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Phablets show no sign of flagging

Some of the handsets on display at the first day of the Mobile World Congress suggest that the trend for oversized handsets shows no signs of dissipating.

business Updated: Mar 01, 2013 11:27 IST

Some of the handsets on display at the first day of the Mobile World Congress suggest that the trend for oversized handsets shows no signs of dissipating.

The first full day of the annual event in Barcelona saw a number of handset makers present their latest flagship offerings -- some of which seem to have dimensions approaching those of a flag.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Technically speaking, the biggest device in this group comes from Samsung, the company responsible for starting this screen real estate race in the first place with the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note II phablets (screen size 5.3 inches and 5.5 inches respectively) and the Galaxy SIII smartphone (screen size 4.8 inches).

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is an 8-inch tablet, not a phone, and one with a fast, responsive display, S Pen input and a 1.6GHz quad core processor running version 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. While pitched in terms of performance, size and price to compete directly with the iPad Mini, in a move which seems designed to simply goad its direct competitors in the phablet sector, this tablet is also capable of making voice calls.

Huawei Ascend Mate
This is the second outing for Huawei's gargantuan handset -- it made its first outing at the international Consumer Electronics Show in January. Its 6.1-inch display seems challenging to use with a single hand, despite intelligent features such as a compressed menu, the size of a fingertip, that can be positioned anywhere on the screen and expanded with a single touch. A great way of freeing up screen space for other activities but the fact remains that this phone, in terms of dimensions alone, is essentially a tablet that can make phone calls.

Huawei aims for high end with new smartphones

Meanwhile the Ascend P2, with a 4.7-inch display, seems relatively minute in comparison. Huawei claims that thanks to its processor, proprietary technology and its LTE Cat-4 modem, it is the world's fastest smartphone in terms of internet connection speeds. This speed is complemented by an almost HD 315ppi screen and a 13.1 megapixel camera. However, Huawei has chosen plastics rather than alloys for the phone's outer shell so it lacks that premium feel in the hand.

Huawei Ascend Mate.

LG Optimus G Pro
Bigger than the Ascend P2 but smaller than the Ascend Mate, LG's new flagship handset, the Optimus G Pro has a 5.5-inch full HD display and the most powerful processor of any handset currently on the market. It means that the phone's operating system runs fluidly and that video playback is smooth, however, like Huawei, LG has gone for a plastic gloss finish which some early reviewers have already said make the handset slippery especially when trying to use with one hand.

Models pose with LG Electronics' new smartphone Optimus G Pro during a press conference in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AP/Ahn Young-joon

LG unveils new full-HD smartphone

ASUS PadFone Infinity
Perhaps the strangest of the devices on display over the first day is the ASUS PadFone Infinity, the latest attempt to carve out a market for a smartphone that integrates with a tablet. Consisting of a 5-inch handset that slots into the back of a 10-inch tablet, it's not clear what market it will appeal to. Individually, neither the phone or the tablet are head and shoulders above anything offered by other Android competitors though the smartphone portion does have good specs and a great display. As for the price, the two parts of the system together cost more than $1000.

The Asus PadFone 2. Photo: AFP

Asus unveils second-generation PadFone 2