We’ve mostly avoided using the word “phablet” here for one simple reason: it’s kind of silly. We might have to start, though, because the category does seem to be taking hold.

Quite simply, a phablet is a smartphone (“ph”) with a large enough screen that it’s practical to use as a tablet (“ablet”). In general, five inches is the dividing line between a plain old phone and a phablet.

Up until now, there’s really been only one major handset that qualifies as a phablet: the Samsung Galaxy Note. Its 5.3-inch screen looks massive compared to even Samsung’s current flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, with its 4.8-inch screen. The Note’s screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, the same as many laptop comSamsung Phabletputers, so quite a lot of information fits on the screen. It also comes with a stylus that slips into the back of the phone, emphasizing the idea that you’re meant to create on this device, not just press large buttons to consume content.

The Galaxy note was announced in September of 2011 and released on February 19, 2012. Naturally, rumors have started swirling about a 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II to succeed it. When (or if, but very probably when) the Note II arrives, it will have competition from the LG Optimus Vu.

According to an Unwired View article, LG plans to bring the Optimus Vu to the United States by the end of the summer. The phone has already sold half a million units in South Korea. It will likely be available through Verizon Wireless. Just like the Galaxy Note, it comes with a stylus.

New LG phoneAlthough the Optimus Vu’s 5-inch screen puts it just on the cusp of phablet territory, it has a more squarish 4:3 aspect ratio than most widescreen phones. The closer to a square a 5-inch rectangle is, the more area it encompasses. While the Galaxy Note has a screen area of 12.6 square inches, the Optimus Vu is nearly as large, with an area of 12 square inches. The Galaxy S III is only 9.8 square inches.* That said, the Vu’s pixel resolution is less, at 1024 x 768.

Are you in the market for a phablet? Let us know in the comments!

* You can check my math at Ole Prinds’s Screen Dimensions Calculator. The Galaxy Note’s 1280 x 800 resolution gives it a 16:10 aspect ratio; the Galaxy S III’s 1280 x 720 resolution gives it a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Tags: large screen phone, lg optimus vu, phablet, Samsung Galaxy Note, smartphone stylus, smartphone tablet, tablet phone