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Best Phablet 2020: Which big phone should you buy?

Trusted Reviews definitively lists the best phablets of 2020

Which is the best phablet?

Are you looking for a new big-screen smartphone for Netflix binges and gaming? You’re in luck, as some of the best phablets ever made are available now.

There are a number of great phablets available for purchase, covering a variety of different budgets. Whether you’re looking for an affordable entertainment hub for your kid or a top-end work phone, there’s a phablet for you.

Our summary below lists our top picks, and you can scroll down to see the full reviews for each entry.

  • Best phablet: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Best phablet with a stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Best for photography: Huawei P30 Pro
  • Best for entertainment: iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Best for display: OnePlus 8 Pro
  • Best for gaming: Black Shark 3 Pro

How we test phablets

Every phablet that passes through Trusted Reviews undergoes a stringent set of tests. These include benchmarks to gauge their gaming and general performance, and screen tests to judge key factors including colour accuracy and maximum brightness.

From there we take a series of pre-set camera shots to gauge overall imaging quality and run it through a series of battery burns to see how things like video playback and gaming affect it. After all that, we use the phone as our main blower to see how it handles daily use.

Related: Best smartphones


1. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

The best phablet comes at a price

Pros:

  • Huge 6.9-inch OLED
  • 120Hz display
  • Great zooming skills

Cons:

  • Battery takes a hit at 120Hz
  • Very expensive

With a screen measuring 6.9-inches, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is a very large phone that can easily rival smaller tablets. If you love watching media on-the-go, playing games or even reading, the S20 Ultra is a great choice. Just as long as the high price doesn’t put you off.

It’s not just the size of the screen, but the quality of it too. This OLED panel packs supreme levels of brightness, HDR support in apps like Prime Video and Netlfix, accurate colour reproduction and a faster 120Hz refresh rate. The notch for the 40-megapixel front camera is also far smaller than the one on the S10 range. This really is the finest screen on any phone around.

Inside the S20 Ultra you’ll find an array of high-end components. 5G is standard – you will, of course, need to be in a supported area and be on a 5G network – there’s either a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 at the heart and RAM options up to 16GB. Both wireless and fast wireless charging are supported to charge the 5000mAh battery and there’s still an IP68 rating and microSD expansion.

Three main cameras sit on the back, along with an extra sensor for detecting depth, and the pictures are generally very sharp with bright colours. Video can shoot at 8K, though you’ll need an 8K TV to really make the most of it.

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The best phablet with a pen

Pros:

  • Bronze colour is really nice, and adds a matte finish
  • S Pen even more responsive than ever
  • Really good triple camera
  • The best looking phone around

Cons:

  • Battery life, on Exynos version, isn’t good
  • Screen resolution limits are annoying 

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s priciest flagship phablet. The successor to the Note 10 Plus, this phone features a stunning 6.9-inch Super AMOLED display, a fantastic triple camera and more. One of the most obvious differences between this handset and the S20 is the presence of the S Pen stylus, which comes with tons of productivity perks and less latency than previous pens.

This phablet benefits from a variable refresh rate, meaning the display can go from as low as 1Hz when static to 120Hz in use for smooth scrolling and incredible gameplay. The design is stunning too, with the new Mystic Bronze shade easily stealing the spotlight from the less flashy S20 Ultra colour options.

The Note 20 Ultra is powered by the speedy Snapdragon 865+ in North America and the same Exynos 990 as the S20 here in the UK. The phone also supports 5G, making it perfect for anyone wishing to upgrade to next-gen connectivity.

If you’re looking for a phablet with a stylus, you’ll struggle to find anything that beat what the Note 20 Ultra has to offer.

Huawei P30 Pro

3. Huawei P30 Pro

Best for photography

Pros:

  • Great cameras
  • Massive battery
  • Slick design

Cons:

  • EMUI needs an overhaul
  • Screen lacks the sharpness of the S10

Huawei has somehow managed to oust the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and even its own Mate 20 Pro from the best smartphone-camera pedestal. Not only does the flagship Huawei P30 Pro pack a periscopic 5x lossless optical zoom camera, it also wields a 40-megapixel main sensor and an ultra-wide snapper to boot – not to mention that it offers unprecedented low-light photography skills.

Beyond imaging, there’s also a stunning 6.47-inch HDR-compliant OLED display, stupendous battery life attached to a super-fast-charging battery, with fast wireless charging thrown in for good measure. There’s also a Kirin 980 chipset powering things along.

Not everyone will gel with the company’s EMUI user experience but that’s easily fixable when you consider what else the P30 Pro offers.

4. iPhone 11 Pro Max

A glitzier, flashier version of the iPhone 11

Pros:

  • A lovely, supremely bright display
  • One of the best camera systems on any phone
  • There’s a quick charger in the box

Cons:

  • Design hasn’t changed much
  • 64GB still the base storage option
  • The iPhone 11 is, for most people, a better pick

The iPhone 11 Pro Max, along with its iPhone 11 Pro sibling, sits atop Apple’s roster. These are the glitzier, flashier and far pricier versions of the iPhone 11.

For the extra outlay you get various extra features, such as the XDR Retina display, a triple-camera array on the back and higher-end materials. Apple has seriously improved its photographic output with the iPhone 11 range and it now stands level with the best out there.

The Pro versions are absolute performance beasts, with the new A13 Bionic chipset speeding things along. Paired with the A13 is a completely new U1 chip. This is able to communicate directly with other iPhones packing the U1 to transfer files through AirDrop without the need for a connection.

When it comes to battery life, Apple claims a 5hr improvement for the Pro Max compared to the XS.

No 5G might seem like an omission to some purchasers, but it’s not like Apple to jump on a bandwagon before it’s proved its worth.

oneplus8pro refresh rate

5. OnePlus 8 Pro

The best way to avoid a notch

Pros:

  • Great screen
  • Seriously powerful
  • Improved cameras
  • Finally has wireless charging

Cons:

  • Large size and overly curved screen make it uncomfortable to hold and use without a case
  • Colour filter camera is utterly pointless

With one of the best screens you’ll find on an Android, the OnePlus 8 Pro is a powerful phablet that offers fantastic value for money when compared to many of its competitors.

The 8 Pro features a 6.7-inch OLED display capable of running at a smooth 120Hz even at its top quad-HD+ resolution, allowing the phone to stand out next to more limited handsets, such as Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series. The display also features HDR 10+ support and customisable colour profiles meaning you can tweak the display to your liking.

The 7T Pro was an incredibly fast phone and OnePlus hasn’t let us down with this update. The 8 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 865 with the X50 5G modem, and comes kitted with either 8 or 12GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage. The speedy SoC combined with the fast refresh rate has resulted in a phone that feels as smooth as it is, with no lag to be found.

The quad camera creates punchy images with a main 48MP sensor, an ultra-wide 48MP sensor and an 8MP zoom lens, though the addition of a 5MP colour filter sensor wasn’t our favourite decision here.

The phone is also equipped with a 4,510mAh battery with Warp Charge 30 and Qi wireless charging compatibility. While the 8 Pro isn’t a huge departure from the 7T, it’s still a great phone with a truly excellent display.

6. Black Shark 3 Pro

The best gaming phone around

Pros:

  • Great screen
  • Good value
  • Loads of decent gaming features

Cons:

  • Design will put non-gamers off

The Black Shark 3 Pro is Xiaomi’s flagship gaming phone and a great choice for any mobile gamer in need of an upgrade.

While this phablet will struggle to draw in most typical buyers with its loud, unapologetic look and unwieldy 7.1-inch display, the Black Shark 3 Pro is fantastically designed for gamers, with a number of features you won’t find in your standard handset.

A custom switch on the side of the phone activates Shark Space 3.0, allowing users to customise RGB light patterns and create custom profiles for specific games. This button also activates the “Master Triggers” – pop-up shoulder buttons with a tactile feel and a pleasing click mechanism when you press down fully. 

The Pro also takes advantage of a custom cooling system 50% more efficient than that on the Black Shark 2, and a “dual X” antenna placement to improve connectivity in landscape mode.

Like some other phablets on this list, the Pro features a high 90Hz refresh rate for smooth gaming and HDR 10+ support. It also includes a 270Hz touch reporting rate and 24ms touch latency, making it incredibly responsive. The phone is powered by the fast Snapdragon 865 chipset and includes the same great triple camera setup as the Black Shark 3. The phone also includes a 5,000mAh battery and supports 65W fast charging.

For mobile gamers unbothered by its hefty design, this is by far the best phablet on the market.

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