Top 5 phablets: Which is the best for big-screen smartphone lovers?
Smartphones are getting bigger, much bigger. Almost all flagship smartphones have screens larger than 5in, while the even bigger phablets are more popular than ever, with good reason.
With screens measuring 5.5in and up, phablets have plenty of space to make the most of the screen in your pocket. From watching movies and browsing sites, to editing text and manipulating photos, almost everything is better on a big screen.
But phablets are (mostly) expensive, so which one is right for you, and do you really need to spend £600 or more?
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung’s Galaxy Note line arguably invented the phablet and made it popular. Its 5.7in Note 4 is the best yet, with a 2K OLED screen that’s the best currently available on a smartphone – bright, clear and crisp with rich blacks.
It also a powerful quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage with a microSD card slot for adding more space for movies, TV shows, photos and music. The 16-megapixel camera is excellent, the fingerprint sensor makes it easy to unlock and a two-day battery life means it lasts longer than most others.
The metal edging, rigid body and textured back make it feel great in the hand but also easy to grip, which is important for a large smartphone.
But the biggest selling point is the S Pen stylus, which hides in the bottom of the phone until needed, but is accurate and well supported by software – handy for quick sketches or handwritten notes.
Verdict: the best Android phablet available
Google’s first phablet is a monster. With a 6in screen, it’s one of the biggest, but is easier to handle than you might expect thanks to a curved back – although one-handed use is a struggle.
Made by Motorola, it feels rock-solid, with a comfortable design and simple, screen-focused front. Two front-facing speakers either side of the screen are loud and clear and the 2K screen is excellent.
The Nexus 6 has the same powerful quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM as the Note 4, but only has 32 or 64GB of storage, which isn’t expandable. It lasts for approximately a day and half of heavy use, but has wireless charging built in.
The 13-megapixel camera is solid, while Motorola’s useful active display feature dimly displays notifications in black and white when the rest of the screen is off.
The Nexus 6’s big draw is the latest version of Android 5 Lollipop without any added bloat, which makes it fast and slick.
Verdict: the latest Android, but 6in might be just too big for some
The OnePlus One aims to be a flagship phablet, the same as the likes of Samsung and Google, but at a fraction of the cost. For the most part, the One delivers.
Its 5.5in full HD screen is decent, its design is solid and understated, but its back is a bit strange, covered in a rough, felt-like texture. It makes it easy to hold onto, but doesn’t feel premium and picks up dust easily.
The One either runs OnePlus’s own custom version of Android called OxygenOS or a popular third-party Android version called Cyanogen. The software is the same as Google’s version of Android, except that it provides much greater customisation options and privacy settings.
The One is arguably the best Android phone for a power user, with more settings to tweak than any other. But it’s also an excellent all-round phone with a decent camera, snappy experience, solid battery life of over a day and 16 or 64GB of storage.
Verdict: a power-user’s dream and excellent value for the rest of us
Apple’s first phablet is a solid entry. The iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5in screen full HD screen, but has quite large bezels top and bottom, which makes the phone bigger than rivals with the same screen size.
Its metal body and rounded edges feel very nice in the hand and the most premium in this group, but its metal back can be slippery, which makes holding onto the large phone more difficult. A case solves that of course.
The iPhone 6 Plus has 16, 64 or 128GB of storage, but no options for adding more, and an excellent eight-megapixel camera. Apple has made some accessibility functions to make it easier to use the bigger screen, but the exploitation of the large screen isn’t on the same level as Samsung’s Note series.
The Touch ID sensor hidden under the home button is the iPhone’s best feature, which is the most accurate and fast fingerprint reader available at the moment, and can be used to unlock the phone and authenticate payments.
Verdict: best for those upgrading from a smaller iPhone that don’t want to switch
LG are the masters of making a large screen phone as small as possible. The G3 has a very good 5.5in 2K screen, but very small bezels around the edges and top and bottom, making it one of the most compact phablets available.
The back of the phablet is also curved, which makes it easier to grip, but its plastic shell feels cheap compared to some of the others.
The G3 has a decent quad-core processor, although not the latest, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage with a microSD card slot for adding more. The 13-megapixel camera with laser autofocus is solid and its Android software customisations inoffensive.
Verdict: easiest to handle, good value phablet