Best budget big screen phones (2017)


Over the last few years, we've seen many smartphone manufacturers jumping on the "bigger is better" bandwagon. This trend has resulted in more pocket space being occupied by our handsets and has forced us to use both hands while wielding them, but no one can deny the advantages that come with phablets. Bigger screens are great for mobile gaming and video, while also very useful for people with poor eyesight or fat fingers. 

If you're looking to buy a new phablet but are unwilling to sell a kidney for a Google Pixel XL or an iPhone 7 Plus, you're in luck – the current market is full of many cheaper alternatives. Finding an affordable big screen handset that is also above average in terms of quality, however, can be a daunting task, so our team has compiled a list of large mid-rangers that are sure to deliver. All of them are currently going for less than $400 and they all sport a display size of at least 5.5 inches. Without further ado, let's dig in!

 Alcatel Idol 4S

(Amazon: $349.99) | Review


Display5.5 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 652 CPU, Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 512 GB
CameraMain: 16 MP, Dual LED flash, 4K video; Front: 8 MP, LED flash
Battery3000 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Extremely high pixel density screen (534 ppi)
  • Lightweight and thin phone
  • Great mid-range processor
  • Solid battery life and fast recharge times
  • Bundled VR headset and JBL earbuds are nice additions

Cons

  • One of our pricier picks
  • Hit-and-miss fingerprint scanner
  • Boom key tries to do way too much

The Alcatel Idol 4S is a great mid-range phone. Albeit being one of our more expensive picks, the handset sports an excellent Quad-HD display, a solid Snapdragon 652 processor and 3 Gigs of RAM, which are supported by a 3000 mAh battery that endured 7 hours of screen-on time in our custom tests. Camera-wise, the 16 MP main snapper is consistent enough and can also record videos in 4K, while the front 8 MP selfie cam has its very own LED flash. Other perks include a fingerprint scanner and a "Boom" key - a multi-purpose interface that calls upon several software features. To top things off, Alcatel adds a VR headset and JBL earbuds to the bundle.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)

(Amazon: $329.45) | Review


Display6 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 652 CPU, Adreno 510 GPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 128 GB
CameraMain: 13 MP, Dual LED flash, Optical image stabilization, 4K video; Front: 8 MP
Battery4000 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Massive screen
  • Lightweight and thin phone
  • Great mid-range processor
  • Big battery
  • Dual SIM card support

Cons

  • Screen colors could be more natural
  • TouchWiz needs to be more fluid
  • Comes with Android 5.1, and not 6

The Galaxy A9 is an enormous, yet elegant smartphone. Overall, it has no glaring weaknesses, which makes it an excellent choice for the price it currently goes for. What sets the A9 apart from the rest of the bunch is its enormous 6 inch Super AMOLED display, coupled with a 4000 mAh battery that lasted 10 hours and 10 minutes on our tests. Perhaps the only downside of the phone is that it ships with the older Android 5.1.

Asus Zenfone Zoom

(Amazon: $229.99) | Review


Display5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareIntel Atom Z3580 CPU, PowerVR G6430 GPU, 4 GB RAM, 64/128 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 64 GB
CameraMain: 13 MP, Dual-color Real Tone flash, Optical image stabilization, 3x Optical zoom, Laser Autofocus; Front: 5 MP
Battery3000 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • 3x optical zoom gets us closer to a shot
  • Rich set of shooting modes & controls
  • 4 GB of RAM is rather generous
  • Dual SIM card support
  • One of our cheaper selections

Cons

  • No 4K UHD video recording option
  • Video stabilization is limited to 720p mode
  • Lack of continuous auto-focus
  • Washed out looking screen
  • Average battery life

If you're looking for an affordable phone with a big display that can also take good pictures, then the Zenfone Zoom from Asus will certainly not disappoint. Yes, it is an older model from 2015, and the lack of 4K video recording on this camera-centric handset can raise eyebrows, but the Zenfone Zoom definitely has some selling points. It is not too pricey at $230, and few phones can give you the convenience of 3x optical zoom, which allows you to get closer to a particular shot without sacrificing image detail.

Sony Xperia XA Ultra

(Best Buy: $329.99; Amazon: $299.99) | Review


Display6.0 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareMediaTek Helio P10 MT6755 CPU, Mali-T860 MP2 GPU, 3 GB RAM, 16 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 200 GB
CameraMain: 21.5 MP, LED flash; Front: 16 MP LED flash, Optical image stabilization
Battery2700 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Massive, bright screen with super thin side bezels
  • Very good main camera
  • Cheaper than Samsung Galaxy A9
  • Support for all major US carriers' LTE networks

Cons

  • No 4K UHD video recording option
  • Inferior battery life compared to Samsung Galaxy A9
  • Overly cold display with average color fidelity
  • Selfie camera is fancy, but inconsistent

If you're really keen on acquiring a 6 inch monstrosity, the Sony Xperia XA Ultra should certainly be on your shortlist. Compared to the Galaxy A9, this Sony model hosts an inferior battery and a screen that has an extremely cold color temperature. On the upside, the display is brighter than the one on the Samsung, and the set of cameras that the XA Ultra sports are superior to what the A9 offers. An additional minor advantage here is that the XA Ultra is the slightly cheaper 6-incher. 

Honor 6X

(Price (US) $249.99; Amazon: $249.99) | Review


Display5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareHiSilicon Kirin 655 CPU, Mali-T830 MP2 GPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 128 GB
CameraMain: 12 MP + 2 MP Dual camera, LED flash; Front: 8 MP
   Battery 3340 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Dual camera is gimmicky, but fun
  • Surprisingly swift performance
  • Great battery life
  • Fast, accurate fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • Only runs EMUI 4.1 (for now)

The Honor 6X is simply awesome. The phone is affordable (you can save an additional $50 if you catch a Honor flash sale) but it doesn't feel cheap. It won't let you down in any compartment: the screen is big, bright and with nice colors, the handset feels good in your hand, performance is snappy and battery life is also excellent (almost as good as the Galaxy A9). It does have a dual camera, but don't expect it to shoot photos the same way the iPhone 7 Plus does. Still, we can't label the snapper as unsatisfactory, because you can get plenty of usage from it if you keep its limitations in mind. The only thing that slightly bothers us is that the 6X is a rather new device and it should have come with the Nougat-based EMUI 5.0, instead of the EMUI 4.1 it currently runs. Still, the new interface is expected to come to this model by the second half of the year.

Moto Z Droid

(Verizon: $624.00; Amazon: $429.98) | Review


Display5.5 inches, 1440 x 2560 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 4 GB RAM, 64 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 2000 GB
CameraMain: 13, Dual LED flash, Optical image stabilization, Laser Autofocus, 4K video ; Front: 5 MP, Flash
Battery2600 mAh, removable

Pros

  • Quad-HD display with extremely high pixel density
  • Outstanding performance
  • Unbelievably thin and light 
  • Most successful modular phone to date
  • Small dimensions (6.04 x 2.96 x 0.20 inches) 
  • Quick cameras help capture the shot when you need it
  • Fingerprint scanner 
  • Fast charge times

Cons

  • The most expensive phone in this selection
  • Moto Mods (modular components) are also pricey
  • Small battery due to the thin design
  • No headphone jack

We're venturing into flagship territory with the Moto Z Droid, but before you pick up the pitchforks in anger, let us just mention that $430 on Amazon is a great deal for this particular phablet (if you like shopping on ebay, you can currently buy the phone for around $350). Moto Z Droid debuted in the U.S. as a Verizon exclusive, but you can also grab an unlocked version that will work with other carriers. Price aside, the handset is nothing short of impressive - it possessess a 5.5" Quad-HD AMOLED display with a pixel density of 535 ppi. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor and 4 Gigs of RAM ensure a brisk and responsive performance, while the feature-rich 13 MP main camera can produce some fantastic photos. The Z Droid is also modular, and its various Moto Mods can truly make you stand out (if you can afford them). Another remarkable trait of the phone is that it's extraordinarily thin, but this design has forced the manufacturer to cram in a smaller battery and exclude the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Moto G4

(Amazon: $199.99; Moto G4 Plus: $229.00) | Review


Display5.5 inches, 1080 x 1920 pixels
HardwareQualcomm Snapdragon 617 CPU, Adreno 405 GPU, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage + microSD expansion slot up to 128 GB
CameraMain: 13 MP, Dual LED flash; Front: 5 MP
Battery3000 mAh, non-removable

Pros

  • The most affordable phablet of the bunch
  • Battery life sufficient to get through a heavy day
  • Quality, affordable upgrades over the base mode
  • Amazing cross-carrier support

Cons

  • Snapdragon 617 can struggle under load
  • Cameras are nothing to write home about

If you're looking for a really inexpensive big screen handset, then the Moto G4 is the perfect fit for you. The most basic version of the device is currently being sold for $199.99, and upgrades to 32 GB storage or the 16 GB version of the Moto G4 Plus will only cost you an extra $30. Albeit cheap, the G4 is packed with a large screen, moderately fast processor, and a sufficient amount of RAM to run relatively smoothly. If that ain't a bargain, we don't know what is.

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10 Comments

1. Duncdawg26

Posts: 174; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

Can you guys do another article on actual budget phones? I'm really looking for back up phones I can buy in case my daily driver craps out. $400 ≠ budget. Try $100-$200

2. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Big phone on a budget, probably the ZTE max pro, it's under $200 and isn't suppose to be so bad. But you have to be on metro pcs or T-mobile to use it though. You best bet at a budget phone is a 2-3 year old flagship, used or new doesn't matter. The Note 4 is what I would get.

5. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

yeah right... just delete all those list, and write Redmi Note 3 pro and Mi Max... nothing beat it for it's SD650/SD652 and huge battery for under $200

6. Duncdawg26

Posts: 174; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

Can you get RN 3 pro in the states? And I don't think it has the right frequencies...?

9. sipha

Posts: 440; Member since: May 12, 2012

You can and it does!!

3. tangbunna

Posts: 480; Member since: Sep 29, 2016

the one who wrote this article may just wake up from empty pocket at casino.

4. pifon

Posts: 76; Member since: Jun 15, 2013

looks more like and advertisement that actual budget big screen phones.

7. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Nexus 6p =p

8. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

6p was underrated and lived in the shadows of Pixel.

10. Todyo

Posts: 5; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

Where are the budget phones? Just mention somewere its just US targeted, please.

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