By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. – The screen sizes of smartphones are going up, the screen sizes of tablets are coming down, and sales in both niches are going up, IHS iSuppli Research forecasts.
Sales of phablets, or smartphones with screen sizes of 5 inches or more, will jump 136 percent in 2013 to 25.6 million, followed by 33.4 percent growth in 2014, 33.2 percent in 2015, and 20.9 percent in 2016, when shipments will reach 146 million, the company said.
The growth “reflects the efforts of both device and panel makers to differentiate their products,” said Vinita Jakhanwal, IHS iSuppli director of small and medium displays.
Sales of small-screen 7-inch tablets are growing because of growing availability and increasingly attractive price points, the company said.
Price and availability will likely boost the 7-inch tablet display market to 81.5 million units in 2013, up 46 percent from 2012, IHS said.
In phone-tablet hybrids, device and panel makers are striving to differentiate themselves and meet consumer demand, Jakhanwal said. “With consumers demanding more lifelike viewing experiences, the trend to offer such devices makes perfect sense, especially considering the increase in rich content that is being made available on smartphones.”
Technological progress is also making it possible to expand phablet sales, iSuppli added. The expansion of manufacturing capacity of low-temperature polysilicon liquid crystal display (LTPS LCD), combined with the resulting reduction in prices for big-screen high-resolution displays, will “enable vigorous double-digit-rate expansion” through 2016, the company said.
At the recent CES, Chinese vendors took the lead in big-screen phones, with Huawei showcasing what is, so far, the world’s largest smartphone, the Ascend Mate, with a 6.1-inch 720p high-definition (HD) display with 361 pixels per inch (ppi). Huawei also unveiled the Ascend D2 with 5-inch display with 1,920 by 1,080 pixel resolution at 443 ppi.
For its part, ZTE launched the Grand S with 5-inch 1080p display and thickness of 6.9mm, making the quad-core 1.7GHz phone the world’s thinnest quad-core smartphone, the company contends.
TCL’s Alcatel-branded One Touch Scribe HD and Lenovo’s IdeaPhone K5 also feature 5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 display.
Also at the show, Lenovo launched the K900 with a 5.5-inch 1080p, 400-ppi display, and Sony Mobile introduced the Xperia Z, a 5-inch smartphone with a 1,920 by 1,080 pixel format.
With a display resolution of 443 ppi, the 5-inch 1,920 by 1,080 phones exceed the iPhone 5’s Retina Display resolution of 326 ppi and the resolution of the Samsung’s Galaxy Note II phablet at 267 ppi, iSuppli noted.
While smartphones got bigger screens at CES, tablets were getting smaller screens and lower prices, iSuppli said. Acer’s 7-inch Android Iconia B1-A71, with 1,024 by 768 resolution will be priced at $140-$150 in the U.S., and 7-inch 70 Titanium was priced by Archos at $119, iSuppli said.
Also on display were hybrid tablet-Ultrabook prototypes whose tablet portion detaches from the computer. One such product was Lenovo’s latest ThinkPad Helix model with 11.6-inch 1,920 by 1,080 display. Lenovo also announced the IdeaPad Yoga 11-inch convertible laptop, which folds to become a touchscreen tablet. For its part, Asus showed the Transformer All-in-One, an 18.5-inch hybrid detachable tablet with 1,920 by 1,080 display.
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