According to a new survey conducted by Juniper Research, phablets have been widely successful in the market so far with over 20 million units sold in 2013. We saw quite a few phablets launching last year, including the likes of the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the LG G Flex and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.
The research further claims that this figure will reach 120 million by 2018, suggesting a massive increase in production and demand for phablets. Juniper’s research took devices with a display size of over 5.6 inches into consideration, which covers almost every phablet out there.
Samsung was brave enough to launch one of the first phablets in 2011, which turned out to be a masterstroke by the company. So it’s no surprise that the Galaxy Note is one of the highest selling phablets in the world today, despite the presence of several other phablets in the market. However, things could be slightly different in 2014 where we expect a lot more phablets to be announced, so the competition is certainly going to get tougher.
The word phablet was coined soon after Samsung launched the first gen Galaxy Note smartphone in 2011 which was partly a tablet and a smartphone, due to its odd size. It was immediately written off as a niche device and some reviewers didn’t seem pretty convinced with the idea. However, two years on, the Galaxy Note is among the most widely spoken about devices every year and Samsung’s marketing department has to take a chunk of the credit for that. This has led other companies like Sony, LG, HTC and even Nokia to venture into the phablet segment with their own devices, albeit to very little success compared to the Galaxy Note.
And we might see this trend going forward as analyst Bob O’Donnell from Technalysis Research now claims that the phablet segment could soon overtake the small sized tablet category which includes the likes of the Nexus 7, the Apple iPad Mini and the Amazon Kindle Fire among several others. Of course, this is merely a prediction at this point and only time will tell if any of this bears weight, but it’s not completely impossible looking at the pace at which manufacturers are launching smartphones with a display of over 5.5 inches. The fact that phablets are more portable than a budget tablet and act as a regular phone (calls, texts etc) makes it an alluring option for people willing to have the best of both worlds. We can expect more phablets launching next year with a majority of them coming from LG, Samsung and Chinese manufacturers, but don’t expect the likes of Sony, HTC or maybe even Motorola to lag far behind either.
Intel chips for entry-level tablets will be available in the coming year, according to a new report from Taiwanese supply chain sources. This information is indicated in the company’s roadmap, which says that its new chip series will be present in tablets as early as the first quarter of 2014.
7-inch tablets with prices between US$99-129 are expected to pack the Bay Trail Z3735D series. 7- and 8-inch tablets with prices around US$149-199 will also feature said chip.
These figures are consistent with the statement of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who said last month that Android tablets with Intel chipsets could be priced as low as $150. Krzanich, who also announced the impending arrival of the Bay Trail processors, emphasized to the company’s investors that tablets with Intel chips would cost significantly less than the Apple iPad.
Meanwhile, Bay Trail and Cherry Trail chips will be present in 8- to 10-inch tablets that cost between US199-249, as well as 10-inchers which have prices above US$249.
Cherry Trail will not be unveiled until September of next year, however. According to Intel, this will be based on 14nm Airmont architecture, and will be able to support both Android and Windows 8 and 8.1.
Another upcoming Intel chip to support Android is Willow Trail, which will be based on 14nm Goldmont architecture. This chip will be available during the fourth quarter of next year.
Intel continues to aim getting its chip on more Android smartphones, as well. In the first quarter and third quarter of 2014, the company will release Merrifield and Moorefield. These chips may be used on smartphones as well as tablets, says Intel.
With this new lineup, Intel seems determined to take control of the market, from the low-end up to the high-end segments.
2014 may be the year of 6-inch mobile LCD panels with resolutions of 2560 x 1600 pixels (WQXGA) and pixel densities of 500 pixels per inch. This information comes from Korea’s ET News, which cites industry insiders from Korea and Japan as its source. Such LCD panels are an improvement over the 5-inch 1080p displays with pixel densities of 440 pixels per inch, which have been the best that mobile device makers had been able to offer this year.
According to ET News, LG Display, Japan Display, and Sharp are three of the companies working on said displays.
To produce the screens with more than 500 ppi, LG Display will reportedly use Advanced high performance-In plane switching or AH-IPS. Meanwhile, Japan Display and Sharp are also attempting to develop the technology so that they will be able to supply Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Both Samsung and LG are supposedly considering using Japan-made panels.
ET News reports that even with the full HD displays offered today, consumers are still demanding for displays that show crisper and more vibrant images and text.
Surveys show that young mobile device users are able to detect a difference between a display that has a 400 ppi versus that which has a 500 ppi. Furthermore, the growing number of phablets would necessitate better displays.
On the other hand, a contradicting study cited by Phonearena claims that generally, consumers are not able to tell apart a 1080p display from a 720p display from a regular viewing distance. This raises the question of whether there is a need to keep improving the pixel densities and resolutions on mobile devices.
Phonearena notes that as early as 2011, Toshiba reported that it had been able to produce a 1600p display. Japan Display and Sharp have also released 1600p displays in 2012.