2014 Phablet Comparison Guide ( Part 1 of 2 )

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Staff member
Mar 24, 2011
By Will Shanklin July 18, 2014

Gizmag compares the best phablets you can buy today

Like it or not, the word "phablet" is here to stay – and so are the supersized smartphones that the word describes. Though the category was once practically synonymous with the Samsung Galaxy Note, there are now enough competing phablets to make your decision difficult. Read on, as Gizmag compares the best phablets you can buy today.

What is a phablet? Well, on its simplest level, this phone/tablet portmanteau describes any smartphone that's big enough to replace a small tablet. For our purposes, we're going to say it's any phone with a 5.5-in or bigger screen. We're also limiting this comparison to high-end phablets with high-resolution screens. That means we're skipping intriguing mid-range devices like the Huawei Ascend Mate2 (which is definitely worth a look if you're trying to keep the price down).

With that in mind, here's our group of six absolutely phabulous phablets:

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • LG G Pro 2
  • HTC One Max
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
  • OnePlus One
  • LG G3
For each category, you'll see two rows of phablets, ordered just as they are in the list above. If you forget which is which, you can just scroll back up and check it against this list.

It's rare that we publish a "best of" comparison that doesn't include a single Apple product, but the iPhone is still stuck in the land of tiny screens. That will likely change later this year, but for now we're looking at five Android phablets and one humongous Windows Phone.


None of these phones are small, but the LG G3 probably gives you the best balance of screen real estate and phone size. At 5.5-in, it has the smallest (or maybe it should be "least gigantic") screen in this bunch. But the bezel on its front face is so minimal that the phone itself doesn't feel unusually large. Some of these phones are like shoving a piece of ceramic tile in your pocket (I'm talking to you, HTC One Max and Lumia 1520), but the G3 has a relatively small footprint.


Weight is another win for the G3, though several phablets in this bunch feel relatively light in hand. The One Max, meanwhile, is the least appealing in this round as well.


Only the One Max and OnePlus One have non-plastic exteriors (and, in the case of the One Max, even it has some plastic around the edges). While metallic builds are nice to have in standard smartphones, I'm not sure if they're as desirable in phablets. Once a phone gets this big, plastic's lighter weight and less rigid build can sometimes make the devices more comfortable to hold.

The G3's backing is made of plastic, but with a metallic film on top that (sort of) combines the best of both worlds.


These are the color options for each phablet, though some of these are carrier exclusives (or even Asia-only exclusives) so you might see less variety in your local wireless or electronics store.

Display (size)

Size and weight are the best arguments against phablets, but screen size is the best argument for them.

The percentages above show each phablet's relative screen area, compared to the largest in the group, the Lumia 1520. As you can see, some of them (OnePlus One, G3) are just skating on the edges of phabletville, while others (Lumia 1520, HTC One Max) wear their phablet nature on their sleeves like a badge of honor. And the biggest question you'll want to ask yourself is which end of that spectrum you want to lean farther towards.

Navigation keys

Devices that use onscreen navigation keys (usually menu, home and recent apps) sacrifice a little bit of screen real estate to make room for that persistent virtual bar that lives on the bottom of the display.

Only the two LG phablets use onscreen navigation keys exclusively. The OnePlus, meanwhile, actually gives you the choice of using onscreen buttons or the capacitive keys that live below its screen.

Android's Immersive Mode, though, helps to minimize the blow of those persistent onscreen navigation keys. In some places, like video and reading apps, the keys will automatically fade away and you'll be able to use the full screen area for your content (a swipe down from the edge will bring the menu keys back). And on the G3, you can even choose specific apps (even ones that don't natively support Immersive Mode) to hide the navigation bar in.

Display (resolution)

1080p is the order of the day, as all but one of our phablets carry Full HD resolution. All are going to be plenty sharp for even the most discerning retinas. The lone holdout is the LG G3, which has an even sharper (2,560 x 1,440) screen. It has the best smartphone (or phablet) display I've ever seen.


Samsung really started something with this whole phablet thing, but one thing its rivals haven't copied is its stylus. The Galaxy Note 3 is the only device in this bunch that includes (and natively supports) pen input. The S Pen slides into a slot on the bottom of the Note 3, and gives you a level of precision that your stubby fingers can't provide.

Split-screen multitasking

Only the LG and Samsung phablets support split-screen (side-by-side) multitasking. It's a handy feature that fits those huge screens like a glove.

The OnePlus One is the most easily hackable in this group, and there are Android tweaks that let you run split-screen apps on it as well. But since it isn't an out-of-the-box feature, and takes some advanced know-how to install, we're slapping that big 'X' under the OnePlus One.

One-handed mode

Having such an enormous display can be a drawback if you only have one hand available. Here both the Samsung and LG phablets have an answer, with their one-handed modes. They each work a little differently though: the Note's version shrinks the entire display area to about the size of a standard smartphone's, while LG's one-handed mode only scrunches the keyboard to the side of the screen.

Tap-on display

LG's Knock-On lets you turn on your phablet's display just by tapping twice on its (sleeping) screen. You can then tap twice again on an unused part of your home screen to turn the display back off. Even better is LG's Knock Code, which lets you create a unique pattern of taps that anyone will need to know in order to get into your phone.

The OnePlus One duplicates LG's double-tap-to-turn-on functionality, but not the secure pattern part.


There are some terrific cameras in this bunch, but the Lumia 1520's is probably the one to beat. When I reviewed it earlier this year, I was impressed with its quality and variety of options. Its 20 MP resolution also lets you zoom or crop pretty close, and barely notice any drop in resolution.

Continue Reading @ http://www.androidtablets.net/forum...t-comparison-guide-part-2-2-a.html#post313688


Senior Member
Dec 27, 2011
Unfortunately the OnePlus One appears to be kaput. They had a great idea and phone - for the money - but PayPal cut their account off for nondelivery and other problems.
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