Smartphone shipments will fall to phablets by 2019: IDC

Phablets, which have screens between 5.5 and 7 inches, are projected to outpace total market growth to reach one billion shipped units through 2021.

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Phablets -- smartphones and tablet hybrids like the Galaxy Note -- are expected to overtake smartphone shipments by 2019, according to IDC.

Through 2021, phablets, which have screens between 5.5 and 7 inches, are projected to outpace total market growth to reach 1 billion shipped units, representing a compound annual growth rate of 18.1 percent.

Meanwhile, traditional-sized smartphones will decline 7.4 percent during the same period. The smartphone market overall is expected to grow at a 3 percent CAGR.

Android-based devices have been the primary driver of large-screen smartphones, but Apple has also made a massive push into the phablet space with its Plus and X devices. There are a number of reasons for the shift to larger phones, but IDC points out an increase in video, gaming, and social media consumption as primary drivers.

Geographically, IDC said China has been and will remain the largest market for large-screen smartphones, with a CAGR of 12.6 percent.

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"In 2012, phablets were just 1 percent of smartphone shipments and now they are approaching 50 percent of the market just a few years later," said Ryan Reith, program VP with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Device Trackers. "The rapid transition to bezel-less smartphones will help minimize the device footprint while growing the screen size from previous generations."

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