Google hopes its ‘Shamu’ Nexus 6 phone will kill off phablet competition

Google is expected to enter the phablet market later this month with the release of its largest smartphone yet, code-named "Shamu."

The device, which will be launched under the Nexus brand, will have a 5.9 inch display and will be manufactured by Motorola Mobility, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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If sources prove to be accurate, Google's phone will be larger than both the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, which has a 5.5 inch screen, and the Samsung Galaxy Note, which is 5.7 inches. The search engine giant is also expected to release the new version of its Android operating system around the same time.

Despite phablets initially being written off as unwieldy and cumbersome, larger smartphones are growing rapidly in popularity as more consumers use their handsets for work tasks and watching videos. In 2011, phablets accounted for just one per cent of smartphone shipments, but this figure has risen to 24 per cent for the current calendar year.

Neil Mawston of Strategy Analytics said the rise of smartphones with larger screens has forced Apple and Google to enter the market.

"The phablet wars are in full effect and vendors need any possible edge they can get," he said. "Having a large phone will help Google."

By releasing the Shamu phablet under the Nexus moniker, it is likely that Google plans for developers to test software updates on the hardware, as has been the case with previous Nexus devices. It is also believed that a flagship Android phablet may help Google target emerging markets more effectively.

"A lot of people buying their first phones in emerging markets tend to use them as pocket computers and bypass desktops and laptops," said Mawston.

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Google has declined to comment on the speculation, but sources indicate that the firm will look to launch its Nexus phablet at a lower price than the iPhone 6 Plus, which is available in the UK from £619.