Phablets to the fore

Phablets were tipped as one of the defining smartphone trends of 2013 and it would appear that Sony and HTC are the latest to push the boundaries between phone and tablet with their upcoming devices.

Information has surfaced via a JP Morgan research note of a phablet based on the HTC One -- but with a 5.9-inch screen -- that the tech community has already dubbed the HTC One Max. It is expected to have the same internal specifications as the normal-sized One handset and is expected to launch in the autumn.

Meanwhile Sony this weekend sent out press invites to a product launch in Germany on June 25 which ask, in German, if we "Want more," (Lust auf mehr?). According to the Xperia Blog, it appears as if this ‘more' is the Xperia Z Ultra, a water-and-dust-resistant device with a whopping 6.4-inch full HD display.

Both reports could be written off as mere internet rumors, but as well as phablets, the other smartphone trend of 2013 appears to be following whatever Samsung does. Both Sony and HTC are launching or are about to launch ‘Mini' versions of their current handsets -- just like Samsung -- and sources have just confirmed that Sony will be launching a plain vanilla Google edition of its Xperia Z smartphone in July that will be sold exclusively through the US Google Play Store -- just like similar handsets from HTC and Samsung.

As for rumors of what Samsung is up to, SamMobile has just published photos of the Samsung Galaxy SIV Zoom, a device that the South Korean company is expected to officially unveil at a London event on June 20. On first glance, it looks like a digital camera, complete with optical zoom, superglued to the back of a Samsung Galaxy SIV Mini. A quick glance at the specifications -- a 4.3-inch display, a 16-megapixel image sensor camera unit with dedicated shutter button and focal controls -- confirms it.

The Samsung rumor site also claimed this past weekend to have got its hands on a prototype version of the Galaxy Note III, the third iteration of the device that started the phablet trend two years ago. It will have a conservative (compared with Sony) 5.99-inch full HD display, a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and could even ship with an octo-core processor.

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