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Apple’s new earnings report shows that big phones are displacing tablets

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We're used to thinking of smartphones and tablets as separate product categories. The first iPhone was small — its screen measured 3.5 inches diagonally. The original iPad was big — its screen was almost 10 inches.

But it's becoming clear that for many customers, the "sweet spot" for a touchscreen mobile device is somewhere in the middle. More evidence for this can be found in Apple's latest financial results.

On the one hand, iPads continued their two-year-long decline. Between April and June 2015, Apple sold 18 percent fewer iPads than in the same quarter of 2014. The iPad is still a big hit, of course, but it turns out that the demand for full-size tablets is weaker than people expected a couple of years ago.

Benedict Evans

But the really interesting news comes from Apple's iPhone numbers. Apple introduced two new, larger iPhones last September, and they've been a big hit with consumers. The company sold 35 percent more iPhones last quarter than in the same quarter of 2014. But revenue from those iPhones grew by an even more impressive 59 percent.

That suggests that not only do consumers love Apple's larger iPhone, but that Apple sold a fair number of the larger iPhone 6 Plus — which retails for an extra $100 — last quarter.

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