Featured Editorial: Where is the Line Between Smartphone and Tablet?

January 12, 2013 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Lately the line between a smartphone size and a tablet sized device have been pushed quite a bit. It first started with the original Galaxy Note in 2011. Sure you could say it started with the Dell Streak, which was 5-inches, but how popular was that device? Then in 2012, Samsung continued to push that line to 5.5-inches with the Galaxy Note 2. Now here we are in 2013. Just finishing up CES, where Huawei announced the Ascend Mate. Which is a 6.1-inch device. Yes that’s 6.1-inches of screen space. Which brings up the question, is that a phone or a tablet? Of course it is a hybrid device, or dare I say “phablet”, I really hate that word. Then there’s the Nexus 7, which is a 7-inch tablet, and isn’t all that much bigger than the Ascend Mate. So where is the line between smartphone and tablet?

Who remembers back when the original Galaxy Note was announced and everyone said “that is to big to be a phone”? Yet Samsung sold a boat load of those and made the Galaxy Note 2, and made it even larger. And they have sold even more Galaxy Note 2s than they did original Note’s. Although that might be partially due to the fact it’s on every major US carrier, and the original Note was on AT&T months after it hit the rest of the world. Now we have a 6.1-inch beast among us, otherwise known as the Ascend Mate. Now you know later in the year when Samsung releases their Note 3, it’s gotta be bigger, right? Rumors have been pointing at a 6.3-inch device. But that is just over half an inch smaller than one of the most popular tablets out there.

Screen-Shot-2012-10-09-at-6.57.40-AMSo where do you draw the line? For me, it’s right at 5-inches, I might be able to go up to 5.5-inches like the Galaxy Note 2. But a 6.1-inch device? That’s just to big for a smartphone, that’s more in the tablet area. These manufacturers are really starting to get out of hand with these phone sizes. Who remembers way back when the original HTC EVO 4G was announced and made available on Sprint? That had a 4.3″ display and most people thought that was to big. Now its hard to find a device that is smaller than 4.5-inches. I think where we are now, 4.5-5 inch displays, is the sweet spot. It’s cool to have the occasional device larger than that, but consumers still need choices.

Let us know in the comments below where you think the line is between a smartphone and a tablet? For me the Galaxy Note 2 already pushing it.