Another Kind Of Hybrid: Eight Top-Notch Phablets

Two For The Price Of One

Shrinking tablet meets swelling smartphone, behold, the "Phablet." Some complain the size of phablets (5-inch displays or larger) make them awkward for single-handed use. Others have found it extremely convenient to consolidate and use one, solitary device as both a phone and tablet. Though a few early versions of the phablet struggled to find success, like the Dell Streak in 2011, Samsung has proven with its release of the Galaxy Note that there is high demand for the product, selling over 10 million devices in a matter of a few months. Capitalizing on phablet popularity, Samsung released the Galaxy Note 2 and has experienced similar success. They have been called a niche and a fad, but for now, they are selling. Many vendors are producing the cross-breed and rumors are swirling about more vendors getting into the phablet game. Following are eight of the hottest phablets that are already making waves on the mobile scene.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Display Size: 5.5 inch

Storage: 16/32/64 GB + microSD card up to 64 GB

Features: Samsung seems to be appealing to the creative minds with this phablet. The stylus, called the "S pen," allows users more artistic control over personal content and media. For example, send handwritten emails or morph photographs into sketches. Use the S pen as a highlighter, tool for cropping pictures or to simply navigate through pages and apps. Operating on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and a 1.6-GHz quad-core processor, the Note 2 can morph fluidly from single screen to multitasking to easy mode. Key functions find their home right on the home screen, and Air View allows users to quickly view pictures or text without shuffling through cluttered folders. There has been a slight downgrade in picture quality from the original Galaxy Note, now at 1,280-x-720 resolution from 1,280-x-800, but the phablet retains vibrant, clear images.

List Price: $799.99, without plan

Huawei Ascend Mate

Display Size: 6.1 inch

Storage: 16 GB

Features: In order to combat the awkwardness of holding a larger phone, one of the biggest customer reservations about using a phablet, the Ascend Mate has a smaller touch pad shifted to one side of the display, making it easier for one-handed use. The pressure-sensitive screen is an added bonus, making it possible to navigate the tough screen even with thick gloves on. Mixing it up in the GPS realm, the front-facing camera enables users to point the lens toward real-life landscape in front of them and be guided by arrows overlaid augmented-reality style on the screen. The device operates on Android 4.1 and has a 1.5-GHz quad-core processor. Huawei also made battery life a high priority by equipping the device with a 4050 mAh battery that is said to last up to two days and can support 10 hours of video.

Price: Amazon List $479.99

LG Optimus G Pro

Display Size: 5.5 inch

Storage: 32 GB + microSD up to 64 GB

Features: Speedy, speedy, speedy, that’s what reviews are regularly praising about this Galaxy Note 2 look-alike phablet that runs a 1.7-GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor. The 2.1-MP front-facing and 13-MP rear-facing cameras can snap pictures or record video simultaneously and have VR Panorama capability. The G Pro also has a library of effects available to apply to photos or videos for a little extra flavor. The QuickMemo feature allows users to write memos and pass notes using a finger as a stylus, but several reviews have dismissed the feature as unnecessary. Multitasking is also available, allowing three apps to be visible at once. The phablet operates on a version of Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and is currently only available in Korea but is expected to migrate to the U.S. soon.

Price: Expected $549.99, without contract

Asus PadFone 2

Display Size: 4.7 inch/10.1 inch

Storage: 16/32/64 GB

Features: Still acting as a phone and tablet combo, the PadFone 2 still requires two separate pieces -- the 4.7-inch smartphone as well as a 10.1-inch tablet screen with a docking station for the phone. Unattached, the phone functions as an independent device but the tablet needs the phone docked in order to run. Asus cut out the "sync" step by designing the tablet to mirror the apps on the phone and replicate phone features by simply conjoining the two pieces of hardware. With the phone attached, the tablet can even perform talk and text features, though there are apps built for use on either the phone or the tablet, but not both. The PadFone 2 runs on Android Jelly Bean 4.1 and a 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor.

Price: Around $1,000


Display Size: 5 inch

Storage: 16 GB

Features: Thinner around the edges, thicker in the middle, the hardware of the Droid DNA gives it a little different look and feel. Sporting a 1,080P display (the first smartphone to have one), the DNA is not lacking in high-quality images. Like the Optimus G Pro, reviews show customers are extremely pleased with the speed of the quad-core processor. If storage space is of high priority, the Droid falls short, offering only 16 GB of internal storage and lacking a microSD slot to improve storage capability. The 8MP rear-facing and 2.1-MP front-facing cameras are capable of capturing four pictures per second and up to 99 pictures consecutively by pressing and holding the shutter button. One of the most popular accessories to purchase separately is the wireless charging pad, nixing the need to search high and low for outlets.

Price: $599.99, without contract

Micromax A116 Canvas HD

Display Size: 5 inch

Storage: 4 GB with expandable storage up to 32 GB

Features: The most "shutter-happy" customers can enjoy an 8-MP, autofocus rear camera with dual LED flash support and features like geotagging, touch focus and face detection. "Burst mode" is an added feature that allows users to take stop-motion videos. Even though the camera function is feature-rich, many reviews reported slightly dull photographs in the end. The Canvas HD runs on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and uses a 1.2-GHz quad-core processor, making multitasking functions lag-free. Included among the stock apps are M! Store, M! Live and M! Zone+, content and service stores by Micromax as well as a few games.

Price: Not made available yet in the U.S.

Sony Xperia Z

Display Size: 5 inch

Storage: 16 GB + microSD slot for up to 64 GB

Features: In true Sony form, this phablet delivers a very high-quality camera. The Xperia Z features a 13-megapixel camera and Exmor RS for mobile, an image sensor that allows for crystal-clear photos and videos no matter the light conditions. It's also a phablet that is both water- and dust-resistant. One-touch capabilities make sharing between multiple devices easy and wireless -- the phone can even be programmed as a remote control for a television. If battery life is an issue, the Xperia Z made a smarter battery able to power down battery-draining apps when they are not being used. As soon as the screen is woken up again, the applications reappear where they left off. The device is powered by a Snapdragon S4 Pro quad-core processor and runs on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Price: Coming soon to T-Mobile

Galaxy Mega

Display Size: 5.8 or 6.3 inches

Storage: 8 GB or 16 GB and microSD card slot

Features: "Mega’ just may be code for, "Bigger version of the Galaxy S4." Running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, familiar S4 features like Smart Pause and Smart Stay, eye-detection technologies capable of pausing a video or dimming a screen depending on the attention of the user, are also standard on the Mega. Air View allows users to hover over an item with a finger to reveal what is inside a folder or email without having to click and open it. When it comes to the camera, features like "Beauty Face" and "Best Photo," which allow the best possible image to be the final image, are features along with several settings ensuring the best picture in any environment. A dual-core 1.7-GHz processor gives the phablet some kick, but is not expected to keep up with the quad-core processors of other phablets.

List Price: $798.00