Fabulous Phablets: Best Large-Screen Smartphones

Consumer Reports' testers give the nod to devices from Apple, OnePlus, and Samsung

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Photo: Samsung

Bigger is better, right? That seems to be the thinking of many smartphone makers—and consumers—these days.

More people are using their phones to catch up on must-see TV, join video calls, show off photos of their adorable children, play video games, and multitask by running music, social media, and map apps all at once.

That requires screen space, and smartphone companies are making displays bigger while minimizing the overall size of their phones by shrinking bezels and eliminating once familiar features such as the Home button.

What was once considered big just isn’t anymore. Not when Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra boasts a 6.8-inch display. The iPhone 13 Pro Max? The screen on that model stretches 6.7 inches. (All phones are measured diagonally.)

Just a few years ago, phones with a screen size of 5.5 inches were considered phablets, a cross between a smartphone and a tablet. But that number no longer covers a lot of models from the field. So for this article, we’re focusing on phones with supersized screens of at least 6.5 inches.

That leaves out some large-screen phones you may know and love, most notably the iPhone 12 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S21.

As with all the smartphones in our ratings, Consumer Reports bought the phablets below at retail and ran them through an extensive range of tests to evaluate the displays, camera quality, battery life, and more.

CR members can find additional information in our buying guide and ratings for smartphones.

Overall Score: 84
Typical price: $1,100

There’s a lot to like about the 13 Pro Max. Apple’s top-tier iPhone delivers the longest battery life in our ratings, clocking in at 52.5 hours. The crisp 6.7-inch display looks great indoors and out. And our testers rate the phone’s overall performance as Excellent.

The 13 Pro Max’s cameras are also top-notch, providing still-image and video quality that both earn Very Good scores in our tests. A new macro photography mode enables sharper close-ups.

Overall Score: 82
Typical price:
$1,100

Weighing about half an ounce less than the 13 Pro Max, the 12 Pro Max is another good choice if you’re looking for a big Apple phone at a friendlier price.

The super-sharp and bright 6.7-inch display is a hit with our testers. And the model’s impressive 41-hour battery life doesn’t hurt its Overall Score, either.

The 12 Pro Max receives some of the highest scores in our ratings for both still- and video-image quality. And the rear camera’s 2.5x lens is great for getting closer to faraway subjects.

Overall Score: 82
Typical price: $1,200

The 6.8-inch OLED display on this phone is Samsung’s best yet for streaming video or viewing photos. The model also boasts a speedy processor for accomplishing just about any task without delay.

The massive 5,000-mAh battery delivers 38 hours’ worth of power in our testing and earns an Excellent rating. 

Unlike the other models in the S21 line, the S21 Ultra offers S Pen compatibility and an extra optical 10x lens, handy for getting close to subjects at a distance.

Overall Score: 81
Typical price: $1,200

Much like its predecessor, the latest Samsung Ultra phone has an Excellent 6.8-inch OLED display. Better yet, it now comes with Samsung’s popular S Pen stylus tucked inside its Galaxy Note-like body.

The S22 Ultra also earns high scores in our camera tests. In addition to a main 108-megapixel rear camera, there are two 10-megapixel telephoto cameras, a 10x optical zoom lens, and an impressive 40-megapixel front camera for taking selfies. 

The battery lasts a fair 35 hours in our labs.

Overall Score: 81
Typical price: $1,000

With its 6.7-inch display, the S21+ packs in most of the bells and whistles of the slightly larger S21 Ultra for a slightly lower price.

The OLED display is top-rated by CR’s testers, as is the model’s performance. The phone’s cameras, which include wide, ultrawide, and 3x zoom options, earn Very Good ratings for still photos, video quality, and selfies. And the battery lasts a respectable 37 hours in CR testing.

Overall Score: 80
Typical price: $1,000

The smallest of the large-screen smartphones on this list, the Galaxy S22+ boasts a 6.6-inch display that receives an Excellent score in our testing. But the model’s smaller size means a smaller battery, too (4500 mAh, to be specific), which is reflected in the phone’s 31-hour battery life. Still, that’s enough juice to get you more than a full day’s worth of work and play.

And similar to its S22 siblings, the S22+ earns high marks for its still-image, selfie-image, and video quality. 

Overall Score: 78
Typical price: $800

The most affordable of the smartphones on this list, the OnePlus 9 Pro has a 6.7-inch OLED display with an almost bezel-less design. 

The trade-off for the smaller price tag is shorter battery life: just 25 hours in our testing.

On the plus side, the phone gets high marks for still-image quality—from the cameras front and back. In addition to the front selfie camera and main rear camera, OnePlus has outfitted the 9 Pro with ultrawide and telephoto cameras.

If you’d like to save even more money without settling for a small-screen phone, the OnePlus 9 gets an honorable mention. It starts at $600 and has a 6.6-inch OLED display. The model performs better in our battery tests, logging 33 hours, but our testers give it lower scores for display quality.


Headshot of CR author Melanie Pinola

Melanie Pinola

As a service journalist, my goal is to help people get the most out of their technology and other tools. Prior to joining CR, my work appeared online and in print for publications including The New York Times, Wirecutter, Lifehacker, Popular Mechanics, and PCWorld. When I'm not researching or writing, I'm playing video games with my family, testing new recipes, or chasing the puppy. Feel free to reach me on Twitter (@melaniepinola).