The 7-inch tablet has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence even though it was publicly blasted by Steve Jobs at a certain point. The Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire have both accelerated the growth of the 7-inch tablet, with many manufacturers jumping in on the act. Now there are a plethora of small tablets that were made by a variety of manufacturers. But is the success of 7-inch tablets a threat to their 10-inch brothers?
The digital world has always driven to make devices thinner and lighter. Computers went from taking up a whole room, to sitting inconspicuously on a desk, to fitting into your backpack. And now they fit in our pockets. This all occurred in a such a short space of time, some would be forgiven for forgetting our 27 tonne Halcyon days.
Eniac: The first computer
A 10-inch tablet would become uncomfortable to hold suspended in the air after a few minutes, while a 7-inch tablet remains easy to hold for hours. You can also fit a 7-inch tablet in a coat pocket and even in large pants pockets (albeit uncomfortably), something impossible to do with a 10-inch tablet.
The comfort 7-inch devices can offer is, for most people, enough to buy them. So while a 10-inch tablet is your “couch buddy,” a 7-inch tablet is your “everywhere” buddy.
At $200 the Nexus 7 is a safe bet for some, and within the price range of many. Convincing people to let go of $200 of their hard earned cash is a lot easier than convincing somebody to shell out $500 for an iPad. When you couple it with brilliant hardware, the latest software and a beautiful design you know you’ve got a winner on your hands.
For the $500 that an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 costs, you can buy a Nexus 7 32GB ($250) and a Samsung Chromebook ($250), meaning you get all of the features of a tablet with the bonus of a full browser (and more).
When you can get a tablet that is cheap, powerful and does everything that a 10-inch tablet can do, then these tablets are sure to take up some market share, but how much? Well according to a report released in April by Animoca, an app publisher for Android, the best selling Android tablets measure 7 inches in size.
GigaOM: “The figures come from Animoca users around the world for one month, ending March 20, with a sample size of 978,000.”
When 7-inch tablets hold 5 of the top 7 Android tablet spots, then it is obvious that they are a clear favourite among Android users, but like all products, there are drawbacks.
With all the manufacturers looking to break the magic $200 barrier, innovation is in danger of getting buried underneath it all. When you are selling your device at break-even, or even at a loss, it is hard to keep pushing the greatest innovations and that means 7-inch tablets would always be a step behind their 10-inch brethren.
Luckily (even if you don’t realise it), both Apple and Samsung have chosen not to partake in this “race to the bottom,” as both have introduced smaller tablets that cost much more than their 7-inch counterparts, at $330 for the iPad mini and $400 for the Note 8.0. This means that we will continue to see innovation in the 7-inch (or thereabouts) market.
With a 10-inch tablet, all you need to do is hit the net and choose one of the many bluetooth keyboard-case combo and you can transform your tablet into a clamshell laptop.
This allows you to type those long emails, or punch out a novella on the train. Even though you can grab a bluetooth keyboard-case combo for a 7-inch tablet, the lack of vertical screen space means you are severely limited. So in this case, a 7-inch tablet loses out to the larger 10-inch tablet.
Even as 7-inch tablets replace 10-inch tablets, a new trend is appearing on the radar. The market that was popularized with the Galaxy Note has exploded into smartphones spanning dozens of sizes and even recently hitting 7 inches in size, with the ASUS FonePad.
These devices (yep, we aren’t using the “ph” word here), can combine the tablet and phone into one, getting rid of the need for a second device. 7-inch tablets are within touching distance of these smartphones, so could they be swallowed whole by this emerging trend?
The mobile market is a funny business. While the smartphone market is upscaling, the tablet market is downscaling and now they are on a collision course that seems unavoidable. The market has seemed to take a liking to both trends, so it will be interesting to see which emerges victorious. The cheap and cheerful 7-inch tablet or the all-in one phablet (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself).
Do you think 10-inch tablets have been made irrelevant? Are 5-inch (and bigger) smartphones the future? Still going to buy the new Nexus 7? Let us know in the comments.
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in my opinion, 8inch tablets would be perfect fit between 7 & 10 inch.
Yeah an iPad mini is great example, it’s just a swet spot.
Actually I reckon the 8.5 inch would be the sweet spot. Or maybe 8.75 inch.
That’s what she said.
Yeah I’m glad apple revolutionised the mini tablet space by increasing the size from 7″ to 7.9″ and you can see everyone following that.
I bought a Note 2 last December: and sold my iPad 2 In January! Totally didn’t touch it after I got my fabulous phablet. Now my world is in my pocket at all times.
I rather like the padfone concept, a high spec phone for which you could buy a cheaper 7 and/or 10 inch screen depending on your needs. The IBM PC won against other computers due to its customizability, why wouldn’t the same apply to mobile?
I wanted the Nexus 10 but I have no money :( maybe I’ll get the second gen Nexus 7, but I definitely would prefer the bigger screen. 10.1″ diagonally is perfectly portable to me.
I don’t have anything against 7″ tablets other than the fact that they are just like big phones, the specs are often the same or even worse than in smartphones :( I want Full HD or more and lots of memory (also RAM) so I can actually use it as a computer, not as a big phone
I agree with some of the other people here. The 10 inch tablet has its place and the 7 inch tablet has its place (8 inch might be a happy compromise, though) but based on the table above, the second tablet in line is a 10.1 inch tablet… It’s not as though they’re absent from the lineup. This article seems to have come straight out of left field, honestly.
i’m not sure i could go from 10″ down to 7″ as my daily device…
There will always be a market for 10″ IMO as people will always want the larger screen. I think more of the success of the 7″ tablet is due to the price, all the top tablets on the list are available for less than £200, some much less, and in the current economic climate I think this has more to do with it than screen size.
I think more people will go with hybrid devices — for example, the site TabletSprint has just added a new model launching this month called the Hummingbird PX103 — which is a “Transformer style” 10-inch device with some impressive features for a mid-range tablet and offers a hard cover with a reversable built in keyboard that snaps into place… it’s priced at $239 with the latest Rockchip Quad Core processor and an HD 1280×800 IPS screen; also coming with Bluetooth 4.0 (works with built-in keyboard), HDMI, Dual Cameras, a 7000 mAh battery, Android 4.2.2 and Google Play… it offers a thin 9.6mm profile, weighs in at only 1.4lbs… TabletSprint will also carry the 3G – HSPA+ edition also which is expected in June.
I don’t think 10″ tablets are going away. It’s perfect for magazine-type reading material and docking to a keyboard and mouse makes it the perfect portable. A good combo for me is a 6″ smartphone and a 10″ tablet.
I think they are definitely the way of the past. 10 inches might as well be a laptop. Check out my reviews on smaller tablets at http://www.bigshotreviews.com
that last pic makes his head look big and he’s thinking of the number “9″…
I want a 12″ 16:10 tablet. 10 is too small.
And my Paperwhite could have been larger, too.
I actually think a 15 inch tablet would be great. Then it would be a great laptop replacement without having to lose so much space on the screen
I’m running a Note II and I reckon it’s gotta be the best phone bar none. Had Motorla Defy before. Tablets and phones are definitely on a collision course.
The kindle and nexus 7 might have sold in big numbers but people still use their iPad instead. Does 7 inch tablets generate web traffic? I doubt it, they are too small.
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I like Samsung Note 10.1 mainly because they have pens but there is one thing I don’t like about them is the resolution.
I think 7 inches is the perfect size, at least for what I need it for. I love my galaxy s4′d five inch beautiful screen but it is not big enough at all to do the kind of pdf reading and annotating I do every day for grad school. My 7 inch tablet was inexpensive and is the perfect size for that. A seven inch phone is way too big. I played with the eight inch size but it is too big for me to hold comfortably. I like things add they are
tablets are getting smaller while smartphones are getting bigger.
a 9.5+ inch tablet would is the “main” tablet in our home. The kids use 7″ mostly because of price, but also they are the right size for them. A 7-8 inch is a nice, portable size, but is lacking when media consumption and gaming are concerned. There is room,function, and purpose for all.
I seriously hope that all tablets won’t be under 10″ in the future. In my opinion 10″ tablets are actually too small, by making the bezels smaller we could easily have 11″ or 12″ tablets with almost the same footprint as 10″ tablets. A 12″ tablet that isn’t a lot bigger than 10″ tablet would be the sweespot in my opinion.
7″ and 8″ tablets are too small, I don’t see the point buying such a small tablet when I’ve already got Note 2 with 5,5″ screen. Phones are getting bigger and tablets are getting smaller, makes no sense. I seriously hope that the rumours about Nexus 11 are true as I have no intentions of buying “only” a 10″ tablet.
I think we will have >10 and <10 but no more 10" IMHO.
If the price of a 10″ tablet was on par with a 7″ (say $50 more with same specs) then I would be on board for a 10″ tablet and Im sure Im not the only one. But right now to make that jump in size is a big jump in money. Price sells in this case and people opt for what is more affordable with the same capabilities.
I think we will go to touch screen laptops and a phablet. Two devices and maybe a google time watch or Google glass.
Since I already have a 15.6 inch laptop, I decided to get a smaller 7 inch galaxy tab foe ultra mobility. So far I am extremely happy with my decision.