by Deborah Klaassen, a creative writer who blogs for Three UK
Do you remember your first mobile phone? And your second? Chances are the second was smaller than the first, and you were probably proud of that. When the Galaxy Note first became popular in 2011, you might have wondered whether technology had taken a step back. But the world of mobile phones has changed. Big is beautiful again, and Sony, Samsung, LG, and HTC have all launched so-called ‘phablets’ – smartphones that are so big they look more like little tablets.
The turning point was the arrival of touchscreens and smartphones.
As we got used to having a handful of phone again, tech companies predicted that we would soon want to see all of that wonderful mobile content on a bigger screen.
They were right: – Ofcom recently reported in their 2013 Communications Market Report that there is a tablet in one out of four households in the UK.
They are a useful second screen in the home.
Plus, as they can also be used to access the internet via Wi-Fi, or via 3G with a mobile broadband subscription it’s also very easy to use them while on the move, and it’s this versatility which makes them so desirable.
Although you’d expect a huge overlap of functionality between tablets and smartphones, there is a clear device preference for some key activities.
Almost 80 per cent of people who have both a tablet and a smartphone prefer using their phones for taking pictures and instant messaging, and 70 per cent prefer watching TV programmes or movies on their tablets.
Perhaps this new trend for oversized smartphones will bridge the gap between phones and tablets.
So: – When does a phone generally count as a phablet? A: When the diagonal screen measures between five and seven inches.
Typical examples of these fabled hybrids are the Samsung Galaxy Note and Mega, and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.
In 2012, almost 26 million phablets were shipped. This year , it looks as though around 60 million people will start using an extra-large mobile if things keep going steadily at the same rate.
This means that, at the moment, 2 per cent of all mobiles are phablets.
Interestingly, people with bigger screens tend to use their phones far more for browsing, watching videos and using apps; in total, 3 per cent of all mobile phone usage takes place on a phablet.
Just like moving to a smaller house after living in a mansion, going back to a regular smartphone after using a phablet could take some adjusting to.
For example, the smaller screen might feel cramped after a more spacious experience.
Expectations are that, by the end of 2014, another 146 million phablets will be sold.
Deborah Klaassen is a blogger and novelist. Her OS of choice is Ubuntu, but with a hand-me-down iPhone 4, winning an iPad mini in a Vine Competition and a new MacBook Air, you could say she’s had a complete ‘macover’. Her first novel was published in the Netherlands; her short story ’How To Make A Zombie’ was published by Negative Press in London and she writes tech blog posts here, as well as for Arena and Three Mobile (UK).