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Best Phablets of 2017 — Which ones made our list?

When the word “phablet” was coined several years ago, it was meant to showcase a few smartphones that had, at the time, extreme large displays. Indeed, some tech reviewers didn’t care for this so-called mix of phone and tablet, as they complained that consumers wouldn’t be able to hold phablets correctly, and they wouldn’t fit into a normal pants pocket.

Those days are long gone. Consumers have spoken with their wallets, and now the phablet is the preferred type of smartphone for many, perhaps the majority, of mobile phone buyers.

Over the years, the definition of which phones would be in the phablet category has also changed. When it began, phones with a display as small as 4.8 inches were named among phablets. Today, that has changed, and mobile phones are now generally considered to be phablets if they have displays that are 5.5 inches or larger. And even now that term is starting to fall out of fashion as these sizes simply become the norm.

In addition to their big screens, many phones in the phablet category also get the fastest processors, the most RAM, the most advanced cameras and other features. There’s no doubt that the sigma that some had for the larger sizes of these devices has been set aside, as consumers use their phones for more than just talking and texting to each other. They can now watch videos in HD or higher resolutions on their phones, view photos in much larger sizes, and even read and do real work with the larger screens.

It’s 2018 and that means plenty of new phones, and phablets, on the way. Of course there was no shortage of great phablets that were released in 2017, and we wanted to show you our picks for the best of those devices. We will state that these phones are also pretty expensive, but there are also phablets out there that are much cheaper, and we will pick our best budget phablet phone that launched this year as well.


Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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After a controversial 2016, Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of phablets is back in full force. With top-of-the-line specs, a stunning design, an all-new dual-camera setup and new software features, the Galaxy Note 8 is the best Android phone you can buy right now.

The Note 8’s near-bezel-less 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Infinity Display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio is one of our favorite things about this phone. DisplayMate agrees with us too. It’s big, maybe too big for some people, but at least the company puts that screen to good use. There’s a new App Pairing feature that allows you to open up two favorited apps in multi-window at the same time, and there are a few new S Pen features that will satisfy the stylus users out there.

What’s more, the new dual-camera setup on the back performs incredibly well. While picture quality isn’t a huge step up from what we saw on the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the extra 12 MP sensor with OIS allows you to take clear, concise photos and impressive bokeh shots in just about any situation.

No, it’s not perfect, but no phone is. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor placement is still super annoying, and this phone is expensive. If those things don’t matter to you though, the Note 8 might be the right phone for you. Check out our full review below!

Specs

  • 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity Display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 521 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 64/128/256 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • Dual 12 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 mm, 195 g

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Google Pixel 2 XL

Best phablets - Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL is Google’s latest flagship smartphone, and it’s great at almost everything (with one small exception that we will mention in due course). It doesn’t have as many bells or whistles as the Note 8, but if you’re in the market for a simple Android phone, the Pixel 2 is a great option.

This device has a 6-inch pOLED 1080p display with a pixel density of 538 ppi and a resolution of 2,880 x 1,440. It doesn’t have a fancy 18:9 aspect ratio screen or a bezel-less design, though it does have front-facing speakers above and below the display. Inside, it comes with a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, along with 4 GB of LPDDR4x RAM. You can buy the phone with either 64 GB or 128 GB of on board storage, but there’s no microSD card to add additional storage.

If you like taking photos with your phone, you’ll be very pleased with the Pixel 2 XL’s 12.2 MP camera. Not only has it been named the best smartphone camera on the market according to DxOMark, we found the Pixel 2 XL’s main camera to be incredibly impressive in most situations. There’s even a portrait mode on the front and back cameras, even though the phone doesn’t have a dual-camera setup.

The Pixel 2 XL’s display, admittedly, has had its fair share of issues since launch. The LG-made dislay shows off a blue tint when the phone is tilted, it’s not tuned to be as vibrant as other OLED panels, and many early adopters have already been noticing burn-in issues. Google says it will continue to combat these issues with software updates, and it’s also extended the warranty to two years

If you want a Pixel phone with a larger battery and can live with a mediocre display, we’d recommend going for the Pixel 2 XL — you’ll be very happy. But if you can live with a smaller battery and a smaller screen (that doesn’t have any issues), we’d recommend the smaller 5-inch Pixel 2.

Specs

  • 6.0-inch pOLED display with 2,880 x 1,440 resolution, 538 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • 12.2 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,520 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 157.9 x 76.7 x 7.9 mm, 175 g

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LG V30

Best phablets - LG V30

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The V30 is the latest of its flagship phablets from LG, which has been struggling to compete, at least in sales, with its biggest Android rival Samsung. It is also the successor to 2016’s LG V20, which included a secondary 2.1-inch screen on top for showing app shortcuts, media controls, and more. The V30 does away with that secondary display, and instead has one nearly bezel-free 6-inch screen, using LG’s new Plastic OLED (pOLED) panel. LG offers a slide-out menu on the phone’s display (called the Floating Bar) that floats around the screen as a substitute (sort of) for folks who might miss the secondary display.

In terms of hardware specs, the LG V30 has everything you would expect from a flagship phone in 2017. It has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB RAM, along with 64 GB of onboard storage, a 3,300 mAh battery, and an IP68 dust and water resistance rating. LG is heavily promoting the advanced camera and photography features on the V30m too. It has a dual rear camera that includes a 16 MP sensor with an f/1.6 aperture, along with a 13 MP sensor with an f/1.9 aperture. The rear camera has a Crystal Clear lens instead of plastic, which should mean you’ll get more realistic looking photos with the V30. Video creators should have fun with software features like Cine Video, which allows users to quickly put in video effects, along with Point Zoom, which will let owners zoom into any point in a video.

Audiophiles should also be happy with the LG V30, as it has support for Hi-Fi Quad DAC tuned by B&O Play. It is also the first smartphone to support MQA, which is supposed to let users stream high-res audio, but with a smaller file size and no loss in quality.

Specs

  • 6.0-inch P-OLED FullVision display 2,880 x 1,440 resolution, 538 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 2 TB
  • Dual 16 and 13 MP rear cameras, 5 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.2 Nougat
  • 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3 mm, 158 g

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Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

Best phablets - Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

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Following a successful launch of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung seemed to have a pretty good idea as to what users want in a smartphone, and also in phablets. Solid battery life, high-res screens, impressive camera performance and more were all things the company achieved with the 2016 flagships. And while the Note 7 seemed to improve even more in those areas, overheating problems caused the device to enter total recall mode.

Now we get to see what Samsung has in store for us in 2017. It should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus feature top-of-the-line specifications, great cameras and an all-new design that’s truly futuristic.

This time around, Samsung included a curved screen on both the S8 (5.8 inches) and S8 Plus (6.2 inches), as well as a unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio that allows for a much more comfortable in-hand feel. The company even ditched its famous physical home button and included on-screen navigation keys (finally). Under the hood, these devices come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor (or Exynos 8895, depending on the region), 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of on-board storage, and one of the latest versions of Android, 7.0 Nougat.

Samsung even launched a few extra accessories alongside the S8 that you should definitely consider checking out. The new Samsung DeX dock lets you use your S8 as a desktop computer, and there’s also a new Gear 360 camera that allows for shooting video in 4K and live streaming to YouTube. Of course, there’s also a new Galaxy S8-compatible Gear VR headset, complete with a controller for easier navigation.

All in all, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are two of the most promising smartphones, and phablets, launching in 2017.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy S8

  • 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 570 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 148.9 x 68.1 x 8 mm, 155 g

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

  • 6.2-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1440 resolution, 529 ppi
  • Octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Octa-core Samsung Exynos 8895 processor (depending on region)
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • 64 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173 g

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OnePlus 5T

Best phablets - OnePlus 5T

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The OnePlus 5 was a solid smartphone, but it wasn’t really up to 2017’s standards on the design front. That’s why OnePlus changed things up quite a bit with the OnePlus 5T, making it one of its best phablets.

The first thing you’ll notice with the 5T is its bit 6.01-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ratio. This makes the device look more in line with other 2017 devices, especially because its predecessor came with a more traditional 16:9 screen. The under-the-hood specs are mostly the same as the OnePlus 5’s, but OnePlus decided to switch up the camera setup this time around. Now, in place of the OnePlus 5’s telephoto lens, the 5T sports a secondary 20 MP sensor that uses a fancy new technology called Intelligent Pixel Technology. Basically, it takes better low-light photos than before.

The other big change with the 5T is in regards to biometric security. Not only has the fingerprint sensor moved around to the back, you can also unlock the 5T using face recognition. It’s super fast, but we’ve found it to miss a handful of times for some unknown reason.

Perhaps the biggest missing feature on the 5T is an IP rating for dust and water resistance, which is a feature pretty much every other flagship device has. If you can get past that, the OnePlus 5T will be a great option for most people — especially because it costs a fraction of the price of most competing smartphones.

Specs

  • 6.01-inch AMOLED display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform
  • 6/8 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • Dual 16 and 20 MP rear cameras, 16 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,300 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm, 153 g

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Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Best phablets - Huawei Mate 10 Pro

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The Huawei Mate 10 Pro has all the features one would expect from the latest high-end flagship phablets on the market. It has a 6-inch OLED display with an 18:9 ratio, a Full HD+ resolution of 2,160 x 1,080, and very small bezels on the top and bottom of the display. Inside, there’s Huawei’s in-house octa-core Kirin 970 processor, along with a dedicated Neural Processing Unit for faster on-board AI processing. Huawei claims we will see more improvements in AI on the Mate 10 Pro in future updates.

You can purchase this phone with either 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, or upgrade to 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of onboard storage. There’s no microSD card for adding additional storage, by the way, nor does it have a 3.5 mm headphone jack (the slightly smaller Mate 10 has both). The Mate 10 Pro ships with Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box.

The Mate 10 Pro also comes with an IP67 dust- and water-resistance rating, as well as a large 4,000 mAh battery which supports Huawei Supercharge. This allows the Mate 10 Pro to go up to nearly a full charge in about an hour. The Mate 10 Pro also has a fantastic dual-camera setup with a 20 MP monochrome sensor combined with a 12 MP RGB sensor. The phone got a high 97 score for its rear camera features from the image testing DxOMark, which is right up there with the iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8.

Specs

  • 6-inch AMOLED display with 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, 401 ppi
  • Hisilicon Kirin 970
  • 6/8 GB of RAM
  • 64/128 GB of on-board storage, no microSD expansion
  • Dual 12 MP and 20 MP rear cameras, 8 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 4,000 mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo
  • 154.2 x 74.5 x 7.9 mm, 178 g

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HTC U11

Best phablets - HTC U11

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The HTC 10 was one of our favorite Android phones, and phablets, of 2016, and for good reason. The Taiwanese company absolutely nailed the design of the 10, and it worked hard at scaling back the software to make it feel like the bare-bones Android experience we all know and love. And while it didn’t have a bunch of gimmicky extras, that was okay. The HTC 10 was a solid Android phone that nailed the basics.

Now HTC is back with the 10’s successor, the HTC U11. With an eye-catching, glossy design, all-day battery life, and a smooth and snappy software experience, the U11 competes toe-to-toe with the Galaxy S8 and LG G6 when it comes to performance. It has a 5.5-inch Super LCD5 display with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution and 521 ppi. It also has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, according to DxOMark.

The standout feature on the U11 is something HTC calls Edge Sense. The sides of the phone are pressure sensitive, and this allows you to physically squeeze the phone to activate a specific function or open an app like the camera or web browser. Having to squeeze your phone to make it do something does sound a bit odd, but we’ve really found this feature to come in handy.

Before you go out and spend $650 on this baby, there are a few things you should know. For starters, this phone doesn’t have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, meaning you’ll either need to use Bluetooth headphones or carry around the included headphone adapter everywhere you go. Also, while HTC’s Sense is one of our favorite Android skins out there, it is feeling a bit dated at this point. If you can get past those few caveats, though, the U11 will certainly not disappoint.

The company recently announced the HTC U11 Plus, with a larger 6-inch display, a larger battery, and some other improved features compared to the standard U11. However, the phone has yet to launch as of this writing, and is not expected to be released in the US.

Specs

  • 5.5-inch Super LCD5 display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 521 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • 6 GB of RAM
  • 128 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
  • 12 MP rear camera, 16 MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9 mm, 169 g

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Essential Phone

Best phablets - Essential Phone

After lots of speculation followed by teasers, the man who co-created Android, Andy Rubin, officially announced his next big project, the Essential Phone, and its large display makes it one of the best phablets of 2017.

Front and center is a gorgeous looking edge-to-edge display,  with the front-facing camera the only slight encroachment up top. The device is also built with a combination of a ceramic body and titanium frame, that should prove to be quite durable, while also looking and feeling great in the hand. Finally, the Essential also boasts some modular capabilities, with accessories, like the 360 degree camera and a charging dock, connecting to the device via metal pins, and for those missing the headphone jack, an upcoming mod should be bringing that feature back as well.

As we found in our review, the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold in the hand, and the device packs all the high-end specs that are expected from a current generation flagship. Some features may be missing, like dust and water and resistance, but as we’ve now found out, its $499 price tag is actually quite cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy Note 8 and the LG V30. It’s a worthy choice among the many phablets you can choose from.

Specs

  • 5.71-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1312 resolution, 504 ppi
  • 2.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 128 GB built-in storage, not expandable
  • Dual 13 MP rear cameras, f/1.9 aperture, PD and Laser auto focus, LED flash
  • 8 MP front-facing camera
  • 3,040 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 141.5 x 71.1 x 7.8 mm, 185 grams

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Best Budget Phablet of 2017 – ZTE Blade Z Max

Best phablets - ZTE Blade Z Max

If you don’t have a few hundred dollars, or more, to spend on one of the phablets on this list, there are plenty of other big-screen smartphones that you can pick up that cost a lot less. For this “best of” list, we decided to select the ZTE Blade Z Max as the best of the many budget phablets launched in 2017. 

The phone has a large 6-inch Full HD display, and it also has a large 4,080 mAh battery inside, which should allow you to use it for a full day on a single charge quite easily, and perhaps you can extend that to a second day if you don’t use it quite as much.

Our review of the ZTE Blade Z Max did note that the onboard dual rear cameras suffered a bit in terms of photo quality, and having only 2 GB of RAM caused some performance issues in a selection of apps. However, this large phone is still a great value for the money. You can snap it up unlocked right now on Amazon for under $200, and you can get the phone from MetroPCS for under $100 (after instant discounts and a mail-in rebate).

Specs

  • 6-inch IPS LCD display with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, 367 ppi
  • 1.45 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32 GB built-in storage, microSD card expandable up to 128 GB
  • Dual 16 MP and 2 MP rear cameras
  • 8 MP front-facing camera
  • 4,080 mAh battery
  • Android 7.1 Nougat
  • 166.1 x 84.6 x 8.4 mm, 175 grams

Conclusion

That’s our look at the best phablets of 2017, but we want to hear from you on this subject? Do you agree with this list? Which phablets would you add to this group, and which ones would you remove, if any? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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About Badar Bhutta

I am a web developer who is working as a freelancer. I am living in a crowded city of Vietnam. I am promoting Mobiles Phones

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