When Phones Become Tablets
One of the biggest flaws with Ricknäs's article, is that in trying to make the point that smartphone screens are reaching ridiculous proportions, he cites the Samsung Note and the Sony Tablet P as being prime examples of this. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the clue in the names here? These devices are tablets, not smartphones and make no pretentions to be anything else. They also say that the biggest smartphone screens are between 4.5-5.5 inches which is simply not true at time of writing. The iPhone-trouncing Galaxy S2 is dominating markets with its 4.3 inch screen, but the largest smartphone screens are yet to be released -- the Sprint and T-Mobile versions of the S2 at 4.5 inches and the WP7-powered HTC Titan at 4.7 inches. There is debate over whether the 5 inch screen of the Dell Streak is a phone or a tablet (Dell insist it's a tablet), but there are certainly no smartphones out there with 5.5 inch screens.
He also goes on to cite how unsuccessful the Dell Streak has been, saying that consumers have shunned it because of its size. But the reasons consumers may not be loving this device in their droves are also presented clear as day in the PC World review that it links to, and none of it has anything to do with screen size, whether phone or tablet.
In the article's confusion over the difference between tablets and smartphones though, it does raise the interesting question of where smartphones become tablets. With smartphones becoming larger, and everyone out to create the iPad killer, tablets are trying various ways to gain a corner of the market, so of course smaller tablets are being released. So where is the divide? I had thought that one way to distinguish a smartphone from a tablet would be that if you could comfortably hold it in one hand and use it as a phone, then it must be a phone.
Then of course Samsung come along and announce that the Note with its 5.5 inch screen is a whole new category somewhere between the two. It's certainly a tablet in its looks and functions, but you could also comfortably hold it one hand. Of course we won't know how successful this device will be for a while, but I don't think anyone choosing to buy one would do so thinking it was a phone.