Fabulous Phablets: Best Large-Screen Smartphones
Consumer Reports' testers give the nod to devices from Apple, OnePlus, and 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, show off photos of their adorable children, 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 new Galaxy S21 Ultra and Note20 Ultra both boast 6.9-inch displays. The iPhone 12 Pro Max? The screen on that model stretches 6.7 inches.
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.
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.
You can find additional information in our buying guide and ratings for smartphones. (Note that some prices shown below might be the per-month cost.)
Overall Score: 86
Typical price: $1,100
The super-sharp and bright 6.7-inch display on this phone was a hit with our testers. And the model's great battery life of 41 hours on a single charge didn’t hurt the Overall Score, either.
Apple also made some notable improvements to the cameras. The 12 Pro Max notched some of the highest scores in our ratings for both still- and video-image quality. And there’s a new rear camera with a 2.5x lens, great for getting closer to faraway subjects.
Overall Score: 85
Typical price: $1,300
With its super-sharp 6.9-inch OLED display, this is one of the biggest—and best—phones in our ratings.
In our testing, the Note20 Ultra lasted 36.5 hours on a single charge. It comes standard with 5G connectivity. And the phone’s cameras, which include a 5x zoom, also are top-notch, outperforming most of the competition.
But make sure you buy a good case. This phone didn’t survive our tough durability testing.
Overall Score: 85
Typical price: $1,200
The 6.9-inch OLED display on this phone is Samsung's best yet for streaming video or viewing photos. The model also boasts Qualcomm's newest speedy processor.
The massive 5,000mAh battery delivered 38 hours' worth of power in our testing. And the multi-rear-camera setup includes an optical 10x lens, handy for getting close to subjects at a distance.
Overall Score: 84
Typical price: $700
If you’re looking for a big 5G phone at a not-so-big price, think about this one. OnePlus may not be the best-known brand in smartphones, but it produces models that consistently perform well in our testing.
The OnePlus 8 Pro boasts a 6.8-inch display. While its rear cameras aren’t among the very best, they did receive a rating of Very Good for still-image quality. And the battery lasted 34 hours in our testing.
Why not go with the more recent OnePlus 9 Pro? That phone didn't do quite as well in our testing, mainly due to the lackluster 25-hour battery life.
Overall Score: 83
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, rate Very Good for still photos, video quality, and selfies. And the battery lasted a respectable 37 hours in CR testing.