is stuck with phone apps. The question is how big is too big for a phone?
History of the Phablet
Samsung a couple of years ago introduced the first handset recognized as a phablet, the Galaxy Note. This device had a 5.3-inch screen and a pen to write with. Since then almost every Android manufacturer has gotten into the abnormally large smartphone game. Recently we saw Huawei introduce a monstrous 6.1-inch device. It now seems every manufacturer has bought into the old saying that men hate, bigger is better. But is it really?
Bigger is not always better
The problem with the current manufacturing idea of bigger and bigger devices is that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to smartphones. There is a market for smaller devices out there, but no manufacturer besides Samsung (Galaxy S III mini) and Apple (iPhone), seem to realize it. The market for huge devices will taper off eventually. Somewhere there is a line where even the most ardent fans of huge, will say, “that’s too big!”
What is the perfect size for a smartphone? The answer to that question is that there is no one-size-fits-all device. Most people will find, at least in my experience, that the best sizes for full one-handed use are the sizes between 4 and 4.5 inches. That’s a huge range of devices if you want a LG, HTC, Samsung or Apple device (I only included the major manufactures there). All of those manufacturers offer devices in that range. Motorola has a smaller phone but it is only sold in the US, at least as far as I’m aware.
Once you get larger than that 4.5 inches you get outside the range of one-handed possibility for most people. The question now is whether one-handed use is something that we need or want. It appears that the manufacturers are saying no to that question. They keep going up, up, up. The good news is there probably is a hard limit to the size of these phablets, at least for the major manufacturers. These guys have made tablets at 7 inches, which means it would be pretty silly for them to make another device that size and call it a phone.
For almost everyone, the size of your smartphone is a personal decision. You have to weigh whether or not a one-hand experience is something you want or not. If it is, then you should experiment between 4 and 4.5 inches. If it isn’t get as big a phone as you want. The bigger phone you have the easier it is to do things like type and edit documents. On smaller screens you don’t have the real estate to comfortably type. This is especially true when you get below 4 inches
What size phone do you have? Let us know in the comments below!