Phone makers rush to cash in on Samsung's phablet craze
Now that Samsung has been successful with its Galaxy Note phone-tablet crossover, other phone makers are joining in on the phablet craze.
LG, HTC, ZTE, Sharp and Sony have all either announced phones with 5-inch or larger displays, or are believed to be working on them. Only one of these Galaxy Note alternatives, LG's Intuition, is currently available in the U.S., but that may change as gigantic smartphones gain traction.
Here's a rundown of rumored phablets on the horizon.
HTC Droid DNA
In Japan, HTC has already announced a phone called the J Butterfly, with a 5-inch, 1920-by-1080 resolution display. Other specs include a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera, a 2-megapixel front camera, a microSD slot and a 2,020 mAh battery. As for U.S. availability, HTC and Verizon have announced a press event for November 13, where they'll likely reveal the phone as the Droid DNA.
Sony is also reportedly working on a 5-inch phone with similar specs to HTC's handset, including a 1080p display, a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a MicroSD card slot. Sony's Yuga, however, may have a 12-megapixel camera according to Android Schweiz. Sony doesn't have a big smartphone presence in the U.S., so even if this phone exists, it's not safe to assume that it'll be sold stateside.
Sharp Aquos Phone SH930W
Here's another phone with a 5-inch 1080p display and a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, but right now it's only available in Russia. And as Phone Arena notes, the phone's Adreno 225 graphics processor may not be good enough to drive all those pixels, especially for gaming. That, combined with Sharp's lack of smartphone presence in the U.S., means it's probably just something to look at from afar.
ZTE's 5.9-inch Windows Phone
Eventually, someone had to create a Windows Phone 8 phablet, and it looks like ZTE could be the first. CNBeta posted fuzzy imagesof the oversized Windows Phone, with a 5.9-inch 1080p display, but no other details are available. Even if this phone doesn't materialize, it's only a matter of time before device makers push Windows Phone past the 5-inch mark.
Keeping up with Samsung
If phone makers want to compete with Samsung's Galaxy Note II, they'll have their work cut out for them. Samsung's been pushing the phablet concept for more than a year, so it's had lots of time to refine its software and its stylus applications. It also has support from all four major wireless carriers in the U.S.
The use of 1080p displays may help other phones stand out, but only if the extra pixels don't sap battery life or make the phone run too hot. (Long battery life is one of the Galaxy Note II's strongest qualities.)
In any case, Samsung has shown that there's a market for jumbo-sized phones. And while it's reaping the benefits for now – the company says it sold more than 3 million Note II units in 37 days – it may soon have a lot more competition.