Weekly poll: Are tablets still relevant?

Peter, 24 March 2019

Did you hear? Apple updated its non-pro iPads. Perhaps the more important question is “do you care?”. Looking at Apple’s report for Q4 2018, it shows that the iPhone brings in 8x the revenue of iPads. The tablets also lag behind the Mac sales as well as the wearable and services division. In short, the iPad is one of the least profitable Apple products.

The tablet market in general has been stagnating, Apple is better off than most companies. What’s the last flagship Android tablet? The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 10.5 pops to mind, but while the high-res Super AMOLED screen is lovely, the Snapdragon 835 chipset with 4GB of RAM isn’t quite the best the company could have done.

Microsoft’s Windows-powered Surface tablets have their fans, but you won’t see evidence of that in the market share numbers. Similarly, the Chrome OS tablets can’t replicate the success of their laptop counterparts.

Tablet market share, source: Statista

At this point it feels like we’re beating a dead horse – the “post PC era” that Apple was promising when it unveiled the first iPad imploded. We’ll venture a few guesses as to what went wrong, but we want to hear from you too.

We’ll start off with 7-inch tablets, which were once quite popular (largely due to their price). It should be quite clear that modern phones have grown so large that such a small tablet doesn’t make much sense. The tall aspect ratios of phone screens today mean you can fit a lot of several image + text posts that make up the bulk of social media.

Next is the polar opposite – the large premium tablets. We feel like those never quite matched the productivity features of a laptop, plus laptop makers answered the challenge with 360° hinges and 2-in-1 designs. And people wouldn’t spend much on a “consume-only” device.

That leaves us with the middle – 8 to 10-inch tablets with mid-range specs. And those are indeed the most popular designs today. Popular as far as tablets go, that is.

Tablets may suffer from the same curse as laptops, even a 5-year old one is pretty good. With phones, there are new features every year – more cameras, new screen shapes, faster charging and whatever else makers can come up with. We haven’t seen this with tablets, so people upgrade them about as often as they do their laptops.

Or perhaps tablets are no longer needed. “Phablets” used to bridge the gap between “phones” and tablets, but they are a dead genre now. We just have big phones and that’s it. This comfortable middle ground may have been the end to both tablets and compact phones.

What do you think? Are tablets still relevant or are their best days behind them?

Do you care about tablets?
Yes, I follow new releases
Somewhat - I use one but haven't upgraded in years
No, large phones are enough for me


Reader comments

  • PiT

gsmarena: Do you care about tablets? Me: Of course I do, browsing/gaming/reading is very stupid with those small phone screens

  • Anonymous

If phones weren't 6"+ tablets were relevant - too bad manufacturers went the wrong way (imho). I personally can decide between 2-5 flagship-phones sub 6" and I mean flagship. If I want to spend 750€+ on a phone I want it to be near perfect for my nee...

  • Anonymous

I have very small phone Sony XZ1 compact and hope that it would be even smaller, so that it would be easy to carry around everywhere. I have 9.7" iPad Air2 and I use it a lot when i need to read some articles, play games, whats movies and videos. Ver...

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