After stealing the show at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, big smartphones and mini tablets are set to be very popular with mobile workers.

Phablets: half-tablet, half smartphone 

The trend for big smartphones and mini tablets, already revealed at the CES in Las Vegas last January, was confirmed at the Mobile World congress in Barcelona, with all the major players bringing out half-smartphone, half-tablet models.

A number of major trends emerged at MWC 2013:

  • Small screens for tablets and large ones for smartphones
  • 4G LTE-ready high-end models with powerful quad-core processors (1.5 or 1.7 GHz), some with NFC chips and Gorilla Glass 2 cover glasses
  • Moderately-priced entry-level models, offering good value for money
  • Chinese manufacturers set to conquer the high-end market in Europe.

A few examples of the new models

4’’ models

In terms of design, these are fairly standard but are notable for their ultra-powerful processors, display quality or competitive prices – and sometimes all three.

Voted best smartphone by the MWC 2013 jury, the 4.7’’ HTC One (pictured opposite) has a quad-core processor and 32 GB storage capacity (not expandable). Its features and full HD display place it in the high-end range, with prices at around the €650 mark.

The Ascent P2 by China’s Huawei, with its 4.7’’ display, quad-core processor, 4G LTE and 16 GB of storage, is a serious new contender.  It also features two cameras (including a 13 Mxp rear camera), essential for videoconferencing, and is selling for around €399 (price in France).

The  Nokia’s 4.3” Lumia on Windows Phone 8 will soon be hitting the stores for around €369 but with features hitherto reserved for high-end models.

5’’-6’’

Displays measuring 5’’or more afford optimal viewing but are still small enough to be used with one hand and as such are still classed as smartphones, or more precisely, “phablets”.

Asus’ PadFone Infinity 5’’ has a quad-core processor and 64 GB storage. It connects to a docking station with a 10’’monitor.

The LG Optimus G Pro  (pictured opposite) is a high-end full HD model with a removable battery, 32 GB storage expandable to 80GB total with an optional 64GB micro SD  card, and front and rear cameras (13 Mpx rear). Aimed squarely at the professional market, LG’s latest model was a hit in Barcelona this year. Price: €650-€720.

The 5.7” Grand Memo from Chinese firm ZTE (the world’s 4th biggest mobile manufacturer, according to IDC), available as a WiFi or LTE model, is optimised for multimedia use. It boasts an HD display, front and rear cameras, a quad-core processor and 16 GB storage.

6’’-7” 

The Ascent Mate 6.1’’ by Huawei, unveiled in Las Vegas, will be available in Europe this spring for around €399. It has the inevitable quad-core processor, front and rear cameras, and an ultra-sensitive HD screen (can even be used when wearing gloves).

7’’-8”

The devices in this category are direct rivals, in terms of price and quality, of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet (made by Asus) or the iPad mini.

The Asus Fonepad is a 7’’ tablet that can be used for voice calls via 3G.

HP’s Slate 7  , meanwhile is set to take the entry-level consumer tablet market by storm. Modestly priced (around €150), it has limited performance (dual-core processor, 8 GB storage, expandable with a micro SD card, WiFi, and a 3 Mpx camera).

8’’ +

Among the new arrivals in Barcelona, and challenging Apple’s iPad mini (7.9’’), was Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 8.0.

This stylus-equipped tablet features 16 or 32 GB storage, expandable with a micro SD card, and a quad-core processor. Optimised for note-taking with the S-Pen, it boasts range of new applications such as document annotations and captions, just by placing the stylus above the display without even touching the glass.

Smartphones: the global market in 2012 (sources GfK/GSMA)

  • 720 million units sold

Manufacturer ranking (source: Gartner)

  • Samsung: 22% market share
  • Nokia: 19% market share
  • Apple: 7.5% market share

Tablets: the global market in 2012 (source: IDC)

  • 128.3 million units sold

Manufacturer ranking (source: iSuppli)

  • Apple: 64.4% market share
  • Samsung: 9.9% market share
  • Amazon (Kindle): 4.9% market share