David vs. Goliath: Is the smartphone trying to kill the tablet?

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?

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  1. I’ve had a 5″ Dell Streak for 12 months now .. seems like the other phone manufacturers are just catching on that it’s the way to go. I don’t want to carry a phone as well as a tablet wherever I go, and I’ve been very happy with the phone’s size for web browsing, email, videos etc. It’s the perfect size for in-car navigation too.  I’d be very interested in getting a touch-screen ultrabook when they’re more readily available, so I think your theory is pretty sound in not needing a tablet.

  2. I still think a tablet screen is better for consuming media. Reading a eBook on a small screen really isn’t ideal, and I’d say the same for watching video. If I were to go on a holiday and had a choice between either my phone or tablet, I’d bring the tablet because it’s just nicer to view things on a bigger screen.

    If you’re a guy, then a phone has its size limits because it should fit in your trouser pocket without it looking, well, odd. If you’re a woman, then the size of your phone might not matter as much because, if you’re anything like my wife, it’ll likely vanish completely into the abyss that is your purse.

  3. Have to say that I have taken a long time to decide or justify why I need an iphone or alike, and one of the main negatives for me is the size of these phones… when compared to my OLD nokia 6120, they are gigantic and not easy to conceal in a pocket…but I think the technology will win me over in the end….

  4. Big phones are all very well but you’d look like nob with a gadget the size of a DVD case hanging off your ear. lets not forget they are primarily meant to be phones!

  5. Got a Galaxy Note this week from overseas -great phone – size makes it practical for ebooks, email,video and browsing – but still locatable. It is basically a galaxy S2 on steroids

    If all you want is a phone it may not be for you – but if you want a practical multifunction device the screen size makes a real difference – once you have had it for a while you will wonder how you coped with 3.5 or 4 inch screens

    1. Thanks RAP for your commets on the NOTE.I hav the SAMSUNG GALAXY 1,and i find this ph to be a fantastic ph. I dont know wether to get the 7″ tablet OR the NOTE.

  6. Had a play with a Galaxy Note today. Being a 16:10 display it’s quite wide but certainly pocketable and manageable unless you’re wearing tight jeans and have small hands. In fact to use it one handed is a little difficult but not impossible.

  7. I’m not the first to suggest it, but much of it could be the appeal to customers in the shop, as the bigger phone is going to look more impressive at first viewing. Unless the focus is primarily on improving the user experience though this could end up back-firing.

    I don’t personally think that ultrabooks will have as much impact as Intel hopes though, as nobody can match Apple’s quality for the same price. When they do, then I’m sure they will, if MS doesn’t screw up Windows again.

    I use an iPad for work, along with Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard only comes out at work, as outside, on the train and the like the iPad by itself is very handy. If MS or Apple could do a proper OS that can work both with just your fingers or with a keyboard and mouse, then I reckon things will start to get very interesting, as I’d love to have The One Machine to do almost everything.

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