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Best Phablets 2015

By Simon Thomas on 25th August 2015

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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.

For the uninitiated phablets sit somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet - offering the portability of a smartphone with a larger display that's more suited to multimedia playback and web-browsing. A lot of phablets are designed to be used with a stylus, most famously by Samsung on the Galaxy Note range with their S-Pen interface.

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.

Even Apple’s got on board recently, bringing its first phablet to market with the iPhone 6 Plus and the latest Nexus phone is a phablet too.

We've reviewed almost all the phablets on the market and picked out our favourites. We've picked out the best phablets across all operating systems and the best devices for those on a budget. So let’s get on with the list.

iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus - Best Phablets

Not so long ago we’d have bet against Apple ever releasing a phablet but it’s happened and it’s a sublime first attempt.

Its 5.5 inch 1080 x 1920 display is small by phablet standards, but massive compared to other Apple handsets and while it’s 401 pixel per inch screen isn’t quite the sharpest around its still crystal clear.

It’s also got one of the best displays on the market, with brilliant contrast and colour accuracy. So it’s got the size and it’s got the screen quality but the iPhone 6 Plus has a whole lot more too.

Being an iPhone you won’t be surprised to hear that the build quality is sublime, with a slim 7.1mm thick aluminium shell and stylish curved edges. In fact it’s the best looking phablet on the market.

Its 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation and a dual-LED flash is also one of the best around and of course it’s as slick and powerful as you’d expect from an Apple flagship.

Verdict: The iPhone 6 Plus is small by phablet standards and at £619 it’s also expensive. But it’s powerful, beautiful, has a top flight screen and an equally good camera, which is just enough for it to secure top spot among the best phablets around.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung has more experience with phablets than any other company so it’s no surprise that it’s ahead of the game when it comes to phablet innovation.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is an obvious example of that, with two curved screen edges on its gorgeous 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 display, giving you shortcuts to your favourite contacts and apps, as well as looking far more unique and interesting than a flat screen.

It’s one of the best looking phablets too, not just because of that screen, but also thanks to a metal frame and glass back, giving it premium appeal which only Apple can really match in the world of big screen phones.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is also stupendously powerful, thanks to 4GB of RAM and a 2.1GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 processor.

Add to that a top of the range 16 megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation, a speedy fingerprint scanner and both fast charging and fast wireless charging and this is a phone that’s easy to love.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is big, powerful, innovative and packed full of tech and features. It’s expensive but you get a whole lot for your money and it’s all wrapped up in an incredibly stylish package.

Motorola Moto X Style

With the Moto X Style Motorola has unleashed a 5.7-inch flagship and it’s easily the company’s best phone yet.

A customisable design lets you choose from a plastic, leather or wood back for a unique and high-end look and with a 1440 x 2560 QHD display visuals are extremely impressive.

The Moto X Style is water resistant too, so it can survive a dunk and with a 1.8GHz hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor paired with 3GB of RAM it’s pretty powerful.

There’s also an impressive 21 megapixel camera and fast charging support yet despite packing flagship specs and a great design it slightly undercuts the competition at £359.

Verdict: The Moto X Style has everything you’d expect from a flagship except the price. Its screen is massive and high resolution, making it perfect for media and the phone ticks just about every other box you’d hope for from a high-end handset too.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - Best Phablets

Samsung’s Galaxy Note range has long ruled the phablet roost and though the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 isn’t currently available in the UK the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is still a top tier alternative.

The screen is just 5.7 inches, but it’s rocking a QHD 1440 x 2560 resolution for a stunningly sharp 515 pixels per inch. It’s also a tremendous screen all round, with bright, vivid colours which make it hugely immersive.

The Note 4 is a powerful phone too, with a 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM.

It was also Samsung’s first phablet with a high-end design, complete with a metal frame, though it’s since been improved on by the Galaxy S6 Edge+. The 16 megapixel camera impresses, the S Pen is the best it’s ever been, finally feeling like a real pen, and Samsung’s even packed in a fingerprint scanner, a heart rate monitor and a UV sensor.

Verdict: At upwards of £420 the Galaxy Note 4 is one of the more expensive phablets on the market, but it also has one of the highest resolution screens, blistering specs and an almost unending list of features.

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge - Best Phablets

The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is a very similar phone to the Galaxy Note 4, with just as much power and a similarly great camera. The screen is a crystal clear QHD affair too, but it’s here that the main difference comes in, as not only is it slightly smaller at 5.6 inches, but it’s also curved.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ the curve only runs down one edge of the screen, but it’s bigger than on the S6 Edge+, which also makes it more useful, as you can more easily tap it, using it for context sensitive controls or for an extra row of apps.

It looks good and it’s genuinely useful, but perhaps not quite useful enough to justify the extra cost of the Note Edge.

Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is in most ways the equal of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, making it one of the better phablets around. But at roughly £550 it’s also more expensive and that price hike is hard to justify unless you really want a curved screen.

Google Nexus 6

Google Nexus 6 - Best Phablets

There’s usually only one Nexus phone released each year, so it makes sense for it to be of average size to maximise interest, while the line has also stood out for its low prices.

But the Nexus 6 breaks those trends, as at 5.96 inches it’s unmistakeably a phablet and with a starting price of £479 it’s not cheap.

Get past that though and it’s a fantastically impressive phone, with a super-sharp 1440 x 2560 display giving it a pixel density of 493 pixels per inch, a powerful 2.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor and 3GB of RAM.

It ships with the Android 5.0 Lollipop (upgradeable to Android 5.1), giving it 64-bit support to help take advantage of all that power. As a Nexus device it will also be first in line for future updates, so it’s a good investment

Not only that but it breaks a more negative Nexus trend by including a good 13 megapixel camera and with support for rapid charging as well as wireless Qi charging it’s definitely future-proofed.

Verdict: The Nexus 6 is a strong Galaxy Note 4 competitor, particularly given its lower price, but it’s less feature packed and not quite as good as a result.

 

Microsoft Lumia 640 XL

Microsoft Lumia 640XL - Best Phablets

There aren’t many good cheap phablets, especially Windows Phone ones, but the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL fits the bill. It undercuts the Lumia 1320 at around £160 and it has a smaller but sharper 5.7-inch 1280 x 720 display, for a pixel density of 259 pixels per inch.

It’s got an impressively long lasting 3000 mAh battery too, so you can enjoy media on its big screen all day long and while it’s not the most stylish phablet around it’s solidly built.

Even the camera is pretty great for the price, with a 13 megapixel snapper on the back and a 5 megapixel one on the front. There’s only 8GB of built in storage (though there is a microSD card slot) and it’s not the most powerful phone around, but it’s excellent value for money.

Verdict: The Microsoft Lumia 640 XL isn’t a high end handset, but it is a bargain. It’s a phone which keeps on giving too, as like most Windows Phone handsets it will be upgraded to Windows 10 when available and it comes with a one year subscription to Office 365, which also includes 1TB of OneDrive storage.

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