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Summary:

Confirming reports from last month, HP is re-entering the smartphone market. Expect a pair of “phablets” running Android 4.2 to launch in India, where the market for large-screened smartphones is growing quickly.

HP Slate 6 phone
photo: Re/code

Nearly three years after it bought Palm for little tangible benefit, HP is planning a return to the crowded smartphone market, confirming earlier reports. These devices won’t run Palm’s WebOS though. Look for the products to run Android 4.2 when they launch initially in India. They should be easy to spot if you’re in the neighborhood thanks to the large 6- and 7-inch displays.

Re/code reported the news early on Wednesday morning after an interview with HP’s Ron Coughlin, VP for the consumer PC business. According to Coughlin, the products are called the Slate 6 and Slate 7, indicating their screen sizes and will launch in February. Expect quad-core processors to power the devices, which will have screen resolutions of 1280 x 720 and 1280 x 800, respectively. In its official press release, HP notes both will work on 3G networks and support dual SIM cards.

hp slate 6 trio

The phones tested well in India, Coughlin told Re/code. Additionally, India is a strategic choice of location for HP as consumers generally purchase handsets without subsidies meaning carriers have less control over the device market than in the U.S. It’s also a smart move because the U.S. market is pretty saturated: Breaking in with new Android device models is a challenge as HP has already seen with its tablet offerings.

The choice of size for this pair of smartphones may be surprising but the trend of large-screened phones is on the rise. Particularly in India, where it’s among the fastest growing segment of smartphone, per IDC.

india phablet market 2012 2013

Additionally, in areas where it’s more cost-effective to buy a large phone, as opposed to purchasing both a smaller handset and a tablet, a “phablet” can pull double-duty. It also doesn’t hurt that certain mobile activities are more immersive and enjoyable on larger screened devices that also support traditional voice calls.

This post was updated at 5:27am PT with HP’s official press release information.

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  1. For these screen sizes the pixel count is really low though …

    1. If I were buying one of these for myself, I’d agree. And I’d pass. But these are expected to be around $200 to $250 without a subsidy for the India market. Boosting the pixel count would price HP out of the market here.

      1. Yes you’re right, but even in India that might not attract customers compared to higher resolution phones HTC one, nexus 5 etc (more pixels, or a bit smaller with same res)

  2. Could be good for HP if these take off in emerging markets. A quad processor in a tablet isn’t too bad if the prices is kept low. HP’s current android tablets (quad core) are a good value for the budget minded buyers. If they can add a phone to their low cost tablets and keep the prices down, it may be a winner in emerging markets.

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