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"Is it a phone? Is it a tablet?!" - the rise of the 'phablet'

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Yearning to play Angry Birds on a screen bigger than your iPhone's, but don't want to lose the ability to make calls and texts? You may be interested in a new type of devices that are gaining momentum this year that offer just that - the 'phablets'.

With screen sizes between 4.5 and 6 inches, the phablets offer impressive displays that are (just about) small enough to fit in one hand. They usually come with a stylus to make full use of the display, and best of all, they retain full phone functionality. Samsung have dominated the phablet market so far with their Note series, however there are signs that other manufacturers are after a slice.

Samsung Galaxy Note

Announced at the IFA in Berlin in 2011, The 5.3" device puts lots of emphasis on the use of a stylus (or 'S Pen', as Samsung would rather you call it) for writing notes and annotations on-the-go, which is the main method by which the Galaxy differentiates itself from competitors. The Galaxy Note has been relatively succesful and has now sold over 10 million units worldwide, however it didn't take long for Samsung to decide an upgraded phablet was required..

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Less than a year later, Samsung upped their game with the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy Note II. Featuring a bigger screen, twice the RAM and a bigger battery, the Galaxy Note 2 ships with the latest Android OS, Jelly Bean. Thinner yet heavier than its predecessor, the Note II has already sold 5 million units and has been met with general aclaim from critics. So Samsung have got the phablet industry sewn up.. right?

The competition

Wrong. Samsung shouldn't get too comfortable, with Phone manufacturers such as HTC and LG looking for their share of the phablet market. Feast your eyes on the specs below to see how they compare.


Samsung Galaxy Note

Samsung Galaxy Note II


LG Optimus Vu

Screen Size






1280 x 800

1280 x 720

1920 x 1080

1024 x 768


1 GB

2 GB

2 GB

1 GB


178 g

183 g

138 g

168 g


2500 mAh

3100 mAh

2020 mAh

2100 mAh

As you can see, both HTC and LG have joined the phablet party this year. Both offering slightly smaller devices at 5", they could ease the concerns of some reviews who feel the Galaxy Notes are just too big to be easy to use with one hand. It would be a stretch to say that Samsung are shaking in their boots, but you can guarantee that 2013 will be a make-or-break year for the phone-tablet hybrids.

UPDATE: You can now follow all the latest additions to the phablet world by bookmarking our phablet comparison table.

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