Skip to main content

It is time to redefine the smartphone; phablets are the future of mobile

My Nokia Lumia 1520 is the perfect size device and everything else is just too small. Picking up a Lumia 1020 feels ridiculous and borrowing a friend’s Apple iPhone 5S to make a call feels like a joke. As the smartphone market evolves, I am no longer the only person to find a love for the “extra-large” phone. In a world where a 3.5” display was once gorgeous, 4.5” is the new standard and 5.5” is the future.

The Phablet

While you may think that your friend is just happy to see you – he is probably carrying a phablet. A combination of the word “phone” and “tablet, phablets are typically devices with 5-inch or larger displays. In the Windows Phone world, the Nokia Lumia 1520 rules as king with a 6-inch screen, but Samsung’s Galaxy Mega comes in as the largest mass produced device overall with a 6.3-inch screen.

Phablets are not just a passing fad though; in September of 2013, the International Data Corporation stated that phablets “overtook shipments of both laptops and tablets in Asian in the second quarter of 2013”. Clothing companies are also noticing the changes; in April of 2013, the vice president of Dockers clothing stated that they had noticed the trend in larger phones and have begun to resize the size of their pants pockets “to accommodate the growing size of smartphones”.

Not everyone has adopted phablets though, and you might be one of them. You might stare at a friend’s Nokia Lumia 1520 or Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and wonder when the technology market began to lose their minds. However, here is the deal, the way we use our smartphones are changing and the market is simply adapting to what people want.

The Thought Process

Think about how you use your phone. While you probably do use your smartphone to make calls, it does not take a social science major to realize that a majority of consumers use the devices more often to browse the web, update their social network statuses (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), take pictures, send text messages, and play games.

In a world where smartphones have become more than a way to place a phone call manufactures need to adapt to how consumers are using their devices. Tablets are great, but we cannot always take them everywhere we go. A phablet though, that is a device that can fit in our pocket and act as a “mini” portable tablet. The biggest problem is that some consumers are stuck in the world of Apple’s first iPhone. While many smartphones preceded the original iPhone, Apple made full size capacitive touch screens the new standard back in June of 2007.

However, the way we are using smartphones is changing – should we not adapt? The dream of having a tablet that we could fold up and put in our pockets is nothing new. In 2012, Sony released a foldable Android tablet known as the “Sony Tablet P”. The device was a failure in terms of sales and was plagued by a collection of problems including an awkward border between the two screens and lack of software support, but it did give us a taste of the future to come.

The Takeaway

So here is what we want you to do, if you are someone that just does not understand the idea of phablets we want you to look at the devices differently. Think of the most common tasks you perform on your smartphone and think about what screen size would make those activities most comfortable. Typing emails, playing games, and editing photos are all great activities for tablet or phablet sized devices.

Get past the notion of “phones” and start thinking of “tablets” instead  and what you may think is a ridiculously sized device might be the perfect day-to-day companion.

If we have piqued your interest in the world of phablets, you can checkout our full review on the Nokia Lumia 1520 by clicking here!

269 Comments
  • Lumia 1520 FTW !!!
  • Great article...   For those in the US on AT&T.....
  • Great Article!
    I LOVE MY LUMIA 1520!!!
    Read my story of how I arrived to the best Phablet(LSD) on the Market!!!
    This is really an awesome productivity device and is an asset as a professional tool. It is also naturally a optimal entertainment device. My Road to the Nokia Lumia 1520
    http://jltechword.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/my-road-to-the-nokia-lumia-1520/
  • Lovely story, glad you're enjoying the phone. I'll have to try out the note features in rooms when I go shopping with my husband too. :-)
  • +1520!!
  • Moral of the story; size does matter !~!
  • Agreed
  • This is a great article but let's talk about tablet like functionality and does the 1520 need it. I was reading a review somewhere that compared the 1520 to the Note 3 and they made a very fair assessment that I can't really argue with. The 1520 is more of just a bigger phone than a phablet. The Note can do special things that the Galaxy S4 can't. But what can the 1520 do that the Icon or 920 can't? With that thought simmering your thinking pots, which unique phablet features would you like to see added to the 1520? For me personally, I could fall in love with a snapping apps for multitasking option implemented similar to what's on Windows 8. Imagine doing a video Skype call while browsing the WPCentral app at the same time ON YOUR PHONE!  Let that sink in. I'm excited.lol
  • And stylus support, ofc.
  • Heck yeah!
  • Yeah, I'm not going to take advice from a guy who wears a wallet chain.
  • That's actually Daniel's trousers, not Archambault's lol
  • I'm disturbed by your knowledge of Daniel's pants.
  • You wouldn't if you had read and watched the video review of the Nokia L1520 ;)
  • +1
     
  • Too much knowledge about Danny boy..Somethins fishy..  
  • Perhaps they swap pants in wpcentral...
  • For the record... that is Dan. ;) Haha.
  • LOL
    Figures.
  • He's even got an Icon i suppose?
  • Nothing wrong with a wallet chain... I used to wear one.
  • LOL!
  • Whom does the1520 and 1020 belong to-you or Daniel?
  • My next phone purchase will be a phablet. I love my 928, but want something larger next time.
  • Same. I keep looking the the icon but am in love with the 1520
  • When I looked at the Icon it just didn't look much different than the 928.
  • I'm the opposite.  I was in the MS Store and saw both phones.  The Icon Screen was just unreal!  While the 1520 didn't seem as huge as I remembered I was just amazed at the Icon.  So Glad MS store allow you to take phones off of the display.  I was able to put them side by side and just liked the Icon more.
  • Ya the Icon screen is nice. Ideally I would like the Icon with a 6in screen. I need the extra screen as I do team viewer from my phone if I don't have my tablet with me. That's why I'm leaning towards the 1520 pearly for screen size alone.
  • I also would like a phablet as my next phone. I did think about not having a smartphone / phone at all and perhaps carrying a 7-8inch tablet instead, since i rarely make actual phone calls (i could skype instead). But i would still need a cellular connection. This leaves me choosing; a cellular ipad mini, or a portable wifi/dongle thing. In the end though i imagine it is much easier to just get a phablet and forget about a 7-8inch tablet. Its all about reducing the amount of devices we need to carry. Not sure why people would carry a 4inch iphone, 10inch ipad and 13inch macbook... I intend to have a 6inch phablet and 10inch surface pro/2.
  • Agreed. Since you can get tablets with a cell single might as well go either route.
  • Off topic: I find it funny when shopping for a surface pro, shops cant decide what it is... When there is a discount on tablets, the pro is classed as a laptop. When there is a discount on laptops, the pro is suddenly a tablet.
  • Why not pay for a mobile hotspot?
  • Exactly what I have Xarok and it's perfect. No need even for a desktop PC.
  • It partially answers the question I had about carrying a phablet around with Dockers resizing the pockets. Those of you who do not wear Dockers, how are you carrying your phablet?  I'd have to try one for a while to see if I like it.  The bigger screen is probably better but there needs to be a trade off for portability.   Also for times when I leave the phone on my desk and start txting away, don't need the boss seeing my big phablet while I'm doing that.
  • My 1520 fits in every pair of pants I've tried to put it in that I own. None are Dockers brand.
  • I have a L920 and I know that that my next device will definitely have a 5inch display, but I am really interested in something possibly bigger. I definitely think 4.5 inchea is great, but I am definitely interested in something larger. The only issue I have is carrying it around. But many of you say the L1520 fits fine...
  • Same here man, I have 920 and I love it, but I surely would like to try 5 inch phone... Maybe 5,5 inch. My sister has her 1320, and it is nice device, but 6" just seems too big... At least for now.
  • Unless you're a fan of jeggings, you will have no issue carrying the 1520 around in your pockets--front or back. I'm a gal, and I have no trouble at all (supposedly our pockets are made smaller, so you should be fine). The ONLY thing I do not like about the 1520 is holding it to my ear to converse because I have trouble finding the "sweet spot" for the best place to hold it and clearly hear the person I'm speaking with. But since most of my calls are made on bluetooth in the car or on speaker at home, it's not an issue 99% of the time. I was shopping 8" tablets before I purchased the 1520, and have not even thought about it since my phablet arrived. It's not for everyone, but if you use your phone more for everything but handset calls (and I have to say that encompasses the large majority of people I know), then a phablet would be a revolutionary device for you to deem your daily driver. Get a sim card adapter and change phones when you need to move to something smaller on occasion.
  • My 1520 fits in all my jeans (different brands, I'm a Goodwill guy typically for casual wear), chinos, suit slacks, and jacket breast pockets. I haven't gotten to try it in any shorts yet, of course, but while some may be problematic I tend to wear cargo shorts most of the time and I'd be surprised if there was a difference from jeans there.
    I am a big guy, though, so the pockets on my clothes may be bigger than standard, I can't say for sure there. My slacks tend to be 34 x 32 if that helps.
  • Thanks for this real-world usage anecdote! As a guy on the bigger side as well, I appreciate your input. I keep putting off just buying this phone (currently on a 920 - which has always felt a little small to me). I just can't bring myself to buy ATT's gimped version. But now that I can buy the "1520.3" (RM-938) at Negri, it's getting harder to resist snagging one.  http://negrielectronics.com/nokia-lumia-1520-3-unlocked-black.html#.Uyml...
  • The 1520 fits no problem.. Just use one for a day, or so, and you'll forget its bigger than your old phone.. But, you'll realize how foolish it is using a smaller phone when larger ones are available...
    ......................
    People who say that a 6" phone is two big are closed minded, scared to try something new, have never tried one, or are fictionally tiny people.. Lol! The 1520 is In no way huge, and I actually feel that it's normal sized now... To me a phablets is 7"-8".. Basically a tablet with a phone attached to it... Seriously!! The 1520 is not a Phablet!.. You guys just think small phones are regular sized.. Lol!
  • At the end of the day its up to the consumer to decide what works best for them. I love the screen on the 1520 but I can't see myself carrying that phone in my pocket all day its just too big for me. 5 to 5.5 inches is ideal for me
  • That's exactly what I'm talking about... See, you say.. "I can't see myself carrying that phone in my pocket all day"... That's what we keep trying to tell people.. It's really not as cumbersome as you would think, and it's actually no big deal at all... By not at least trying this phone out for a few days, or a week, people really are shorting themselves ASSUMING that it's to big.... What's wrong with having a bigger screen if it doesn't get in the way?❔
  • I actually did try this phone out for about a week and I just can't deal with this in my pocket in or outside of work. That was the deal breaker and only concern for me. I do think its a great device and you made a good point
  • Nobody told you to keep wearing those skinny jeans... Lol!!❕❕
  • Lol
  • I am thinking of exchanging my 925 for 1520.
  • Go ahead, you won't regret it. I did and love the difference
  • Even i can do that. Problem is Money
  • Do it❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕❕
  • I waited long time for a change, I had the 900 and moved to a 1520.  At the beginning it felt big... but it was just like a couple of days, then 1520 is the normal size. My kid of almost 3 years old, always want my phone to be playing around in kids corner, he really loves it --that's why I have it on a case--. Just stay away of the double tap to wake setting, it completely messes thing up.
  • Never had problems with double tap to wake......
    .....................
    But, yeah.. The 1520 feels completely normal after a few days, and kinda makes you feel foolish for staring at a "tiny" screen before... You get used to it very easily, but you still notice, and enjoy, the fact that you're using a gorgeous 6" 1080p screen.
  • Why exactly do you want me to do that?
  • Hoping ATT comes to their senses and reinstalls Qi in the 1520. I'm up for a renewal in November and I want a 1520.
  • Hahahaahahaaahaahahaha
  • Not going to happen, I don't think, but the ATT 1520 was otherwise such a great deal and such an awesome device overall I really haven't worried too much about not having Qi. Besides, the battery life on the 1520 is so good that it really doesn't need "topping off" during the day, anyway.
  • I though the same about qi charging but this beast last 2 maybe 3 days my 920 needed charging every night
  • By November hopefully we will have a "1530" with a 6.4" screen like the Sony Experia Z Ultra... That would be cool❕❕❕... I'm on AT&T's next plan, so I can already upgrade my 1520 in December❕❕
  • I'm very happy with my Lumia 1320. Phablets FTW !! :) And yup all my pant pockets are big enough into which I can easily slide my phone. ;)
  • I would love to get my hands on the 1320. I own a 1520, but I have really liked the shape of the 1320
  • Personally phabets are just too inconvenient. Besides the fact you look like an idiot making a phone call on them (they are phones, after all), they are seriously huge and I can't imagine how hard it would be to carry those things round in jean pockets, or in a jacket pocket; it's just feel like carrying a giant slab
  • You can always get the HTC remote thingy ;)
  • Criticism always comes down to ego because owners have documented that they are not unwieldy and they are easy to handle.  Seriously, you wouldn't buy a better device because of how you think you look?  Get that ego in check!
  • I know plenty of people that have iPhones, because they would rather have a crappy phone and look "hip", than have a great phone.
  • How about people who have an iPhone despite disliking iOS simply because it's the only high end phone in a small size? 
  • Literally the only time I ever have a problem with the 1520's size is if I am sitting in the truck with it in my pocket and need to get it out. I have to lean away from it a little bit to open up the pocket a little more, but that was also an issue with my 900.
    As to "looking stupid", I just chuckle at anyone who gawks. Most reactions I get turn from incredulous to envious when I show off how beautiful the screen is and how fast and fluid it runs.
  • I can't tell how many people at my job are in awe of how big my phone is. Plus they all think it is really cool.
  • Ohhhh do I agree? Yes i do! I've gone from an iPhone 5 to a Lumia 1520 and I wont go back to a smaller screen!
  • The thing I do most with my phone is operate it with one hand. So I'm not going to buy a phone I can't use one handed.
  • Just curious--what are you doing with your other hand when operating your phone with one?
  • Something other than balancing the size of the phone so you don't drop it, ideally.
  • LOL
  • Usually holding something, such as my tablet, a notepad, shopping, lunch, etc. I use my phone a lot while walking between places and I usually need to bring something else with me.
  • THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS
  • +930
  • Ditto. While I usually type with two thumbs, I do everything else with just one hand. On 4.5" I already feel like I'm going to drop my phone trying to tap the top left, and I have to frequently change the position of the phone when switching between far corners. Which is fine, because I love 4.5", but I would find anything larger very difficult. I've tried a friend's 1520, and I appreciate the size. And I fully understand that they love it. But I couldn't use it myself.
  • Exactly! And here I thought I was going crazy, no one seems to understand that one-handed use is awesome. The 1520 looks really nice, and I get that it's better for playing games and watching movies, but if I can't use it with one hand, it's not for me. The 4.5" is difficult enough as it is to reach across. 
  • Yeah, I see why the demand for them is supposedly growing. Having a large display for consumption is appealing to alot of people. But for me personally, I don't like the idea of maneuvering my hand (and risk dropping the phone) to reach something at the top corner of the screen, or put down whatever is occupying my other hand at the time.
  • This is the only fair criticism to a big phone, IMHO. While I typically use my 1520 one-handed, I realize that is only possible because I have such big paws and most folks wouldn't be able to do the same.
    There are many advantages, though, to having a giant screen, and one of my favorites is the stellar battery life. I never get less than 15 hours, even with the heaviest use. I love that.
  • All forms of this.
  • Yeah I totally agree.  I switched from a 920 to the Moto X and I can't believe how much more convenient a smaller thinner phone is.  The overall dims are less but the screen is actually larger (4.7 compared to 4.5).  If I want something larger to use when I'm at home on the couch I'll use my Lenovo Yoga or I've actually been thinking about getting a Nexus 7 or iPad mini.
  • When I first got the Lumia 920, I though it was gigantic compared to the previous phone I had, the LG Quantum at 3.5", and the now miniscule looking Motorola Backflip at 3.2" (yes, I used to use Android... never again, though!). Now that I look at it, the 920 now seems "normal" and at times, actually seems a bit small. It's weird how that works.
  • Same here! I loved my Lumia 800's 3.7" screen and thought of the Lumia 925 4.5" screen as a gigantic one, now that I look back to the L800's screen, I see it too small, and see my L925's as a good size, but probably will see it small when get used to a L1520 6" screen hahaha, I can't imagine using a phone with a bigger screen than 6", but who knows maybe with flexible screen we will be able to carry 9" phone screens or bigger XD hahahaha
  • I have to say that no matter what comes out or how big phones become the 920 was always too heavy and bulky. I had one for about a year.
  • Still not calling them phablets. They're just phones. Bigger phones. But hell no am I calling them pha-- actually I'm not even going to type that word twice.
  • I completely agree. The name is stupid and they should jsut be referred to as "phones" or "big-ass phones" if you prefer.
  • I prefer "big-ass phones" lol
  • It sounds kinda gay, doesn't it?
  • Phabulous!
  • lol
  • +infinity
  • I've already given up my keyboard and stylus and now this? Fuck...
  • Right!
  • A keyboard would be great...
  • I hope there are still 4.5-5" phones made. For me, that's the sweet spot. Hopefully thre is still a demand for that screen size (like the Lumia Icon and such). Otherwise I'll have to end up using the low-end specs since the smaller than standard screensizes end up not getting any spec love as the mobile races move forward.
  • I think you're right. I think that is the sweet spot as well. But I think 4.5-5.5 is going to be the sweet spot once these bezels are made smaller. Even the L1520 which sports a 6 inch display can reduce its footprint by sizing down the bezel.
  • Bingo, absolutely concur.    I believe there is only one 5 inch Windows Phone, no?   The Icon...    The Windows Phone market has yet to in any way fully exploit what I, like you, believe to be the optimal size for displays at this time. I expect the next wave of phone will have a number of models with five inch displays.   I think it would be inane of the market to not respond to that segment.    Displays larger than five are still going to be more of a niche. Finally like aehhaeh, I think that once attention is paid to reducing the bezel we will have some very attractive phones who's displays will be from 5-5.5 and that size will be the sweet spot for the market.
  • I like the 5" as the sweet spot as well. The Icon is only a tad bigger than the 928 but made more use of the surronding bezel. 
  • lol
  • Note 3's size is perfect.hope nokia can release a wp in the same size with atleast 5.5" screen.
  • I would have to a agree. When holding them both in store the 1520 is slightly too big and the note 3 is just right. Although i could probably get used to the 1520...
  • You mean the lumia icon??
  • I think the size of my Icon is just perfect. I'm not sure how I would feel handling anything larger.
  • The perfect device which should come out for all countries.
  • I want the Lumia Icon sooo bad!
  • For people who put more weight on using it as a tablet, sure phablet is the way to go, saves you the money for buying both devices individually.
    However, there are still lots of people who don't have the need of a tablet, ergo also none for a phablet.
    I sincerely hope phone manufacturers will never completely shift to 5"+
  • My thoughts exactly. I can't find a use for the surface. And, yes, I gotta be able to use the phone with one hand.
  • I want a phablet. Think T-mobile will ever get one? Edit: a windows phone phablet I mean.
  • Okay, I see your point about phablets thinking of them more as tablets. I like my Icon and think 5 inches is perfect I don't even consider the Icon a phablet. I saw the 1520 that thing is stupid big for a phone in my opinion. But if I had the option of only carrying a phablet that is 6 inches or more around I would want an 8 inch screen for more space. I would use a headset to make phone calls.
  • Perfectly happy with the size of my Icon. I wouldn't go bigger.
  • When will other US carriers have this phone? AT&T has the monopoly on this device.
  • Yeah, for those of us who DON'T do huge amount of gaming or video streaming, "phablets" (I hate that sophomoric word) are a tad overkill. I do moderate gaming and read websites, but otherwise I need a solid phone, so 6" is just a little large. There is no doubt larger screens own the mobile world, I just feel the 4.7"-5.4" device will be the norm, with 5.6"-6.4" being great sellers but more for the multimedia users.
  • +1520  
  • Yeah, I completely disagree with you.
    Phablets may become popular among a very niche segment of the consumer market, but they're not going to become the new standard. There's market outside tech-sites. Every time I read someone say that I realize how detached from reality they are. We have still to transition from feature phones to smartphones. Feature phones are still massively sold and used. For many many people, what's important is a phone. Not a mini-tablet. We would have to first watch the transition from feature phones to smartphones. And only then will we be able to see what the market demands. Truth is, for many many people, they just want a manageable smartphone. As long as they can do calls, get sms, access Facebook and Instagram and the phone has a somewhat decent camera, they're good. The normal consumer doesn't watch videos on their phones, nor write essays on the phones. The normal user has absolutely no use for a gigantic screen on a phone. Which is why the iPhone is still so popular. Because it offers people a powerful phone without the unnecessary size and ridiculous gimmicks of stuff like the Samsung Note like or the LG Flex. Phone sizes will keep going up and down. That's been that way for years. The phones got bigger, than ultra-small, now they're getting bigger again...and soon enough they'll start shrinking again because people will get sick of carrying around massive screens because it's simply not practical for daily use.
  • +920
  • I certainly agree that tech writers and us geeks have a different mindset and expectations than many people.   I also agree that the transition from feature phone to smartphone is still very much underway.  I haven't seen the figure for smartphone penetration in the US recently, but the last time I saw it I think it was fifty percent or seventy percent.   There's still millions of feature phones that can be replaced. Where I disagree is that I do not believe that screens will become appreciably smaller.    The overall trend is towards larger screens, and I don't see that as swinging back to small screens.   That said, a tendency towards larger is not always optimal for most people.   There is an upper limit.  Personally, and I think that many of us will agree, I think that Windows Phone has only started to explore the optimal range for displays, right around 5 inches.   Once the bezel is shrunk we can push up the display size a tad more, and at that point I believe that with the right design 5 to 5.5 will remain an optimal point for the largest segment of the market for quite some time.
  • Agree, I and many friends still wish to operate a mobile phone with one hand only. Sub 5" phone is big enough for most of the task. In Asia, hands of ladies are small so sub 5" phone is more suitable for them to carry.
  • I'll take the icon when glance is added
  • "What is this world coming to?"   *Old Man's Voice*
  • Lol. It has to fit in your pocket. In my eyes that's the deciding factor. I would it up breaking the 1520. I have a work phone and a personal phone. There both 920s red and white. I had the 1020 nice phone but to slow. It should of had quad core in it. . Phablet simply doesn't fit into everyone's life.
  • +930
  • Yip that's what im waiting on. I hope its same as 920 on better
  • What do you mean the 1020 is too slow? Especially compared to the 920 there is zero difference in speed... But yeah I agree a quad core 1020 would be awesome.
  • Lol. It has to fit in your pocket. In my eyes that's the deciding factor. I would end up breaking the 1520. I have a work phone and a personal phone. There both 920s red and white. I had the 1020 nice phone but to slow. It should of had quad core in it. . Phablet simply doesn't fit into everyone's life.
  • Deja vu
  • The Nokia Icon is perfect in terms of size and its screen resolution, as you can fit more on a 1080p resolution screen. I tried earnestly to look at a 1520, and I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. (That, and the AT&T network repulses me...yeah, you read that right. ;)) So, when I can, Icon all the way. :)
  • Still interested in a Windows 8 Phone, maybe a phablet is the best bet
  • Used my father's old Note II extensively & wasn't comfortable with it.
    I like the Lumia 1520, but not enough to get one. Plus, aside from a larger screen, can't think of anything that Big Phones can do that Little Phones can't.
  • I had a girlfriend that used to console me in very much the same way...         P.S.  it's a joke
  • Pass
  • My 920 is about as big as I can go. Typing on a phablet is like punching in numbers on a calculator for those of us with smaller hands. I'm content to move to my Surface if I need more screen space. That said, not everyone has a purse so I can see the use of large screen phones versus multiple devices.
  • Believe it or not the 1520 is surprisingly comfortable to hold, and put in your pocket. Assuming you have decent sized hands and don't wear the tightest skinny jeans on earth.
  • Lol, no skinny jeans for me. Those things were never designed for anyone with a booty. Beside, I don't keep my phone in a pocket. Most women's jeans don't give you much space to store anything.