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Is "phablet" a necessary word anymore?

Posted: , by Florin T.

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Many things have changed in the world of smartphones in the last years. And you’ll probably agree that screen size is one of the most visible changes. Remember the 5-inch Dell Streak? Back in May 2010, this was announced by Dell as a tablet - because, of course, calling a five incher a smartphone was nuts at the time. Not long after that, the term phablet gained ground, thanks mainly to the popularity of Samsung’s 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, which was introduced in September 2011. The floodgates opened in 2012 and 2013, when almost all smartphone makers, from top tier to small Chinese firms, started to produce phablets.

As you may know, phablet is a portmanteau word with rather vague origins. No one seems to know exactly when, and by whom it was used for the first time - although GSMA’s Director of Technology claims it was him who made up the term first (but proving this fact is, uhm, difficult - to say the least). In any case, the word usually designates a device with phone capabilities which is larger than a typical smartphone. Apparently, most people agree that a phablet could have a screen size between 5 to 7 inches.

But, with the rapid evolution of mobile technology in recent times, we have to ask: what is a phablet nowadays? The companies that are building all these devices for us certainly don’t have an answer to this question. In fact, they are ignoring the phablet moniker altogether. 

Your phablet is not really a phablet - not in the eyes of its maker

Sony announced its 6.4-inch Xperia Z Ultra in June 2013, calling it “the world's slimmest Full HD smartphone” that was setting “a new standard for others to follow.” There was no mention of the term phablet whatsoever during the announcement. The same thing happened with pretty much all other huge handsets introduced after that. Lumia 1520? In Nokia’s own words, this is a “large screen Lumia smartphone.” HTC One max? Why, that’s just a “super-sized smartphone.” Galaxy Note 3? Samsung never called it a phablet. LG G Pro 2? That’s still a smartphone in LG’s view.

Apple is currently the only important smartphone maker that doesn’t offer large-screened handsets. Rumors have it that it will do it later this year, though, as the company allegedly readies new 4.7-inch and a 5.5 inch iPhone models. But we’re pretty sure that Apple won’t use the term phablet when describing the latter device, despite the fact that we're already calling it just that


Is a product what its maker declares it is, or what consumers say it is?

you see, manufacturers don’t seem to appreciate the word phablet. And it’s unlikely that they will adopt it from now on. Granted, we’re using this word quite often here, and most tech-oriented websites do, too. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if manufacturers aren’t calling their products phablets, perhaps we shouldn’t do it, either. This actually leads us to a rather philosophical question: are things what their maker declares they are, or what the rest of the world believes and says that they are?

Of course, a device won’t magically transform into something else if you’re not calling it what it’s supposed to be called. Its very essence remains unchanged regardless of the name it may carry. Still, at the moment, any handset that has a screen of 5 to 6 inches is, by default, called a smartphone - at least by its maker. LG G2Samsung Galaxy S5, Sony Xperia Z2, and the examples could go on and on - all these would’ve been classified as phablets in 2011 / 2012. But not in 2014. What’s more, we now have mini smartphones that sport 4.7-inch screens (see the LG G2 mini). Needles to say, a 4.7-inch handset was viewed as being huge, almost tablet-like a few years ago.

Size comparison between some devices that were announced as smartphones.

Size comparison between some devices that were announced as smartphones.

In the light of all the above thoughts and facts, do you think that there is still need for the word phablet? Or are phonesmartphone and tablet the only meaningful terms that we need to categorize the multitude of mobile devices around us? (Forget smartwatches and wearables, these belong to another discussion). You can not only vote in the poll below, but also weigh in in the comments section. Chances are that you'll be doing that from the comfort of your very own extra-large smartphone. Or is that a phablet, after all?  

Phonearena polls
sort by
Is "phablet" a necessary term anymore?
Yes. It's still useful to know if we're talking about a huge handset, or a smaller one 55.27% (1422 votes) (1422 votes)
Nope. Smartphones have evolved enough to comprise all screen sizes, even beyond 6 inches 44.73% (1151 votes) (1151 votes)

2573 votes

reference: Twitter

  • Options

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:39 11

1. Ninetysix (Posts: 2689; Member since: 08 Oct 2012)


They'll just get bigger and bigger.
--Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S4

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:43 14

3. apple4never (Posts: 1064; Member since: 08 May 2013)

thats what she said ;)

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 05:14

56. Finalflash (Posts: 3535; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)

Have wouldn't even know what a "she" is

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 18:50 6

13. akki20892 (Posts: 3902; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


posted on 04 Apr 2014, 19:00 9

14. express77 (unregistered)

now that's innovation.

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 07:23 2

59. sgodsell (Posts: 4897; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)

Samsung coined the term phablet. They were the first to make the note with the spen. Nowadays everyone calls a big phone a phablet.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 19:40 1

20. refillable (Posts: 1070; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)

Lol dat yaoming.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:12 8

29. The-Sailor-Man (banned) (Posts: 1095; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)

I like how you iboys pretend to be "samsung users"
If you were S4 user , you should know that S4 is smaller than S3 , and Note 3 is smaller than Note 1. And not to post this BS link.

Well you gonna win this poll too iboys. Congrat.
Tech media iboys invented this ugly word-nonsense "fablet" and promote it. LOL

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:45 8

35. SleepingOz (unregistered)

That've been the trend lately; trolls, especially wp fanboys, pretend to use products they don't like to look credible when they troll.

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 03:23

54. Ashoaib (Posts: 3229; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)

I like phablets more then phones bcoz its easy to read on bigger screen

posted on 06 Apr 2014, 11:52

75. phonemirer (Posts: 111; Member since: 07 Dec 2012)

no, i have 1 and it is smaller than the 3, 3 is thinner but longer

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:39

33. shuaibhere (Posts: 1986; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)

Not anymore I think....atleast I hope so ..
Btw when sanding
Samsung released OG note they din said it as a smart phone....they said it as whole new category...they dunno what to say...

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 00:38 2

47. SleepingOz (unregistered)

Well theoretically speaking the Note series with S-Pen and its awesome features can be considered as a new category. They are not just enlarged smartphones like Z Ultra, One Max, GPRO 2, L1520 and co..

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 07:21 1

58. sgodsell (Posts: 4897; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)

Samsung coined the term with their note line. To me the note with the spen will always be a phablet.

posted on 14 Apr 2014, 18:08

84. gigaraga (Posts: 1454; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)

Haha...not. Except that all the other makers are doing the same thing

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:39 7

2. Arte-8800 (banned) (Posts: 4562; Member since: 13 Mar 2014)

5.3 to 6.5 is I believe is a Phablet,,,,,

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:10 2

26. vincelongman (Posts: 5081; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)

I believe it should be measured by phone size (mainly height and width) not screen size.
140 x 70 mm and above is phablet

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:15

31. The-Sailor-Man (banned) (Posts: 1095; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)

iPoll .
Why do PA make this useless polls? Who they think, vote here?

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:47 3

4. jellmoo (Posts: 2041; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)

Honestly, the terminology is largely irrelevant. "Phablet" is just a convenient way of grouping a particular set of devices. You could just as easily say "5.5inch+ devices" or whatever definition you choose to use.

The term is convenient, nothing more. IF manufacturers don't wish to use it, it doesn't really matter. Media an enthusiasts will use it to differentiate between flagship sized devices, and larger niche devices.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:48

5. MeGustaHC (Posts: 8; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)

I believe 100cm2 phone is a Phablet and 70cm2 is a mini

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:50

6. hurrycanger (Posts: 1626; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)

Yup. "Smartphones have evolved enough to comprise all screen sizes, even beyond 6 inches". I had a lot of people asking me "What phone is that?" when i used my Galaxy Mega 6.3. So guess what? Even at its size, it passes as being "a phone".
I would still use that word "phablet", but then I would still call a phablet a phone. Phablet was never a word anyway, right? xD

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 19:02 3

16. GamasK (Posts: 22; Member since: 27 Jun 2013)

I used Galaxy Mega 6.3 and get the same question like you get

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:08 2

25. cory944 (Posts: 9; Member since: 04 Apr 2014)

same here, and I must say I love my samsung galaxy mega 6.3 and waiting for the new mega.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:50 5

7. zachattack (Posts: 621; Member since: 31 Jul 2013)

Fact 6 inches doesn't qualify as a smartphone and is too huge for a normal pocket. Not to mention they look goofy

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 21:23

32. The-Sailor-Man (banned) (Posts: 1095; Member since: 25 Mar 2014)

Who you are to "qualify" whatsoever???
And who are you to tell us what is "goofy"

By the way the name "phone" is the most wrong name for todays pocket devices. "Phone" is only app there, and usually NOT most used. ( just app like "calculator" or "GPS", "digital clock", "organizer"....
Even "tablet" is more correct . There ware 4" tablets befote the iphone.
"Fablet" is just BS name.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 22:07 1

38. zachattack (Posts: 621; Member since: 31 Jul 2013)

Manufacturers are stupid for going into 6 inches.... the iPhone is a laughable pathetic size and the entire screen is just apps making backgrounds useless. 5 inches is the perfect size for the average person unless you like squinting at your screen and or have small hands. It most certainly is goofy. Because tablets are 7 inches at the smallest I believe, so why the Hell would you make a phone that big.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 23:02

40. hurrycanger (Posts: 1626; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)

Huge phones bring those manufacturers money and customers. Calling them stupid doesn't even bring you a buck.
Sure, they are stupid...

posted on 05 Apr 2014, 22:57 1

71. g2a5b0e (Posts: 3823; Member since: 08 Jun 2012)

So glad to hear that you are the authority on what size phones manufacturers should be making & what people should be buying. Please guide us further in the industry with your infinite wisdom.

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 23:19 2

44. Taters (banned) (Posts: 6474; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)

The funny thing is that you can fit a 5.5 inch screen with the new HTC One dimensions. Or at least the one plus and sharp and probably LG and Samsung can.

So you shouldn't be championing that phone if you don't like phablet sizes. The HTC One is pretty damn close to a 6 inch phone in size with only a 5 inch screen.lol

I knew HTC fans sucked but this is just hilarious...

posted on 04 Apr 2014, 17:51 4

8. XperiaFanZone (Posts: 2226; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)

I like the term tabphone.

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