Phablet, a former word

continuation from part 3

A quick lookup on Google Trends shows that we stopped calling large phones phablets. We call them phones again. Phablet became an empty concept in the world where most phones are large. The few “normal” sized phones in the market now are usually cheap, “lite” versions of the original (big) device.

The unwieldy phablet was the enemy of the pocket; now almost all phones are.

Given that people tend to keep even their compact tablets at home, not many anticipated this snowballing of phone sizes. Big phones are manageable with pockets, but only just. They are a general discomfort to carry around.

The purchasing decision for most phones is done on side-by-side comparison, where bigger screens are flashier. Had there been some sort of drive test for phones, instead of packed shop windows, probably the size race wouldn’t lead us here.

One thing engineers can do to keep the overall size of the phone in check is to pack internal components in such a way that the bezels around the screen are small. This is a sexy intervention also, as having lots of screen and not much else still looks cool. But recent generations didn’t really progress on this area: 2013’s LG G2 still has one of the best screen-to-body ratios. Anyway, with a large screen there’s only so much you can trim.

We must confess that although initially the idea of the shoulder holster was to enable the promised mobility of small tablets, we mostly use Carter for our wallets and (large) phones. When the shoulder holster idea was brewing, the smartphone landscape looked very different: “phablet” was trolling only Samsung’s first Galaxy Note back then. Unlike selfie, “phablet” is on its way out. Tech moves faster than culture. And the consumer-ready version of Carter was ready only when the market provided far more use-case opportunities than its creator envisioned.

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