HP getting back in the smartphone market with a pair of “phablets”

HP Slate 6 phone

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┬áRon 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┬ádevices 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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