Is a big screen enough to be a “phablet”?

Phablets have come into the mobile space consciousness in a big way (no pun intended) recently with the announcement of two, relatively large (prominent, pun a little intended) devices into the phablet space – the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Motorola made Nexus 6. Both of these phones fall into the phablet category, at least by some definitions. So let’s take a look here and see if we can figure out exactly what these definitions are.

Some will argue that a phablet needs something more than just a large screen. After all, a phone with a large screen is still a “phone” because it makes “phone” calls. This is a fair point. So those folks tend to argue that something else needs to be present in order to differentiate them from the concept of the “phone.” Michael Fisher is a proponent of this theory (if I remember correctly).

samsung_galaxy_note_stylus (1)Put the style in stylus

A stylus is often the first feature mentioned when trying to make this point. After all, if a phablet has a stylus, a lot more is possible with the device. Accuracy of tapping, additional features, plus just the fact that you kinda-sorta get a “mouse” like experience is enough to really make phablets distinct from their smaller resolutioned bretheren.

And speaking of screen size, is it necessary to actually use that screen size effectively? Some will argue that in order for a phablet to really be a phablet, there has to be some kind of multi window capability. What’s the point of having a surfboard in your pants if you can’t do more than just write a tweet? This is a fair point as well.

These theories probably stem from the line of phones that really helped define the term phablet to begin with – the Samsung Galaxy Note. These phones helped shape what the world would come to see as the phablet and these phones include a stylus and multi-window support. Sure, at this point, other devices incorporate one or both of those elements as well. Windows Phone criminally does not, even though one great implementation already exists in Windows 8. That is, however, a different conversation. But one of these two features is needed to really call a phone a “phablet” instead of just a “big phone”.

lumia 1520 lumia 925And yet…

The word “phablet” comes from the combination of “phone” and “tablet”. This is not unlike the term “Branjolina” but with far fewer adopted children. So presumably, a phablet is a term used to describe a phone with a big screen, but not a big enough screen to be called a “tablet.” This makes sense in a lot of ways. After all, a phone is small enough to hold up to your face because, well, it’s a phone and people should occasionally talk on it, should they be so inclined.

A phablet on the other hand is going to be on the larger side and geared more toward content consumption whether it’s on the web, in a game, or streaming from a video service. Bigger is better.

Business people who just can’t seem to leave work at work also fancy fabulous phablets. They want to work on their fancy spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations while they’re at home sipping their brandy and talking to their wives who also happen to be named Brandy. I know. Weird.

By definition

SNexus 6 screen and front-firing speakerso a phone with a larger than life screen needs to fall into its own category. After all, going by the definition of “something between phone and tablet” really only has to mean a larger screen. It’s not like tablets really offer more in the way of screen real estate usage. There may be some screen optimization in tablet apps, but that’s more a function of the app, not the OS. Tablets do not generally have multi-windows support and many don’t include a stylus, so how this definition started, I’m not really sure.

As you can see, I’m on the latter side of the argument. A phone with a big-as-hell screen is a phablet. I tend to draw the line at 5.5 inches. If it’s smaller, it’s a phone. If it’s bigger it’s a phablet. I don’t need screen optimization nor an accessory to call a phone a phablet. But that’s the beautiful thing about the weekend debate – you’re allowed and even encouraged to disagree.

So where do you stand in the phablet space? Do you need additional stuff to call a phone a phablet? Or is just a larger screen enough to pigeonhole this puppy – as long as you have a sufficiently large pigeonhole? Go ahead and sound off below, be lively, and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!