Phablets: Consumers might not like the name, but they sure love these mobile devices.
Defined as a smartphone with a display size bigger than 5.1 inches, phablets have been around for almost five years. At first, mobile users were hesitant. Some thought that these smartphones were too large to fit in pockets, others asserted that they just don't need a screen that huge. But now, phablets are the fastest growing sector of the mobile device market.
The phorce is strong with phablets
According to Yahoo-owned analytics company Flurry, consumers increased the time they spent using phablets by 334% between 2014 and 2015. This absolutely dwarfs the growth rate of other mobile devices, with the closest competitors being medium phones at 85% and small tablets at 81%. Either way, it's pretty clear that consumers love mobile devices that toe the line between smartphone and tablet.
"Phablet use rose 334% between 2014 and 2015."
In fact, phablets are stealing the limelight from PCs. Forbes contributor Jay Somaney cited IDC researchers who said that PC sales were the worst in 2015 since 2008, as manufacturers shipped less than 300 million of those systems. Meanwhile, phablet sales rose.
The interest in phablets makes sense. As smartphones improve with respect to performance, displays get better and better, and mobile apps provide more functionality, consumers are turning to these devices as their sole computing system. Furthermore, the price of smartphones and tablets has remained steady, prompting many to buy one or the other. And how can someone live without a smartphone? So, consumers split the different and picked up a phablet.
Just the beginning
The phablet trend isn't stopping anytime soon. With wearables growing in abundance, consumers might just opt for a smartwatch on their wrists and a phablet in their pockets.
According to Flurry, phablets accounted for 27% of all mobile devices and 50% of all Android devices opened on Christmas morning. By the end of 2016, Flurry researchers forecast that a majority of consumer-owned mobile devices will be phablets. By the second quarter of 2017, phablets will have 59% of market share.
Why we should care
Mobile app developers obviously need to take note of the booming popularity of phablets. With most U.S. and U.K. mobile device users favoring screens around 5.3 inches in size — according to the Times of India — apps need to be built and tested with that display size in mind.
This is particularly important to note when performing mobile app testing. Larger screens must be accounted for, but at the same time, dev and test teams cannot forget about the portion of the market still using smaller touchscreen devices and larger tablets. The best way to test an app across that wide variety of mobile devices will be with automation solutions.
The increased use of phablets will also push developers and testers to analyze their mobile traffic and customer usage data to determine what display sizes their users are actually using and use this data to inform their app testing.