Best Big Phone 2021: Phablets At Large



Phones used to be small – the first iPhone only had a 3.5in display, which today looks comically tiny. 2020’s iPhone 12 Pro Max has a whopping 6.7in display and it isn’t the only phone with a sizeable screen. In fact, Apple was relatively late to the big phone party.

You may have heard the term ‘phablet’, which is a portmanteau of ‘phone’ and ‘tablet’. If you’re anything like us, you might also prefer to use a large-screened phone all the time instead of having to resort to a tablet for specific situations.

Best big phone 2021

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Best overall

Screen size: 6.8inAspect ratio: 20:9

Display-wise the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers what the S20 series could not; the ability to enjoy both the phone’s maximum WQHD+ resolution and its adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, simultaneously.

What’s more – for the first time on a Galaxy S device – the Ultra’s expansive 6.8in panel also totes S-pen stylus support, filling the productivity niche of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra somewhat; provided you’re willing to fork out for a standalone S Pen (or the Bluetooth-capable S Pen Pro) and a compatible case for storage.

After 2020’s disappointing Galaxy S20 Ultra, the S21 Ultra delivers everything you could want from an Android flagship – admittedly at a price that only a few can afford, but with traits like a camera setup that stands unrivalled and some of the best performance out there, it’s hard to knock it.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra – Ideal for productivity

Screen size: 6.9inAspect ratio: 19.3:9

While it’s not quite Huawei Mate 20 X big, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is still one of the biggest devices on the market – certainly the biggest-screened phone we tested in 2020.

Its display also happens to be among the best there is, with its crisp WQHD+ resolution and adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (even if they can’t operate in tandem); not to mention superb colours, viewing angles and overall brightness.

It’s also a great surface to show off the phone’s integrated S Pen stylus, which also boasts the lowest latency yet at just 9ms.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

3. iPhone 12 Pro Max – Superb all-rounder

Screen size: 6.7inAspect ratio: 19.5:9

Technically, the iPhone 12 Pro Max boasts the highest resolution display ever on an iPhone (even if this unique claim to fame amounts to the same, 458 pixels per inch as its last two predecessors – which sported smaller screens).

Much like 2020’s Sony Xperia 1 II, Apple chose to ensure the fundamentals of the 12 Pro Max’s Super Retina XDR OLED panel were rock solid before moving onto adding in high refresh rate visuals.

On the one hand, there isn’t a lot to complain about with the similarly-specced screen used by the 11 Pro Max, so the fact that the panel is even larger (and flatter) here, without a drop in pixel density, can only be a good thing for media lovers and mobile gamers.

On the other, we would have loved to have seen Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion technology for the first time on an iPhone, but that clearly wasn’t meant to be this generation.

Read our full iPhone 12 Pro Max review

4. Oppo Find X3 Pro – Superb camera

Screen size: 6.7inAspect ratio: 20:9

Oppo’s 2021 flagship doesn’t only possess a big screen but a crisp one too. The Find X3 Pro is one of the few devices to pair a 120Hz refresh rate with a 1440p resolution and AMOLED technology, resulting in super-sharp and responsive visuals that are hard to beat.

HDR10+ support and 10-bit colour support don’t go amiss either.

5. Xiaomi Mi 11 – Best value

Screen size: 6.81inAspect ratio: 20:9

The first member of Xiaomi’s expanding Mi 11 lineup comes out swinging with top-tier performance – powered by a Snapdragon 888 processor – and a capable 108Mp main camera.

Other highlights include stereo speakers, 50W fast charging, and, of course, an expansive 6.81in WQHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display that’s hard to contend with.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 review

6. Vivo X60 Pro – Best design

Screen size: 6.56inAspect ratio: 19.8:9

So long as you’re not after a top-tier phone that packs in every feature possible – such as wireless charging – then the Snapdragon 870-powered Vivo X60 Pro is a beautifully crafted handset with a great design and a great camera, worth considering.

The gimbal stabilisation on the phone’s main camera makes it ideal for those who shoot a lot of video, while the 120Hz curved AMOLED display is a joy to view content on too – even if it is only Full HD+ resolution.

Anyone ordering outside of Europe should probably stay away from Funtouch OS, however, as the experience is a little inelegant.

Read our full Vivo X60 Pro review

7. ZTE Axon 30 Ultra – Great value

Screen size: 6.67inAspect ratio: 20:9

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra came out of nowhere to be one of our favourite Android flagships so far this year.

The highlight is the rear camera setup, with delivers three 64Mp lenses (regular, ultrawide and 2x zoom) along with an 8Mp 5x periscopic lens – a setup no other phone at this price can really match.

Specs are strong elsewhere too, with a Snapdragon 888, 144Hz AMOLED display (so, great for gaming), and 65W charging for the 4600mAh battery.

You’ll have to live without wireless charging or a water-resistance rating, and make do with the only-OK MyOS software, but if you can, the Axon 30 Ultra delivers an awful lot of performance per pound.

Read our full ZTE Axon 30 Ultra review

8. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro – Most affordable

Screen size: 6.67inAspect ratio: 20:9

A great affordable entry with an expansive 6.67in AMOLED display – the Redmi Note 10 Pro demonstrates great value from Xiaomi.

What it offers up – in terms of stellar battery life, superb performance and 120Hz high refresh rate-viewing – is made all the more impressive by the use of OLED tech and a low price tag.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review

9. OnePlus 8 Pro – Great performance

Screen size: 6.78inAspect ratio: 20:9

The OnePlus 8 Pro pushed the screen size even larger than its predecessor and jumped to 120Hz in the refresh rate department. It’s still AMOLED, with Quad HD+ resolution and support for HDR10+.

There are plenty of other excellent features and specs here, all at a lower price compared to key rivals, like a powerful Snapdragon 865 chip, IP-certified water resistance, one of OnePlus’ best camera setups yet and even wireless charging.

Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review

10. Samsung Galaxy S21+ – Great for multimedia

Screen size: 6.7inAspect ratio: 20:9

There’s no denying that the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is both an exceptional flagship and one of the most well-rounded phones of the year so far, but ironically it stands in the shadow of its smaller sibling, the standard Galaxy S21.

If you prefer the larger 6.7in display that the S21+ offers up, you’ll also enjoy its HDR10+ visuals and, most exciting of all, a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Performance is also top-notch, meaning it’s great for enjoying media and gaming, there’s 5G onboard and 25W fast charging means you can refill the phone’s 4800mAh battery in a little over an hour.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review

Your buying guide to the best big-screened phone for you
Size matters

Most phones with displays over 5.5in (measured corner to corner) and sporting an aspect ratio of 16:9 are considered phablets, but in recent times phones have got taller and narrower, allowing displays to get bigger without the phones feeling huge. Most of the phones in this chart have these taller aspect ratios.

Such a quality is the reason this roundup includes both the screen sizes and the aspect ratios of these devices; so you have a better idea of whether a phone is generally big or just tall.

Not all phones with large screens are considered ‘big’ – despite its 6.2in display, we wouldn’t consider the regular Galaxy S21 to be a phablet, because its tiny bezels and narrow aspect ratio mean it’s relatively compact in-hand.

Samsung, Huawei, LG and others all offer phones that require two-handed use most of the time as a result of their displays, but to their credit, big phones don’t just offer a better viewing experience, they boast other great benefits, like larger batteries.

Resolution

It’s also important to take into account that the bigger the screen, the more resolution matters – so Quad HD is favourable to Full HD and anything less than 1080p is probably best avoided, where big phones are concerned.

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