Is Apple’s jumbo iPhone phablet for real?

January 22, 2013

Is Apple really going to produce an even bigger iPhone?

More signs are pointing to yes, but don’t expect to see it this year. The latest report comes from DigiTimes, who reported Tuesday that Apple will release two new smartphone models this year — presumedly the iPhone 5S, which will give the iPhone 5 a speed boost, and a cheaper iPhone that would be about $100 cheaper and come in various colors, like the new iPod Touch.

As for an Apple Phablet, which could potentially be code-named “iPhone Math,” we could expect to see the 4.8-inch model released sometime in 2014.

Digitimes also provided some optimistic news about iPhone 5 shipments, reporting that in the first quarter of this year, we can expect to see 37 million iPhone 5 units ship. That number will drop to about 18 million in the second quarter.

It’s not earth-shattering news that Apple will release an iPhone 5S this summer. They have, after all, followed that same path with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4S. The updated iPhone will likely come with a snappier processor, perhaps an improved camera, and maybe NFC technology, allowing for mobile payments.

But a phablet — the word used for jumbo phones that kind of resemble a tablet — is an odd choice. If true, it shows that Apple is trying to compete with Samsung unit by unit. While Samsung has won the market share battle for now, Apple still leads when it comes to profits.

It’s unclear if the jumbo phone trend is popular among a handful of people, or if it will catch on. We are, after all, shrinking our tablets. Why not enlarge our smartphones?

Samsung has a 5.3 Galaxy Note on the market, which was released in 2011. Kevin Packingham, chief product officer for Samsung, told the Wall Street Journal that Samsung is proud they’ve created the phablet category.

Some tech reviewers at the time derided the big phone as “silly,” and “a phone designed for giants.” But sales boomed, and other makers have followed with still-bigger “phablets,” as techies are beginning to call them—a cross between a phone and a tablet.

Shipments of smartphones with screens 4.6 inches or larger grew to 82.7 million units last year from 1.8 million units in 2011, says New York-based market-research firm ABI Research.

Will Apple create a phablet? Weigh in below.

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