Death of the Smartphone: The Case for Phablets and Nanos


We’ve seen the trend of larger screens on our smartphones evolve for some time now. Then we saw the rise of the 10-inch tablet. Now we’re seeing 5-inch smartphones and 7-inch tablets. Now we have an entirely new category: the Phablet — part phone, part tablet.

The phablet is powerful enough to do all the “tablety” things a 7- or 10-inch tablet can do, has a good sized battery, but fits it inside a package that somehow manages to fit inside your pocket (as long as you have large pockets). Our smartphones, however, are getting larger and coming closer to the “phablet” size.  Isn’t there still a place for small phones? Will we be forced to pick between 5-inch, 7-inch, or 10-inch screens on our devices? What if we just want a compact device with a small (but usable) screen to use as an actual phone? Perhaps that’s what Samsung was thinking when they released their Galaxy S III Mini.

The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini

The SGSIII Mini isn’t what you might think. It’s not an SGSIII at all. Rather, it’s more like the “Samsung Galaxy Mini” — it doesn’t share any of the specs that you’d assume given it’s “SIII” moniker. Other than being poorly named, does the “Mini” really need the full specs of it’s full-sized sibling? I’d argue that it does not.

The “Mini” has a smaller screen with a lower resolution. That potentially equates to a substantial reduction in processing power needed to drive the UI on the device. This, in turn, potentially reduces the battery requirement to achieve the same up-time as it’s “bigger” brother. It’s a step back to the days when a phone was a phone. I miss those days.

Let’s not stop there

When I first saw Apple’s new iPod Nano I was overcome with inspiration. Since the original iPhone was essentially just an iPod Touch with a phone built in, why not make a phone in the same sized package as the new Nano?  Of course there are limitations on battery, processor, and storage, but we’re getting close to being able to do that, aren’t we?

When that day comes, why wouldn’t we go for a (very) small phone that focuses primarily on phone-tasks, and carry around a phablet or tablet when we need a larger screen? Are we getting to the point where the days of the current “smartphone” are numbered? Will we see a time when all we have left are “Nanos” and “phablets”? If so, would that be a bad thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.