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Apple's big-screened iPhone 6 Plus accelerated consumer interest in phablets, which now account for one in five new smartphone sales.
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Consumers' love affair with the phablet continues to heat up. Sales of large phones, in this case those with screens 5.5-inches or larger, surged during the first quarter of the year. The Apple iPhone 6 Plus led the way with the biggest chunk of phablet sales.
Phablets accounted for 21% of all smartphone says during the first quarter, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The analyst firm says phablet sales nearly quadrupled their 6% share of the market in the year-ago period.
Apple's phablet, the iPhone 6 Plus, stole the lion's share of the segment with 44% of sales. When asked, 43% of iOS buyers cited screen size as the reason behind their purchase, compared to 47% of Android buyers.
Apple owns smartphone sales at the three largest US carriers. At AT&T, for example, the iPhone accounts for fully 59% of smartphone sales. It accounts for 43% and 50% of smartphone sales at Verizon and Sprint, respectively. T-Mobile customers prefer Samsung handsets, which accounted for 42% of all smartphone sales at the Uncarrier.
Apple's move to larger screens has clearly paid off.
The iPhone 6 Plus is the largest iPhone, with a full HD screen stretching 5.5-inches. The iPhone 6 has a smaller 4.7-inch screen. Prior to these two phones, iPhone screens were limited to 4.0 inches, while Samsung and other Android phone makers pushed screen sizes towards 6.0 inches. Kantar says the new iPhones account for 18% of all iPhones in the United State. More than three out of five iPhones in use today are the iPhone 5 or newer.
Android devices made headway during the first quarter, too. LG, for example, saw its share swell from 7.4% in the year-ago period to 10.8% during the first quarter of 2015. The Korean handset maker hopes to boost sales further with the LG G4.
Samsung maintained its grip as the second-most-popular handset maker in the first three months of the year. The Galaxy maker may very well see its share increase following the launch of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge -- both of which earned good reviews. Android still owns more than 58% of the US smartphone market.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus helped Apple regain marketshare across the five largest economies in Europe, too. Apple's devices climbed to 20.3% of all sales across the continent, up 1.8 percentage points from the year-ago period.
"The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus continued to attract consumers across Europe, including users who previously owned an Android smartphone," wrote Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. "On average, 32.4% of Apple's new customers switched to iOS from Android."
Phones sizes have reached a practical limit with screens measuring 6 inches. The Motorola-made Nexus 6, for example, has such a screen. Phablet sales have impacted those of small Android tablets, which appear to have fallen out of favor with consumers who now prefer the bigger phones.
Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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