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The Rise of the Phablet

Once upon a time in the not too distant past, the very sound of the word ‘phablet’ was enough to send a shudder through the spine of the average smartphone user. Today however, largely thanks to the fact that the average phone size is increasing, phablets are becoming more accepted among mobile phone users.

But where did the phablet originate?

Although it is quite reasonable to assume that the first phablet came about before the term itself, it is fair to pinpoint the first example in 2011, when the Samsung Galaxy Note was introduced to the market in 2011.

So was that the first tablet?

Not really, it may have been the first device to be referred to as such, but it doesn’t really mean that it is the first phablet.

Instead, this title belongs to the HTC Advantage (otherwise known as the HTC Athena). Although the device wasn’t necessarily commercially successful, it laid the groundwork for all mobile devices to come – even if it looks entirely different from a phablet today.

James Kendrick of Zdnet.com said that:

“It was the first 5-inch PDA with full phone hardware inside. We all joked about how goofy it was to use a phone that large, as all phones to that point were 3 inches or smaller.

“It didn’t have phone audio capability, so to use the phone you had to do so with a headset. That’s exactly what some folks did, setting the Advantage on the table and making/receiving phone calls on a Bluetooth headset.”

But spectacularly, it also had 3G and integrated GPS, not to mention a fine keyboard that slotted onto the machine via magnets.

Soon afterward, the Dell Streak was introduced and although it was a step forward in terms of what it was capable of achieving, the device was largely panned by critics and users alike who were unable to forgive it for its incessant glitching and bulky appearance.

The Streak was such a disaster that it could well have killed off the larger screen movement there and then – that is, if it wasn’t for the introduction of the Galaxy Note only months later, which sold two million units in the first two months of sales.

In fact, it is thanks to the Galaxy Note that large screen phones and tablets exist today, as it proved the commercial capability of large devices.

It is estimated that there will be 146 million phablet sales in 2016 alone.

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