According to a new survey conducted by Accenture, fully 40 percent of Americans planning to buy a smartphone this year would prefer a phablet--a smartphone with a screen of between 5 and 7 inches--instead of a smaller phone. However, that number among Chinese survey respondents shot to 66 percent.
The findings again underscore the shift among smartphone users toward larger screens, particularly in emerging markets like China. And they help gird Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) rumored plans to increase the size of its iPhone screens to as big as 5.5 inches.
Indeed, according to a new Bloomberg report, Apple suppliers in China plan to begin production on Apple's new iPhones starting next month, and Apple likely will begin to sell the gadgets this fall. According to Bloomberg's latest report, which cited sources who asked not to be identified, Apple will release two iPhones in September, one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch screen. Apple's current iPhone 5s and 5c have 4-inch screens.
Bloomberg said the new iPhones will be rounder and thinner than previous models. The publication reported that the 5.5-inch iPhone is more complicated than the smaller one, which could result in Apple's suppliers building fewer models of that phone.
Bloomberg's report echoes a wide range of recent reports indicating Apple will release two new iPhones with bigger screens this fall. Apple recently announced details of its forthcoming iOS 8 operating system, which includes a wide range of new features, like a focus on health and data services and home automation offerings.
Interestingly, in a separate survey, RBC analyst Amit Daryanani found that close to half of all consumers who plan to upgrade their phone intend to purchase an iPhone within the next three months. Respondents also said they wanted better battery life and a larger screen size on their next phone. The survey covered 4,000 people, presumably in the United States.
"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 Accenture's Communications, Media and Technology group.
Accenture's online survey covered 23,000 consumers in 23 countries and found that, on average, 57 percent of consumers plan to buy a smartphone this year. Further, nearly half of those (48 percent) prefer to buy a phablet rather than a smaller smartphone.
Accenture's survey also found that survey respondents in emerging markets like China, India and South Africa were on average more interested in purchasing a phablet than customers in established markets like Germany and Japan. For example, 64 percent of those in Turkey wanted a phablet, while only 30 percent of those in the Netherlands wanted one.
Such findings likely will push smartphone makers like Apple to continue to focus on devices with larger screens since the opportunity to sell large volumes of devices in emerging markets continues to surpass the opportunity in established markets.
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