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Phones

Korea's Pantech shows signs of life with new phablet

Despite its new phablet, the Pop-up Note, selling out in half a day, the handset maker has failed to find a buyer after filing for bankruptcy earlier in August.

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The Pantech Vega Pop-up Note. Pantech

Pantech has released a new phablet named the "Vega Pop-up Note," making it the first phone released since Pantech filed for court receivership, equivalent to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Korea.

True to its name, the phone has a stylus that pops out when triggered by a button on the side of the device. The stylus also doubles as a digital TV antenna. The phone boasts a 5.6-inch HD display, a 2.3GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13-megapixel rear camera. The device also comes with security features like a siren sound that goes off if the user does not input the correct password after disconnecting from a charger.

The most appealing aspect of the Vega Pop-up Note might be its price. The official retail price is just 352,000 Korean won, or $317. Factor in carrier subsidies, and the final price comes down to less than 200,000 Korean won ($180). By comparison, Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 sells for 957,000 won ($861) in Korea.

The affordable pricing seems to have been an effective strategy, as reports are surfacing that retailers sold out of the initial 300,000-unit supply in less than half a day. Carriers have since ordered an additional 600,000 units.

Pantech had been put up for sale in September with a October 29 deadline for bids. The deadline was then extended to November 21 when potential buyers requested more time to gather information. However, the deadline passed without any bidders.

The No. 3 Korean smartphone maker had been posting losses for some time and had an outstanding debt of 480 billion Korean won ($475 million). Pantech's list of creditors include banks, financial institutions and Korea's three network operators. These operators were estimated to have more than half a million units of unsold Pantech inventory earlier this July.

Samjong KPMG, the company in charge of the sale, revealed on Friday that while there were several companies that showed interest, the auction failed as nobody listed a bid for the handset maker. A representative for Samjong KPMG said that "it would listen to investors and cooperate with the court to figure out the next order of procedure."