“Is that a phablet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
That may be the modern-day equivalent of the famous quip, thanks to the arrival of Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
With its increased size and flexibility, the device not only has kicked off the “Bendgate” scandal, but also may be helping to start a new fashion trend.
American Eagle, Levi’s, L.L.Bean, J.Crew, Lee Jeans and Uniqlo are among the brands that have admitted they’re now reconsidering pocket size in light of the growing phablet trend, according to Mashable.
“It’s something we’re always looking into,” Uniqlo spokesperson Eileen McMaster told TechNewsWorld. “Uniqlo is very much about making sure clothes are comfortable. I’m sure we will address this at some point.”
Similarly, “we love Apple, and we love Steve Jobs,” said Jonathan Cheung, head of global design for Levi’s. “Without being iPhone 6-specific, our mantra — like Steve’s — will always be to design products that make people’s lives a little better.”
The Bend Tests
Bendgate arose soon after last month’s release of the iPhone 6 Plus, when some users discovered that keeping the device stored in the pockets of snugly fitting pants could distort its shape — permanently.
A “bend test” demonstration posted soon afterward on YouTube quickly went viral.
It was followed by video lab tests conducted by Consumer Reports.
Samsung has since gotten into the act with its own contribution.
“Many pants that are already on the market can support the increased size of a phablet,” independent mobility analyst Mike Morgan told TechNewsWorld.
“As a phablet user for three years now, I can confirm this is true — though sitting down still requires me to remove the device from my pocket,” Morgan added. “In practice, I have resorted to keeping my device on an inside coat pocket or my front shirt pocket, when this option is available. These solutions have worked for me and my use of the Galaxy Note series, and I am sure they will also work for the iPhone 6 Plus device.”
Many fashion designers likely will consider using “phablet support” as a niche feature for niche clothing and accessory solutions, Morgan predicted.
Clothing brands “ultimately don’t really have a choice but to develop larger pockets,” Thomas McCourtie, a research analyst for mobile devices with ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld. “It’s very possible that fashion brands will begin developing items of clothing with bigger pockets, simply to accommodate the size of phones we commonly use.”
Of course, brands will have to consider whether they can accommodate bigger pockets without compromising their brand, look or style, Morgan pointed out.
Some items simply have no place for most phones.
“Think of the increasing uptake of yoga pants or skinny jeans,” Morgan said. “To make the space for these devices would fundamentally ruin what their fashion is trying to convey.”
Few consumers are likely to change their wardrobes just to accommodate a handset, he added. “In the end, I think that user behavior will change more than fashion will.”
Of course, Morgan could be wrong. It might just take the right product to show consumers what they really want, andFuture Tense may have discovered it:
Fashionable or Invisible
In general, technology is becoming fashionable, Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst with Tirias Research, told TechNewsWorld.
“Not only are fashion companies redesigning their clothing lines to accommodate current devices, but they are designing technology into their clothes and other fashion accessories, such as watches and jewelry,” he pointed out.
“This trend will be huge as wearable technology is adopted, because the technology either needs to be fashionable or invisible,” added McGregor. “Note that many of the early solutions do not meet these criteria.”
The Apple Effect
Regardless of whether brands end up reengineering their pockets, “this is part of the Apple effect,” Tuong Huy Nguyen, a principal research analyst with Gartner, told TechNewsWorld.
“Although these larger tablet-sized phones have not really taken off outside Asia/Pacific, Apple has an opportunity to change that perception. It’s telling a lot of people, ‘hey, this is cool.'”
Nguyen uses a Lumia 1520, and “it fits in my jeans and the pockets of my suits as well,” he said, “so I don’t know if this is necessary.”
In any case, “it points to a larger potential trend in terms of more people adopting phablets,” said Nguyen. “When you go bigger, it’s really hard to go back.”