Phones used to be small - the first iPhone only had a 3.5in display, which today looks comically tiny. 2020's iPhone 12 Pro Max has a whopping 6.7in display and it isn’t the only phone with a sizeable screen. In fact, Apple was relatively late to the big phone party.

You may have heard the term 'phablet', which is a portmanteau of 'phone' and 'tablet'. If you’re anything like us, you might also prefer to use a large-screened phone all the time instead of having to resort to a tablet for specific situations.

Best big phone 2021

1

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra - Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Pros: Versatile cameras | Gorgeous display | Top-tier performance
  • Cons: No charger in-box | Expensive | No microSD expandability

Screen size: 6.8in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

Display-wise the Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers what the S20 series could not; the ability to enjoy both the phone's maximum WQHD+ resolution and its adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz, simultaneously.

What's more - for the first time on a Galaxy S device - the Ultra's expansive 6.8in panel also totes S-pen stylus support, filling the productivity niche of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra somewhat; provided you're willing to fork out for a standalone S Pen (or the Bluetooth-capable S Pen Pro) and a compatible case for storage.

After 2020's disappointing Galaxy S20 Ultra, the S21 Ultra delivers everything you could want from an Android flagship - admittedly at a price that only a few can afford, but with traits like a camera setup that stands unrivalled and some of the best performance out there, it's hard to knock it.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

2

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra - Ideal for productivity

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Pros: Superb display | Optimised for multitasking | Great performance
  • Cons: Exynos version is less capable than Snapdragon model | Weak battery

Screen size: 6.9in
Aspect ratio: 19.3:9

While it's not quite Huawei Mate 20 X big, Samsung's Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is still one of the biggest devices on the market - certainly the biggest-screened phone we tested in 2020.

Its display also happens to be among the best there is, with its crisp WQHD+ resolution and adaptive 120Hz refresh rate (even if they can't operate in tandem); not to mention superb colours, viewing angles and overall brightness.

It's also a great surface to show off the phone's integrated S Pen stylus, which also boasts the lowest latency yet at just 9ms.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

3

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra - The spec beast

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
  • Pros: Outstanding hardware | Stunning screen | Super-fast charging
  • Cons: Ugly camera module | Weak long-term update support

Screen size: 6.81in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

The Mi 11 Ultra is big, ugly and expensive, but it's also brilliant.

Provided you're comfortable with the size, weight and its plateau of a camera bump, the Mi 11 Ultra packs in some superb snappers, accompanied by a rear display that shows you the time, notifications and even doubles as a viewfinder.

Top-tier internals deliver serious performance, including super-fast wired and wireless charging, as well as a stunning 6.81in WQHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display, protected by the latest Gorilla Glass Victus. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is its most like-minded alternative, but if you're more of a Xiaomi fan, the Mi 11 Ultra has no equal.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review

4

iPhone 12 Pro Max - Superb all-rounder

iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Pros: Amazing performance | Great battery life | Beautiful display
  • Cons: Charging/MagSafe are messy | iOS underutilises big screen | Only 60Hz

Screen size: 6.7in
Aspect ratio: 19.5:9

Technically, the iPhone 12 Pro Max boasts the highest resolution display ever on an iPhone (even if this unique claim to fame amounts to the same, 458 pixels per inch as its last two predecessors - which sported smaller screens).

Much like 2020's Sony Xperia 1 II, Apple chose to ensure the fundamentals of the 12 Pro Max's Super Retina XDR OLED panel were rock solid before moving onto adding in high refresh rate visuals.

On the one hand, there isn't a lot to complain about with the similarly-specced screen used by the 11 Pro Max, so the fact that the panel is even larger (and flatter) here, without a drop in pixel density, can only be a good thing for media lovers and mobile gamers.

On the other, we would have loved to have seen Apple's 120Hz ProMotion technology for the first time on an iPhone, but that clearly wasn't meant to be this generation.

Read our full iPhone 12 Pro Max review

5

Oppo Find X3 Pro - Superb camera

Oppo Find X3 Pro
  • Pros: Exceptional display | Phenomenal cameras | Excellent longevity
  • Cons: No periscopic zoom lens | Some performance throttling

Screen size: 6.7in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

Oppo's 2021 flagship doesn't only possess a big screen but a crisp one too. The Find X3 Pro is one of the few devices to pair a 120Hz refresh rate with a 1440p resolution and AMOLED technology, resulting in super-sharp and responsive visuals that are hard to beat.

HDR10+ support and 10-bit colour support don't go amiss either.

6

Xiaomi Mi 11 - Best value

Xiaomi Mi 11
  • Pros: Fast performance | Great main camera | Nice design
  • Cons: MIUI still iffy | No telephoto camera | No IP rating

Screen size: 6.81in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

The first member of Xiaomi's expanding Mi 11 lineup comes out swinging with top-tier performance - powered by a Snapdragon 888 processor - and a capable 108Mp main camera.

Other highlights include stereo speakers, 50W fast charging, and, of course, an expansive 6.81in WQHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display that's hard to contend with.

Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 review

7

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra - Great value

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra
  • Pros: Brilliant cameras | Clean design | Stunning 144Hz display
  • Cons: No wireless charging | MyOS isn't for everyone

Screen size: 6.67in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

The ZTE Axon 30 Ultra came out of nowhere to be one of our favourite Android flagships so far this year.

The highlight is the rear camera setup, with delivers three 64Mp lenses (regular, ultrawide and 2x zoom) along with an 8Mp 5x periscopic lens - a setup no other phone at this price can really match.

Specs are strong elsewhere too, with a Snapdragon 888, 144Hz AMOLED display (so, great for gaming), and 65W charging for the 4600mAh battery.

You'll have to live without wireless charging or a water-resistance rating, and make do with the only-OK MyOS software, but if you can, the Axon 30 Ultra delivers an awful lot of performance per pound.

Read our full ZTE Axon 30 Ultra review

8

Nubia Red Magic 6R - Best for gaming

Nubia Red Magic 6R
  • Pros: Strong performance | Great 144Hz display | Understated 'gamer' design
  • Cons: Underwhelming cameras | Average battery life | Unintuitive software

Screen size: 6.67in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

If you're a fan of mobile gaming and you want the killer 144Hz display and flagship performance of the likes of the Axon 30 Ultra but aren't fussed about its cameras or super-fast charging, you can save a lot of money by opting for Nubia's Red Magic 6R.

Perhaps one of the brand's most understated Red Magic phones yet, the 6R still offers up a Snapdragon 888 chipset, paired with up to 12GB of RAM but shrugs off the bulk (and the internal fan) or the standard Red Magic 6; making for a more compact gaming-centric smartphone that won't break the bank.

Read our full Nubia Red Magic 6R review

9

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro - Most affordable

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro
  • Pros: Great value | 120Hz visuals on a budget | Good battery life
  • Cons: No 5G | Large camera bump | MIUI not for everyone

Screen size: 6.67in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

A great affordable entry with an expansive 6.67in AMOLED display - the Redmi Note 10 Pro demonstrates great value from Xiaomi.

What it offers up - in terms of stellar battery life, superb performance and 120Hz high refresh rate-viewing - is made all the more impressive by the use of OLED tech and a low price tag.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro review

10

Samsung Galaxy S21+ - Great for multimedia

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
  • Pros: Premium design | Great performance | Good value
  • Cons: Some downgrades compared to predecessor | No charger in-box

Screen size: 6.7in
Aspect ratio: 20:9

There's no denying that the Samsung Galaxy S21+ is both an exceptional flagship and one of the most well-rounded phones of the year so far, but ironically it stands in the shadow of its smaller sibling, the standard Galaxy S21.

If you prefer the larger 6.7in display that the S21+ offers up, you'll also enjoy its HDR10+ visuals and, most exciting of all, a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Performance is also top-notch, meaning it's great for enjoying media and gaming, there's 5G onboard and 25W fast charging means you can refill the phone's 4800mAh battery in a little over an hour.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review

Your buying guide to the best big-screened phone for you

Size matters

Most phones with displays over 5.5in (measured corner to corner) and sporting an aspect ratio of 16:9 are considered phablets, but in recent times phones have got taller and narrower, allowing displays to get bigger without the phones feeling bigger overall. Most of the phones in this chart have these taller aspect ratios.

Such a quality is the reason this roundup includes both the screen sizes and the aspect ratios of these devices; so you have a better idea of whether a phone is generally big or just tall and slim.

Not all phones with large screens are considered ‘big’ - despite its 6.2in display, we wouldn't consider the regular Galaxy S21 to be a phablet, because its tiny bezels and narrow aspect ratio mean it's relatively compact in-hand.

Samsung, Huawei, Motorola and others all offer phones that require two-handed use most of the time as a result of their displays, but to their credit, big phones don't just offer a better viewing experience, they boast other great benefits, like larger batteries.

Resolution

It's also important to take into account that the bigger the screen, the more resolution matters; so Quad HD is favourable over Full HD and anything less than 1080p is probably best avoided, where big phones are concerned.

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