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Does your phone need a phone of its own?

Mike Elgan | Oct. 7, 2013
A new mobile gadget category gives you a tiny phone for talking via your giant phablet

You pair it via NFC (near field communication) with Sony's newer phones and phablets by simply tapping it against the phone.

The Sony SBH52 is shipping in Asia and Europe and should arrive in the U.S. soon.

HTC offers the most phone-like and feature-rich device in this category. The new HTC Mini+ has a full numeric keypad, so you can use it to dial out in addition to receiving calls.

HTC Mini+
The HTC Mini+.

I think the HTC Mini+ looks really cool, too. The body is brushed aluminum and the buttons are round and appealing. It's even got a small, 1.5-in. screen with two rows of icons.

The HTC Mini+ has an IR blaster and can also be programmed as a TV remote, a remote camera shutter or even as a PowerPoint slide controller. It's even got a laser pointer built in.

The bad news is that the Mini+ pairs with HTC phones only, specifically the HTC One Mini, the Butterfly S, the Desire 200 and the Desire 500.

The HTC Mini+ should cost about $85 and will be available by the end of the year.

The Samsung HM5000 Slim Stick Type Bluetooth Headset looks almost like a fat pen and clips onto a pocket like a pen does.

Samsung HM5000 Slim Stick Type Bluetooth Headset
The Samsung HM5000 Slim Stick Type Bluetooth Headset.

Like the Sony device, the Slim Stick can be paired with two devices at the same time. When a call comes in, it vibrates. You answer it by pressing a large button.

Because the HM5000 has only one big button, plus a volume-control rocker, there's a small learning curve to remember the button-pushing commands for putting calls on hold and picking them up again and other functions.

The handset automatically increases the volume of the speaker in a noisy place.

The HM5000 has been around for a couple of years, and it's possible to buy it for less than $60.

Alcatel deserves special mention because its upcoming OneTouch Hero smartphone comes with a full-featured Bluetooth handset with a full numeric keypad, rocker switch and screen. It looks like a high-end feature phone from 2003.

Alcatel OneTouch Hero remote
The Alcatel OneTouch Hero remote.

The company has demonstrated the product at European trade shows, and the device will be shipping only to China, Latin America and a smattering of European countries.

Fear not, phablet fans. Help is on the way in the form of tiny, phone-like devices that let you talk on the phone via that giant phablet — without looking like a complete idiot.


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