When Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note in 2011, it was a bold move for the Korean electronics giant. With its 5.3-inch display, the smartphone was much bigger than Samsung’s flagship model, the 4.3-inch Galaxy SII, and the included stylus appeared like a relic from the pre-touchscreen era. Industry experts and tech journalists were largely sceptical whether the Note could find an audience. The device seemed too big to be used one-handedly, let alone to fit in a pants pocket.
Against all odds, the Galaxy Note became a success, selling more than 10 million units in its first year and spawning a new device category. The term phablet, a portmanteau of phone and tablet, refers to smartphones with 4.6 to 6.5-inch screens that are meant to combine the functionalities of smartphones and tablets.
According to ABI Research, more than 80 million phablets were shipped in 2012 and that number is expected to grow to 385 million by 2017.
Phablets are especially popular in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year, the region accounted for 42 percent of global shipments, a proportion that ABI expects to expand steadily over the next few years to reach more than 50 percent by 2017.