By Anu Passary | Sep 25, 2012 10:22 AM EDT
South Korea-based mobile phone manufacturer Pantech announced its latest offering, the Vega R3 "phablet," on Sept. 24. The company is touting the device as the "the best existing quad-core smartphone" on the market.
Pantech has the distinction of releasing the world's first 1.5GHz dual-core processor-based smartphone, the Vega Racer, which sold 1 million units within four months of its release. The Vega R3 phablet is its attempt at capitalizing on the growing popularity of the form factor in the Korean market.
In the coming months, both Samsung and LG are slated to launch the Galaxy Note 2 and Optimus Vu 2, respectively, which are follow-ups to their hugely successful Galaxy Note and Optimus Vu phablets. Pantech currently offers the 5-inch Vega S5 phablet; however, with the Vega R3, it is looking to establish a stronghold in this niche market and challenge major phablet players like Samsung and LG.
"The smartphone market is changing into an unprecedented scene of fierce competition ... Vega R3 is the best existing quad-core smartphone. I dare tell competitors to learn from Pantec," stated VP Lee Joon-woo at the company's Gangnam launch event in Germany.
The Vega R3 features Sharp Corp.'s 5.3-inch Natural IPS Pro liquid crystal display and the device is .39 inches narrower than rival phablets. Despite the phablet's large display, Pantech asserts that users can operate the device easily with one hand.
"We improved the feel of the grip by almost completely removing the bezel from around the screen edge, because it was inconvenient to hold and use the previous 5-inch models with one hand," stated Lee.
A quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor is expected to power the device. It will come pre-loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The phablet will also sport a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera. By contrast, the Optimus Vu 2 and Note 2 will feature an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. Moreover, the Pantech device has a 2-megapixel front-facing camera vis-à-vis the Samsung and LG offerings: 1.9-megapixel and 1.3-megapixel ones, respectively.
Additionally, Pantech has chosen to go the extra mile and has developed the "best face" feature and a "mini window" function. The phablet's "best face" feature is similar to Nokia's recently introduced "Smart Group Shot," and enables users to choose the best shots of different individuals in a picture. Moreover, the Vega R3's "mini window" function lets users search for words in a dictionary while they are viewing videos that have subtitles. The Vega R3 will also have NFC, 4G LTE, and Bluetooth 4.0 support. The phablet will have 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory.
Pantech has beefed up the phablet's battery to 2600mAh and claims that the Vega R3's battery easily "outperforms those of locally released handsets." Reportedly, the device fully charges in 100 minutes.
In 2011, Pantech had achieved the distinction of having the second largest market share in South Korea. Lee estimates that if the company can channel its sales effectively, despite competition from iPhone5, it could possibly reclaim the position "sometime in the first half."
The Vega R3 will be released on Sept. 25 on three mobile carriers in South Korea and is expected to be priced competitively.
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