Phablets are a passing phase

More than a billion smartphones and tablets are in use around the world, and research outfit Flurry has detected more than 2,000 unique device models so far. 

Rapid development has resulted in a multitude of form factors, from tiny smartphones to huge tablets, but it appears some of these form factors are just fads. One of the biggest fads, quite literally, seem to be phablets.

Flurry found that so-called phablets account for just two to three percent of device usage. This means there aren’t too many of them out there, despite the fact that major outfits like Samsung have embraced them wholeheartedly. Phablets, with their oversized 5+ inch screens, just seem to be a bit too much for the average consumer.

The survey shows that 16 percent of connected devices have screens of up to 3.5 inches, and it is a safe guess that most of them are old iPhones. Mid-sized devices, with screens ranging from 3.5 to 4.9 inches, account for 69 percent of the market. Phablets got just two percent. 

Moving beyond phones, small tablets with 7- to 8.4-inch screens, account for six percent of connected devices out there, while full sized tablets, with 8.5-inch or bigger screens, end up with seven percent. 

The numbers show a couple of interesting trends. Consumers seem more than willing to pick up small and medium sized tablets, which comes as no surprise. In fact, many analysts believe the next big thing in the tablet market will be cheap and cheerful 7-inchers, like Google’s Nexus 7 and Apple’s iPad mini.

The other trend indicates that overhyped phablets are just a fad. Even upcoming mid-range phones tend to ship with rather spacious screens, while flagship models already feature 1080p screens larger than 4.7 inches. Phablets are now just marginally bigger, with screens ranging from 5.2 to 5.5 inches. The added bulk does not appear to justify the additional screen acreage, it seems.