After an exhausting week, this year’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain is finally coming to a close but not without confirming the latest trend in mobile computing – the rise of the phablet.
Handset makers introduced a plethora of big-screen smartphones ranging from 5 inches to more than 7 inches, including some older model tablets updated with LTE connectivity. Below, we take a look at the most notable phablets from this year’s technology extravaganza.
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a 5.1-inch upgrade to the year older Galaxy S4 and sports a full HD screen. Under the hood, Samsung made an upgrade from the Snapdragon 800 chipset to the slightly improved Snapdragon 801.
Unfortunately, Samsung did not go with the Snapdragon 805, or the rumored 2560×1440 screen resolution that many were expecting. In fact, the slightly larger screen with the same 1920×1080 resolution means pixel density is slightly lower than the Galaxy S4, which some claim is a drastic departure from an industry-wide trend of improving display resolutions.
New improvements include a dust/water resistant plastic body, a heart-rate monitor, and a home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner.
Sony Xperia Z2
Sony nailed it at Mobile World Congress when they took the wraps off of their follow-up to the critically acclaimed Xperia Z1.
The new Xperia Z2 packs a wealth of premium specs, including a 5.2-inch 1080P Bravia display powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset with 3GB of RAM running on Android, 4.4 KitKat.
Sony also greatly upgraded the multimedia experience of the Xperia Z2 by adding stereo speakers on either side of the screen, producing a greater separation between the left and right channels. The device also features integrated digital noise cancellation when used with compatible headphones.
The Xperia Z2 is expected to go on sale this month in Europe, though pricing has not been announced. Sony’s Xperia Z1 never officially made it to the United States, but Sony did release it in the form of the Xperia Z1s for T-Mobile.
Early indications are that this will be one of the fastest and most advanced Android phones of 2014.
LG G Pro 2
Although LG introduced the new G Pro 2 in Korea weeks ago, most of the world saw this phablet for the first time at Mobile World Congress.
This follow up to the original 5.5-inch G Pro features an even bigger 5.9-inch 1080p screen, making it larger than the most popular phablet of choice, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, yet smaller than HTC One Max and Sony Xperia Z Ultra. Under the hood, the G Pro 2 sports a slightly updated 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and 3GB of RAM.
But real highlight of the new LG phablet is its 13 Megapixel camera with 4K video capture, 120fps slow motion, and Magic Focus with after shot selection of focus area. LG custom features include Knock-On unlock code, the ability to shrink the screen for one-hand operation, and Dual Browser to view two web pages simultaneously.
Right now, the company only has plans to release the G Pro 2 in Asian markets by the end of March and pricing is still to be determined. Other Asian markets will follow soon after in March followed by the United States in April and Europe by May.
Media Pad X1
Kicking off this year’s Mobile World Congress ahead of the pack, Huawei introduced what is being described as the “ultimate phablet” – the MediaPad X1.
This 7-inch behemoth has full cellular capabilities and packs a high-res 1,920 x 1,200 LTPS display and a 1.6GHz Cortex A9 quad-core processor along with 2GB of RAM and a Mali-450 MP4 GPU.
As of now, the MediaPad X1 will launch in various markets including China, Russia, Western Europe, the Middle East, Japan and Latin America starting with March 2014. Pricing details for the device have not yet been released.
Since Huawei is making a huge push in the North American market, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a few US and Canadian mobile carriers pick up the MediaPad X1 in the first half of 2014.
Alongside the MediaPad X1, Huawei also released the 8-inch MediaPad M1 tablet, which boasts LTE connectivity allowing you to make calls and send SMS text messages, technically making it a phablet.
The MediaPad M1 is powered by a quad-core 1.6GHz processor with an 8-inch 800×1200 display and a Mali-450 GPU. Like the HTC One’s speakers, the M1’s are design to direct the audio directly toward you, theoretically giving a clearer sound than you’d get on devices with rear-mounted speakers.
Similar to the X1, there’s been no mention of pricing, but this would slot easily into the mid-range phablet market.
ZTE Grand Memo II
As promised, Chinese phone maker ZTE showcased its brand new 6-inch phablet called the Grand Memo II LTE, which seemingly follows in the footsteps of the Nokia Lumia 1320 by offering a large display to those with a small budget.
This phablet incorporates a 6-inch 720p TFT screen and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 chipset with 2 GB of RAM running on Android 4.4 KitKat, along with ZTE’s MiFavor 2.3 UI overlay.
The Grand Memo II LTE will be released in China in April, and later in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Pricing has not yet been announced.
HTC Desire 816
Remember that HTC Desire 8 that leaked last week? It was finally unveiled as the Desire 816 at MWC 2014. The 5.5-inch 720p “mid-range flagship” phablet is powered by a Snapdragon 400 chipset with 1.5GB of RAM.
Like other previous Desire devices, it is targeted for the worldwide market with initial availability slated for China in March. Global retail availability is slated for April with no pricing or details for the US market.
Nokia took the stage at MWC 2014 on Monday to announce its first Android-powered phone, the Nokia XL, which promised to offer a marriage of classic manufacturing and critically-acclaimed software.
When it comes to hardware, this phablet will not impress buyers looking for a flagship device. The Nokia XL has a 5-inch 800×480 WVGA display, 1GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, and 512MB of RAM.
Like the other Nokia X phones, the XL is not available in the U.S., but they will be on sale in the global market.
Building on its popular lineup of S-series smartphones, Lenovo announced the S860 phablet at MWC 2014.
The Lenovo S860 delivers with staggering standby time of up to 40 days and talktime of up to 24 hours on 3G connections. It features a 5.3-inch 720×1280 display with dual front speakers, and is powered by a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor with 2GB of RAM.
The Chinese giant has announced that the new S-series Android devices will be available starting June 2014.
HP Slate 6 and 7 VoiceTab
HP continues to rebuild its credentials beyond the desktop and server room by introducing a range of Android-powered tablets like last year’s budget friendly Slate. This year at Mobile World Congress, the company edged closer to re-entering the mobile market with the unveiling of its new phablet series: the Slate6 VoiceTab andSlate7 VoiceTab.
Both run 1.2 GHz Quad Core processors with 1GB RAM running Android 4.2.2. As for the screens, the Slate6 VoiceTab features a 1280×720-resolution display, and the Slate7 VoiceTab features a 1280×800-resolution display.
The HP Slate6 VoiceTab and Slate7 VoiceTab are already available in India and Europe, and the company plans to release both in the U.S. by this summer.
Nvidia Tegra Note 7 LTE
In Barcelona, Nvidia has announced that they have brought LTE to their Tegra Note tablet family.
The Nvidia Tegra Note 7 LTE is an updated device of the original Nvidia Tegra Note tablet, with no significant innovations, but to support LTE. It still sports the same 7-inch 1280×800 display powered by a Nvidia Tegra 4 chipset based on a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex A15 processor and 1GB of RAM.
In addition to the EVGA version available in North America, in the coming weeks the tablet will be available throughout Europe, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil, and China.