Butterfly S: Who is the new HTC phablet for?

HTC this week took the wraps off the Butterfly S, a smart phone with a 5-inch display. 

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    The HTC Butterfly S, pictured here, packs a five-inch HD display.
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Phablets: Manufacturers can't make enough of 'em. 

There's the Samsung Galaxy Note line and the LG Intuition and the Asus Fonepad and there's even been talk of some sort of Apple iPhone phablet. But the latest entry into the ever-widening phone/tablet market comes from HTC, which this week took the wraps off the HTC Butterfly S, a big-screen (5 inches, corner to corner) smart phone with a 1.9 GHz quad-core processor and the Android Jelly Bean operating system. 

The spec list on the Butterfly S is pretty impressive: 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a battery big enough to power the device for what PC World describes as "3.5 days of continuous music playback." To that end, the Butterfly S will ship with what HTC is calling "BoomSound" technology – essentially a pair of big speakers mounted on the front of the phone. 

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The big question, of course, is whether consumers are actually interested in trading in their regular-sized phones – the kind that fit comfortably in a pocket or purse – for gigantic, glassy slabs. We're not entirely convinced: Phablets – generally defined as a device with a screen measuring between five and seven inches – are somewhat awkward to carry, especially when holding one to your ear. But there's clearly a market for these jumbo-sized phones. Samsung's Note and Note II have sold well.

But writing recently at TechCrunch, Natasha Lomas argued that it may not matter. 

"The reason phones are bulking up in the screen department comes down to our addiction to consuming data, coupled with the ever-increasing richness of data services," Lomas wrote. "Higher-speed mobile networks – built to ferry data from the get-go – are also making it possible to do more on the go... And as services get smarter they’re also taking up more of our time – so we’re spending more time gazing lovingly into screens, rather than talking to people on the phone." 

The HTC Butterfly S is expected to launch in Asian markets beginning in July; a US launch will likely follow after that. 

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