Smartphone screens find their size sweet spot

The joke in the smartphone space in years past was how screens just kept getting bigger — stretching palms and making you look ridiculous when held up to the head to talk.

How times change. Talking into phones? Why, how 2005 of you! Phablets have long been the new normal as the telephone icon lost out in the war to capture our attention via finger-flicking touchscreen fun — losing out to all the other apps offering more visual ways to be entertained and/or communicate, be it by text, selfie lens or silly GIF.

Apple, a laggard at inflating smartphone screen size, has remained something of a reluctant participant in this ‘bigger is better’ logic. Evident in its tortured sloganizing for its very first phablet, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus — which it launched in 2014 and stuck next to the words: “bigger than bigger”. The less said about which the better.

The iPhone-maker’s reluctance to participate in the pant-stretching smartphone craze has also included an attempt to buck the trend, by reviving — in 2016 — the 4-inch form iPhone factor, and putting a bit more heft under the hood, aka the iPhone SE.

It’s continued to range this ‘littlest iPhone’ alongside its 4.7-inch ‘standard’ flagship and 5.5-inch top of the range phablet. But analyst projections suggest declining demand for SE-sized smartphones in the coming years — as phablets are set to take a greater and greater share of the market.

tl;dr the phablet is now the smartphone fixture.

Analyst IDC put out its latest smartphone market projections yesterday, and looking ahead to 2021 it sees shipments of devices with screens of 4-inches (up to less than 5-inches) losing out to those with larger panes. It’s projecting 314.2M million devices in this iPhone SE size category will ship worldwide this year — shrinking to 223.3M by 2021.

Meanwhile, it’s expecting the vast bulk of the smartphone market to become almost equally divided between devices with screens of between…

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