Phablets craze goes bigger and adds dual SIM support

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Samsung’s phone and tablet hybrid, the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note, was the new kid on the block in 2011, but these days there is plenty of competition.

Big, sleek and dual SIM support seems to be in.

The phablet craze is on and you can expect to see more entries at Mobile World Congress next month.

In fact, consumers will buy twice as many phablets in 2015 than they did in 2012 -- to the tune of 208 million of them, predicts market intelligence firm ABI Research.

Consider the Huawei Ascend Mate with its massive 6.1-inch display -- the largest of any smartphone so far. With a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 8-megapixel camera, it comes with a 4050mAh battery, which the company says will keep the phone running for over 20 hours of use on a single charge.

At CES, the Australian company Kogan launched the 5-inch Agora Android phone, which will ship in mid-February for only $158. Featuring 512MB of RAM and a 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 processor, the Agora offers a 5-megapixel camera, 4GB of internal storage, a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, 3G quad band, support for microSD cards, and Android 4.0.4. It also will sport dual SIM slots, to allow users to receive phone calls and text messages from two different phone numbers, such as one for work and one for personal use.

Another 5-incher with dual SIM support is the Samsung Galaxy Grand, which connects to fast HSPA+ networks and runs on Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. The back camera is 8 megapixels and can record full HD video, while the front camera is 2 megapixels. There’s 8GB of built-in storage and a MicroSD expansion slot (for up to 64GB cards), along with the usual trimmings of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and sensors, such as an accelerometer, compass, and gyroscopic sensor.

Late last year, LG, HTC, ZTE, Sharp and Sony all either announced phones with 5-inch or larger displays , or were believed to be working on them. While many of these giant phones aren’t available in the U.S., the burgeoning phablet market is an interesting phenomenon considering mobile devices by nature have evolved over the years into smaller devices.

Why is bigger getting to be better?

According to Scientific American, a Qualcomm executive at CES said larger phones do well in China -- the largest market on the planet for smartphones -- because of the size of Chinese language glyphs.

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