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Battle of the Phablets: Can Anyone Compete With The Note 3?

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When something is successful, you can almost count on other people to follow suit. Successful comicbook hero movie begets a flood of comicbook based flicks. A pair of shoes with individual toe pockets becomes trendy and others pile on. Why should a cell phone be any different? Of course they aren't, and when one is successful, other manufacturers take note and try to get in on the action- much like they're doing now in the wake of the success of the Galaxy Note(s) phablet devices.

It was just 2011 and tech blogs all over the place were discounting the impact Samsung's Galaxy Note would have on the smartphone landscape, saying it was too big to be successful but things had already changed. People were used to using 7" tablets like the Galaxy Tab and the more successful 10" iPad so two-handing a device wasn't the awkward ordeal many forecasted it would be. And with that, a new market was created for cell phones, the "phablet" a combination of the phone and tablet was born. To be fair, Samsung wasn't the first to put out a phat phone but they were the first to do so successfully. Was it timing? Was it the S Pen? Maybe a mix, but what will it take for other manufacturers to be successful in this space? HTC and Sony think they have the answer to that question in two devices on their way to US carriers, the HTC One Max and the Xperia Z Ultra respectively.

Much of what we know about the HTC One Max is still in the category of rumor, though the mountain of spec and photo leaks on various blogs will probably hold up on launch day. That said, what is being reported so far is a device based on HTC's 2013 flagship device, the HTC One which was at the top of my list alongside the Samsung Galaxy S4. Matter of fact, the One Max gets the same comparison as the iPhone/iPad and Galaxy S2/Galaxy Note before it and that's that it looks like a HTC One on steroids. The comparison is not undeserved as the leaked photos I've seen all show a device with a similar shape, which includes those awesome BoomSound front firing speakers. The leaked specs look pretty compelling with the device purportedly sporting a 6" screen with 2GB of RAM, HTC's UltraPixel shooter and one of two Snapdragon processors. Included in the rumor is a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the device and though that tech would be interesting if included, I think the One Max would need more than that to present a compelling reason to purchase it over the current market leader, the Samsung Galaxy Note line of phablets. I'm sure there are buyers eagerly awaiting the One's release as HTC has a strong following but will the features it launches with be enough to take market share from the folks who practically created the phablet market? Based on what I've read, I don't know.

The other contestant in the battle for market domination could actually give the Note3 a run for its money and it is Sony's Xperia Z Ultra. Sony's crashes the gates in a big way. Literally! The 6.4" Z Ultra's details have been officially released and it's already available for purchase overseas. Sony's IP55 & IP58 rated phablet is waterproof and dust resistant, has a special screen which will take pen input from a stylus or a pen and pencil and is a full HD 1080p panel. Having had the Z Ultra's little brother, the Xperia Z, in my hands for a bit I can say that I'm confident this will be a beautiful device to look at! The one issue people are really hot on where the Z Ultra is concerned is the sheer size of the device. At 6.4" the Ultra isn't too much smaller than Google's hit 7" tablet, the Nexus7. With it being so close to a 7" tablet, most would agree that you'd look somewhat silly holding this massive slab up to the side of your face and Sony probably doesn't disagree. With that in mind, at the same time that Sony released the Ultra, they also gave consumers a peak at the accessories that would be available as a compliment to the device. The two which help you to not have to pull out the 6.4" phablet every time you get a notification are Sony's SmartWatch 2 and their Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52. Both of these "accessories" are substantial enough to warrant a write-up of their own so we'll address them in more detail in a future article but the heart of the matter is that they are essentially remote screens for your Ultra, allowing you to send/receive calls and notifications, listen to and control music even going so far as to call the SmartWatch 2 a "phone remote."

So, which device am I looking foward to checking out? I'm really curious to give the Z Ultra a test run. I'd like to try this phablet with remote accessories paradigm for thirty days and see if it will work for me. I really enjoyed my time with both smaller devices in the HTC One and the Xperia Z but from what I know of the devices as of the time of this writing, it seems like the Z Ultra is more exciting to play with. Of course, I'm eagerly awaiting the official announcement from HTC to see what they've got up their sleeves and if they can release a phablet which could make me doubt my current love for the Galaxy Note3. What about you? Which of these two devices are you most interested in?

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