Our list of the best phablets currently available to buy.
Phablets rose to prominence after Samsung launched the original Galaxy Note back in 2011. Since then their rise has been meteoric with a whole host of manufacturers launching devices to try and grab a share of the lucrative new market.
We’re getting to the point now where even normal smartphones are starting to approach phablet sizes and phablets could almost be small tablets, as each year manufacturers aim to make their new handsets stand out by, in part, making them bigger.
The following are the best phablets on the market, including the new iPhone 7 Plus, the curvy Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the affordable Honor 5X.
The Honor 5X isn’t quite a flagship, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the phone, which has a beautiful brushed metal shell and a fingerprint scanner.
A 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 screen just about pushes it into phablet territory and the rich colours of the display make media a joy.
Elsewhere you start to see why the Honor 5X is priced below high-end phones, as it has a mid-range octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor and just 2GB of RAM – but that’s still enough for slick performance, even when gaming.
The 13MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing one are a standard spec for the price, but the big 3000 mAh battery ensures this thing can keep going all day and beyond.
Verdict: The Honor 5X looks like a flagship and almost performs like one, yet it costs a lot less, making it a phablet bargain. All things being equal the iPhone 6 Plus is a better phone, but it’s also older and a lot more expensive.
The LG G5 is a recent flagship and it shows, thanks to a powerful Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB of RAM, but it goes beyond sheer power, as it’s packed full of innovation too.
That’s most obviously the case in its modular nature, allowing you to plug modules into the phone to add a camera grip, extend the battery life, improve the audio and more.
But even without modules the LG G5 is a great phablet. It has a super sharp 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 screen, for a pixel density of 554 pixels per inch. It also has a clever dual-lens camera on the back, with a 16MP standard lens and an 8MP wide-angle one.
Add in a powerful 8MP selfie snapper, a speedy fingerprint scanner and a premium metal build and it’s easy to see why the LG G5 made our list of the best phablets available.
Verdict: The LG G5 combines power, innovation and a stunning screen. It’s not quite the most stylish phablet around, but it’s premium in every sense of the word.
Apple followed up its first phablet with the iPhone 6S Plus, a similar phone, but one that improved on the iPhone 6 Plus in a number of ways.
That all starts with the screen, which is still a 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 display, but now has added 3D Touch, meaning it’s pressure sensitive. This opens up all sorts of new ways to interact with your apps and the display has just as good contrast and just as natural colours as its predecessor.
There’s also more power this time around, with a speedy A9 processor, and the camera has been pushed up to 12MP. Megapixels aside it’s one of the best snappers on a smartphone.
The design hasn’t changed, but that’s ok, as the iPhone 6 Plus was already a beautiful phone and so the iPhone 6S Plus is too, with a slim, curvy metal shell.
Verdict: The iPhone 6S Plus is the second best Apple phablet you can buy and if it wasn't for the iPhone 7 Plus would be very nearly the best phablet by any company. Stylish looks combine with slick performance, a great camera and an impressive screen for a complete flagship package.
UPDATE: The Galaxy Note 7 has now been permanantly discontinued due to problems with exploding devices.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung’s latest phablet, and it’s a seriously impressive device. Like any good phablet the screen is the star, coming in at a huge 5.7 inches and a resolution of 1440 x 2560, for a super sharp pixel density of 518 pixels per inch.
It's a Super AMOLED display too, meaning colours are bright and vibrant and it supports mobile HDR, giving it an edge over other smartphone screens. Plus, it has two curved edges, which both look great and add extra functionality.
The Note 7 takes advantage of its big screen with an S Pen stylus, so you can write by hand or sketch on the phone and it’s a beautiful device, with a glass back and a metal frame.
There’s a whole lot of power in it too, with an Exynos octa-core processor and 4GB of RAM, plus a big 3500mAh battery, a brilliant 12MP camera, a fingerprint scanner and even an iris scanner.
Verdict: The Note 7 is a phone that’s jam packed full of tech and features, but it gets the basics right too, with a great screen and loads of power.
The iPhone 7 Plus is Apple’s latest phablet, and by far its best. Once again it sports a design similar to other entries in the Plus range, but it’s been refined, with the antenna bands shifted to a less visible position and the 3.5mm headphone port completely absent.
The 5.5-inch screen is as impressive as ever. In fact, it’s slightly more so, as it’s now 25% brighter and can display a wider range of colours, though it’s still just 1080p, leaving it dwarfed in resolution terms by many phones on this list.
The real highlight of the iPhone 7 Plus is arguably its camera, which is a dual-lens 12MP snapper, capable of taking seriously high-quality snaps (with a quad-LED flash ensuring that remains true in low-light). It also has a 2x optical zoom, which is something no other phone on this list has.
Then there’s an upgraded 7MP front-facing camera, a seriously powerful quad-core processor, up to 256GB of built-in storage and all the usual bells and whistles you expect from an iPhone, like a fingerprint scanner and a polished interface.
Verdict: The iPhone 7 Plus is a brilliant phablet, held back from the top spot by a relatively low resolution screen. In all other areas this is a near perfect phone.
You might have been expecting Samsung’s Note 7 to top the Android section of this list, but the existence of another Samsung phone, namely the Galaxy S7 Edge, pushed it into third place overall.
Yes, the Note 7 is newer, bigger and sports a stylus, but as a complete package it’s just not quite as good as the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, which omits the gimmicky iris scanner, but instead has a bigger battery, keeping it going all the longer.
Otherwise it’s a very similar phone, with a vibrant, curved 1440 x 2560 5.5-inch Super AMOLED screen – which is sharper for being smaller.
There’s a whole lot of power under the hood thanks to 4GB of RAM and Samsung’s homegrown Exynos 8890 octa-core processor, and the 12MP camera is one of the best in the business.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge also has a slim metal and glass build, that happens to be water and dust resistant, and a fingerprint scanner to secure the phone.
Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a near perfect phone. It’s slightly smaller than the Note 7, so if size is king that’s the one to go for, but with a bigger battery and a sharper screen the S7 Edge edges the victory.
If a big phone is what you’re after then you should be able to find something in this list to suit. There’s the affordable Honor 5X at the tail end if money is a concern, the LG G5 if you care about innovation, or the iPhone 6S Plus for a relatively affordable iOS phablet.
Moving into the top three, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 for size and quality, the iPhone 7 Plus for the best iOS experience and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge if you want the best phablet overall – and have the money to spare.
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