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Larger than a phone, smaller than a tablet — yes, it’s a “phablet,” to use the much-derided term for the device segment best known for Samsung’s Galaxy Note. And the evidence is mounting that Nokia (and, by extension, Microsoft) are preparing to test the market for a giant Windows Phone.

A newly leaked image from @evleaks on Twitter shows what’s believed to be the Nokia Lumia 1520, code-named “Bandit,” a 6-inch Windows Phone that’s expected to be released sometime later this year. The picture shows how the device would be provide room for an extra row of tiles on the Start screen (or two extra rows of smaller tiles, depending on the configuration).

This is interesting because it blurs the line between smartphone and tablet, and raises questions about the distinction between Windows Phone and Windows RT for tablets, at least when it comes to device size. The smallest Windows RT tablets are 7 inches. The two operating systems share a common kernel, but have different application platforms.

IDC analyst Al Hilwa has called on Microsoft to pick one of the operating systems to lead its push onto ARM-based devices.

No official word from Nokia on this, but eventually this phone would become part of Microsoft’s own portfolio, as the company absorbs Nokia’s smartphone business through the $7.2 billion acquisition announced earlier this week.

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