Mid-sized smartphones like Apple's iPhone see most usage, 'phablets' a fad - report

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Smartphones around the size of Apple's iPhones are seeing the most regular usage among device owners, a new study says, while larger-screened phablets are something of a fad.

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A new report out from Flurry Analytics on Monday took a look at the proliferation of screen sizes and form factors in the mobile device sector, finding that mid-size phones ? phones with screen diagonals between 3.5 and 4.9 inches ? make up the majority of device models detected in Flurry's network. Smaller-screened devices such as BlackBerries made up about 16 percent of device models, while so-called "phablets," 7 to 8.4-inch tablets, and 8.5-inch and above tablets made up 2, 6, and 7 percent of device models detected, respectively.

While smaller devices accounted for about one-in-six detected models, Flurry's analysis shows that they're only about seven percent of active devices once users-per-device are taken into account. These smaller devices only make up about four percent of overall app sessions, Flurry found.

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Medium-sized phones ? a category into which Apple's entire iPhone line falls ? accounted for 72 percent of active users and 76 percent of app sessions.

The report deems phablets ? phone-tablet hybrids ? to be a fad, considering their holding only two percent share of the installed device base. Despite the increased screen real estate of these devices, they do not account for a much larger share of active users or app sessions than their install base.

Large-screened tablets such as Apple's iPad appear to have the most outsized use patterns based on their install base. While large-screened tablets make up only 7 percent of the device install base, they account for 13 percent of active users and 13 percent of total app sessions. The report found that, in terms of apps, tablets are largely used as gaming devices, with users spending about 17 percent of their time gaming. Books and video watching, while easier on a tablet's larger screen, don't amount to 10 percent of tablet usage time combined.

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Nearly a quarter of the iOS users included in Flurry's report were using a full-size iPad, while 74 percent were using a model of iPhone. Two percent of iOS users in the report were using an iPad mini, which is a testament to the quick sales of the device, given the more than 500 million iOS devices on the market.

Flurry's analytic network now detects roughly one billion mobile devices in use around the world every month. The last study saw activity on more than 2,000 unique device models.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 68
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    LOL. Ya don't say.
  • Reply 2 of 68
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    As far as I'm concerned a phablet is anything in that 5 inch range, a la the Galaxy Note and now Galaxy S4. Anything 7" or above ain't no phablet, that's just a plain old tablet. So these numbers are all screwed up.
  • Reply 3 of 68
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,248member


    "LOL GYZ THIS JUST APRIL FOOL JOKE SAMSUNG WINNING."

  • Reply 4 of 68
    It's too early to gauge how well the large phones will fill out the market. As these devices become more powerful I think many people will just have a large mobile phone instead of a tablet and phone. When all phones can be put into a dock and run an HD monitor for watching movies and doing office work, the laptop will be less popular and so will the desktop. We're just a few years away from smart phones completely replacing our regular work stations and laptops. I'm sure there are a few people for whom this has already occurred.
  • Reply 5 of 68

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post



    As these devices become more powerful I think many people will just have a large mobile phone instead of a tablet and phone.


     


    Seems more likely that it will be the opposite, i.e., the phablet is a temporary bridge device for people who don't own a tablet yet, or who thought the last wave of tablets were too heavy.

  • Reply 6 of 68
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,248member


    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

    It's too early to gauge how well the large phones will fill out the market.


     


    Three years on is "too early"?






    We're just a few years away from smart phones completely replacing our regular work stations and laptops.



     


    Good luck with that. What's my incentive to do that when cheaper, orders-of-magnitude more powerful and actually useful solutions will always exist?

  • Reply 7 of 68
    sol77sol77 Posts: 203member


    Wait, what? 


     


    So the argument is, "there are fewer phablets, therefore fewer connected devices, therefore it's a fad."  Huh?  Um...okay.  So are small phones fads, too?  Looks that way...they've been around a lot longer than phablets and have numbers almost as low. 


     


    But how do you get "fad" information from this?  A fad would indicate sudden, then declining interest over time.  Is the percentage of phablet owners connected less than the relative percentage of medium devices connected?  That at least would tell me that getting a larger phone is a predictor of decreased connection time.  But where is the time scale?  Should I conclude that all things that are small in number are fads?  If not, what is the difference? 


     


    I suppose 5inch phones could be a fad, but what on earth does this data have anything to do with predicting that? 


     


    If I'm totally missing something, please help me out. 

  • Reply 8 of 68
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,008member
    I'm shocked, just shocked. The internet lead me to believe that a 5" phone that can't be manipulated with 1 hand and that can barely fit in most pockets is the "ideal" size that everyone is just clamoring for.
  • Reply 9 of 68
    tzterritzterri Posts: 93member
    Apple should just make it so that all their iPads & Touch devices can make phone calls.
  • Reply 10 of 68
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member
    Wish I could agree with the article but I can't. I never underestimate the ridiculousness of the average consumer.
  • Reply 11 of 68
    sol77sol77 Posts: 203member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by foregoneconclusion View Post


     


    Seems more likely that it will be the opposite, i.e., the phablet is a temporary bridge device for people who don't own a tablet yet, or who thought the last wave of tablets were too heavy.





    I agree somewhat and am open to agreeing completely, but for the time being I'm an iPad 2 owner who switched from an iphone to a Note 2 (not because it is better but because I prefer it for subjective reasons).  I read very heavily, and one thing the Note 2 offers me is a screen size that simulates a paperback book very well.  I did read on the iPhone4 and 4S, but not nearly as much.  Since day one with the Note 2, I've been turning to it for all my browsing rather than the ipad.  I did love how the iPhone disappeared in my pocket, but the Note 2 doesn't create the awkwardness most people attempt to dwell on. 


     


    There are two issues for me in switching back to a smaller phone (the iPhone, of course).  One is exactly what you said...if the ipad were half the weight so that I could hold it in one hand without getting tired (even my iPad 2 fatigues my hand and it is lighter than the latest iteration), I might be inclined to get a smaller phone and tote around the iPad.  But the second issue is exactly that...I never tote around two devices anymore.  I have a phone that is big enough to impersonate a paperback, and small enough to put in my pocket.  I love that.  I think that I'm in the minority, but it works great for me.  However, I still use my iPad...but only when I'm sitting on the couch at home, and rarely for long stretches like I do with the Note 2.  I'm almost certainly fringe in this regard...if you're not browsing or reading as much as I am, there'd be little point. 


     


    Edit: One little thing I love about the note as a "phablet" is that even though I'm using two hands, I can hit the "back" button with a flick of my thumb, and without looking because it is just inside the bottom right corner and has haptic feedback...whereas the "back" button for the iPad is at the top left and requires that I move my entire hand.  It's subtle, but noticeable when you browse a lot.  Two handed?  Yes.  But I don't have to move my hands once I start.  As much as I enjoy the iPad, I enjoy browsing on my Note more.

  • Reply 12 of 68
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    too bad Flurry doesn't adjust the length of each OS bar (and their sub parts) to their proportional size of the total sample. of course if it did, the BB and Windows Phone bars would be really sad to see. the comparison of Android and iOS would be really interesting. but even then, "Android" misleadingly conflates several disparate fragments.
  • Reply 13 of 68
    Does this analysis also include the iPod touch, since it is pretty much an iPhone without the cellular chip? If not, as for tablet goes is the iPad cellular only counted. It wouldn't be a proper analysis if they include both the cellular and non-cellular iPads and not include the iPod touch.

    In addition people aren't asking for an Apple phablet phone, phablets are pretty much useless, people want an iPhone >4in and <5in. The current iPhone screen is too small for browsing, playing games, and for iWork apps.

    Just a random question, am I the only one who thinks it is weird that Apple made the phone 16:9 format and not the iPad, considering iPad with its larger screen is better suited for watching widescreen movies and TV shows.
  • Reply 14 of 68
    xgmanxgman Posts: 145member
    Silly article.
  • Reply 15 of 68
    sol77sol77 Posts: 203member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ssaqib2 View Post



    Does this analysis also include the iPod touch, since it is pretty much an iPhone without the cellular chip? If not, as for tablet goes is the iPad cellular only counted. It wouldn't be a proper analysis if they include both the cellular and non-cellular iPads and not include the iPod touch.



    In addition people aren't asking for an Apple phablet phone, phablets are pretty much useless, people want an iPhone >4in and <5in. The current iPhone screen is too small for browsing, playing games, and for iWork apps.



    Just a random question, am I the only one who thinks it is weird that Apple made the phone 16:9 format and not the iPad, considering iPad with its larger screen is better suited for watching widescreen movies and TV shows.




    I think the phone ratio is well suited to quick checking and perusing of updates, emails, texts, and quick browsing.  Have you had a chance to hold the Microsoft Surface yet?  It was incredibly awkward, and I never, ever want to browse the web on a vertical screen of those dimensions.  I wonder if some of the choice for the iPad size is related to weight and balance?  It certainly feels better to me in the hand than the Surface.

  • Reply 16 of 68
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,248member


    Originally Posted by ssaqib2 View Post

    Just a random question, am I the only one who thinks it is weird that Apple made the phone 16:9 format and not the iPad, considering iPad with its larger screen is better suited for watching widescreen movies and TV shows.


     


    Nope. 16:9 at that size is far worse to use than 4:3. They did the right thing.

  • Reply 17 of 68
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sol77 View Post


    Edit: One little thing I love about the note as a "phablet" is that even though I'm using two hands, I can hit the "back" button with a flick of my thumb, and without looking because it is just inside the bottom right corner and has haptic feedback...whereas the "back" button for the iPad is at the top left and requires that I move my entire hand.  It's subtle, but noticeable when you browse a lot.  Two handed?  Yes.  But I don't have to move my hands once I start.  As much as I enjoy the iPad, I enjoy browsing on my Note more.



     


    I likewise enjoy browsing more on any device with the browser back button at the bottom, instead of the top. 


     


    Quote:


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    Medium-sized phones ? a category into which Apple's entire iPhone line falls ? accounted for 72 percent of active users and 76 percent of app sessions.



     


    Medium-sized phones in this report were also a category into which all the most popular under 4.9" Android phones fall into.


     


    As someone else said, it's no surprise that 5"+ phones don't show up as a big portion here, since they're not a huge portion of total smartphone sales.


     


    Strange report.  Would rather have seen 3.5" and 4" broken out by themselves.

  • Reply 18 of 68

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post



    It's too early to gauge how well the large phones will fill out the market. As these devices become more powerful I think many people will just have a large mobile phone instead of a tablet and phone. When all phones can be put into a dock and run an HD monitor for watching movies and doing office work, the laptop will be less popular and so will the desktop. We're just a few years away from smart phones completely replacing our regular work stations and laptops. I'm sure there are a few people for whom this has already occurred.


     


     


    For smartphones, including iPod touch, and tables to properly replace laptops, Apple needs to create a proper file managing app, and something like standard photo album app they have. In this app we can store all of our documents, drawings and PDF and all apps which use documents, drawings, and PDF should have access to. I personally use multiple productivity apps, and it is a pain to manage documents.


     


    In addition, maybe Apple should add thunderbolt or micro USB 3 to iPads, therefore we can connect portable drives to access our stored movies, pictures, tv shows, music, and documents. i devices do not have enough memory and I am currently using around 500GB on my laptop. Cloud services are waste of money, slow download and upload for large files, and no download without internet connection.


     


     


    Just an opinion, let me know what you guys think. 

  • Reply 19 of 68


    It would be nice to see a further breakdown of the sizes. The 3.5 - 4.9" category seems too big, imho. Perhaps split it around 4.2? I think this would be more interesting.

  • Reply 20 of 68
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    slurpy wrote: »
    I'm shocked, just shocked. The internet lead me to believe that a 5" phone that can't be manipulated with 1 hand and that can barely fit in most pockets is the "ideal" size that everyone is just clamoring for.
    That's why Flurry's classifications and the subsequent AI headline are so boneheaded. The study misleadingly counts the iPhone 3GS and the entire Samsung Galaxy phone series as the same type of device. Coupled with the headline, it can lead one to conclude that large screen smartphones are failing while the iPhone sits pretty atop the mountain when in fact these numbers say nothing of the success of phablets like the Galaxy S.

    And when it all comes down to it, the success or failure of Android phablets bears no relevance to the potential of an iOS phablet. If Flurry had statistics about smartphone usage in 2006 should we have said Apple had no business jumping into the phone market? If phablets are limp then maybe it's because Apple hasn't made the best one.
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