A “phablet” is the familiar portmanteau describing the popular desire to wrap a smartphone and a tablet into one package. The Lumia 1520 (pictured above) is an extreme example of the idea, a six-inch candy-coloured smartphone that pushed the Windows Phone OS to its size limit. Now, Microsoft wants to go even bigger.
Part of a series of leaks, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 will increase the operating system’s max size to seven inches. You know, if that’s something you’d want. Whether this means we’ll actually see 7-inch smartphones in the future is uncertain, but Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott is confident that the word “phablet just doesn’t cut it anymore.”
Microsoft might also be plugging a few holes where it currently has some vacancies, specifically in the small tablet space. As Ars Technica points out, Update 1 might be targeted for manufacturers to create small-sized tablets running on Windows Phone sans cellular capabilities. This gives Microsoft a stable platform for tablets as the company continues RT’s slow roll to extinction. With the Surface Mini also facing a similar fate, Microsoft has few other small tabs available as many companies, such as Lenovo, are pulling small Windows tablets in the U.S. due to “lack of interest.”
It would seem that Lenovo has done its homework. New market research from NPD DisplaySearch says that competition from 5.5-inch+ smartphones are negatively impacting tablets between 7 and 8 inches. The reports suggests that after peaking in 2013, small tabs now find themselves spiraling into perpetual decline.
Update 1 also includes a collection of other useful features including start screen folders (something iOS and Android have had for years), smart case support, upscaled resolutions, and VoLTE support, which makes the actual “phone” part of a smartphone even better with HD call quality. We could see these updates and more showing up on devices in the early fall. [Winsupersite via Ars Technica]