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MWC 2013: Phablets here to stay, says LG

When it first broke cover, Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablet stood alone, somewhat awkwardly, in the mobile market. Many critics including those here at ITProPortal simply weren’t convinced users wanted their mobile phone – a gadget with compact portability at its very core – to be so big.

But Samsung insisted the handset's vast 5in display was a virtue, followed it up with the even bigger Galaxy Note 2, and sure enough the sales grew. Now the Galaxy Note can be seen as a genuine trend-setter, with CES and this week’s Mobile World Congress serving up a plethora of jumbo smartphones replete with spin-off productivity functions and media applications.

Samsung’s South Korean compatriot LG has been among those getting on the bandwagon, and its all-new LG Optimus G Pro could well be the new segment leader in terms of capability. It looked decidedly impressive in our hands on preview and given the buzz it created in Barcelona it is pretty disappointing the UK looks set to miss out on the device due to our lack of widespread 4G connectivity.

But the company’s UK Mobile Product Manager Shaun Musgrave reassured us that the UK should see “another member of the G family” arrive on our shores after the official 4G rollout, likely to be in a very similar mould to the large Optimus G Pro (below).

Musgrave went on to claim the comsumer appetite for such handsets was unquestionable, and insisted phablets are “absolutely” here to stay.

“People want to do more things and see more things on the move. You might have a 7in tablet that’s too big to take around with you, and you can’t necessarily make a call on it...but I think something like this is manageable,” said Musgrave clutching the gleaming Optimus G Pro.

“You can watch your movies, read your books and people adore large screen devices. They give you the ultimate multimedia experience,” he added.

Now offering a multitude of different form-factors in its mobile product line, Musgrave said LG was looking to broaden its software strategy too.

“We might want to give the customer greater choice. Although we haven’t introduced any models on the Windows Phone platform we still have an association with Microsoft so we’re looking at the market to see how that plays out. So who knows maybe this year or next year will have devices coming out [running Windows].” And that’s not all. After Mozilla’s headline-grabbing OS launch at the start of the week, Musgrave revealed, “We’re also looking at alternative OSes like Firefox.”

Among the Optimus G Pro’s phablet rivals at MWC have been the ZTE Grand Memo and the Alcatel One Touch Idol X, but with Samsung’s well-received Galaxy Note 8 theoretically sneaking into the phablet category with its call-making capabilities, it is still the trailblazing Note line that holds the cards as MWC draws to a close. Regardless of your favourite, and indeed whether these oversized smartphones even take your fancy at all, it seems the phablet has truly established itself in the mobile arena.