Before becoming a major trend in the smartphone market, phablets - a term used to describe large-screened phones - were generally high-end affairs with premium price tags. In recent times, however, the concept of an affordable phablet isn't nearly as outrageous as it was merely a few years ago.
Back in 2011 when Samsung launched the original Galaxy Note, the launch-day price was one of $299 on a two-year carrier contract. In 2016, you can get a decent phablet for the same price, but this time unlocked and with no carrier confinement.
Note that all of the phablets we've included in this roundup are discussed considering the price of a new unlocked unit with one year of manufacturer warranty in the
LG G Flex 2
The LG G Flex 2 did not achieve its task of wowing the high-end US customer, but this doesn't mean that the manufacturer didn't try its best. The handset comes high-end hardware that includes a Snapdragon 810 chipset paired with 3GB of RAM and a 13MP primary camera with OIS and laser autofocus. However, these are not even the most interesting facts about the LG G Flex 2.
The 5.5-inch AMOLED display runs a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels, is slightly curved, and is actually flexible. As a matter a fact, you can actually flex the handset by pressing on its back. Speaking of the back, the handset is covered with a raising that can heal from minor scratches.
Overall, the LG G Flex 2
is the best affordable unlocked phablet for many people.
Samsung Galaxy J7
Samsung, as the world's largest smartphone maker by unit count, may not be as competitive in the entry-level market, but the Galaxy J7
is still worth a look for Samsung loyalists. However, we do have to note that the design of the Galaxy J7, much like the specs themselves are nothing to drool over, not even when we take into account the retail price of the phablet.
The 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display runs a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, which puts the overall PPI at 267. On the inside beats the heart of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset paired with just 1.5GB of RAM, which should suffice for basic tasks, but don't expect mad multitasking skills. Overall, a good choice for an unlocked phablet that's easy on the budget, but there's also room for improvement.
Asus Zenfone 2 Laser Review
Currently available at $199 unlocked, the 5.5-inch version of the Asus Zenfone 2 Laser is definitely an affordable phablet to consider.
The display runs a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels, meaning that videos and photos will look at their sharpest. Furthermore, the octa-core Snapdragon 615 chipset is paired with 3GB of RAM for extra multitasking chops.
In the imaging department, the Zenfone 2 Laser comes with a 5MP selfie camera and a 13MP primary shooter with laser-assisted autofocus (hence the name of the phone). More details on Asus's affordable unlocked phablet can be found in the full Asus Zenfone 2 Laser review
BLU Vivo XL
Launched this past Friday at a promotional price of $99, the BLU Vivo XL is a great affordable phablet even at its usual retail price of $149. The 5.5-inch runs at a resolution of 720 by 1280 pixels, while the processing power is ensured by an octa-core MediaTek MT-6753 SoC paired with 2GB of RAM.
In the imaging department, the BLU Vivo XL features a 13MP primary camera and a 5MP secondary shooter. Unfortunately, the cameras turned out to be one of the phone's disadvantages during our time with the device, Make sure to read our full BLU Vivo XL review
for a closer look at this value-for-money phablet.
Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5-inch) Review
The 5.5-inch version of the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
, which can be currently had for $249 is another Snapdragon 615-based phablet to consider at this price point. Some of the phone's advantages include an IPS display which runs a resolution of 1080 by 1920 pixels, offering a great viewing experience for any price point, a thin and light construction, as well as an above-average battery life.
Like with most other phablets in this price range, however, the 13MP primary camera and the 8MP secondary shooter on the front of the phone fail to impress. Head on over to our full Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 review
for more details about the phablet.