Your buying guide for the best big phones in 2017
Many a time we've been guilty of reviewing a smartphone and blasting it for not fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand, or for requiring two hands for comfortable operation. But every one of us is different, and while some of us prefer our phones sleek and compact, others prefer them big and powerful. Also see Best smartphones 2017 and Best tablets 2017.
Large-screen phones aren't useful only for those with poor eyesight or fat fingers, they're also a good fit for avid mobile gamers and those who watch a lot of video. Also see: Best Phone Deals
Generally speaking, a phablet (as they are known in the industry - a cross between phone and tablet) should be no less powerful than a standard smartphone. With more room inside the case they tend to have higher-capacity batteries, but you should also take into account that their larger screens may drain power faster than the smaller screens of phones with lower-capacity batteries.
We class smartphones with screens of 5.5in-plus on the diagonal as phablets. Take into account that the number of pixels will be stretched over a larger screen area, so a Quad-HD screen will be appreciated here more than it would on a compact phone. That said, though, even a full-HD screen will look crystal clear on a big phone - just watch out for anything lower in resolution than this. Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017.
Please note that we aim to recommend the latest generation of smartphone. So, for example, the Galaxy S7 edge is missing from this group but is still a good choice for a phone. Devices like this will make it into our best mid-range chart when they are cheap enough.
- Reviewed on: 28 April 17
- RRP: £689
Samsung has taken the best phone around and made it even better with an impressive screen and design. It ticks a shed load of boxes you'd want a flagship to do. It's the best phone of 2017 so far but it is expensive and the biometrics are a let down. We're keen to see what the likes of Apple, HTC and OnePlus can do to challenge.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 review.
2. LG G6
- Reviewed on: 3 April 17
- RRP: £649, US$799
The LG G6 is no doubt a striking smartphone. Metal and glass shimmer while the huge 18:9 screen is impressively brought to life with the improved software and its rounded corner design. It is a more refined smartphone than both the G4 and G5, and should appeal to a broader audience – even if its features aren’t the same globally.
There’s a lot to cover with the G6, and it’s a complicated phone to assess. The differences in hardware and the tweaks in software mean that is a phone that reveals itself to you slowly than the immediacy of, say, a Samsung Galaxy S. The design looks uniform at first until you realise how well it all comes together.
LG has quietly managed to build a mature phone with next to no bezels and some genuinely unique tweaks to software, leaving it feeling fresher and more creative than any Android phone we’ve seen for a while.
Read our LG G6 review.
- Reviewed on: 11 May 17
- RRP: £779, US$899
As with the regular Galaxy S8, we're really impressed by the Galaxy S8 Plus. Samsung has done a great job of making last year's phones even better. However, with both offering the infinity edge screen and the unwieldy size of the S8 Plus, there's little reason to spend the extra.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 23 February 17
- RRP: £799.91, US$997.78
It might sound expensive, but the £799 Xiaomi Mi Mix actually offers very good value when you consider its meaty core hardware and generous 256GB of storage - it's certainly less than you'd pay for an iPhone 7 Plus. This isn't a phone you buy with budget in mind, however: the Mi Mix is the phone you buy when you want onlookers to say "Oh my gosh, what is that? It's amazing - I want one of those!" The Mi Mix is a revolutionary phone that we hope is a sign of things to come, with that gorgeous bezel-less display, beautiful ceramic body, fantastic performance, long, long battery life and all the other fancy tech we can't even pronounce, let alone understand. No matter - it works. Highly recommended.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Mix review.
5. OnePlus 3T
- Reviewed on: 28 March 17
- RRP: From £399, From US$439
The OnePlus 3T will be unfairly compared, for now at least, to the phone that came before it. So let’s ignore it. On its own, the OnePlus 3T is everything a modern smartphone should be; slim, fast, and responsive, with above average battery life and cameras that produce stunning images. And then there’s the price. OnePlus may not like being known for it, but £399 remains an absolutely amazing price point for the phone on offer.
As long as you don’t want an iPhone, this Android handset stands side by side with the Samsung Galaxy S7 as the best example of a smartphone on the market today – once we’ve all got over that it came a little sooner than we had expected.
Read our OnePlus 3T review.
- Reviewed on: 21 March 17
- RRP: £719 (32GB); £819 (128GB); £919 (256GB), US$769 (32GB); $869 (128GB); $969 (256GB)
The iPhone 7 Plus is an excellent phone. It’s Apple’s best yet, but it is also Apple’s most expensive yet, with a huge starting price. In some respects, the upgrades seem to justify this, but at the same time some features are arguably only catching up with what the competition has been offering for a while now – water-resistance for one.
Taken as a whole, the performance, battery life, camera quality and stereo speakers are all compelling reasons to upgrade. But our advice remains much the same as for the iPhone 7: if you already own the previous generation, there’s not enough here to justify ditching a 6S Plus, especially if you’re halfway through a two-year contract. Those just coming out of contract on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus would do well to grab a 7 Plus.
Read our Apple iPhone 7 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 5 April 17
- RRP: £679
The P10 Plus is another solid smartphone from Huawei offering attractive design, high-end hardware and much improved software. However, it's missing a few features compared to rivals such as waterproofing and wireless charging. The phone is also pretty expensive so you're probably better-off getting the regular P10 or even cheaper options like the OnePlus 3T or Honor 8 Pro.
Read our Huawei P10 Plus review.
- Reviewed on: 12 January 17
- RRP: £599.99, US$599.99
Huawei’s Mate 9 is, in our opinion, the best in the Huawei line-up, boasting an impressively large battery alongside powerful internals, an improved dual-camera setup and a sleek, gorgeous design. The benchmark results were some of the best we've seen, bringing excellent value for money. EMUI 5 makes a huge difference to the overall experience too, and we can’t wait to see whether Huawei’s new technology will actually improve the performance of the smartphone over time.
Read our Huawei Mate 9 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 March 17
- RRP: £497.04, US$619.99
The Mi Note 2 was wrongly overshadowed at its launch. This is a gorgeous big-screen Android phone with very decent performance, a great camera and plenty of storage. We'd like to see a Quad-HD screen on Xiaomi's flagship phone, but this one should prove plenty sharp and clear. Google apps are not preinstalled, but there is a workaround if you are happy to do some tweaking.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Note 2 review.
10. Honor 8 Pro
- Reviewed on: 5 April 17
- RRP: £474.99
After a good stint with the Honor 8 Pro, it remains a promising device. It represents the brand moving even closer in look and price to big bro Huawei, but it is a decent option.
However without contract options in the UK at this time, you’ll have to plump for SIM free, and at just under £500 you might be tempted to look at the OnePlus 3T or even go for a more expensive, better phone on contract. And even though they cost more, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus hardware is better designed.
Read our Honor 8 Pro review.
- Reviewed on: 15 October 15
- RRP: £484.99, US$585
So, what do we think of the Galaxy Note 5? We’re very fond of just about every aspect of the Galaxy Note 5, from its curved and sleek design to its vibrant display and high-resolution camera. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it thanks to its CPU, GPU and 4GB of RAM and we experienced no lag during our testing. The only bad point is that the Note 5 would sometimes falsely detect the S Pen detaching – and to point out such a minor fault says a lot about the quality of the handset. With this being said, we’re both surprised and sad that the Galaxy Note 5 won’t be heading to UK shores any time soon.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review.
12. Google Pixel XL
- Reviewed on: 17 February 17
- RRP: £719 (32GB) £819 (128GB), US$769 (32GB) $869 (128GB)
While the Pixel XL is an attractive phone (if you can get used to the glass section) with decent combination of hardware and software, we can't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's very similar to the much cheaper Nexus 6P and OnePlus 3. You can get plenty of other Android phones for less which have extra features like waterproofing and expandable storage. Sorry Google, but things have gone a bit wrong here.
Read our Google Pixel XL review.
13. Meizu Pro 6 Plus
- Reviewed on: 5 May 17
- RRP: £399.05, US$512.99
Running Flyme OS 5 out of the box, the well-built Meizu Pro 6 Plus is a fantastic Android phone with some seriously good performance, a vibrant and high-resolution screen and a decent camera. Unfortunately, though cheaper than UK flagships, at £399 (before import duty) it’s still too pricey to properly compete with the Galaxy S7 and OnePlus 3T. Neither are we in love with Flyme OS.
Read our Meizu Pro 6 Plus review.
14. Xiaomi Mi Max
- Reviewed on: 29 June 16
- RRP: £212.04, US$274.89
If you want a huge phone and you don’t want to pay as large a wedge of cash, the Xiaomi Mi Max is a fantastic phablet with good looks, decent performance, strong runtime and, most importantly of all, a gigantic screen. Not ideal for novice users, but otherwise the Mi Max is a highly recommended smartphone.
Read our Xiaomi Mi Max review.
15. UMIDIGI Z Pro
- Reviewed on: 21 April 17
- RRP: £204.35, US$247.99
The UMIDIGI Z Pro offers fantastic value at just over £200. It has a large battery, a decent screen and powerful performance. The dual-camera doesn't offer quite the relief we were hoping for following poor performance from the UMI Z, but this is still a great phone.
Read our UMIDIGI Z Pro review.
16. UMI Z
- Reviewed on: 31 January 17
- RRP: £239.99, US$239.99
The UMI Z is an excellent-value Android phone with a large battery, a decent screen, the most powerful MediaTek processor you can get and a very good selfie camera. Unfortunately the primary camera doesn't quite live up, but it's otherwise difficult to fault. With full UK 4G connectivity it's a great buy.
Read our UMI Z review.
17. Lenovo P2
- Reviewed on: 26 January 17
- RRP: £199.99
The Lenovo P2 is really being sold on the strength of its battery, and the great news is that it lives up to the company’s hype, offering you days of usage and a power bank in a pinch. Throw in the premium design and build quality, and you have a phone that delivers tremendous value for money. It may not boast flagship performance, but by the time you hit your third day without charging, you’re not likely to care that much.
Read our Lenovo P2 review.
- Reviewed on: 8 May 17
- RRP: £164.76, US$202
It isn’t a huge upgrade over the Redmi Note 3 or Note 4, but the Note 4X Global edition is a fine budget phone for UK users.
Read our Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X review.
19. Elephone S7
- Reviewed on: 12 January 17
- RRP: £177.11, US$219.99
The Elephone S7 is a very good-looking phone at an affordable price, with decent performance and a generous helping of storage. On the down side the cameras are disappointing and the rear panel is plastic. Even at this price you don't need to compromise so heavily.
Read our Elephone S7 review.
20. Honor 6X
- Reviewed on: 12 January 17
- RRP: £224, US$249
The Honor 6X manages to be a budget phone but not remotely feel like one. This is high praise, and while it could never hold a candle to the performance of phones three times the price, that’s not the point – the Android experience you get is still nigh-on top drawer.
As long as you can get on with Huawei’s still-not-there EMUI skin, the Honor 6X is one of the best, most affordable mid-range Android handsets going – and it’s easy to pick one up in the UK.
Read our Honor 6X review.