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10/3/2013
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Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
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8 Phablets To Watch

Is it a smartphone or tablet? Samsung led the trend early -- but Apple and Microsoft want in now.
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Even if you don't care for the term "phablet"-- and many people absolutely hate it -- the popularity of smartphone/tablet hybrids known as phabets is undeniable. In fact, research firm IDC recently forecast that tablet sales would soon face stronger competition from smartphones and phablets, the latter category including a variety of 5-inch or larger phones, such as Samsung's Galaxy Note series. More than a few tech reviewers mocked the original Galaxy Note (and its oversized dimensions) when it debuted in 2011, but the public took to the device right away. The Note continues to sell well. Samsung Electronics CEO Shin Jong-kyun announced in September that his company has sold more than 38 million Galaxy Note 1 and Galaxy Note 2 devices, and expects to sell more than 10 million units of the new Galaxy Note 3.

Not surprisingly, other mobile device makers want in on the action. Major vendors such as LG, HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Sony have either just released a big-screen phone/tablet hybrid, plan to do so shortly, or are rumored to be readying one for release.

What's the appeal of these monster phones? Well, the convenience of carrying around a pocket-splitting device certainly isn't one of them. On the plus side, the phablet kills two mobile birds with one stone. Its screen is large enough for popular tablet apps -- video streaming, e-books, Web browsing, productivity apps and so on -- that aren't particularly well-suited to a 4-inch smartphone.

But despite the phablet's success thus far, some critics see mobile devices of that size as a niche category with limited long-term appeal. In March, Gartner mobile device analyst C.K. Lu told reporters in Taipei that phablets are attractive to Asian consumers, who have limited budgets for electronics and hence prefer carrying one mobile device, according to the Taipei Times. In the U.S. and Europe, however, people often carry two devices -- a 4- to 5-inch smartphone and a 7-inch (or larger) tablet -- and prefer to use each gadget for different purposes, Lu surmised.

The verdict is still out on whether the phabet is a suitable replacement for two-device mobile users. One thing is certain: The latest phablets are nearing tablet-size dimensions. The Samsung Galaxy Mega, for instance, has a 6.3-inch display, and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra's screen measures 6.4 inches. Can phablets grow much bigger, or have they reached their maximum size?

Click through the slideshow to read up on the latest phablets, many of which debut this month. We've also included a few rumors about what the biggest tech players, including Apple and Microsoft, might be cooking up to address the phablet phenomenon.

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/4/2013 | 6:03:27 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
Is "mini-tablet" a more appealing phrase than "phablet"? I wonder if iPad Mini has shaped this already.
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2013 | 6:55:36 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
Mini-tablet is MUCH better. "Phablet' is horrible. I cringe every time I read it.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2013 | 3:49:28 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
The Atlantic just did a very funny piece on why people hate the word "phablet": http://www.theatlanticwire.com...
OtherJimDonahue
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OtherJimDonahue,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/9/2013 | 6:55:35 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
Ha--I was just about to send you that link!
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/10/2013 | 1:29:36 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
phablet is a terrible word, but you need a word other than mini tablet to difefrentiate these devices from the ipad mini, which is not a phone. How about "Tabone?"
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
10/10/2013 | 7:17:07 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
That sounds like a steak.
rd282
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rd282,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/10/2013 | 12:57:09 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
I have always hated the term "phablet" because to me it evokes the words "Fake Tablet." I Think it must be from Phablet sounding a little like Fauxblet. Ha!
That is just not the case as these are really Mini Tablets.
Ellis Booker
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Ellis Booker,
User Rank: Strategist
10/13/2013 | 10:20:45 PM
re: 8 Phablets To Watch
I desire the Note 3. I've been using a single-core Galaxy Infuse for years now (using a custom ROM), but the dang thing is simply too slow compared to the current generation. Plus, I'm curious about the utility of the "S" Pen.
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