I was asking a friend of mine on Google+, how we now define a phablet. The query became relevant because of the imminent release in the market of the LG G2, a new 5.2-inch smartphone. Traditionally (if two years is long enough to establish a tradition) phablets have been defined as devices with displays larger than 5-inches and smaller than 7-inches. Devices 5-inches or smaller are smartphones, and those 7-inches or larger are tablets even if they have call and text functionality.
The term “phablet” is now an official part of the Oxford Dictionary and is defined as “a smartphone having a screen which is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer.” The scholars at Oxford Dictionaries were wise enough not to include the display size as part of the definition. Wise because it looks like Samsung will continue to increase display size for so long as they can maintain the width of the case within certain limits. If we look at the Samsung Galaxy Note series, the screen size has progressively increased with each model. The original Galaxy Note had a 5.3-inch display, the second iteration had a 5.5-inch display, and the latest Galaxy Note 3 has a 5.7-inch display. The width of the device has actually gotten narrower each year, from 83 mm for the original model, to 80.5 mm for the Note II, and with the current model at 79.2 mm.
So it looks like, as Samsung continues to be able slim down the bezel, the company will continue to increase the size of the display. The Samsung Galaxy S4 with its 5-inch display has a width of 69.8 mm. The Galaxy S III has a 4.8-inch display in a case with a width of 70.6 mm. So we can expect Samsung to put the largest display it can fit in a 70 mm wide case for the Galaxy S5, and follow LG to the 5+ inch smartphone territory. LG managed to fit in a 5.2-inch display into a 70.9 mm wide case, just 0.3 mm wider than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and which is a hair slimmer than the 71 mm wide Sony Xperia Z. Notably, the 5-inch Sony Xperia Z1 Honami is 74 millimeters wide, and I think we would still consider this a smartphone. LG or Samsung could fit an even larger 5.4, or so, inch display into 74 millimeters.
The solution proposed was simply, do not call them phablets at all. Simply refer to them as 5.7-inch smartphones. Setting a numerical boundary which is revised each year appears to be senseless, as technology moves forward in an attempt to shrink the bezel into extinction.