What is the best big phone you can buy in the UK?
- Xiaomi Mi Mix
- Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
- OnePlus 3T
- Huawei Mate 9
- Google Nexus 6P
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.
Also see: Best Phone Deals
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 kids' phones 2017
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.
Note that before you buy the Galaxy S7 edge in second place a new version is likely to be announced later this month - see our Galaxy S8 rumour round-up.
Read next: Best new phones coming in 2017
- 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.
- Reviewed on: 12 January 17
- RRP: £639, US$780
The Galaxy S7 edge is no longer the semi-gimmick it was before. Although some of the main features are things from the Galaxy S5 – Micro-SD and waterproofing – Samsung has given fans what they want. It's now a refined, sophisticated and highly desirable piece of technology. The battery isn't removable but the phone lasts longer than before and has seriously powerful specs under the hood. It has almost everything you could want from a phone even though the IR blaster is gone. We're also very impressed with the new camera and unless the screen is too big for you (despite some software features to help out) we think it's worth getting the S7 edge for the extra £70 with its gorgeous looks and extra functionality. Right now, this is the best smartphone money can buy.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review.
3. 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: 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: 28 April 16
- RRP: From £449
Originally, Nexus phones stood out for being excellent value at a price that was low, but not the lowest. They weren't an alternative to flagship phones, but they had the advantage of running stock Android and getting the next version more quickly. The 6P, though, is not only a flagship, but is arguably the best Android phone to buy at the moment. It won't suit everyone due to its size, nor those looking for a phone with dual-SIM slots or a removable battery. There's no support for wireless charging either. But the excellent screen, front-firing speakers, quick charging, great cameras, speedy performance and Android Marshmallow add up to make this a phone that's a pleasure to use. And yes, it's also cheaper than its rivals, so unless you think it's worth shelling out extra on the Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+ or iPhone 6S Plus, the Nexus 6P is the one to buy.
Read our Google Nexus 6P 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: 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.
- 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.
- Reviewed on: 9 September 16
- RRP: From £499, From US$549
The iPhone 6S Plus is a remarkable phone, and it's still a fantastic phone 12 months on. The 16GB model has finally been banished and the new minimum storage of 32GB should be workable for a lot of people.
3D Touch can sound gimmicky, but it’s absolutely not. It requires effort to force yourself to use it to begin with, but it quickly becomes second nature and app developers have put it to use in apps and games.
Read our iPhone 6s Plus review.
10. 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.
11. Huawei P9 Plus
- Reviewed on: 6 September 16
- RRP: £629
If you’re in the market for a sleek, premium phablet with a great dual-camera setup, the Huawei P9 Plus is a great option. The 5.5in SuperAMOLED FHD display is bright and crisp, and shows off the detailed photos taken by the rear-facing dual 12Mp snappers. The processor is strong enough to compete with Samsung’s Galaxy S7, although it doesn’t quite compare in terms of graphical power. However, it’s worth noting that there aren’t huge differences between the P9 Plus and the flagship P9 so depending on what you want from the smartphone, it may be worth taking a look at the £100 cheaper Huawei P9. Otherwise, it’s a decent premium flagship that we’re impressed with.
Read our Huawei P9 Plus review.
12. 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.
13. LG G4
- Reviewed on: 19 August 15
- RRP: £500, US$500
LG has gone down an unexpected route with leather models which we like apart from a couple of colours. The so called ceramic model will be cheaper but feels cheap and plasticky. On the whole, hardware is once again strong - particularly the camera - but not massively different from the G3 and has tough competition. We feel build quality could be better with a metal frame and dimensions going down, not the reverse. This is the flagship to go for if you want a removable battery and expandable storage but it's a shame to see features like wireless charging dropped. (Remember the G3 is now a steal at under £300 SIM-free and the OnePlus 2 is now here)
Read our LG G4 review.
14. 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.
15. UMI Z
- Reviewed on: 31 January 17
- RRP: £192.40, 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.
16. Xiaomi Redmi Pro
- Reviewed on: 21 September 16
- RRP: £256.04, 329.99
The Xiaomi Redmi Pro offers unbeatable value for money at around £250, undercutting every flagship yet offering much the same performance and many comparable features. Due to the lack of Google Play and a number of Chinese preinstalled apps we’d recommend Xiaomi phones only to seasoned Android users, however.
Read our Xiaomi Redmi Pro 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: 13 February 17
- RRP: £192.93, 245.99
The Redmi Note 4 isn’t a huge upgrade over the Redmi Note 3 in terms of core hardware, with simply a greater amount of storage and a faster processor, but the design changes are a huge improvement over its predecessor. If you don’t care about looks and can make do with less storage then the cheaper Redmi Note 3 may well meet your needs. The Redmi Note 4 remains a great buy, but the omission of Google Play support may put off some users. O2 and Giffgaff customers should also note the lack of support for 800MHz 4G.
Read our Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 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. Moto Z Play
- Reviewed on: 11 November 16
- RRP: £379.99, US$449.99
The Moto Mods accessories are the main reason to buy the Moto Z Play, but it's a decent mid-range phone regardless. For an affordable price Lenovo offers premium design, good specs and a well-rounded software experience. You only really need to splash out on the Moto Z for the Quad HD screen, Snapdragon 820 and OIS camera should you feel the need for those features (but also bear in mind the more expensive version has no headphone jack and a smaller battery).
Read our Moto Z Play review.