What Is A Phablet?

Get everything done in big style

When a smartphone is too small, and a tablet is too big, phablets are the 'just right' device in between. With a tablet-like screen and a smartphone-like body, phablets easily fit in a jacket pocket, purse, or another bag. Phablets, in short, are big smartphones. 

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android device: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

What is a Phablet?

Person holding gigantic smartphone.
filadendron / Getty Images

Phablets have the power to replace your smartphone, tablet, and laptop — at least most of the time. Most phablets have a screen size between five and seven inches diagonally, but the actual size of the device varies widely. The large display means you can comfortably take advantage of split-screen mode.

For those with low vision, a phablet is much easier to read. Some phablets come with a stylus for more comfortable input. Plus, there are apps that can take written words and turn them into editable text, which is convenient for taking notes or writing on the fly.

Some models are hard to use one-handed, and most won't fit comfortably into a pants pocket, at least when the user is sitting down. (Perhaps foldable phones could be the solution.) Phablets generally have a bigger battery, an advanced chipset, and better graphics, so you can stream videos, play games, and be productive longer. These sizeable phones are also much more comfortable for people with larger hands or clumsy fingers.

What We Like
  • Great for streaming video and playing graphics-intensive games

  • Can comfortably view and edit documents

  • Perfect for using split-screen mode

What We Don't Like
  • Not easily pocketable

  • Can be uncomfortable to hold when making phone calls

A Brief History of the Phablet 

The first modern phablet was the 5.29-inch Samsung Galaxy Note, which debuted in 2011, and is the most popular line of models.

The Galaxy Note had mixed reviews and was mocked by many, but paved the path for the thinner and lighter phablets that came later. Part of the reason it received criticism is that it looked a bit silly when using it as a phone.

Usage patterns have changed, as people make fewer traditional phone calls, and more video chats and wired and wireless headsets have become more common.

Reuters named 2013 the "Year of the Phablet," in part based on the slew of product announcements at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In addition to Samsung, brands, including Google, Lenovo, LG, HTC, Huawei, Sony, and ZTE, have phablets in their portfolio.

Apple, once opposed to making a phablet phone, eventually introduced iPhone 6 Plus. While the company didn't use the term phablet, the 5.5-inch screen certainly qualified it as one, and its popularity led Apple to continue to produce these bigger phones, including the iPhone X line.

Google got into the game in late 2016 with the announcement of the Pixel series, which included the 5.5-inch Pixel XL.

In late 2017, the term phablet resurged with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, which sported a massive-for-the-time 6.3-inch screen and two rear cameras: a wide-angle and a telephoto. Since then, Samsung has continued to make phones with screens larger than 6 inches, as has Apple.

Phablets aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

Was this page helpful?