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Phablet, a portmanteau of phone and tablet, is poised to become the go-to smartphone form factor.
Evidently, buyers are flocking to these large-screen smartphones. With screen sizes ranging from 5.5 inches to just under seven inches, phablets provide users with a comparatively generous canvas for taking pictures, capturing videos and running their favorite apps.
Phablet shipments will reach 1 billion units in 2021 from 611 million units in 2017, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1 percent, predicted IDC. The overall smartphone market, including both phablets and regular smartphones, will grow to 1.7 billion units in 2021 compared to 1.5 billion units this year, or a CAGR of three percent.
By 2019, phablet shipments will exceed those of regular smartphones, according to the analyst group.
"In 2012, phablets were just one percent of smartphone shipments and now they are approaching 50 percent of the market just a few years later," said Ryan Reith, program vice president of Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers at IDC, in a statement. "The rapid transition to bezel-less smartphones will help minimize the device footprint while growing the screen size from previous generations."
Apple's new iPhone X, for example, features a nearly bezel-less design-excluding its distinctive "notch"-that crams a 5.8-inch OLED screen into a device that measures 5.65 inches by 2.79 inches and is 0.3 inches thick. In hand, the iPhone X is slightly larger than the regular iPhone 8 with its 4.7-inch screen but significantly smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus with a 5.5-inch screen (6.24 inches by 3.07 inches by 0.3 inches).
iPhone X and Plus models are expected to account for over 41 percent of Apple's smartphone shipments this year. In 2018, they will surpass 50 percent, said IDC.
Shoppers are clearly seeking out smartphones with displays that can accommodate their mobile lifestyles. "Consumers continue to consume more video entertainment, gaming, social media, and other data-heavy applications on their smartphones making the display size and type a critical factor in smartphone buying decisions," added Reith.
Prices are also going up.
New high-end phones from Apple, Samsung, LG and Google are pushing price tags beyond the $850 mark. For instance, the Apple's iPhone X and Samsung's Galaxy Note8 currently retail for $999 and $950, respectively. The arrival of these phones, and others like them in the near future, will help lift average selling prices to $317 in 2021, from $282 in 2016, according to IDC.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.