Ridiculous sizes aside, oversized smartphones (“phablets”) that border on tablet territory are here to stay. By next year, the crop of smartphones with 5-inch displays will seem tiny compared to phablets with 6-inch+ screens. According to The Korea Times, Samsung (005930) is reportedly planning to launch the Galaxy Note III with a 6.3-inch OLED display in 2013. By comparison, the current Galaxy Note II has 5.5-inch display. Huawei also (002502) confirmed last week it will release a Galaxy Note II competitor with a 6.1-inch screen. Having pioneered the “phablet” category, Samsung might see no problem with consumers adjusting to even bigger smartphones.
It sounds silly to imagine people carrying smartphones with 6-inch displays, but then again, many people thought “phablets” would be rejected by consumers for their large proportions.
One reason for the shift to even larger displays could be to widen the gap in resolution. In October, a screen expert said that smartphones with 1080p resolution aren’t visibly better than ones with 720p resolution due to their small size. With larger displays, the difference between Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5 and say, the Galaxy Note III, could become more noticeable.
But where there are upsides to a larger display, there are also downsides. To power a 6.3-inch display, Samsung would have to include a significantly larger battery, especially since it would also support LTE. An even larger Galaxy Note would also mean holding the device with one hand will be more difficult for most people.
With tradeoffs like those, it seems unlikely a 6.3-inch display will appear on the Galaxy Note III unless Samsung can manage an edgeless layout that keeps the phone’s overall footprint roughly the same.