For the past couple of years, manufacturers have made it a point to make each new generation of smartphones bigger. Not long ago, the idea of having large smartphones was a niche idea; when a phone with a “large” screen hit the market, it was known as a “phablet”, a mix between a phone and a tablet. These days the term “phablet” is hardly used because the 5-inch (and more) screens have become the norm. In fact, anything less than a 5-inch display would be considered a rare find. As it turns out, people are all about that screen real estate.
Considering that these smartphones blurred the lines between phone and tablet, it’s no surprise that a lot of people are finding that they don’t necessarily use their tablet as often anymore. Tablets, which often have screen sizes between 7 and 12 inches, have been on the decline in terms of popularity since 2013 according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal. While tablets have more leeway in terms of how large the screen can be, the fact of the matter is that standalone tablets are in a tight spot right now. Not only do you have smartphones barging in on the whole “larger screen” aspect, but you also have 2-in-1 hybrid laptops, such as the Surface Pro 3, which can be either laptop or tablet.
Tablets are basically larger version of smartphones; they’re not exactly built for graphic intensive work like a full-fledged PC would be, as they often run the same operating systems that smartphones run on. But now that smartphones are larger and hybrid laptop/tablet devices are able to provide full-fledged PC capabilities, the true need for a tablet has, in many cases, been compromised.
I’m not all that torn up about it. My phone isn’t, and will probably never be, a true “phablet”, but the 4.7-inch screen on my iPhone 6 is close enough. The larger screen does make a lot of the web browsing I would previously have done on a tablet moot because I already have a large enough screen. And if I feel that way, I’m pretty sure people who use phones with 5 to 6-inch screens probably feel similarly.
I also think that tablet/laptop hybrids are a better deal overall. Tablets are often bundled with Bluetooth keyboards anyway – the only thing that was missing was the full PC experience, and the 2-in-1 model takes care of that. Essentially this takes out the middle man for a seamless experience either way. You want to use your tablet as a laptop? You can. You want to use your laptop as a tablet? You can. I prefer it this way because now one would only have to worry about two devices rather than three; instead of owning a smartphone, tablet, and a laptop, you could just own a smartphone and a hybrid of the two.
I don’t think tablets will be vanishing from the market anytime soon. 2-in-1 hybrids mostly run on Windows or Chrome OS, but Apple has yet to release anything of the sort. Apple is still at the forefront of tablets for the time being. However, with Microsoft’s Windows 10 on the horizon, one has to wonder whether the 2-in-1 hybrid model will flourish under the new, unified operating system. If so, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple got in on that 2-in-1 action shortly after – if it’s not already in the works, that is.
With that in mind, tablets still have their place. They’re typically more affordable, and there are people out there who would rather have tablets be separate from their computer, especially if they want to use different operating systems for each. However, I think it won’t be much longer before standalone tablets become the lesser-used model.