The best high-end phablets you can buy right now (May 2016)


You've decided to get a large-screened smartphone, so you could enjoy video better, have a much more comfortable, large keyboard, and enjoy the benefits of a bigger battery? Truth is, it's not that weird – the fact that manufacturers produce smartphones with displays of 5.2 inches and above is a clear indicator that size matters to the consumers. And, naturally, there are a lot of handsets in the phablet (above 5.5 inches) category. So much so that you may get a bit dizzy if this is the first time you are dipping your toes in the market.

Well, fear not, as we compiled lists of the best high-end and best midrange phablets for you to consider. In this article, we will be checking out all the top dogs. If you are looking to buy a more affordable device, check out the midrangers here!

Samsung Galaxy Note 5



Pros

  • Skinnier and lighter than ever
  • Enhanced S Pen features
  • Captures amazing photos and videos with its camera
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Fast charging

Cons

  • No removable battery, microSD card slot, & IR blaster
  • Phone feels slippery & it’s a fingerprint magnet
  • Sharp sounding internal speaker


Many powerusers out there call Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 the best large-screen smartphone you can buy right now, and for good reason. On the outside, we've got a beautiful handset, covered in metal and glass, and offered in a variety of shiny colors. On the inside, we have Samsung's Exynos 7420 SoC (arguably the best processor on a 2015 Android smartphone) and 4 GB of RAM. The large, 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 (QHD) for a pixel-per-inch density of 518 pixels, and is certainly among the best screens you can find on a smartphone. The camera on the Note 5 is the old 16 MP model, instead of the new 12 MP one with the larger pixels, which can be found on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge handsets. This is not a bad thing — the Note 5's snapper is still incredibly good, and some may prefer it over the new, yellow-casting, 4:3 ratio 12 MP sensor. And, of course, to top it all off, we have the proprietary S Pen – a stylus with many functions, which are yet to be mimicked by any competing smartphone.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus



Pros

  • 3D Touch adds a new dimension to interacting with a smartphone
  • Great battery life
  • Great all-around performer with its camera
  • Incredible performance
  • Quality loudspeaker

Cons

  • Heavy weight
  • Base storage option is still 16GB
  • iOS 9 doesn’t have side-by-side multi-tasking on the 6s Plus


If you love iOS and want a large screened smartphone, there's basically nowhere else to go but Apple's iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6s Plus. The latter is the newest model, complete with the pressure-sensitive 3D Touch screen, the upgraded 12 MP camera, the latest and greatest A9 processor, and 2 gigabytes of RAM – something that can only be found on the 6s generation of iPhones. Apple doesn't play the "Highest resolution possible!" game and keeps the Plus' screen to a 1080 x 1920 pixels. This results in a ppi density of 401, which is still incredibly crisp. Additionally, Apple has tweaked the iOS build for the Plus units to act a bit more like a tablet, making use of the larger, 5.5-inch display by moving around app layouts to look a bit more like they do on the iPads.

Huawei P9 Plus




Huawei recently released its own heavy-hitters in the form of the P9 and P9 Plus. The two smartphones' most notable feature is the dual camera on the back – two 12 MP sensors, built in partnership with Leica, work in synchronicity to deliver better performance in low-light or high contrast situations. The P9 Plus features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution, and pressure sensitivity, which is backed up by features provided by the EMUI 4.1 skin, built on top of Android 6 Marshmallow. On the inside, the P9 Plus is powered by Huawei's very own octa-core Kirin 955 SoC, clocked at 2.5 GHz, and coupled with 4 GB of RAM.

Huawei Mate 8



Pros

  • Elegant all-metal design
  • Slim & lightweight for its size
  • Better-than-average battery life
  • Tons of features with EMUI 4.0

Cons

  • Display color balance is off
  • Disorganized user interface
  • Weak internal speaker
  • Greenish hues with indoor snapshots


Let's go even bigger! In December 2015, Huawei released its Mate 8 phablet – a 6-inch behemoth of a smartphone. It doesn't have any of the flashy features of the P9 line, such as a dual camera or a pressure-sensitive display, but the Mate 8 is still a pretty capable device in its own right. It has the slightly less powerful octa-core Kirin 950, clocked at 2.3 GHz, and still comes with 4 GB of RAM. Its software is Huawei's EMUI 4, built on top of Android 6 Marshmallow. The screen has a 1080 x 1920 pixel resolution stretched across its 6-inch diagonal, which makes for a pixel-per-inch density of 367 – not a crazy number, but don't let that fool you, it's still very crisp.

Google Nexus 6P



Pros

  • Original looking design
  • Stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow experience
  • Highly adaptable camera
  • Strong volume out of its dual front-firing speakers
  • Really quick recharge time

Cons

  • Taller & wider than some other similarly sized phones
  • Uninspiring battery life
  • Weak maximum brightness makes it tough to see outdoors
  • Overblown, inaccurate colors with the display
  • Slower focus & shakiness with its video capture


We've checked out some heavily-skinned Android smartphones, but let's not forget that Google has a phablet of its own, running a snappy clean, vanilla build of the latest Android OS available. The Nexus 6P was a first in many things – the first Nexus to come with an all-metal build, the first one with a fingerprint scanner, and the fist one to actually have a good camera (the latter two are also true for the smaller Nexus 5X). It's a Huawei-made handset, with a 5.7-inch display, a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution, Qualcomm's octa-core Snapdragon 810, clocked at 2 GHz, and 3 GB of RAM. If you want a big display and stock Android – this is the best you can do right now.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium



Pros

  • Bright display, easy to read under sunlight
  • Dust- and water-resistant (IP68)
  • Outstanding battery life

Cons

  • Camera could be better
  • Weak speakers that lack in depth
  • Bulky


OK, we've covered the vanilla Android, but truth is that Sony's own user interface acts a lot like stock Android, complete with snappy response and Material Design animations. Granted, Sony does pre-install a lot of bloat apps on its devices, those act more as visual clutter in the app drawer, not as a performance-hindering obstacle. And, of course, Sony's Xperia Z5 Premium is the world's first smartphone with a 4K display. What does this mean? It means it's capable of producing images with a resolution of 2160 x 3840 pixels. Stretched across its 5.5-inch display, this results in an insane pixel density of 801 ppi! But don't be fooled into thinking that the phone runs in 4K resolution at all times. When you are browsing the web, or doing anything outside of watching pictures and video, the handset actually renders in 1080 x 1920 pixels, and upscales the image to fit the 4K screen. Only when you open the proprietary Xperia Album and Videos apps, the display will render an image in its full 2160 x 2840 glory. Yes, that's kind of a downer, but hey – the processor and battery wouldn't be able to handle 4K at all times.

On the specs side, the Z5 Premium is just your regular Xperia Z5 – a Snapdragon 810, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of expandable storage, a 23 MP main camera with the super-fast Hybrid AF, and a 5 MP selfie cam.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL



Pros

  • Big display with reasonably accurate colors
  • Elaborate camera that handles most scenarios reliably
  • Features like iris scanner security and Continuum are quite advanced, although very niche at the moment

Cons

  • Mediocre design and build quality
  • Very low maximum brightness for the display
  • Frustrating user experience that's riddled with bottlenecks


Microsoft's flagship phablet has a notable feature of its own – connect it to a proprietary "Display Dock", hooked up to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor setup, and you can use the smartphone as a basic PC. In this mode, it can run all the Office apps for Windows 10, making you a wiz at editing all your documents on the go. As a smartphone, the Lumia 950 XL is no slouch – a 2 GHz, octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 and 3 GB of RAM keep things going, it's got a 20 MP camera with a huge F1.9 aperture, and its 5.7-inch display has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 (515 ppi). Yes, Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system for smartphones is a bit divisive — some love it, some hate it — but needless to say, if you are in the first group of people, there's not a much better phablet you can get right now than the Lumia 950 XL.

LG V10



Pros

  • Stainless steel side bars are cool
  • Great still image quality
  • Very good system performance
  • 64 GB standard capacity is generous
  • Super-quick charging, replaceable battery

Cons

  • Bland body material and color options
  • Inaccurate display colors
  • The user experience needs more work
  • Unsatisfying video recording quality
  • Modest battery life


A surprise entry by LG from late last year, the V10 is notable for a few things. It has that unique ticker screen – a secondary display on its "forehead", which is reserved for notifications and is always on; a dual camera setup on its front – you can choose between a normal and a wide-angle sensor to cover all your selfie, groufie, or belfie needs (we are not making those words into a thing, we promise); and a very elaborate manual mode for video shooting, which even makes use of three directional microphones, for better audio capture control.

The V10 is a true phablet in its own right, with a 5.7-inch display with a 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution (515 ppi), a hexa-core, 1.8 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC, and 4 GB of RAM. The handset runs pretty smoothly, looks very unique, and has won its own fair share of fans, who are eagerly awaiting for a possible successor to be announced later this year (though, we've so far heard no rumors for such plans).

Meizu PRO 5



Pros

  • Nice design for the price point
  • Very good system performance
  • Convincing daytime and indoor photography
  • Satisfying battery life

Cons

  • Initial setup woes may confuse novice users
  • Inaccurate display colors
  • The fingerprint scanner is not always so smart
  • Low-light photography is problematic


Let's get exotic! Meizu hails from the Far East, but the company's handsets are pretty easy to snag through various international retailers (just make sure to check if it supports your carrier's bands). The company's signature features are slim side bezels, and no "back" or "recent apps" buttons on the front – all operation is done through the single home button / fingerprint scanner, which reads tap gestures. The PRO 5 is a pretty capable handset, powered by Samsung's octa-core Exynos 7420 SoC (the same chip that is inside the Note 5 / Galaxy S6), clocked at 2.1 GHz, and 4 GB of RAM. It runs on Meizu's Flyme — a heavy skin, built on top of Android 5 Lollipop — which, in all honesty, can be an acquired taste if one dedicates enough time to the device.


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55 Comments

56. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

I like my Z5 Premium. But I really do not think 5.5 inch screen is a phablet they should be 6 or more.

52. alierna

Posts: 15; Member since: Apr 06, 2016

950Xl is the best. microsoft has completed the OS and now i love every second of using it. i sometimes forget that i have an iphone 6. very classy fast OS. it's eye catching and everyone sees it in your hand wants to know what it is. camera is amazing. i have compared it with every phone that i could put my hands on. it's just unbeatable. new apps come everyday and old apps are getting universal. so there is nothing else to complain. microsoft is pushing fixing updates every month. and i can sure you even last one was not necessary. it is fast and bugless.

51. Moose

Posts: 418; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

I had a Meizu Pro 5 for a few months and I did not notice any of the negatives listed in this post. (I didn't use the camera). I thought it was a great phone with fantastic battery life. I only sold it because I felt that it was a bit large for me at 5.7 inches and 168 grams. I wanted to try a 5.2 inch phone instead. But if I wanted a 5.7 inch phone, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another Meizu Pro 5. They are a bargain at the moment at around $400 US dollars.

49. brasstax

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 16, 2014

So the nexus 6p is taller and wider than other phones with similar screen size & listed as a con. Fair enough I guess. How come the same yardstick is not applied to the iPhone 6s plus? With a 5.5 inch screen, it's taller and wider than many android 5.7 and even a few 6 inch phones. Only the 200g weight is listed as a con, which unless one is a 90 pound weakling,shouldn't matter. It's exactly this kind of inconsistent & seemingly glaring disparity in assessment that invites criticisms of bias.

46. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Why is non-removable battery, lack of Microsd expansion slot and lack of IR blaster not a con for iPhone 6s+ as well?

47. kiko007

Posts: 7525; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Because older Note models had those features, but Samsung took them away with the Note 5. iPhones have never offered any of said features, so why reprimand them for it now? It's all about perspective.

55. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This wasn't a comparison of the new Note to older ones, it was a comparison of current phablets. What's a con for one is a con for all.

42. darkkjedii

Posts: 31809; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Still passed about the IR blaster, but oh well.

31. Kumar123 unregistered

iPhone 6s plus all the way, the best phablet you can buy. Nexus 6p is the second best.

34. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Lol...

38. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's just a dot in the Note 5's rear view mirror.

40. darkkjedii

Posts: 31809; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Closet than a dot, but it's back quite a ways.

43. darkkjedii

Posts: 31809; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Closer.

45. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I'm just trolling back at the troll.

39. darkkjedii

Posts: 31809; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Dude, I gotta strongly disagree. I own it and the Note 5, and while I can't say there's no comparison, I can say without a doubt...the Note is a lot better. The iPhone has its advantages, like touch the status bar to hop back up on a page, splitting notifications from quick settings (preference), but the Note wins handily.

50. ColinW

Posts: 413; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

No iPhone has come near being the best phabllet. The oversized 6 plus and 6s plus are behind in design, features and use for a larger screened phone.

22. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

"Sharp sounding internal speaker" is a con for the note 5? That's ridiculous...

37. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

because that phone is just too perfect, they need to add some nitpicky con or the cons will be empty, lol while "Phone feels slippery & it’s a fingerprint magnet" is too subjective, lots of Galaxy user like glassback, and they wont care about that

19. Gadgety

Posts: 173; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

They're all too small to be considered phablets in 2016.

15. Totse2k15

Posts: 479; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

My Note 4 pwn all of these [s]hit. Why? 5.7" AMOLED Quad HD 515 PPI Android Marshmallow Fingerprint, UV, Heart Rate Sensors 16 Megapixels/4K Video Recording 3220 mAh IR Blaster 32GB + SD Card Slot Removable Battery + Fast Charging Stylus Pen Etc. etc. etc.

18. kiko007

Posts: 7525; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Let's see how many f**ks ppl give. The count is zero so far...yay!!!!

21. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

Much better than iToy6s

30. Kumar123 unregistered

You are a proven liar. No credibility.

41. darkkjedii

Posts: 31809; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Yes he is Kumar. He's trash, why come to the site to lie?

48. 444777

Posts: 399; Member since: May 02, 2016

And you come here to troll and poke and prod other users who dislikes Apple. You even admitted that on the other iPhone article, that you are a troll and you come to the techsite to cause flamewar. And wind people up by trolling them.

23. iApologistsAreRetards

Posts: 37; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

You sound like an angry 4 year old. What's a matter mommy didn't buy you the iToy you wanted?

32. Kumar123 unregistered

Your username proves how much of a joke you are.

36. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Sorry, but I had the Note 4, and now the Note 5. The 4 is sitting in a drawer, and it will only come out if I need a fill in if something happens to my Note 5.

12. Phonedingo

Posts: 399; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

The V10 is probably the best camcorder on the market.

14. Furbal unregistered

They better not screw up the v10 follow up

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