In case you haven’t noticed this new category of super-sized smartphones, you might want to check out these cool new devices that are bigger than a smartphone yet smaller than a tablet. A phablet is a cross between these two devices with displays ranging from around 5 – 6.5-inches. You can use them like phones but we’ve always wondered about what it’s like to hold one up to your ear for a long conversation. Samsung currently sells one of the most popular phablets called the Galaxy Note 2 that has a 5.5-inch OLED screen and built-in stylus. Other phablet vendors include HTC, LG, Samsung, Sony, Lenovo, Huawei and more. Some of the benefits of a phablet include:
A bigger screen makes watching video over a 4G or Wi-Fi connection more enjoyable.
Video conferencing on services like Skype can be more productive
Gaming on larger screen devices with all the usual sensors can be more fun.
You can save money by not having to buy a tablet
Being closer to e-reader size like the 6-inch Kindle makes them good e-book readers
They can fit in many pockets or pocketbooks
A stylus comes in handy for tapping, writing or drawing
Samsung Adds Mega Phablets to the Galaxy NoteThe Samsung Note 2 sold more than 5 million units during the first two months it was on the market. Users seem to like the 5.5-inch 1280 x 720, 267 ppi HD Super AMOLED screen, S Pen, speedy Exynos Quad processor, LTE connectivity and the fact that it runs Android apps right out of the Google Play store.
In an interesting move, Samsung just announced a new phablet series called the Samsung Galaxy Mega. The larger of the two new Megas has a 6.3-inch 720p resolution screen while the smaller Mega runs 5.8-inches with a slightly lower, 960 x 540 resolution screen. Neither of the Megas has very sensational specs as it appears that Samsung might position the Megas for the mainstream phablet user while keeping the Note as its premium phablet brand. The Megas are expected to go on sale in the U.S. sometime in June.
Will the Galaxy Note 3 Have a Flexible Display?If you can hold out until September there might be a new Samsung phablet worth waiting for. Rumors are surfacing of a 5.9-inch, Exynos 5 octa-core powered Galaxy Note 3 with a long lasting 5000 mAh battery that could include a lot of the features we saw in the recently released Galaxy S4 like Smart Scroll (gesture) and Smart Eye (tracking). If the timing is right we could even see it running Android 5.0 or Key Lime Pie. We’ve also read that the Note 3 could feature a “flexible” display that would make the device less susceptible to damage along with adding new possibilities. At the same time there’s also word that Samsung may move from the cheaper feeling plastic case currently being somewhat criticized on the GS4 toward a more solid feeling metallic case similar to that being praised in the HTC One although we’re not sure how this rumor jives with the flexible display rumor. If the Galaxy Note 3 does end up leapfrogging the GS4 in design and features this could be one of the hottest gadgets of the year.
SLG Optimus G Pro PhabletBy the time you read this you should be able to walk into your local ATT store and check out LG’s 5.5-inch 1920 x 1080, 401 ppi IPS LCD, quad-core Snapdragon-powered phablet. The Optimus G Pro is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Although it’s missing a stylus, it does have drawing capabilities. The LG phablet has a high resolution 13 MP camera which is the same as the GS4 but more than the 8 MP on Note 2 which we suspect will be upgraded to 13 MP on the forthcoming Note 3.
Will Apple Enter the Phablet Market?Despite the warning from Steve Jobs that users of smaller tablets would need to sharpen their fingers, Apple brought out the 7.9-inch iPad Mini. Rumors of an iPhone 5S have been circulating but that is expected to be a minor upgrade to the iPhone 5. The big question centers around the iPhone 6 and whether or not it will come in different sizes including a phablet-sized version or whether it will have something new and different like a flexible display which Samsung is likely to introduce. We might even see a more “wearable,” wrap-around device, or something that will work with the rumored iWatch. The latest iPhone 6 rumors talk of a 4.8-inch screen which might even use the super high resolution IGZO display technology. We should get a better sense of what’s coming from Apple at the WWDC in June where we could see a preview of iOS 7.
Sony Xperia A Phablet Could Be Coming SoonThe Sony Xperia Z smartphone was a big hit at this year’s CES for its impressive specs including a high resolution 441 ppi screen and attractive design. It appears that Sony will be adding a new model letter to its alphabet soup of Xperias which already includes a Z for smartphone and X for tablet. The rumored Xperia A is likely to be a 5-inch, 1080p phablet. Additionally, the new Sony phablet is rumored to feature a 20 MP CMOS Cyber-shot sensor with a Carl Zeiss lens. We’ll know more about this new Sony phablet when it’s announced.
Lenovo Launching the K900 Android PhabletThe new Lenovo K900 5.5-inch 1080p 400 ppi IPS LCD, Gorilla Glass 2-protected screen phablet bears an “Intel Inside” label that we don’t often see on mobile devices. The Clover Trail+ powered phablet running Android (yes, Android, not Windows) comes in a classy stainless steel alloy and polycarbonate case and offers a 13 MP camera with an F1.8 lens that uses the Sony Exmor BSI sensor.
Other Phablets to WatchThe largest phone Nokia currently offers is the 4.5-inch Lumia 920. Rumors are circulating of a forthcoming 6-inch 1080p, quad-core tablet. Presumably the Nokia phablet will run Windows. In February ZTE (formerly Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation) introduced their Grand Memo 5.7-inch phablet, which is powered by the brand new 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor. We haven’t heard much about it since it was introduced at Mobile World Congress however we suspect you’ll have to travel to China if you want to buy one anytime soon as there is no word yet on availability in the U.S. At CES Huawei rolled out an Android phablet called Ascend Mate which has a 6.1-inch display, quad-core 1.5GHz processor and a 4,050mAh battery.
Asus Fonepad is More a 3G TabletAt 7-inches the Intel Atom-powered Fonepad is hardly something you can fit in your pocket but it does have 3G capability which gets you the ability to make and receive phone calls.