Sales of phablets went through the roof during the first quarter of 2015, say researchers with Kantar Worldpanel.
The analyst outfit estimated that over the three months ending in March, 21 per cent of all US smartphones sold had screens with diagonals larger than five inches. During the same period in 2014, phablets accounted for just 6 per cent of total sales.
The big boost in big-screen handsets can be credited in part to Apple's arrival on the scene. The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus accounted for 44 per cent of phablet sales in the quarter.
The researchers found screen size to be a major factor in phone purchasing decisions, with 43 per cent of iPhone buyers and 47 per cent of Android buyers surveyed saying screen size was the main reason they chose their particular model.
In terms of overall handset sales, Android continued to lead the US market with a 58.1 per cent share, up 57.9 per cent from last year.
Despite record unit sales for Apple, however, the iPhone actually lost overall market share in the US, capturing a 36.5 per cent share in the most recent quarter compared to 36.7 per cent in the year-ago period.
Windows was a distant third at 4.3 per cent, down from 4.4 per cent last year. Fading vendor BlackBerry wasn't even able to escape the "other" category, which accounted for 1.1 per cent of sales, compared to 1.0 per cent last year.
Churn between the Android and iPhone platforms slowed down from last year. Among iPhone buyers, 11.4 per cent were Android converts, down from 14.6 per cent last year. Android pulled 5.9 per cent of its customers from iOS, compared to 9.8 per cent last year.
And small-screen phones are not the only market that ceded sales to phablets. Large-screen phones are also drawing customers away from full-size tablets.
Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged in his last quarterly earnings call that cannibalisation from the iPhone 6 Plus was in part responsible for plummeting iPad sales. IDC, similarly, noted a 5.9 per cent drop in the overall tablet market on the year, citing growing competition from other devices. ®