Remember when phones were tiny? Those were the days. Now handsets are moving way past being pocket friendly, and we think we know why.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen three mobile phone handsets that we’d consider “large”. These are the new Motorola RAZR, HTC Sensation XL, and the Samsung Galaxy Note (we had a quick play with it from another journo, sadly no photos).

Google and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus

Each of these handsets were massive in our hands. For instance, the RAZR features a 4.3 inch screen, the same size as what’s on the Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Evo 3D, and yet the overall size feels much larger.

Recently, Samsung and Google launched a new flagship Android phone, the Galaxy Nexus. This handset boasts a 4.65 inch 720p screen, although because the phone takes advantage of the new “Ice Cream Sandwich” edition of Android (4.0), there are no soft-buttons, meaning that most of the front of the handset is the touchscreen.

Still though, 4.65 inches diagonally is pretty big.

With a screen size measuring 4.7 inches diagonally, the HTC Sensation XL isn't exactly small.

 

What then of HTC’s Vodafone launched Sensation XL? It launched overnight here in Australia, and it features a 4.7 inch screen. That’s bigger again, and we’re not even sure we have the pockets for that.

And then there’s Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy Note, the 5.3 inch tablet-phone hybrid that should be landing here in the new year. With a screen size that goes well and truly beyond 3-4 inches and the inclusion of a pen for taking notes, the Galaxy Note is more of a tablet than a smartphone.

With a 5.3 inch screen, the Galaxy Note is one big smartphone.

So what’s going on? Why are mobile phones getting bigger and bigger?

For the past year, we’ve seen the arrival of more tablets than we can count. It’s pretty obvious that Apple’s iPad is in the lead, but there are some seriously good Android devices making their way into the marketplace too.

But what if smartphones were trying to encroach on the tablet market by making it less of a requirement to have one.

If your ultrabook featured a touchscreen and long-battery life, would you have any reason to own a tablet?

 

For many people, tablets aren’t yet strong enough to replace laptops, what with a solid physical keyboard being easier to type on and a wider availability of work-grade applications. At one point, it’s likely that this section of the market will converge, and instead of just having tablets, we’ll have notebooks – probably the thin and light ultrabooks – with capacitive touchscreens, a technology combination that invites both kinds of input: keyboard and touchscreen.

But if your phone was big enough and could let you do much of the things that a tablet would let you do – apps, big screen movies, and web pages with lots of screen real estate – why would you want a tablet?

If our laptops were fast, had a touchscreen component, and featured a battery as strong as what we see on tablets today – possibly stronger – we’d ditch the tablet, and carry only our phone and notebook.

Phones are getting bigger. From left to right: HTC Wildfire, Apple iPhone 4, Nokia N9, Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Sensation XL, Motorola RAZR

 

What do you think: would you skip the tablet if your phone did everything already? Is that why you don’t want a tablet to begin with?