In 2011 we all gasped as Samsung released a phone that was almost universally labeled as never going to work. It was an experiment that only Samsung could get away with, just to see if it would sell in any great number. The phone was the 5.3 inch screen touting Galaxy Note – a phone that was too big and would never catch on.
The Note was the creator of the ‘Phablet’ name, being more about mockery than labeling a new breed of smartphone. You can kind of see where they were coming from when the current biggest seller, Apple’s iPhone 4 and 4s featured a 3.5inch screen! Even Samsung’s own Galaxy S2 was considered huge with its 4.3 inch screen.
Now in 2015, when the industry standard seems to be anything around 5.5 inches, what exactly is a phablet now? What we once gasped at as a size is simply a normal sized phone now, the 4.3inches found on the Galaxy S2 is now compact. So if a phablet sized handset is now just a phone; what do we call everything below that?
Resolved: henceforth Phablets will just be called phones and phones with smaller screens will be called Fun Size.
— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) January 31, 2015
I have hit a strange point in my phone-owning life, for the two years previous everyone around me had an iPhone, whilst I had a long, almost endless stream of Android phones sporting ever increasing screen sizes. I laughed and offered my magnifying glass to those still sporting 4 inch screens, but the fun didn’t last long.
I now sit with a Sony z3c compact in my hand, surrounded by 4.7inch touting iPhone users, or combinations of anything up to 6 inches for every other OS users. In a cruel twist of fate or playground law, all of the jokes I ever had for phones made for ants are now towards me. There is of cause one lesson from all this, fun sized is just fine for me (at least for phones).
Phones with 5 inches or less are considered Mini or Compact, but they are no longer sub par or compromises made in downscaled versions of their brothers. If you want something more pocketable, or have small hands you no longer have to lose out like you did with older generation handsets. They stand alone sporting specs, and price tags, that are equal – so they deserve a title, but what title?
Mini = Budget
If the Mini brand reflects less specs and a downgrade, should the ‘compact’ name be an industry standard for flagship specs in a smaller body body? Although the Xperia Z3 compact takes a step down in screen resolution, it sports the rest of the internals of its bigger brother. Wins hearts, minds and attention in a world dominated by monster pocket computers. Yes I am a little biased, so a pinch of salt all around.
The downfall of this theory is the screen on the Xperia compact line has already jumped from 4.3 inches to 4.6inches. So it’s now only a smidgen smaller than the iPhone 6. Even the Moto X ditched its market-bucking small form factor to nestle in with the rest of the heard. So maybe compact doesn’t mean small as a rule – just a bit smaller than the really big one that used to be called a phablet but is now just a phone.
What Is A Phablet?
We are not quite at the point of a complete split, but it’s coming. It may come sooner than we think if Apple keep pushing forward with bigger screens. That’s without Android’s continued march towards holding a TV to your ear. Manufacturers will only make what sells, and that seems to be an endless pursuit for more. The Motorola-made Nexus 6 now stretches the palm at 5.96 inches – where do we go next?
The recent HTC m9 leaks point towards adoption of a similar model to Apple: releasing a new handset alongside by a bigger (plus) version. Samsung have been do this for three years, but releasing them at different times and with different names. The Galaxy S and Note lines are more cousins than brothers.
This time next year will we see the roles reversed, a handset joined by a smaller model? Only time will tell. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on your social media of choice.