Asian text fuels big-screen smartphone boom

January 17, 2013

Asian text fuels big-screen smartphone boomA research firm predicts the number of giant smartphones will more than double in 2013. And Western buyers might be surprised by one of the reasons why.

According to IHS iSuppli, the total shipments of phones with a screen five inches or bigger will hit 60.4 million this year, up from 25.6 million this year. It’s also put together predictions for the next four years, winding up with 146 million in 2016. (To be fair, the graph showing the annual figures does look remarkably like they’ve just extrapolated by drawing a straight line.)

The predictions seem to be based on two main theories. One is the simple fact that numerous companies are showing off large screen displays at events such as the Consumer Electronics Show, meaning they definitely have plans to make the devices; note that the prediction is for shipments rather than sales.

The second point is an increase in manufacturing capacity (and an associated drop in price) of low temperature polysilicon LCD screens. The main advantage of that production process is that more of the hardware for creating the display can be built directly into the screen. That allows for thinner phones, in turn allowing larger screens without an overall increase in bulkiness and weight. Display manufacturers are particularly keen on large screens as they allow for a higher profit margin (not just a higher price) than smaller screens.

While you might assume the main selling points of larger screen phones will be things like more detailed gaming, less scrolling on web pages, and a better viewing experience on videos, iHS iSuppli has another suggestion. The company’s Vinita Kakhanwal says customers in Asia are particularly keen for large displays as it makes it much easier to input Asian characters that need more space to be quickly and easily distinguished.


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