For the past three years, my primary go-to smartphones have been Plus-sized iPhones. I’ve never thought of them as anything other than, well, smartphones. But research firm IDC classifies them–and all other smartphones with screens between 5.5″ and 7″ in size–as “phablets,” a term that first gained currency when Samsung released its original Galaxy Note in 2011.
And now IDC says that it expects phablets shipments to exceed those of what it calls “regular smartphones” by 2019. Among iPhones, it believes that Plus-sized models and the iPhone X will make up at least 50% of Apple’s shipments next year.
Back in 2011, the original Galaxy Note was shockingly large, even though its 5.3″ display wouldn’t make it a phablet by IDC’s current standards. Looking at that Note and other big-boy devices of the era as straddling the definitions of phones and tablets made sense. But it’s long been clear that an awful lot of consumers like their phone screens big–and if those folks will soon be the majority, it’s time to stop thinking of their devices as a distinct variant of the smartphone requiring its own category name. After all, when was the last time you heard anyone not in the tech industry talk about owning a phablet?
But maybe we do need a special term for models with screens smaller than 5.5″. How about “smallphone?”