Phablets and large screen phones
Not quite a smartphone, not quite a tablet - what exactly is a phablet, and do they still exist?
The term 'phablet' started gaining popularity from 2012 to 2014, although it's a word you may not hear as much now, as smartphone screen sizes increase and phone technology leaps forward.
Here's our guide to phablets, including their defining characteristics, whether they still exist, and the current range of smartphones which are seen as modern-day phablets.
What is a phablet?
Phablets are a cross between a smartphone and a tablet - the term 'phablet' was used in the past for smartphones with very large screens.
The term was coined around the time when phones had 4.5-inch up to 5.8-inch screens, and phablets had 6-inch+ displays. The term 'phablet' isn’t relevant anymore as the majority of new smartphones have 6-inch+ displays.
The definition for 'phablet' is fluid as smartphone displays have become larger and the term has steadily fallen out of use. However, phablets tend to have the following characteristics:
Large screens with smartphone processor functionality, yet smaller than a tablet
Can be held and used in one hand
Many are compatible with styluses
What is a phablet used for?
With screens larger than your average phone, phablets are fantastic for people who regularly use their phones for gaming, streaming, and working on the go. The increased display dimensions promote a more immersive experience and make multitasking easier, and if taking pictures is your thing, there’s more room to get creative with your snaps.
Do phablets still exist?
Technically, yes - there are several new smartphones available with large displays and powerful processors which have phablet characteristics.
However, as technology has moved on, what would have been considered a phablet in the past would now be considered a small smartphone.
When Samsung released the Galaxy Note in 2011, its ground-breaking 5.3-inch screen defined it as a phablet - it's commonly cited as one of the first phablets available.
These days, the Galaxy Note's display would be considered small.
Why did people buy phablets in the past?
When large smartphone screens weren't as commonplace as they are now, phablets were popular with people who needed to work on trains and planes, and people who wanted to watch videos and play games on larger screens. Some of their benefits included:
More space on screen - people who had to work on the go found that a larger screen increased their productivity
Immersive entertainment - larger screens meant more detail and a cinematic-style viewing experience
Increased comfort - using and switching between apps was more comfortable on bigger screens
Reducing eye strain - it was easier for people to read text, get notifications and read documents on a bigger display
Which phone has the biggest screen?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 has one of the biggest screens, unfolding to an expansive, super-smooth 7.6-inch display. Not only this, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 has the brightest foldable screen ever¹, so you can watch all your favourite content in vivid detail and fold it neatly into your pocket when you’re finished.
Likewise, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3’s immersive unfolded 7.6-inch display, you can lose yourself in your world. Nothing will come between you and your favourite content when you have a cinema and games arcade in your pocket.
Which iPhone has the largest screen?
Some iPhone models have a 6.7-inch screen¹, including iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Plus from the latest iPhone series. Users can enjoy a Super Retina XDR display which is up to 2x brighter in the sun compared to iPhone 14, along with a 120Hz refresh rate on iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Which Samsung phone has the largest screen?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Fold3 have the largest screens of any Samsung folding phone. All handsets benefit from a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display when unfolded. If you’re looking for a Samsung phone that doesn’t fold, the Galaxy S23 Ultra has a 6.8-inch screen with QHD+ inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. With an almost bezel-less design, it promises true edge-to-edge viewing. Explore our range of folding phones to find out more.
Other Android phones with large screens
The Xiaomi Mi 11 has a bezel-free 6.81-inch AMOLED DotDisplay with quad-curved edges, WQHD+ ultra-high resolution and HDR10+ for crisper details and clarity. The 120Hz refresh rate lets you enjoy a seamless and smooth screen experience, especially when gaming, and AdaptiveSync display automatically optimises power consumption.
Is there a 7-inch phone?
We don’t sell any phones with exact 7-inch screens, but we do sell several phones which have ultra-large screens such as:
iPhone 15 Pro Max and iPhone 15 Plus: 6.7-inch
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, Z Fold4 and Z Fold5: 7.6-inch (when unfolded)
Xiaomi Mi 11: 6.81-inch
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra: 6.8-inch
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3: 6.7-inch (when unfolded)
Google Pixel 6 Pro and 7 Pro: 6.7-inch
Samsung Galaxy S22+ and S23+: 6.6-inch
Samsung Galaxy A22 5G: 6.6-inch
A 7-inch phone will give you a slightly larger display than a 6.7-inch phone - that means more immersive entertainment and gaming, and easier multi-app viewing from one screen.
Looking for a small phone?
If you're after a neat, slimline phone which you can easily operate with one hand or slip into a pocket, check out our guide to the best small phones of 2023 with hardworking processors, fabulous features and crystal-clear screens for gaming, browsing and working.
Frequently asked questions
Screen size for smartphones is measuring diagonally from the upper left-hand corner of the screen to the lower right-hand corner.
They're usually measured in inches.
It's important to note that sometimes the actual viewable area is less than what is measured - this is due to the rounded corners and camera hole.
Terms and conditions
¹ The display has rounded corners. When measured as a standard rectangle, the screen is 6.69 inches diagonally. Actual viewable area is less.
¹ Emergency SOS uses a cellular connection or WiFi calling.
¹The display has rounded corners. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the screen is 6.68-inches diagonally. Actual viewable area is less.
²Battery life varies by use and configuration; see apple.com/batteries for more information.
³Emergency SOS uses a cellular connection or WiFi calling.
¹The display has rounded corners. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the screen is 6.68 inches diagonally. Actual viewable area is less.
²Data plan required. 5G is available in select markets and through select carriers. Speeds vary based on site conditions and carrier. For details on 5G support, contact your carrier and see apple.com/iphone/cellular
³iPhone 13 Pro is spill, splash, and dust resistant and was tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529. Spill, splash, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions. Resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.
⁴The displays have rounded corners that follow a beautiful curved design, and these corners are within a standard rectangle. When measured as a standard rectangular shape, the iPhone 13 screen is 6.06 inches diagonally and the iPhone 13 mini screen is 5.42 inches diagonally. Actual viewable area is less.
¹ Compared against Z Fold4
¹ Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.
¹5G network connection required.
S Pen Fold edition and S Pen Pro sold separately.
Submersion in up to 1.5m of freshwater for up to 30min (not advised for beach or pool use).
Tested to be folded and unfolded 100 times a day for 5 years. The life cycle verification was tested based on Samsung's internal quality standards.
¹ Compared against Galaxy S22 Series.
² Typical value tested under third- party laboratory condition. Rated minimum capacity is 4855mAh.
¹Pixel 6 Pro: 128GB UFS 3.1 storage for all colours. 256GB UFS 3.1 storage in Stormy Black only. Pixel 6: 128GB UFS 3.1 storage for all colours. 256GB UFS 3.1 storage in Stormy Black and Sorta Seafoam only. Storage specifications refer to capacity before formatting. Actual formatted capacity will be less.
²Estimate of typical capacity based upon testing and expected mobile behaviour.
³Maximum resolution with RAW image files setting turned on. Setting is turned off by default. See g.co/pixel/photoediting for more information.
⁴Compared to earlier models of Pixel phones.
⁵Android security updates for at least five years from when the device first became available on the Google Store in the US. See g.co/pixel/updates for details.
⁶Measured diagonally; dimension may vary by configuration and manufacturing process. Not available for all apps or content. Display automatically adjusts to optimise for best viewing and battery performance.
⁷Based on a count of independent hardware security subsystems and components.
⁸Based on 2020 analyst research funded by Google LLC and conducted by Informa Telecoms and Media Limited. Evaluation considered features that may not be available in all countries. Evaluation did not include testing. See goo.gle/mobilesecurityscorecard for more information.
⁹Compared to Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G).