Remember when critics said the iPad was just an oversized iPhone?
Its wild success proved doubters wrong, and it now appears to have sparked a new trend: the swelling size of mobile devices.
“Phablets” are devices with screens that are larger than those on a mobile phone (normally 3.5 to four inches diagonally) but smaller than on a tablet (the iPad is 9.7 inches). While some might call phablets the Capri pants of technology, there is evidence the devices are more than a passing fad.
Despite a slow start in 2011, global shipments are predicted to increase tenfold this year over last, according to a recent report by research firm ABI, and sell at a rate of 208 million annually by 2015. Though the phablet’s dimensions are awkwardly sized for a phone, the screen makes web browsing and video watching more convenient.
Samsung, LG and Panasonic are all selling phablets. There is growing speculation the upcoming iPhone 5 will have a larger screen than the current model.
These bigger devices could have another side effect: the return of the stylus (the pens used to draw on screens). Last week Apple filed a patent for a new stylus, the iPen. If any company can resurrect a piece of technology that critics deem outdated and unwanted, it’s Apple.