SINGAPORE/ HONG KONG: Sales of phablets in Asia doubled during the second quarter of 2013 and they now stand at the same level as tablets and laptops combined, new research has shown.

Latest figures from the International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that device vendors shipped 25.2m phablets in Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) during Q2 2013, compared with 12.6m tablets, and 12.7m portable PCs. This represented a 100% increase on the first quarter and a 620% leap on the second quarter of 2012.

For the purposes of the research, phablets were defined as large smartphones with screens of between five and seven inches.

Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager with IDC Asia Pacific's Client Devices team, noted that phablets had first taken off in mature markets such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.

"What's changed now is the added pick-up of phablets in emerging markets like China and India," she explained, "not just the plethora of big-name vendors competing head-to-head with Samsung, but instead the low-cost local players who have swooped in to offer big screens for less money."

Such devices are up to two and a half times cheaper than global brand names, as Chau noted their average retail price was around $220, while that of a Samsung device was $557.

Chau also remarked on how the market had changed in the 18 months since Samsung launched its Galaxy Note in the region. In the final quarter of 2011, Samsung's device took 90% of the market. "Fast forward to Q2 2013, and Samsung's Note series counts for less than 50%," said Chau.

IDC noted that in some markets phablets were taking sales from tablets but nonetheless expected that that the outlook for all three devices – smartphone, tablet and phablet – would remain positive for the rest of the year.

It has, however, revised downwards its forecast for global tablet sales in 2013 from 229.3m to 227.4m, citing the increased competition from large-screen smartphones and the launch this month of several wearable devices, reported Campaign India.

Samsung and Sony both have "smart watch" releases planned, while Apple is also rumoured to be on the verge of unveiling a similar device of its own.

Data sourced from IDC, Campaign India; additional content by Warc staff