A ‘phablet’ is so called because it lies somewhere between being a phone and a tablet.
What’s a phablet?
It’s definitely a phone - you can make calls on it, send texts, and use mobile internet - but in terms of size, it edges a bit closer to being a tablet. It’s a smartphone with a very big screen, in other words.
How big exactly? Well, there’s no real consensus here. A display larger than five inches is getting there, and once it hits five and a half, it most certainly counts as a phablet. Some can have screens as big as six inches and beyond.
If you’re after a phablet, you probably use your phone’s display more than you use your handset to make calls. You want lots of screen real estate for using apps, or you may rely on your phone for work or business purposes - emails are a lot easier to manage on a big screen.
So, which phablets are worth getting? Here are our top picks for phablets and big smartphones with large screens.
iPhone 7 Plus
Screen size: 5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920px
If you’re an Apple fan who wants a phablet, you can’t do much better than the iPhone 7 Plus. Its 5.5-inch screen has a wider colour gamut than previous iPhones, so colours pop just that bit more, and it’s water resistant so you can use it in the rain at last. It’s even got a better camera than the regular iPhone 7, rocking a dual-lens setup, and surprisingly good battery life for a phone this size - especially for an iPhone, for that matter.
iPhone XS Max
Screen size: 6.5 inches, 1242 x 2688px
The iPhone XS Max sees Apple super-size its flagship smartphone. This is a seriously powerful phone that makes some serious strides forward.
In fact, it’s the biggest iPhone yet - boasting a seriously large 6.5-inch edge-to-edge display, with stainless steel bezels and a smooth glass back. And, like the iPhone XS, the XS Max comes in gold, silver and black. If you’re upgrading from an older iPhone, you’ll notice real performance and battery improvements.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
Screen size: 6.2 inches, 1440 x 2960px
Big screens don’t get much bigger than this. The display on the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is absolutely massive, has a really high resolution - 529ppi is incredible for a screen this size - and it takes up almost the entire front of the phone, curving down at the edges. The lack of bezels means you get more screen space without having to deal with too large a handset, and its slim shape means it’s easy to hold.
As for the insides, there’s a lot going on there too, with insanely fast processors, up to 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage and wireless charging.
Samsung Galaxy S9 (Plus)
Screen size: 6.2 inches, 1440 x 2960px
While it’s not quite as large as the iPhone XS, the Galaxy S9 still offers plenty of screen real estate. In terms of its larger battery and 12Mp dual-lens camera – with telephoto capabilities – it’s hard to beat, particularly when you throw Super Slow-mo capabilities into the mix. As a premium flagship smartphone, it won’t come cheap, but you can still pick one up for less than the iPhone X
Huawei Mate 9
Screen size: 5.9 inches, 1080 x 1920px
Huawei’s Mate 9 packs a lot in: a stupidly good camera with dual Leica lenses, a frankly massive 4000mAh battery, and even some clever machine learning that adapts to how you use your phone and (in theory, anyway) improves how it works. And despite that, it’s still cheaper than most phablets with similar specs, with good build quality to boot.
The screen isn’t quite as crisp as a lot of high-end phones, but it’s hard to really be disappointed with full HD resolution. Especially on a phone that you can get Amazon’s Alexa on.
Google Pixel 3 XL
Screen size: 6.3 inches, 1440 pixels x 2960 pixels
Packing quite possibly the best cameras ever to grace a smartphone, the Google Pixel 3 XL is an impressive model. Bar the rather prominent notch, there’s a lot of screen to play around with – and it comes with a bigger battery, to complement the 12.2MP rear single-lens camera, two 8MP front-facing cameras and wide-angle selfie feature.
So, if you’re after a big screen with quite simply the best camera, look no further.
Screen size: 5.7 inches, 1440 x 2880px
The humungous screen on the LG G6 has an almost 2:1 ratio, so you can split the display into two perfect squares for two apps - a great boon for your productivity on the go. It’s also HDR (high dynamic range) ready, so you can watch HDR videos with all the extra colour details.
Specs are a little lower than some of the other phones on this list - like an old generation quad-core processor - but they’re still more than good enough for the job. Plus, you get some very nice cameras with near-manual controls.