I don't see the big deal here. What is the opposition to an Apple phablet? That Samsung came out with phablets first and you don't want Apple to be seen as emulating Samsung? Please. Samsung came out with phablets as a desperation ploy: they were getting hammered, probably barely breaking even on the writeoffs that the phones that weren't selling plus their massive advertising budget. The phablets not only were very successful for Samsung individually, but made the entire brand more attractive and helped increase sales for all their products.
So Samsung discovered (or rather created) a market that people did not know existed. Big deal. All Apple has to do is come out with a better phablet. You see, Samsung's phablet is merely a bigger version of the same device. It is the same as their regular smartphones but with a bigger screen. Excellent sales gimmick targeted towards the "bling" mindset but not exactly innovation.
What Apple should do is come out with an innovation that makes the best use of the larger screen space and particularly the larger device size, as the larger device size should mean the ability to put better hardware in it. So, Apple could use the larger display and the bigger device size to come out with a true "tweener" device, an "almost" tablet that you can use to place and receive calls, not just a larger phone. They could leverage it being bigger than a phone in some ways (i.e. gaming, productivity for business users, etc.) but smaller than a tablet in others (i.e. taking pictures).
That is essentially what Amazon did with the Fire TV. The newer technology available meant no longer having build a set top box for streaming alone: you can fit all the streaming capacity that you need in a dongle like Chromecast and the Roku stick. So they kept the device at about the same size as a Roku 3 and Apple TV and used the extra space to make it a "tweener" or hybrid device: streamer plus mini-game console plus portal for the Amazon Cloud apps.
So if you quit being averse to it simply because your hated rival had the idea first, you would see that embracing the concept actually offers Apple a chance to introduce almost an entirely new device, essentially an I-Pad Mini that is also a practical phone - instead of being just a bigger phone. Apple should CERTAINLY emulate what Samsung has done with phablets and Amazon has done with a gaming set top box, except do it better.