Is "phablet" a necessary word anymore?

Is "phablet" a necessary word anymore?
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

So, 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.

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?  

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
Nope. Smartphones have evolved enough to comprise all screen sizes, even beyond 6 inches

reference: Twitter

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