Your next phone: A 6-inch 'phablet'

Hot gadget is a combination of a phone, tablet

 

You may have a hard time believing this one, but your next gadget may be a combination phone and tablet. 

The next big tech device is expected to be the "phablet," a combination of smartphone and tablet. 

Looks Goofy, But.... 

Have you ever seen someone walking around talking into a tablet? It looks funny at first. 

But stop laughing: You may be doing this in a couple of years. It's already a rage in Japan, which often sets trends ("Hello Kitty," anyone?). 

Phablets are also called "fat phones,"  hence the "phab" part.

Think of the advantage: Not only does it save $200 (average phone cost), but it eliminates the need to carry two separate devices, since most of us no longer talk much on our phones anymore. 

And the huge success of the Samsung Galaxy Note  -- a large smartphone -- indicates more are headed here. 

Doesn't That Stink? 

But from the "doesn't that stink" file, the fact that many men will not like the idea of carrying a phablet. 

A small tablet like the iPad Mini or Kindle might appeal to women, as it fits in their purse. But It won't fit in a man's pants pocket, unless you wear cargo pants to work. 

Which will then lead to the next trend: More and more "man purses," to carry that phablet.

Apple Dipping a Toe in the Water 

Apple is already making the move: It has just announced it will start selling an iPad Mini with a built-in cellphone in China later this year. 

Apple has no plans -- yet -- to sell it in the US. But if it continues losing market share to Samsung, watch for an iPad Mini phone very soon. Tech bloggers say the iPad Mini is almost designed to be a phablet. 

But it will face a lot of competition from Samsung, which has a big head start. 

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