Comparing Phablets: Supersized Smartphones with Computing Power


As smartphone touchscreen size continued to grow, it essentially created a new category of mobile device known as the “phablet.” Not quite a tablet computer like the iPad or the Amazon Fire HDX, nor it is it a mere smartphone, phablets lie somewhere in the middle. This year’s introduction of the iPhone 6 Plus — the first iOS phablet — offered a sign that this mobile device trend had now gone mainstream.

When comparing phablets, many of the same specifications related to tablets or smartphones also apply. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the leading phablet models to see if any of them make sense in your mobile device arsenal.

When Defining Phablets, It’s All About the Touchscreen Size

But first we need to answer the question: what makes a phablet a phablet? Since the term is one conjured up by the technology media more than anyone else, its ultimate definition compared to “regular” smartphones and tablets is vague. Most pundits consider a phablet to be a smartphone with a touchscreen size anywhere from 5.3-inch to 6.9-inch.

The smaller size corresponds to the original Samsung Galaxy Note, while the higher end is a measure smaller than the iPad mini or any equivalent Android tablets. Of course, unlike smaller tablets around the 7-inch size, a phablet also functions perfectly as a phone, to be obvious.

The iOS Phablet vs. Android Phablets Question

If you are a diehard Apple and iOS fan in the market for a phablet, then the iPhone 6 Plus becomes your only option. Apple recently introduced this phablet along with its smaller brother, the iPhone 6. Both models remain extremely popular, with Apple’s offshore manufacturers struggling to keep up with demand.

The iPhone 6 Plus checks in with a 5.5-inch touchscreen, placing it within the “official” screen range for phablets. Despite its size, the iPhone 6 Plus is about 1.5 mm thinner than its most famous Android phablet rival, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (more on that device later). Apple’s phablet contains 1 GB of RAM and offers 16 GB, 64 GB, and 128 GB memory options for storage.

Powered by the iOS 8 operating system, the iPhone 6 Plus also sports a sharp Retina display with a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and a density of 401 ppi. The device’s main camera is 8 megapixels; more than enough resolution to take advantage of iOS 8’s enhanced video and photo apps. The unit’s base price retails at $299 with a two-year contract from all the major U.S. wireless carriers: Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Expect to pay more for the models with more on-board storage.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the Top Android Phablet

Considering the original Galaxy Note ushered in the era of the phablet, it stands to reason that the latest iteration — the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 — leads the brigade of Android phablets. We’ll get into other differences with the iPhone 6 Plus later, but one significant user interface perk of the Note series is the included stylus and a host of apps that leverage the hands-on tool for note-taking, document highlighting, and drawing.

The Note 4 sports a 5.7-inch touchscreen, which is slightly larger than the one on the iPhone 6 Plus. More impressive is the Note 4’s Ultra HD 2650 x 1440 pixel resolution with a density of 515 ppi — both significantly better than the iPhone 6 Plus. If you want the best display for media streaming or photo taking, the Galaxy Note 4 is your phablet, although the LG G3 Android phablet sports similar screen resolution specs.

Powered by Android version 4.4.4 and sure to handle Lollipop as well, the Galaxy Note 4 comes with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of on-board storage, plus — unlike Apple mobile devices — it supports Flash memory cards. Expect to pay around $299 for the device with a two-year contract from those same major U.S. wireless carriers.

When comparing phablets, ultimately your first decision is the same as when considering smartphones in general: Android vs. iOS. Apple fans will definitely feel comfortable with the iPhone 6 Plus, while Android aficionados won’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, although the LG G3 is a worthy contender if you don’t need to use the Note 4’s stylus. Maybe you’ll find a phablet on your wish list this holiday season?

Photo Credit: Janitors