Remember when cellphone makers were fighting tooth and nail trying to make the smallest phones on the planet? Well, those times are long gone, my friend. Comically small Derek Zoolander-esque handsets are so 2001.
Today, we’re all about the finger-stretching, pocket-punishing, big-screen devices that straddle the line between smartphone and tablet. And, boy, are there a lot of them.
Your tiny phone is unwanted.
With so many huge smartphones — or what we’ll begrudgingly refer to as phablets — on the market, it can be quite a chore trying to figure out which one you should call your own. That’s where we come in.
Here are the six best gigantic phones, and what each is best at:
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 features an enormous 5.7-inch Super AMOLED (active matrix of organic light-emitting diodes) display that’s as beautiful as it is huge. But the Note 4, which runs on Android 4.4 KitKat, is more than just a pretty face. That’s because Samsung made sure that the handset’s screen is as functional as it is big.
With features like Multi Window mode, which lets you interact with two onscreen apps at once, and a new Pop-up View that allows you to open as many apps as you want in resizable windows, the Note 4 is a multitasking monster. And let’s not forget the phablet’s excellent S Pen stylus, which lets you write on the Note 4 just like a notepad.
Oh, and with a 16-megapixel camera and optical image stabilization, the Note 4 captures some seriously impressive photos.
With so much going for it, it’s easy to see why Samsung’s Note 4 is one of the best big-screen phones you can buy.
2. Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus is the company’s first attempt at a giant smartphone, and, true to form, it’s a winner. Packing a massive 5.5-inch Retina HD display, the iPhone 6 Plus is a full 2 inches larger than the very first iPhone that debuted in 2007.
To compensate for its significant footprint, Apple equipped the iOS 8-powered 6 Plus with a special Reachability feature that pulls the top of the screen down to within reach of your thumb whenever you double-tap the home button.
What’s more, a new landscape view takes advantage of the phone’s larger display by letting you view apps like Mail, Calendar, and Stocks (not to mention the home screen) in a horizontal landscape orientation rather than the traditional portrait view.
The 6 Plus is also the first, and only, iPhone to get an 8-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization, so your photos will look great even if you take them while you’re moving.
3. Nokia Lumia 1520
What’s this? A Windows Phone on a “best of” list? You better believe it. The first big-screen Windows Phone, the Nokia Lumia 1520, is also among the best Microsoft handsets money can buy.
With its 6-inch display, the 1520 bumps right up against the line between phone and tablet. But the Lumia 1520 is more than a big-boned behemoth. It also offers impressive performance and a slick interface.
There’s also a whopping 20-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and the Nokia Camera app, which lets you control everything from the camera’s ISO to its shutter speed settings. Oh, and it’s available in an eyeball-searing bright green.
The downside? Well, because it runs on Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 1520 doesn’t have access to the same apps as Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus or its Android-based competitors. App issues aside, though, this is one wicked smartphone.
4. LG G3
LG’s G3 is one of the rare smartphones that sports an enormous display yet won’t be mistaken for the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, despite its 5.5-inch display, the G3 is only slightly larger than Samsung’s 5-inch Galaxy S5. That’s some impressive space saving.
Like the Galaxy Note 4, the Android KitKat-powered LG G3 also offers multitasking by letting you open two onscreen apps at once, as well as multiple resizable windows apps. And as with many of the other contenders on this list, the G3’s 13-megapixel camera comes with optical image stabilization.
The G3, however, takes some flak for its Rear Key button, which sees the power and volume buttons move from the side of the handset, like a traditional phone, to the back panel. Once you get acclimated to its odd design, though, the G3 is a certified winner.
5. OnePlus One
The OnePlus One is the odd man out in this roundup, as it’s easily the least well known of the group. But that doesn’t mean you should overlook this 5.5-inch handset. That’s because you can buy this bad boy off-contract for just $300. That’s more than $300 less than your average smartphone.
But don’t think that just because the OnePlus One is inexpensive, that it’s cheap. On the contrary, this smartphone easily rivals its biggest competitors thanks to its gorgeous display, excellent sound, and slim design. Oh, yeah — it’s also incredibly fast and offers an impressive battery life.
The One is also the only phone in this group to run on the highly modified and customizable CyanogenMod for Android.
The problem? Well, it’s the only smartphone on this list with a camera that doesn’t offer optical image stabilization. And it’s rather hard to get your hands on one. At the moment, you have to sign up for an invite to be able to purchase the handset. But if you’re willing to wait, the One should prove well worth it.
6. Google Nexus 6
Before its unveiling, Google’s Motorola-made Nexus 6 was known by the folks in nerd circles by its codename, “Shamu.” Well, it turns out that there was good reason for the moniker, because with a 6-inch display, this Google phone easily dwarfs all of its predecessors.
Beyond its ginormous screen size, the Nexus 6 also gets a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. But the Nexus 6 gets special recognition for being the first smartphone in the world to come preloaded with Google’s new Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system.
And as a Google phone, the Nexus 6 is also guaranteed to get the latest Android updates as soon as they’re available, rather than having to wait months for your handset manufacturer to provide a modified version of the operating system.
If you’re looking for a big-screen smartphone with a pure Android experience, the Nexus 6 is the handset to get.
The best of the biggest?
Each of these big-screen behemoths is a winner in its own right, but there can be only one true king of the giant phone category, and that is Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4.
With its beautiful display, excellent multitasking capabilities, long battery life, top-notch camera, and included stylus, the Note 4 easily offers the most bang for your buck.
In other words, if you want the best big-screen phone, get the Galaxy Note 4.