The best phablets money can buy

by: Kevin NetherFebruary 5, 2014

The first handheld phone was released by Motorola in the early 80s, called the MicroTAC 9800X. The phone took around 10 hours to charge, which allowed for 30 minutes of talk time. It also weighed a massive 790 grams  and was 10-inches tall, not including the flexible antenna. The following couple of decades saw device manufacturers race to make their phones smaller. Even among consumers, it became a matter of pride to be able to show off the smallest handset.

How times have changed! Ever since the advent of the smartphone, the tide has turned. At least in the Android world, phones are once again becoming bigger and bigger, with OEMs pushing the line between a phone and a tablet. 5-inch displays have become the new standard, and the “phablet” is far from a niche market. Today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the largest Android smartphones you can get your hands on. Let’s get started!

First up is one of the most unique smartphones currently available in the market, the Oppo N1. This phone is a massive 5.9-inches, but that’s not what makes this device unique. In fact, it isn’t even the biggest phone on this list. What makes this device stand out from the pack is its back touch panel, 180 degree swivel camera, and also a peripheral called O-click. If that’s not enough, the Oppo N1 is also the first official CyanogenMod smartphone.

oppo n1 cyanogenmod install (8)

The specifications are more than decent as well, with its quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, 2 GB RAM, a 1080p resolution display, and of course, the 13 MP swivel camera which can be used as the front and back camera. Making using such a large device a little easier, the back touch panel can be used for navigating around the device, with some simple gestures.

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The Oppo N1 is available unlocked, and you can find out if it’s available at your location, and in some regions, buy it online, here.


Next up is the most popular device on this list, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, which, with its 5.7-inch display, is also the smallest of the lot. With specifications such as a 1080p display, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 3 GB RAM, a 13 MP camera than can record in 4K, and a large 3,200 mAh battery, it’s not difficult to understand why this device is such a crowd-pleaser.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 jet black S pen stylus aa 8

Of course, a current Samsung device isn’t complete without the TouchWiz UI, which introduces a lot of enhancements on top of Android. Regardless of whether you like it or not, in the case of the Note 3, these enhancements are a huge advantage, especially when it comes to the S-Pen stylus functionality, along with features such as multi-window. As far as the design is concerned, Samsung also stepped away from the glossy plastic build material, in favor of a faux leather back cover, complete with fake stitches around it. This shift is also another big plus for some consumers.

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is available from all major network carriers in the US including Verizon, AT&T,  and Sprint, along with an internationally-available unlocked variant.


htc one max aa 3

Let’s move on to the HTC One Max. As the name suggests, this device is the (much) larger sibling of the company’s flagship One, but if you’re looking for an upgrade, the size of the display, 5.9-inches for the One Max, is the only major difference between the two. The specifications remain and the same, and include a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and HTC’s UltraPixel camera. Design aesthetics also remain the same between the two, making the One Max a very attractive device as well.

htc one max aa 10

Other differences include the appearance of a finger print scanner on the back of the HTC One Max, which also doubles as a quick launch button, allowing you to easily launch specified applications with a simple swipe gesture. While the battery is non-removable, the One Max comes with a removable back cover for access to the microSD and micro-SIM slots, and can be opened by a simple push of a button. Yes, the HTC One Max does feature microSD memory expansion.

The HTC One Max is available in the US from Sprint and Verizon, along with an unlocked international version.


And finally, we arrive at the biggest smartphone on this list, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, which is toeing the increasingly thinning line between a smartphone and a tablet, with its massive 6.4-inch display. If anything deserves to be called a phablet, it is this one. The Xperia Z Ultra is not short on power either, with its quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and large 3,050 mAh battery. The camera on the Xperia Z Ultra is an 8 MP shooter, with image stabilization HDR, and other Sony camera enhancements that the company is known for.

sony xperia z ultra aa design standing

Just like all the latest high-end smartphones from Sony, the Xperia Z Ultra is also waterproof, and features the same slate design language as the rest, including the glass-back design of the Xperia Z. Unfortunately, because of its huge size, this design is a disadvantage, and makes the device difficult to handle, with one-handed operation not really an option.

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The Sony Xperia Z Ultra isn’t available at a subsidized rate from any US carrier, but the international unlocked version is available in most major markets, including the US.


And that’s it folks! We’re looking forward to hearing about what you have to say about the latest crop of Android mega smartphones. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

  • Jack Parker

    Ive got to say that was a good watch, I have the Z ultra, its more then what I was expecting.

  • Jaun Lombard

    Compliments to Samsung to make a 5.7″ screen with a 3200mAh battery and S-Pen fit in a body just a little bigger than a Sony Z1. The Oppo N1 looks good, but the bottom bezel is not nessary!

  • Alpha

    Even though the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is not available from a US carrier, the Sony Z Ultra GPe is the same device through the Google Play store. For me the major drawback is that it does not have a LED camera flash (which I use both for the camera and as a flashlight).

  • Brendon Brown

    Z Ultra !

    • patrik

      The Z ultra is easily the worst of the bunch.

      • Brendon Brown

        That’s down to opinion.

  • wezi427

    I thought my Note 2 was big. I don’t have any issues carrying it. The Xperia Z Ultra is too big for me, but if I had hands like the Hamburger Helper guy it would make sense.

  • Wow, 6.4-inch is huge for a Smartphone. But I wouldn’t know what its like to live with a phablet considering I don’t own one as the biggest Smartphone I have owned is a Samsung Galaxy Nexus. That said, I would love to see what life would be like with a 6-inch phablet and if it could work as a phone as well as replace my 7-inch tablet. May be next year.

  • forenuser

    I like Sony’s “close-to-stock”-UI and the general design and for that i would take the Ultra. Anyway Oppos N1 has some interesting features like the rotating camera or the Clip.

  • Frost Dabatos

    Lenovo Vibe Z is also good…

  • Data

    I think the Galaxy Note 3 is the best! Others simply haven’t been able to beat the Note in terms of functionality and specs.

    • Adrian Remus

      When i look at android devices i feel like only Samsung really tries to do something that actually satisfies everyone.

      • Data

        I’m surprised to see u praise Sammy over past month lol

        • Adrian Remus

          In the past month i had lot of work to do on Android devices. Older models suck badly, like Galaxy Tab 2 but S4 is really nice.

          I still have more work to do but i don’t have enough devices there…so i installed the Android emulator….which partially sucks on Windows.
          I’ll try it on a Mac tomorrow, maybe it will let me allocate more than 768 Mb RAM / emulated device.

  • Jayfeather787

    Though it may not have the best specs, I love the Oppo N1.

  • Alan W. G. Meraz

    What? No Huawei´s Ascend Mate?
    6.1 inches
    It has the biggest battery of them all
    4050 mah
    Battery saver Display (720p)