Our hands might not be getting any bigger but our phones certainly are. As flagships like the LG G4 and OnePlus One creep up to 5.5 inches phablets are starting to resemble small tablets, arguably filling the roles of both a smartphone and a slate.
If you think that one device is better than two, or just have really big hands, then there is a growing selection of phones to suit and these are the ten best.
10. Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
Windows Phone on the big screen
OS: Windows Phone 8.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | Memory: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you’re looking for a low cost, big screened, easy to use smartphone then you’re in the right place. The Microsoft (not Nokia) Lumia 640 XL checks all three boxes.
The Windows Phone interface is intuitive, and while it may not have the app selection of iOS or Android, at this price you can’t really complain and there’s a decent spec sheet to back it up.
What’s more, pick up the Lumia 640 XL now and you’ll be guaranteed an upgrade to Windows 10 when it starts rolling out – making this handset pretty future proof.
9. HTC Desire 820
A mid-range smartphone with a big screen
OS: Android 4.4 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | Memory: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2600mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP
In the battle of the big phones there are a few players that are trying to make their mark and a 64-bit processor and 8MP front facing camera helps the HTC Desire 820 gain some ground.
The design also has to be applauded. It might be made out of a polycarbonate chassis, but the two tone shell is attractive and feels very well made.
The 720p display isn’t the sharpest, but considering the price it can almost be forgiven as you’re getting a lot of real estate for your money.
8. Sony Xperia Z Ultra
Water and dust proof, the massive Z Ultra is ready for action
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 3050mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
At 6.4 inches the Z Ultra is monstrous in size and that’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a true tablet replacement, as it’s not all that much smaller than a 7-inch slate, but that of course makes it wildly impractical as a phone.
Still, if you really want an all-in-one device this will do it and size aside there’s a lot going for it. The Xperia Z Ultra has a premium build with a glass back and it’s super slim at just 6.5mm thick, so it looks good, especially compared to most other phablets.
It’s water and dust resistant, has a powerful 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and its screen makes it a great portable movie player too. You’re going to be giving the battery a workout, so it’s a good thing that its 3050mAh juice pack is up to the challenge.
7. LG G Flex 2
The only bendable phablet around
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 2.1MP
Okay so the LG G Flex 2 isn’t exactly cheap, which is part of the reason why it isn’t as high up the list as you may think, but it certainly has a couple of neat party tricks.
First up, as the name suggests, it’s a flexible smartphone – you can actually bend the banana shaped handset slightly without snapping it in two. Then there’s the self healing rear coating which gets rid of minor bumps and scuffs as if by magic.
Its battery life may not be stellar, and it can get rather toasty if you really hammer it, but you can be sure you’ll be the talk of the pub when you whip it out your pocket.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
It may not be top of the pile anymore, but it still packs a punch
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 16/32/64GB | Battery: 3200mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 2MP
The faux-leather rear of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is divisive at best, but with a powerful 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and 3GB of RAM it’s a high performing handset, while its 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display is sharp and impressive.
It’s also on the small side, at least as far as phablets go, which makes it easier to hold than some competing devices, while the inclusion of a stylus makes it a joy to use.
Add in an impressive battery life and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 really is a phone that has it all. Great as a phone, even better for media and productivity, high powered and it keeps on going all day.
5. Huawei Ascend Mate 7
The phablet from China, with love
OS: Android 4.4 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 2/3GB | Storage: 16/32GB | Battery: 4100mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
Along with Oppo, Huawei is another relatively unknown name that’s creeped into the list, but the Ascend Mate 7 is worthy of attention.
With a big 6.0-inch 1080p screen, an attractive aluminium casing, good battery life, an octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM and even a fingerprint scanner there’s a lot to like here. A 13MP snapper and a microSD card slot don’t hurt either.
The Huawei Ascend Mate 7 isn’t quite the most powerful phone around (though it’s not far off) and there are handsets with sharper screens, but it doesn’t feel lacking, so if you don’t mind skipping past the brand names you can save yourself some money and still get a top flight phablet experience by picking up one of these.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
A cool side screen with extra functionality
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.6-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 3.7MP
With its curved screen it would be easy to write the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge off as a gimmick, but that would be a mistake. While the edge is hardly an essential feature it does add some handy skills to the phone, such as the ability to exile video controls to the edge so they’re always visible without obstructing the display.
Those minor features aside the Galaxy Note Edge is also almost as impressive a handset as the Note 4, with heaps of power, a super-sharp QHD screen and an S Pen stylus, so you can write by hand and even sketch on your phone.
A slightly smaller battery and marginally worse performance are the only things holding it back from the Galaxy Note 4 and the number one spot.
3. Google Nexus 6
Pure Google and pure Android on the big screen
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.96-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 3220mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 2MP
The Nexus 6 is Google’s first phablet and it’s a real winner, with an enormous 5.96-inch QHD screen, a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM.
Of course it also benefits from being a stock Android device and first in line for new OS updates and even its camera- traditionally a weak point on Nexus devices, is capable of taking some pretty stunning snaps.
Add to that extra features like Qi and turbo charging and it’s clear that this is a real flagship device with no cut corners. If there’s a downside to all this it’s that it’s not the budget bargain that many Nexus phones are, but it’s hard to argue that it’s not worth every penny.
2. iPhone 6 Plus
Apple does supersize, and does it well
OS: iOS 8 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 1GB | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Battery: 2915mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Can a phone with a 5.5-inch screen really be considered a phablet? Maybe not in Android land, but for Apple this is big, really big.
The iPhone 6 Plus has a sharp 1080 x 1920 display and specs that punch well above their weight, with its optical image stabilisation-equipped 8MP snapper capable of some of the best photos you can take on a smartphone and its dual-core processor somehow delivering impossibly slick performance.
Being an Apple device it also has a sumptuous design and build, with a slim metal shell leaving it as the best looking phablet on the planet. While its Touch ID fingerprint scanner is a nice bonus and for the time being it’s the only iOS phablet available.
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
King of the phablets
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3220mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 3.7MP
Samsung was one of the first companies to jump on the phablet train and its most recent one, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, is not only one of Samsung’s best phones but the best phablet money can buy.
Its super sharp, bright and vibrant but still fairly pocketable 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 Super AMOLED display is perhaps the star of the show. Or maybe that honour should go to its ridiculously slick performance, supported by a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM. Then again its 16MP camera complete with optical image stabilisation is also highly impressive.
We haven’t even touched on its metal frame or its innovative and useful S Pen, let alone its fingerprint scanner, but it should be clear by now that we’re huge fans of Samsung’s latest phablet. It’s big (but not too big), powerful, stylish and feature packed. If you’ve got the money and want a big-screen phone this is unquestionably the one to go for.