Fresh from last week’s Jana report claiming that emerging markets prefer large screens, there’s evidence that the appetite for big screens goes beyond smartphones in Asia. According to a new report from IDC, close to one in four of all tablets shipped to the continent (minus Japan) is equipped with cellular voice capabilities.

More precisely, the analyst firm says 3.5 million of the 13.8 million tablets (with seven-inch screens) that shipped to Asia over the past three months were fitted with the ability to make calls like a smartphone. That, IDC says, represents an increase of more than 60 percent year-on-year.

Unsurprisingly all of the voice call-enabled tablets run on Android — that’s likely to include Samsung’s Tab range and more exotic devices such as the ASUS Fonepad.

 

“This shift highlights the sustained interest among consumers, at least in emerging markets, to have a single mobile device for all their needs… even if the device has a huge seven-inch screen on it. It also helps that these devices are quite affordable, playing in the entry-to-mainstream price bands in most markets,” said IDC analyst Avinash K. Sundaram.

fonepad asus 730x764 Report: Asia is mad for tablets that make calls, which now account for 25% of all shipments

 The seven-inch Asus Fonepad tablet

I’ve seen plenty of anecdotal evidence of people in Southeast Asia, and particularly in Thailand where I live, who buy a tablet to access the internet and a separate feature phone for making calls, primarily because the phone’s battery life is not affected by their Angry Birds addiction and whatever else they do online. Combining the two into one device makes plenty of sense — particularly since tablets are already widely used for taking photos and other activities traditionally covered by smartphones.

Unfortunately, IDC did not provide comparable data for the US, Europe and other part of the world — though we’ve reached out to ask for it.

Certainly plenty of tablets with calling capabilities ship to the rest of the world, but it seems Asia is the primary focus. Indeed, IDC says as many as half of the tablets shipped to India and Indonesia come with voice calling enabled, which suggests that there is large demand for them.

Alongside the rise of large smartphones — or ‘phablets,’ if you can stand the word — the growth in tablet-phones is an interesting trend to watch out for as more people come online for the first time in emerging markets.

Related: This chart shows the world’s internet usage shifting to smartphones

Image credits: Sham Hardy/Flickr, and Intel Free Press/Flickr