The HTC Phablet

HTC is indeed working on a so-called phablet-class smartphone with pen-based input, we’ve learned, an attempt to challenge the market dominance of Samsung in larger-screen Android handsets. T6, as it is codenamed, has been tipped as a 5.9-inch, full HD beast of a device, powered by a top-of-the-line Qualcomm MSM8974 — a quad-core chipset clocked at 2.3GHz and better known as the Snapdragon 800.

If the upcoming HTC M4 is a quote-unquote One mini, then T6 can certainly be thought of as a One max; just like M4, T6 borrows heavily from the current “king of smartphones,” apparently aping its linemate’s good looks, BoomSound speakers with dedicated audio processor, and an optically-stabilized UltraPixel camera around back. RAM should be a healthy 2GB, but storage may be as low as 16GB, with planned microSD expandability providing some solace. The front-facing camera looks to offer an impressive 2.1-megapixel, wide-angle configuration.

Where T6 (whose existence was recently confirmed by a Pocket-lint report) gets really interesting, though, is in the software and somewhat unique combination of features. No Jelly Bean here, friends (from what we hear, and as surprising as that is) — this phablet, due to launch in late summer or early fall, is allegedly on track to run Android Key Lime Pie (build number: unknown). That being said, common sense would seem to dictate that KLP won’t be released until closer to the end of the year, making this detail a sticking point.

Naturally Sense will skin HTC’s largest handset to date, but it will supposedly be a more evolved iteration, with a version of BlinkFeed said to incorporate more partners, more customizability, and and the ability to save content for offline consumption.

HTC_T6

Note-faithful, take, um, note: HTC is looking to woo you away from the original phablet by hitting Samsung’s star where it hurts — the pen. Great care is apparently being put into making the pen usage here a premium experience, so expect a nicely crafted stylus with an ultra-thin tip capable of a full suite of content creation and manipulation capabilities. It wasn’t known whether Scribe, the company’s pen suite for its short-lived lineup of (two) Android tablets, would be powering the T6 experience as well.

But wait, there’s more. T6 looks to be following only a handful of phones throughout history (we’re looking at you, LG Expo/IQ) to incorporate embedded biometrics, in the form of a fingerprint reader. Unlike its forebears, however, this innovative device is said to mount the sensor on the back of the phone, so that it unlocks when you grip it naturally to begin usage.

Finally, the scrappy, but embattled, manufacturer is looking to differentiate its wares through the availability of a so-called power jacket, a protective-case-cum-backup-battery that should supplement the internal 3300mAh with an additional 1250mAh of juice.

It’s almost certain that a larger One with beefed up specs and host of new features will see healthy interest; as always, the question will be whether HTC is able to overcome the considerable head start and brand strength enjoyed by its Korean rival in actually converting that interest to demand.

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