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Best phablet in 2022: the best big-screen smartphones you can buy right now

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Best phablet... what's that? Technically, the name comes from combining the words 'phone' and 'tablet'. But really, we're talking about smartphones with very large screens. And that offers a lot of benefits over smaller handsets. 

Gamers find them particularly appealing, while watching videos and browsing the web on one of these bigger devices is certainly a more immersive experience. For photographers, being able to view your carefully crafted compositions and daily vlogs on a larger screen is also a bonus. A larger screen means a larger phone, which means that you generally get a bigger battery too; great for all-day usage.

There’s no agreed definition for phablet, but we’d say anything with a 6-inch screen or above qualifies. Most of these don't come cheap, but it could be argued that by buying one device and foregoing an additional tablet device, you do in fact save money. That said, there are some slightly more budget-friendly options on our list too, in the form of older models that still have a lot to offer. 

Best phablet in 2022

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)
The best phablet overall

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 40MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 228g
Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm
Battery: 5000 mAh
Storage: 128GB/256GB/1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning screen
+
Brilliant cameras
+
Superior stylus 

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium price

In our view, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best phablet on the market today. Its 6.8-inch AMOLED screen is simply incredible, offering bright and vivid colors, smooth (120Hz) motion, impressive brightness and super-detailed 1440 x 3088 pixel resolution. 

And that's just the display. In general, this is a premium, high spec phone, from the gorgeous design to the fantastic S-Pen stylus. Its camera is first-rate too, featuring wide (108MP), ultra-wide (12MP) and two telephoto (10MP) sensor, one with a 10 times zoom (f/4.9). The selfie camera's pretty jaw-dropping too, with its 40MP resolution, f/2.2 aperture and 8K video capture at 24fps. 

Finally, the 5,000mAh battery will mean you can use it throughout the working day without having to worry about topping it up. For more details, read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
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The best phablet from Apple

Specifications

Release date: October 2021
Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm f/1.8 Ultra Wide, 12MP 26mm f/1.5 Wide, 12MP 77mm f/2.8 telephoto
Front camera: 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth
OIS: Yes
Weight: 240g
Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.65mm
Battery: 4352 mAh
Storage: 128 / 256 / 512GB / 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Superb Cinematic mode
+
77mm telephoto lens
+
RAW capture

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive, even by Apple standards

While the iPhone 13 Pro Max may be number two on our list, it's a very close second. Because this is one very lovely phablet indeed.

The latest, greatest and biggest of Apple’s latest iPhones, it boasts a quite astonishing Super Retina XDR OLED, offering a smooth 120Hz refresh rate HDR10, Dolby Vision, and a peak brightness of 1200 nits. So whether you're viewing photos, watching video or making Zoom calls, you're very well served indeed.

The Pro Max also boasts a 4352 mAh battery, promising up to 28hrs video playback. And the image quality of the four camera array - 12MP wide, 12MP ultra wide, 12MP  telephoto and LIDAR scanner - is quite extraordinary. For more details, see our Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review.

See also Best iPhone 13 Pro Max cases (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Amy Davies/Digital Camera World)
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A more affordable Apple phablet, with a great camera

Specifications

Release date: November 2020
Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm Ultra Wide, f/2.4, 12MP 26mm Wide, f/1.6, 12MP 65mm telephoto, f/2.2
Front camera: 12MP f/2.2 TrueDepth
OIS: Sensor-shift OIS (Wide), Dual optical image stabilisation (wide and telephoto)
Weight: 226g
Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.4mm
Battery Life: 12 hours (streamed video)
Storage: 128/256/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Well-performing cameras
+
ProRAW mode
+
Simple interface

Reasons to avoid

-
No pro mode 

If you want a slightly more affordable Apple phablet, the last generation 12 Pro Max is well worth a look. The 6.7-inch screen is gorgeous, and truly displays your photos and videos at their best. That’s especially true if you shoot videos with Dolby Vision HDR enabled. 

It’s both a positive and a negative that the native iPhone camera app is so simple. You really can just point and shoot and feel assured of excellent results in a wide range of situations. This phone also supports 5G while other useful features include strong waterproofing and wireless charging. For more details, read our Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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100x zoom for less

Specifications

Release date: January 2021
Rear cameras: 12MP 13mm Ultra Wide f/2.2, 108MP 24mm Wide f/1.8, 10MP 70mm Telephoto f/2.4, 10MP 240mm Telephoto f/4.9
Front camera: 40MP
OIS: Ultra Wide, Wide, Telephoto (70mm)
Weight: 227g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9mm
Battery: 5000mAH
Storage: 128/256/512 GB

Reasons to buy

+
Four different focal lengths
+
Excellent battery life
+
Compatible with S Pen

Reasons to avoid

-
High price 
-
Slightly unwieldy 

The predecessor to the Samsung 22 Ultra, our number one pick, the S21 Ultra is more affordable yet still boasts some fantastic specs and capabilities. The 6.8-inch screen housed in a pretty large phone (bigger than the iPhone 12 Pro Max for example) makes it a little unwieldy, but it’s a dazzling display for your content. 

Camera wise, you have four different lenses to choose from. The main 108 megapixel lens is surrounded by an ultra-wide lens, plus two telephoto options. The furthest reach is 10x, thanks to a periscope design. This can also be boosted to 100x digitally, though it’s fair to say the results are mixed if you do. You also get 8K video recording (with a crop applied), plus standard 4K video modes.

Other standout features include a great battery life, a well-featured native camera app and 5G connectivity. For more details, read our Samsung S21 Ultra 5G review.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
The best Android experience

Specifications

Release date: October 2021
Rear cameras: 50 MP, f/1.9, 25mm; 48 MP, f/3.5, 104mm; 12 MP, f/2.2, 17mm
Front camera: 11.1 MP, f/2.2, 20mm
OIS: Yes
Weight: 210 g
Dimensions: 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
Battery life: Up to 24 hours
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant AI camera system
+
Impressive astro & low light modes
+
3 years support 

Reasons to avoid

-
No wide-angle lens
-
Low storage (as cloud dependent)
-
Screen could be brighter

If you want a job doing, do it yourself. That's the thinking behind the Pixel phones which, after years of providing their Android operating system for other manufacturers, entered the fray themselves in 2016. 

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is the latest entry in the series, and it's also the greatest. The 6.71-inch Gorilla Glass screen, with always-on display, is very beautiful, with punchy colors, strong viewing angles, impressive brightness levels and Wide QHD+ resolution (1440 x 3120). The cameras are high-end, with a 50MP wide camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera and a 48MP telephoto shooter. And coming from Google itself, you're assured of the purest and smoothest Android experience. For more details, read our Google Pixel 6 Pro review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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A big, big screen

Specifications

Release date: August 2020
Rear cameras: 12MP Ultra Wide, f/2.2, 108MP Wide, f/1.8, 12MP telephoto f/3
Front camera: 10MP f/2.2
OIS: Wide camera
Weight: 208g
Dimensions: 164.8x77.2x8.1mm
Battery: 4500mAH
Storage: 128/ 512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Stylus handy for certain camera modes
+
Excellent multiple lenses
+
Fantastic screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be awkward to use 

With its enormous 6.9-inch screen, there’s absolutely no doubt that the Note 20 Ultra belongs in the “phablet” category. It's an absolute gem for viewing your video and photos on, with stunning clarity, although it can be a little unwieldy to use for typing and the like, especially if your hands are on the smaller side. 

The USP of the “Note” series is that it comes with an integrated “S Pen” stylus. With this, you can write on the screen, but it also has photographic applications, such as working as a remote trigger for the shutter, which can be handy at times. 

In terms of the camera set-up, you get three lenses to shoot with, plus a Laser AF sensor which is used for measuring depth. The telephoto zoom offers a 5x optical zoom, but you can also engage up to 50x “super resolution zoom”; though the best results are seen when you stick to 10x digital or below. The main camera has a huge 108MP, with a high-resolution mode that you can engage if you want to show off a lot of detail - otherwise, images are output at 12 megapixels. 

Other specifications of note include 5G connectivity, wireless charging and 8K video recording (24fps). For more details, see our Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli)
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High performing phablet with innovative camera array

Specifications

Release date: Apr 2020
Rear camera: Main camera 48MP (f/1.8), telephoto 8MP (f/2.4), ultra-wide 48MP (f/2.2), CFC 5MP (f/2.4)
Front camera: 16MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 199g
Dimensions: 165.3 x 74.4 x 8.5 mm
Battery life: 9 hours (screen on at 120Hz)
Storage: 128 or 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Fast processor
+
120mHz screen refresh
+
Sharp main camera

Reasons to avoid

-
Color Filter Camera a bit useless
-
Lacks AI refinement

The OnePlus is a 5G handset powered with a Snapdragon 865 making it more than comfortable driving its glorious 3168 x 1440 pixel 6.78-inch Quad HD+ display, even at 120Hz. While the device design is perhaps less beautiful than some of the others here – a bit busy on the back – it’s cheaper too, and can be chosen in some stand-out body colors. The design includes a punch-out front-facing camera in the top left corner of a rounded screen.

The camera array’s main camera uses the Sony’s 48-megapixel IMX 689 sensor, so it more than holds its own against the big boys. The system has subtle but effective HDR processing, as well as face tracing which can also handle pet. 

It's capable of capturing 4K video at 60fps and down to super slow motion at 720p@480fps. Stills are bolstered by Nightscape, but the really unusual feature is the 5 megapixel Color Filter Camera which shoots through a coated lens to create hardware-assisted Instagram-like effects. Interesting, though of limited use.

In general operation, the phone is well equipped, with Dolby Atmos support and a screen suited to watching or gaming (indeed OnePlus are especially keen to note their boosted haptics and special gamer’s do-not-notify mode). That said, you’ll see fewer customizations to Android than on a Samsung Galaxy (not necessarily a complaint!) 

• Read more: OnePlus 8 Pro review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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A good value phablet with a range of enticing photographic specs

Specifications

Release date: October 2020
Rear camera: 13MP Ultra Wide, f/2.4, 64MP Wide 26mm f/1.9, 5MP Macro f/2.4
Front camera: 20MP, f/2.2, 27mm
OIS: No
Weight: 216g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 76.4 x 9.3mm
Battery: 5000mAh
Storage: 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Good macro camera
+
Lots of detail from main camera
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
Unwieldy 
-
Not the best screen
-
No optical zoom

If you don’t have an enormous budget to spend, but you still want a large phone with interesting camera specs, it’s worth deviating from the “big” brands.

The Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro has a 6.67-inch screen. It boasts an impressive refresh rate for a smooth display, but in terms of deep colours and brightness, there are better options on the market.

For the cameras, you get a high-resolution 108MP main sensor, paired with a 26mm f/1.9 lens. There’s also an ultra-wide optic, plus, intriguingly a macro lens, which helps you to get highly-detailed close-up shots. All three put in a reasonably decent performance, with that macro option being particularly appealing if you’re the type to photograph subjects such as flowers.

Other useful features here include 5G connectivity, a massive 5000mAH battery, and a good range of different camera modes accessed via the native app.

Although there are undoubtedly better performing cameras on our list, at the price, you get a lot for your money. 

• Read more: Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro review (opens in new tab)

Read more:

• The best camera phones (opens in new tab) you can buy today
The best tablet for photo editing (opens in new tab)
The best iPads (opens in new tab) for photographers
• The best burner phones (opens in new tab)
• Which is the best iPhone for photography (opens in new tab)?

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