Best phablets of 2015/2016: the 20 best big-screen phones you can buy – best phablet reviews – best Android phablets, iPhone 6 Plus, Windows phablets. Phablets or large-screen smartphones are a growing trend. Here we compile the best phablets available to buy in the UK in 2015/2016.
Phablets, which fall between phone and tablet in terms of screen size, have burst on to the scene in the past year or two. Devices that were once mocked for their oversized screens have now become desirable and powerful mobile tools. Here we present the best phablets you can buy in the UK in 2015/2016. Also see Best smartphones 2015/2016 and Best tablets 2015/2016.
Note that we are classing smartphones with a screen of 5.5in and above as phablets.
20. Nokia Lumia 1520
- Reviewed on: 6 December 13
- RRP: £550 inc VAT
The Nokia Lumia 1520 has got so many things right including build quality, a great camera and a good looking screen. It’s the best Windows Phone yet but software is still lacking and we just wish the darn thing was smaller because it’s severely off putting.
Read our Nokia Lumia 1520 review.
- Reviewed on: 30 April 15
- RRP: £203.33 (£180.66 with coupon code ZTES6PLUS)
The ZTE Blade S6 Plus is a nice phablet for £200, but it doesn’t offer enough to make it worth an extra £50 on top of the standard model, which already has a large 5in screen. In comparison to that phone it’s lost some of the features we liked, and despite having a larger battery runtime still isn’t great. If you’re looking for a 5.5in phablet at £200, our money would be on the Kingzone Z1.
Read our ZTE Blade S6 Plus review.
18. Kingzone Z1
- Reviewed on: 12 May 15
- RRP: £199.91 from European Warehouse (no import duty)
For a £200 phone the Kingzone Z1 is a very decent proposition. It has a nice build, some pleasing connectivity features, and we were astonished to find faster performance than phones that cost three times the price, although cutbacks have been made – notably in the screen and fingerprint sensor, although the latter has other uses beyond security.
Read our Kingzone Z1 review.
17. UMI Hammer S
- Reviewed on: 20 October 15
- RRP: £108.79 inc. VAT
We really like the UMI Hammer S. It’s not the fastest phone you’ll find at this price, but it’s fast enough for daily use. The design is nice, and genuinely useful technology – USB-C and the fingerprint scanner for example – comes at an attractive price. A strong rival to the excellent Vodafone Smart Ultra 6.
Read our UMI Hammer S review.
16. UMI Iron
- Reviewed on: 20 October 15
- RRP: £149.99 inc. VAT
The UMI Iron is a good buy at £149.99, and the first we’ve seen to include eye-scanning security. This is a cool feature, if no more secure than the requirement for a four-digit PIN. Although the heart-rate scanner didn’t work in our tests and the Micro-USB charging port seemed oddly misshaped, the UMI Iron nevertheless offers a good set of hardware and more than acceptable performance for the money.
Read our UMI Iron review.
15. UMI eMax
- Reviewed on: 9 July 15
- RRP: £115.59 (plus import duty)
UMI’s eMax offers superb value for money. It’s not as good-looking as other UMI phones we’ve reviewed, but the eMax has a big and bright full-HD screen for enjoying media and more, and showed very capable performance in the majority of our benchmarks. Photography is decent at this price, and enthusiasts will appreciate the Rootjoy support. At £115 you can’t go far wrong with the UMI eMax.
Read our UMI eMax review.
14. Ulefone BeTouch
- Reviewed on: 14 July 15
- RRP: 147.06 (plus import duty)
Ulefone’s BeTouch is an unrivalled deal at £147. It’s fast, it’s dual-SIM with 4G connectivity, it has a working fingerprint scanner for security, the screen is large and with an HD resolution plenty crisp enough for the money, and there is absolutely no bloatware. A few minor quibbles aside, it’s genuinely difficult to fault this phone at this price.
Read our Ulefone BeTouch review.
- Reviewed on: 26 September 13
- RRP: £599 inc. VAT
We’re not sure you need all the extra features that Samsung packs in, and we could live without the S Pen. And the 5.7in display will appeal only to those who especially want a large-screen phone. Neither is the camera all that great. But be in no doubt about it, the Galaxy Note 3 is a high-quality portable device, offering the best performance we’ve ever seen, a stunning screen and nice build quality.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review.
- Reviewed on: 21 September 15
- RRP: £539 (16GB); £619 (64GB)
When we initially wrote this review, the new size was something of an unknown. For many people the iPhone 6 (or iPhone 6S) is the better choice for the reasons we list in our iPhone 6 vs 6 Plus comparison. The truth is that a 5.5in screen isn’t quite big enough to enable the 6 Plus to replace a tablet, yet the device is arguably too big and unwieldy as a smartphone. It will suit some people perfectly, especially if you watch a lot of video or play a lot of games, while others will quickly see that it’s not for them: it won’t fit in their jeans pocket and demands two-handed operation much of the time. One thing is for sure: the iPhone 6 Plus is still expensive. If you’re keen to buy one right now, we’d recommend against the 16GB model. And that leaves the 64GB at £619, but if you’re already spending this much money, you may as well spend an extra £80 and get the 64GB iPhone 6S Plus. Or, if you can live with a smaller screen, the 64GB iPhone 6S also costs £619. Of course, there is another option: used or refurbished. If you can find a 64GB model at a good price in the refurbished section of Apple’s website, it could be a tempting deal compared to the 6S or 6S Plus.
Read our Apple iPhone 6 Plus review.
11. Google Nexus 6
- Reviewed on: 23 September 15
- RRP: £499 inc VAT (32GB); £549 inc VAT (64GB)
There are some good things about the Nexus 6 including build quality and some top-end hardware such as the screen, processor and camera. However, it’s simply too big, unwieldy and expensive to warrant awarding it anything higher than four stars and really get behind it (unless we wanted to hid from something). In the phablet market, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is simply better even if it is pricier and the excellent LG G3 at less than £300 is another thorn in the Nexus 6’s side.
Read our Google Nexus 6 review.
10. OnePlus One
- Reviewed on: 20 April 15
- RRP: From £229 inc VAT
There are only two, possibly three, bad things to say about the OnePlus One, if you are happy to buy online direct from OnePlus. We wish there was expandable storage, and it’s bigger than other smartphones with similarly sized displays. And if we are being really harsh, we would hope for a better camera. But at the price the OnePlus One is an amazing deal. It’s a flagship smartphone for a mid-range price. Bargain. Get them while they are hot.
Read our OnePlus One review.
9. Honor 6 Plus
- Reviewed on: 18 June 15
- RRP: £299
For anyone looking for a smartphone with a large screen, the Honor 6 Plus is absolutely worth considering. It has great specs, a good-looking and sleek design and a cool camera, all at a surprisingly low price.
Read our Honor 6 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 24 February 15
- RRP: £650 inc VAT
The Galaxy Note Edge is one of the most interesting smartphones around and while the edge screen is genuinely useful at times, it also remains a slight gimmick. Hardware is top notch and although we dislike the faux leather, build quality is good. The Note Edge is big and expensive so it might be worth waiting for the next generation before taking the plunge.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review.
- Reviewed on: 11 September 15
- RRP: £279
Overall, the Moto X Play is a decent mid-range phone. But, it’s not the great upgrade which Moto X owners were looking for. The camera is good, as is the screen, but performance could be better – as could battery life. Had Motorola offered the dual-SIM version in the UK and made the phone waterproof, it would have had enough to be a decent alternative to the OnePlus 2. For many, this more powerful rival will be more appealing. It’s also cheaper and has optical stabilisation and the option to shoot 4K video. Yet, if you like the idea of creating your own custom phone and don’t want the hassle of getting an invite to buy a OnePlus 2, it’s really not a bad deal at all.
Read our Motorola Moto X Play review.
- Reviewed on: 23 October 15
- RRP: £359 inc VAT
If you’re looking for a big screen phone, the Moto X Style is a great choice. It’s got great specs across the board and it cheaper than rivals like the Nexus 6P and Galaxy S6 Edge+. We love the screen, stock Android and cameras. However, it really comes stands out when using the Moto Maker to customise it which costs more. With a screen only slightly smaller and a fingerprint scanner the OnePlus 2 is the spanner in the works here at £289 for the 64GB model.
Read our Motorola Moto X Style review.
5. OnePlus 2
- Reviewed on: 9 October 15
- RRP: £239 16GB, £289 64GB
The lack of NFC, a microSD card slot, a removable battery, and quick- and wireless charging means the OnePlus 2 is not a flagship killer. It does have some killer new features though, including USB Type-C, 4G dual-SIM support and some powerful hardware. At £289 (we don’t recommend the 16GB OP2), it’s an unrivalled deal if you can get hold of one.
Read our OnePlus 2 review.
4. LG G3
- Reviewed on: 1 June 15
- RRP: £259 inc. VAT
When the LG G3 came in at under £500 we were impressed. A year on and a phone that packs amazing features including a Quad HD display and a camera with a laser auto focus is one of the bargains of the market. The LG G3 is surprisingly small considering the 5.5in display and we like the more premium design. It’s another winner from LG, and well worth your consideration in 2015.
Read our LG G3 review.
3. LG G4
- Reviewed on: 19 August 15
- RRP: £500 inc VAT
LG has gone down an unexpected route with leather models which we like apart from a couple of colours. The so called ceramic model will be cheaper but feels cheap and plasticky. On the whole, hardware is once again strong – particularly the camera – but not massively different from the G3 and has tough competition. We feel build quality could be better with a metal frame and dimensions going down, not the reverse. This is the flagship to go for if you want a removable battery and expandable storage but it’s a shame to see features like wireless charging dropped. (Remember the G3 is now a steal at under £300 SIM-free and the OnePlus 2 is now here)
Read our LG G4 review.
- Reviewed on: 5 November 14
- RRP: £599 inc VAT
The Galaxy Note 4 is a bit of a handful and is rather expensive but lovers of the Galaxy Note range will likely be enamoured with this edition. It is, on the whole, a great device with plenty of power and features. As long as you’re aware that you’re buying a huge phone and will get the most out of what it offers. Otherwise a smaller and cheaper handset is probably a better choice – the Galaxy S5 or one of its rivals.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 October 15
- RRP: n/a
So, what do we think of the Galaxy Note 5? We’re very fond of just about every aspect of the Galaxy Note 5, from its curved and sleek design to its vibrant display and high-resolution camera. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it thanks to its CPU, GPU and 4GB of RAM and we experienced no lag during our testing. The only bad point is that the Note 5 would sometimes falsely detect the S Pen detaching – and to point out such a minor fault says a lot about the quality of the handset. With this being said, we’re both surprised and sad that the Galaxy Note 5 won’t be heading to UK shores any time soon.