Report: iPhone-sized smartphones dominate in usage stats; phablets are a fad

“Flurry now detects about 1 billion smartphones and tablets in use around the world every month. In the last 30 days, we saw activity on more than 2,000 unique device models. As the device base grows, we’re seeing an increasing variety of screen sizes, from sub-smartphones to full-size tablets and beyond,” Mary Ellen Gordon reports via the Flurry Blog. “This poses both challenges and opportunities for developers who must consider how audiences, usage behavior and app category affinities vary by form factor.”

Gordon reports, “This report reveals which form factors and screen sizes consumers use most, and for what categories. For this study, we focused on the top 200 device models, as measured by active users in Flurry’s system, which represent more than 80% of all usage.”

Doing so, five groups emerged based on screen size:
1. Small phones (e.g., most Blackberrys), 3.5” or under screens
2. Medium phones (e.g., Apple iPhone), between 3.5” – 4.9” screens
3. Phablets (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Note), 5.0” – 6.9” screens
4. Small Tablets (e.g., Apple iPad mini), 7.0” – 8.4” screens
5. Full-size tablets (e.g., Apple iPad), 8.5” or greater screens

Gordon reports, “Mid-sized smartphones dominate. Phablets are a fad.”

Flurry: Distribution of Device Models, Active Users and Sessions by Form Factor

Flurry: Distribution of Active Users by Form Factor per Mobile OS

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Big surprise there.

    Samsung has been quite effective in convincing the mass audiences that the “phablet” concept is great (“phone can never be too big”). Apparently, though, converting that concept into sales didn’t quite work. While many people might accept Samsung’s marketing message, they’ll likely say: “wow, that’s a very cool big phone! But I don’t think it is right for me…”. In other words, they may even believe the phone is cool, but strength of that message will not override their common sense, where they instinctively know that there is a point at which too big is actually too big, and that point is well below five inches (we’re still talking about phone screen size, just to make sure…).

    1. as much as i hate to reign on the parade, only the samsung note 2 falls in the category defined here as phablets (5-6,9″). all the galaxy phones and most of the other big screen android phones fall in the medium phone category, same as the iphone. so these stats say nothing about the popularity of phones bigger than the iphone.

    1. Apparently they haven’t even found their way into the user dictionary of the Flurry employee who made those charts. Notice that “Phablet” has the misspelled-word underlining?
      Brilliant attention-to-detail allowing that to make its way into the chart they released to the press.

      1. 2 votes for one star? I thought it was kinda funny that Phablet is such a stupid term that the people talking about it hadn’t added it to their own user spelling dictionary. Not sure if the down-votes were from phablet-lovers, or people who hate for anyone to point out errors of sloppiness. Oh well. 🙂

        1. I wouldn’t be surprised if they left the squiggly line in on purpose, to discreetly highlight the awkwardness of the device and its lack of place in the mobile world…

  2. Wow, a definitive reports that clearly illustrates value in a smaller, or larger, handset is in the hardware, NOT THE USAGE (software).

    During the January earnings report/conference call TC explicitly stated Apple was a software Company.

    Software is where the user experience is at. It is where future revenue is at. It is where customer satisfaction is at. It is where customer loyalty (stickiness) is at.

    Anybody that argues for a smaller, or larger, iPhone just isn’t paying attention.

  3. “This poses both challenges and opportunities for developers…”

    With a billion in circulation those are great opportunities and get-over-it challenges!

    1. Not all in circulation provide the same level of opportunity, to manufacturers, or developers. It is clear that adherents to Android are one shot sales events, with little to no after sale revenues (aka profits). Without profits, Android, as a legitimate competitor to iOS, is at best limited.

  4. Do you use a can opener to open a bottle of beer?
    Do you use a bottle opener to open a can of soup?

    I used to hanker for a larger screen iPhone because of the Swiss Army knife approach but I have since rationalised my wants to a surgical instrument that the iPhone is: built to function because the iPad mini is the other surgical instrument that I can turn to whenever I want to view something on a larger screen.

    The iPad mini is a game changer here because it allows a surgical approach by the iPhone which is principally designed for one handed use.

  5. Whistling in the dark. Like when Android grew some of us said it will never sell more than iOS. Then they said, it’s the profit that counts. Why not both? Why let others grow because Apple misses a full product category?

    As an Apple fanboy I want to say that Apple needs a 4,8 or 5 inch version of the iPhone. They are leaving money on the table, those Apple folks. I hate seeing Samsung’s profit grow at Apples expense.

    1. “Why not both? Why let others grow because Apple misses a full product category?”

      Because focus is critical – enormously powerful. Just because a market exists, it doesn’t mean it should be pursued… or is worth pursuing.

      This “missing a category” is precisely the same reason given why Apple “should” do various things over the years. One prominent example was netbooks. Apple was, supposedly, utterly doomed if they didn’t get into the netbook market immediately. Instead they completely destroyed that category.

      I think phablets will turn out like 19″ portables — bought by a few, but never gaining substantial traction.

      1. Seamus, if I can add to your excellent example.

        Why fragment your production capacity when you already have problems meeting demand for existing products? Adding manufacturing capacity is expensive and time consuming. You go after minor markets when your flagship hits saturation. Not until then.

      2. I disagree. It is Apple’s fault that Samsung became so powerful. There is nothing like a niche market, they sell millions of phones in a size bigger than 4 inches. As much as I love Apple, often Apple is way to slow. I am not going to mention MacPro this time, promised.

  6. So a 4.8″ smartphone is a “medium sized” device according to these numbers but 5″ is a phablet? Lol, I think we need to see a further breakdown of those numbers before drawing any conclusions. They’re essentially saying the 1stGen iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S3 are one in the same categorically. We know that’s not the case.

    But hey, if Apple wants to give us a 4.7″ iPhone Plus and iPod touch XL that won’t fall under the phablet category then that sounds good to me.

  7. Flurry should be banned from the App Store. It’s a spyware reporting personal information and spying on the user without their knowledge or consent. I bet there will be an uproar in the near future when people and politicians start to notice and understand what these companies do… I would want to know all the Apps containing Flurry crap on my Smart Phone and delete them.

  8. A fad is something that’s popular for a brief period. Phablets haven’t attained the necessary popularity to be a fad. What they are is a failure.


  9. Fad or not, the income of 2% of the total cellular market for a year would mean my next several generations of descendants wouldn’t have to work for a living. Nice, if you can get it.

    So what is the point of all this? Apple doesn’t need to build a phablet? We knew that.

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