Could Apple’s 4-inch iPhone 5se mark the end of the ‘phablet’ era?

For some time now the smartphone market has been obsessed with the notion that bigger is better.

But with rumours that Apple will launch a smaller iPhone in March, could we be seeing the return to the days of being able to actually fit your phone in your pocket?

If we look at the biggest smartphone manufacturers (Samsung, Apple and Huawei) all three have increased the screen sizes of their flagship brands since launch.

Samsung’s Galaxy S range started off with a 4.0-inch screen in 2010. Skip to 2015 and the Galaxy S6 has a 5.1-inch display. The firm has even released the Edge+ smartphone that includes a whopping 5.7-inch screen.

You can go back a little further with Apple’s iPhone range to 2007, when the smartphone first launched with a 3.5-inch screen. Last year’s iPhone 6S Plus dons a 5.5-inch display.

Huawei has always been a fan of announcing world firsts. In 2013 it jumped on the ‘phablet’ trend as the saying gained popularity with its Ascend Mate, which measured a monster 6.1-inches diagonally.

Skip to just over a year later, and it started to become clear that the manufacturers were following a trend for a reason.

As PCR reported in May 2014, a third of all smartphones sold in Q1 2014 were phablets. A month later we reported that over a third of Brits said they would rather buy a phablet than a smartphone.

“The phablet screen size is hitting a sweet spot for a large percentage of consumers wanting more digitally connected lifestyles,” said David Sovie, managing director of market tracker Accenture’s communications, media and technology group.

But has that sweet spot been and gone? With news that Apple is shrinking its devices, could this mark the end of the phablet era?

Apple’s iPhone 5se, along with the new iPad Air 3, is scheduled to be released on March 18th 2016, according to new reports.

The iPhone 5se is expected to feature an external case similar to the iPhone 5s but with the faster processor and new camera found in the iPhone 6 and 6s. It will have a 4-inch screen and also include the firm’s newer tech like Apple Pay.

It’s rumoured that the iPad Air 3 will come with a similar audio set up to the iPad Pro, meaning it will have four speakers rather than the iPad Air 2’s two speaker set up. It appears that it will be the same size at previous models, with a 9.7-inch screen.

Apple is set to break tradition and launch the devices a couple of days are the unveiling, bypassing the usual week-long pre-order build up.

With the launch only one month away, it won’t be too long until we see if other smartphone manufacturers follow suit and how well these smaller devices sell.

Coloured iPhone lineup image source: Shutterstock

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