Best Phablets - Which should you buy?


Best Phablets

UPDATED: 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've reviewed all the phablets on the market and picked out our favourites. We've picked out the best Android phablets, Windows phablets and the best devices for those on a budget. So lets get on with the list.


1. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung kick-started the phablet revolution with the original Galaxy Note and it's a testament to the Korean company that they still remain the kingpins when it comes to phablets thanks to the Galaxy Note 3.


Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 has cutting-edge power, a stunning 5.7 inch full HD display and offers a vastly improved S-Pen experience. We love the improved grip the new faux-leather back cover provides and the larger screen really comes into its own when using the S-Pen stylus.


The power of the Galaxy Note 3 is currently unrivalled by any other Android devices, but you should still get a good days battery life out of the device.  It's also super-slim, at just 8.2mm and is the lightest phablet in the world (168g). We think that its 5.7 inch form-factor is the ideal size for a phablet.


Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Review here


Verdict: Many rivals have tried to take away Samsung's throne, but the Galaxy Note 3 remains the best phablet on the market today. It might be expensive, but it's worth every penny of its £600 price.

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2. Sony Xperia Z Ultra

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

The Sony Xperia Z Ultra is the only tablet in our list that is waterproof, and dust-proofing is also thrown in for good measure. It's also the largest tablet with a 6.4 inch display which is both its strength and Achilles heel.


The huge full 1080p display offers a multimedia experience unmatched by other phablets in this list. The Triluminous Mobile Bravia display delivers  clean, crisp pictures with accurate colour reproduction. If your looking for a device to play movies or games then look no further.


Sony's phablet is incredibly thin, at just 6.5mm, and very light for its size (212g). But the sheer size of the device itself limits its portability, it's not going to fit into jeans pockets and it's looks a bit silly when held to your eat to make calls. However, it's all-glass design is stunning and its the best looking phablet out there.


Read our Sony Xperia Z Ultra Review


Verdict: As a multimedia device that can also make calls the Xperia Z Ultra can't be beaten, but it doesn't come cheap at £600 and its 6.4 inch form-factor isn't pocket friendly. But it's a real looker.

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3. Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520

Until recently those looking to buy a phablet really only had Android devices to consider. However, Nokia have now entered the market with its Windows-powered Lumia 1520. Those looking for a high-end Windows phablet will love the Lumia 1520.


It's got a 6 inch 1080p IPS display and a quad-core processor - both firsts for a Windows Phone 8 device. You can even use the touch-screen with gloves on thanks to Nokia's 'Super Sensitive' technology. We also have to mention its stunning 20 mega-pixel camera with dual-LED flash and optical-image-stabilisation. 


The Windows platform itself is great for business users and is widely acknowledged to be the most intuitive mobile operating system. However, you don't get access to as many applications as you do on the Android or iOS platforms the phablet is also a little heavier (209g) than we might have hoped.


When the Lumia 1520 lands in the UK before the of the year it'll set you back around £500.

Read our Nokia Lumia 1520 Review here


Verdict: A worthy advisory to high-end Android phablets and Windows Phone fans will love it. However, it's a little bulkier than we might have hoped and some of your favourite apps might be missing from the Windows Marketplace.

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4. HTC One Max

HTC One Max

The HTC One Max is a a nice size with its 5.9 inch 1080p touch-screen being small enough to fit in your pocket and large enough to offer excellent multimedia playback and web-browsing. You also get the excellent HTC Sense interface and great music playback from the BoomSound speakers on front of the device.


HTC's first phablet is also very powerful thanks to its octa-core processor and 2GB of RAM, while it also includes HTC's excellent Ultrapixel camera. As you'd expect it supports 4G and comes with either 16 or 32GB of RAM (expandable using microSD cards).


The area where the HTC fails to compete is with its weight and bulk. It's the thickest of any of the phablets featured in our list (at 10.29mm) and it's also pretty heavy (217g). It's fingerprint sensor is also a letdown and it may have been better if the feature was omitted.


Read our HTC One Max Review


Verdict: A power-packed Android phablet with a great 5.9 inch 1080p display. However, it's a bulky device and its fingerprint sensor isn't all it should be. It delivers great sound thanks to its BoomSound speakers, but fails to stand up to thr Note 3 and Xperia Z Ultra overall.

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5. Nokia Lumia 1320

The Nokia Lumia 1320 is a more affordable version of the Lumia 1520 and should be priced at around £300 when it lands in the UK before the end of 2013. That automatically warrants attention because there arn't many phablets on the market for those on a stricter budget.


You still get all the benefits and drawbacks of the Windows Phone platform, but the specification of the Lumia 1320 is compromised to lower the cost. It's 6 inch display runs at a 1280*720 pixel resolution (244ppi) and it's powered by a 1.7 dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM.


Thankfully, you still get 4G connectivity and the Lumia 1320 comes pre-loaded with the very latest version of the Windows platform. We think it's the best mid-range phablet on the market today, although it's pretty bulky (9.79mm and 220g) and it doesn't have a fullHD display.

Read our Nokia Lumia 1320 Review


Verdict: A great mid-range phablet with 4G support. It doesn't have a full HD display and it's a pretty hefty device, but it's the best phablet for those on a budget - assuming you can get on with the Windows platform.

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6. Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3

The Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is a more affordable and larger alternative to the Galaxy Note 3. It's also significantly cheaper and can be picked up for around £300 SIM-free.


For your money you get a 4G-Ready phablet with a giant 6.3 inch 720p display (237ppi). It's powered by a dual-core 1.7 GHz processor and has 1.5GB of RAM and it has excellent battery life. Overall, it's got a very decent specification but the sheer size of the 6.3 inch display doesn't make it very portable.


Read our Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 Review


Verdict: A mid-range Android phablet that has a decent specification, but its 6.3 inch display is a little large to be portable and its multimedia potential is limited by the 720p resolution - and unfortunately it's always going to be compared to the superior Galaxy Note 3.

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Other Noticeable Mentions

  • LG Optimus G Pro - A high-end phablet with a 5.5 inch display and a great specification. However, it doesn't have anything to stand out from the crowd- but it's still worth considering.
  • Huawei Ascend Mate - Mid-range 6.1 inch Android phablet with a decent specification that's let down somewhat by laggy performance and a bland user-interface.

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By Simon Thomas on 15th November, 2013

Tags: Buyers Guides

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