Other phablets will have a hard time competing with the Note without a stylusAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
The HTC One, Galaxy S4 and the Sony Xperia Z have been competing against each other in head-to-head battles since the phones were announced earlier this year, and being arguably three of the biggest flagship devices of the year it comes as no surprise. But now that we're well into the second half of the year it's time to look towards what new phones we have coming our way, and surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) enough we will likely be seeing a lot of similar battles played out between the same companies: Samsung with the Note III, HTC with the T6, and Sony with the Xperia Z Ultra.
The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is expected to be the largest phablet of them all with a rumored 6.4-inch screen. The Galaxy Note III and the HTC One are both reported to feature 5.9-inch screens. But despite who has the biggest screen, another important aspect that people need to consider is, of course, the features. And unless somebody comes along and tries to steal Samsung's thunder with their own not-so-secret weapon, I think the other phablets are going to have trouble trying to be the clear favorite among the general public. What not-so-secret weapon, you ask? The S Pen, Samsung's signature stylus.
I once wrote an article not too long ago asking why Samsung was the only company that employed the use of a stylus. It's still a puzzling question for me. Styluses were important when touchscreens were half the size of the phones we carry now - it seems even more important now than ever to include a stylus to help directly pinpoint a link or clickable item now that there is so much more room to cover. The dock and the stylus will add a little extra bulk to the device, but for many the inclusion of a stylus is what makes such a large phone a reasonable purchase - that's one of the main reasons why people like the Note line so much. Yes, it has a gigantic screen, and the screens keep getting bigger every year, but without the stylus that's all it is - a really big phone. I have a feeling that it's the stylus that draws a lot of people, who would have otherwise never looked a phone that big before, to it.
It's for this reason, and under the assumption that neither the HTC One nor the Sony Xperia Z Ultra will include a stylus, that I think the success of either device is limited. Although, it is worth noting that the Xperia Z Ultra is said to be able to respond to touch from pens or pencils, which is admittedly a nice feature given that you can find them just about anywhere. However, I think that this feature is only good for giving it a leg up on the HTC phablet, which looks to be a little too similar to the original HTC One aside from having a notably larger screen. The Note III still trumps both of these devices by including the stylus, along with a designated area to safely secure the stylus when not in use. If I had a dollar for every time I lost a pencil...
This isn't to say that the Z Ultra or the T6 won't sell at all, but I think the Note III's added support of the stylus (along with the fact that it's touting Samsung's name - that helps) is being largely overlooked by other companies as part of the reason for its success. The T6 in particular is already looking rather lacking, especially without reportedly including so much as an upgrade to the 4-megapixel UltraPixel camera. Although the camera on the One isn't bad, it's not that great either. I sincerely hope that the rumors on the T6 aren't all true. I could see how a larger One could be appealing to some people, but I feel like there has to be more than just a bigger screen in order for that to really work.
But those are just my thoughts on all of this, and of course each device aside from the Z Ultra is official, so of course there is still wiggle room. Now it's your turn, readers! Do you think that other phablets that are competing with the Note III will be able to do as well without styluses? Let me know your thoguths in the comments below!
Images via Sony, Digital Trends