Phablets – defined as devices with 5.5-inch to 7-inch screen sizes – will “far outpace total market growth” to take the lion’s share of the market from smaller devices by 2019, research company IDC forecast.
While shipments of large-screen devices will grow from 611 million units in 2017 to 1 billion units in 2021, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.1 per cent, the market for smaller screen devices will decline 7.4 per cent. As a whole, the total smartphone market will grow at a 3.0 per cent CAGR.
Of course, since the emergence of phablets as a category, smartphone screen sizes in general have increased, with flagships including Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus falling into the category.
IDC said Samsung’s early dominance of the phablet category was “short lived” as other OEMs, many of which are Chinese, pushed the category into the mainstream.
As a result, China accounted for half of the 437.4 million phablets shipped in 2016, and it will remain the largest market for such devices.
“The rapid transition to bezel-less smartphones will help minimise the device footprint while growing the screen size from previous generations. 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,” said Ryan Reith, programme VP with IDC.
At the high end, IDC expects Apple’s iPhone Plus models and iPhone X devices to account for 41.2 per cent of its shipment volume this year and “50 per cent or more” in 2018.
The research company also said that “2017 gave birth to the new ultra high-end segment of the smartphone market”.
“The latest flagship devices from Samsung, Apple, Google, LG, and others has pushed the high end to the $850-plus level for the first time. Despite these price hikes, consumers look as if they are willing to swallow the cost just to have the latest and greatest device in their pockets,” said Anthony Scarsella, research manager.
Although many consumers may not be able to afford devices in more price sensitive markets, device financing and trade-ins are making high-end smartphones more achievable in many regions.