Asia calling for Apple iPhablets

By , Apr 5, 2013

iPhone 6 mockup (Martin Hajek 004)

Flurry data told us that so-called phablets comprise only a minuscule portion of smart devices compared to mid-size phones and large tablets, such as the iPhone and iPad, but there’s no doubt that devices with five-inch or larger screens are gaining acceptance, largely thanks to Samsung’s willingness to experiment with a bunch of different form factors. Even Apple acknowledged the trend by making the iPhone 5’s four-inch screen the new gold standard for iPhones.

But with Samsung launching a five-inch Galaxy S4 soon and rumors of an upcoming Galaxy Mega line with 5.8 and 6.2-inch handsets making rounds, Asian suppliers are advising Apple to follow suit and blow up the upcoming iPhone’s display if it wants to capture the next phase of smartphone growth…

Business Insider relays a note by Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White has been on a tour of Asian suppliers earlier this week.

In a note issued to clients today, White wrote:

Our discussions this week in Taipei and China continue to highlight the need for Apple to launch a larger-sized iPhone to cater to the Asian market.

Essentially, we are being told that the minimum size needed by Apple is a 4.5-inch display on the iPhone; however, a five-inch to 5.5-inch would be optimal.

Before you discredit the report, remember that pundits used to be adamant that no, Apple will never bow to trends and increase the iPhone’s display.

larger iphone 6 mockup
Image via iMore.

Then the iPhone 5 came along with and Apple even aired a television commercial aiming to make the case for its four-inch display.

Interestingly enough, the commercial has been pulled recently from Apple’s YouTube channel, perhaps ahead of larger form-factor announcements?

A recent Samsung profile by Bloomberg Businessweek let us in on the company’s thinking, which basically boils down to throwing a bunch of form factors against a wall and see what sticks.

Apple’s approach is fewer models, each of them exquisitely designed. Samsung’s is try everything, and fast.

“When we released the Galaxy S III, our research showed that, for some people in some markets, the handset was too big,” says DJ Lee. “So we were able to create the same phone with a 4-inch screen, and we called it the Galaxy S III mini.”

Getting the smaller device into production took about four to six months, says DJ Lee. “We watch the market, and we immediately respond,” he says. The new Galaxy S 4 is coming out only nine months after the GS3.

“Samsung has taken differentiation to a new art,” says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Gartner (IT). “If I want something in between an iPad and an iPad mini, I can’t get that from Apple.”

Samsung, of course, can afford experimenting with different form factors that may not necessarily turn profit because it also produces display, memory, processors and other, giving it “a flexibility competitors can’t touch.”

Sometimes, the results are just plain funny.

Here’s Samsung’s eight-inch Galaxy Note phablet.

Making phone call on Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Various analysts are approving of phablets now.

Here’s IDC’s Francisco Jeronimo, via Bloomberg:

This is a trend that can’t be missed. People are using smartphones in different ways now, consuming media by streaming over faster mobile networks. A five-inch screen for a smartphone just feels right in the hand.

Though analytics firm Flurry Monday reported that phablets with screens between five and 6.9 inches diagonally account for only two percent of devices it saw during February, IDC said sales of handsets five inches or bigger soared to 29.7 million units last year from 1.2 million a year earlier.

A model poses with Galaxy Note of Samsung Electronics during a local launch event for Samsung's mobile devices at the company's headquarters in Seoul

One could indeed argue that more screen is better given today’s smartphones are basically computers.

As for Apple, it’s definitely worth remembering that the pretty accurate Japanese blog Macotakara reported back in March 2012 that Apple was working on a five-inch iOS gizmo with a Retina screen of either 1,600-by-960 or 1,280-by-960 pixel resolution.

The blog claimed Apple was shooting for a 2013 release.

Recent leaks from China suggest this five-inch devices is actually the iPhone 6 , with DigiTimes (I know, don’t start), China Times and iLounge all claiming that a near five-inch iPhone actually is in the works.

The question is, would you buy one?

Image top of post: a mockup of an iPhone 6 with a 4.6-inch edge-to-edge screen, courtesy of 3D artist Martin Hajek.

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  • RarestName

    LOL the S4 has a 4.99″ screen so it’s a mini phablet

    • http://www.facebook.com/bunna.chea.5 Bunna Chea

      So if the 5s or 6 has screen close to 5inch than you not going to buy it?

      • RarestName

        I’m not going to wait for the 5S/6 since I already have an iPhone 4S. I’ll be trying out the S4.

      • Anon

        I will be trying out the HTC One. ;)

  • iancarld

    Let’s not talk samsung. We are apple for life. Samsung sucks. Blah blah blah

  • Farbod

    i like the iphone 5’s screen. that doesnt mean i wouldnt buy a bigger iphone. the iphone’s beauty is that i seriously dont realize lack of screen size except for when watching videos and thats what my ipad is for :)

  • luis gonzalez

    Ummmm… Dunno!!! Im so used to my ip5 I would have to see the new phone 1st. In the other hand it might be cool with a revamp IOS7. To me looks are important, but i really care about performance and features.

  • JT_CHITOWN

    “The question is, would you buy one?”

    H-E-Double Hockey Sticks No.

  • Ignacio Irigoyen

    I want the full power compressed in something handy like the iphone, I really do not care if Apple wants to do phablets as long as the flag ship remains a 4 inch device.

    As for Samsung and the phablets, to me it looks like cheating, they do bigger device no so you have a bigger screen, they do this so they can put more “horse power” and battery inside. While Apple upgrades those without compromising size.

    (Just my opinion)

  • GuyBey0ndC00L

    I love my iPhone 5, but a 4.6 or 4.8 screen iPhone would be amazing. Use my friend Samsung Nexus the screen felt great not to big, not to small. But I love Apples OS and ecomony to much to make that that switch.
    UPDATE: I also strongly believe Apple iOS 7 needs major UI changes and more useful app switcher

  • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

    People using phablets to talk like it is a phone look ridiculous. Seriously, I only think that Apple only needs to make the iPhone 5 a little big larger, because the height is perfect enough and reduce a little bit the bezel. (on top and bottom… I know, it will look like the Galaxy S2, but that’s the point to people realize why Samsung got sued…the design is exacly the same, they only changed the phone size and screen).

    Let tablets being tablets, Phones being phones and don’t mix them. iPad Mini is great enough. If people want to talk on them, just use Skype, IMessage as a extra feature because they are not meant to be phones.

  • techNo

    In terms of overall functionality, S

  • Xee

    OMG top image with no home button, larger screen and edge to edge screen is my ideal iPhone!! Please Apple make that. I have always hated the home button as its can fail and is a waste of space.

  • Mohammed Sahib

    Apple needs to sit and wait, android phablets will keep growing in size till they reach the size of iPad mini, this way apple needs only to add call function to the cellular iPad mini through software update and say ‘we have beaten everyone else to this by years’. LOL.

    Seriously though: The size war is getting ridiculous. I believe that the ideal screen size for a phone is around 4.2-4.3″, this is what fits best in my hand at least. Galaxy S2 comes to mind. iPhone 5 isn’t bad either. But I realize there are people out there with bigger hand than mine.

    • http://twitter.com/TazeenShaikh ObliviousDork

      hahah well said lol

  • http://twitter.com/ZacHack Zac Ramirez

    phablits are ridiculous

  • http://www.facebook.com/vainstar Hermès Vainstar Chu

    the render of the next iphone looks soooooo gooooood

  • Marvin

    4.6″ or something like that but 5″ and over just no