Do it yourself
    30 January 2013


    Should you buy a phablet?

    Not sure what smartphone to get in 2015? This could be the year to go big. SA techies weigh in on the great phablet debate.

    Phablets – smartphones with a screen between 5.5 and as large as 7 inches – may have seemed ridiculously big when they first launched, but the IDC predicts that phablet sales will top 318 million units in 2015, overtaking the predicted 233 million tablets expected to ship.

    Most manufacturers now have a phablet in the line-up and there are some outstanding devices currently on the market. For Apple fans, the iPhone 6 Plus is the obvious choice while Samsung has the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, both of which feature the useful S-Pen stylus. There's also the excellent LG G3, which is on the smaller side of the phablet scale.

    But is a phablet right for you? We asked South African tech journalists to share their insights.

    Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za

    'A phablet is ideal for those who would like the functionality of both a smartphone and a tablet, don't want to carry two devices, and are happy with a slightly oversized phone. 

    'The typical phablet has a screen size ranging from 5.5 to 6 inches diagonally, which makes it far more suitable than a smartphone for watching videos and appreciating photos. 

    'It's not as easy to produce documents or work with graphics as on a tablet or – better still – a notebook, but such use is becoming viable. Smartphones are still best for those only want it to use apps, message others and make calls.'

    Toby Shapshak, editor of Stuff magazine

    When we asked Toby to comment, he pointed us to his column on the Financial Mail, which covers his personal conversion to the phablet. 

    'When the first phablet – a larger-than-normal smartphone which is not quite as large as a tablet – appeared in 2011, it was met by howls of derision. I was one of the sceptics. 

    'As it happens, I am a phablet user myself. It took the iPhone 6 Plus to convert me. I read and respond to about 70%-80% of my email on my device. I read the Web. I read a lot of attachments, and proofread the weekly PDF of this column on my now-larger phone. I’ve had to phone a number of people in the telecoms industry and admit: "You were right. I was wrong."

    'All those early phablet adopters who seemed absurd with their gigantic smartphones were right.'

    Nafisa Akabor, tech journalist 

    'I think people should make a decision on whether or not to purchase a larger smartphone based on their usage patterns. If they want to use one device instead of smartphone and tablet, then definitely go for a larger device. 

    However, if they prefer a smaller handset for whatever reason, including if it fits in their hand, then go for the smaller one. If you want to watch TV series and movies on-the-go, then a phablet is a good buy. Size is about personal preference.'

    So should you get a phablet?

    Ultimately what you choose will come down to your needs. A larger screen is undoubtedly better for watching videos, browsing the web and reading, it's easier to edit documents if you're out of the office and it means you can have a decent gaming experience anywhere. But that doesn't change the fact that it won't fit in your pocket.

    Top phablets available from Vodacom Online