Samsung is rumored to be working on two more big smartphones, even though they may be a short-lived product category.
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It is possible we've reached the point of diminishing returns in the race to make the smartphone with the biggest screen. A new report suggests that Samsung is preparing a line of big-screened smartphones -- often referred to as phablets -- under the Samsung Galaxy Mega bannerhead.
The report, which comes from Sammobile, pegs two new models, the GT-I9152 and GT-I9200. The first of these devices is expected to have a 5.8-inch display and will support two SIM cards. This means it will probably be targeted at markets outside the U.S. The second of these devices, however, will have a 6.3-inch screen. This dovetails with reports about the Samsung Galaxy Note III, which is also expected to use a 6.3-inch screen. It is likely that the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 and the Galaxy Note III are one in the same.
The change in the branding is curious, and may signal Samsung's intent for the two phones.
Consider the original Galaxy Note, which helped define the phablet category with its 5.3-inch display. It had a stylus and was something Samsung marketed towards business users. The Note's software and apps featured plenty of business-friendly functions, such as note-taking capabilities and ability to multitask. The Note was followed with the Note 10.1, a productivity-minded tablet that also had a stylus. The Note II followed both in late 2012, and Samsung revealed the Note 8 tablet -- also with a stylus -- in February.
Could it be that the new Galaxy Mega sub-brand is meant to entice non-business users? Will they be more media centric? Will they ship with or without styli? These questions remain unanswered, but fall within reason.
Beyond the marketing focus of these two devices, their size raises questions. For starters, where do phablets end and tablets begin?
The Samsung Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch screen. The LG Optimus G Pro has a 5.5-inch screen. Samsung (and LG) expect consumers to purchase devices with large screens and carry them around like cellphones. Samsung also makes tablets with screens that start at 7.0 inches. The difference between 6.3 and 7.0 inches isn't that much.
In terms of active users, about 7% are using devices with screens smaller than 3.5 inches (small); 72% are using devices with screens between 3.5 and 4.9 inches (medium); 3% are using devices with screens between 5 and 6.9 inches (phablets); 5% are using devices with screens between 7 and 8.4 inches (small tablet); and 13% are using devices with screens larger than 8.5 inches (full-sized tablets).
Flurry, which performed this analysis to help developers better target their applications, concludes that "phablets appear to make up an insignificant part of the device installed base, and do not show disproportionally high enough app usage to justify support."
At the end of the day, midsized smartphones and full-sized tablets are the two most-used form factors. This leaves us pondering just how long phablets will be en vogue, and how soon might they go the way of the dodo.