Head to Head: The Best Phablets

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on July 24, 2015, Buying Guides

Phablets are a rapidly growing segment of the mobile market, combining all the functions you’d expect to see on a phone with the larger screen of a tablet. And those big screens can certainly come in handy, especially if you’re into editing presentations, touching up photos or even if you use your mobile to watch plenty of video. Tons of manufacturers make phablet devices, so the real question is which one should you go for? That’s why we’re putting three of the best phablets on the market up against each other in a head to head challenge to find out which is the best buy!

Meet the Competition

The best Phablet Lineup

LG G4, Nexus 6 & Galaxy Note 4

First up we’ve got the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which should come as no surprise. Samsung pioneered the phablet, and their Galaxy Note series has always been a bestseller. Second is the brand new LG G4, a recent release and a follow up to the surprisingly awesome LG G3. Finally, we’ve got the Motorola Nexus 6, a seriously cool offering from Google who seem to be concentrating more and more on big screen devices these days.

Be warned: a great phablet isn’t going to come cheap. You’re going to be paying around £600 for the Samsung, about £500 for the LG, and either £500 for the 32 GB Nexus or £550 for the 64 GB version…

Power and Processing

Let’s get started with what’s under the hood. A great, big screen is cool, but you’re going to want superb performance foremost. When it comes to CPU, the Samsung is running a quad core 2.7 GHz processor, the LG G4 runs a quad core 1.4 GHz processor AND a dual core 1.8 GHz model, and the Nexus also has a quad core 2.7 GHz processor. All three are running 3 GB of RAM.

What does all that mean? Well, in terms of performance there’s not a whole lot of difference between the three, though the Samsung and Nexus are technically slightly faster it’s unlikely that you’re going to notice any difference at all. All three models should give great, fast speeds and be responsive. So you’re going to need to base your decision on something else…

Those Huge Screens

So, the big deal here is those big screens, and exactly how do they measure up? When it comes to size, the Nexus is the clear winner with a 5.96 inch display, the Samsung comes next with a 5.7 inch screen, and the LG is the smallest(!) with a 5.5 inch display. Those size differences might not seem huge, but and extra 0.46 inches of screen real estate is actually very noticeable. You want big, you need the Nexus. But that size does come at a price…

All three screens have the same 1440 x 2560 pixel resolution, making them bright and clear. But since the screens are of different sizes, that results in different numbers of pixels per inch (PPI). The smaller screened LG gets about 538 PPI, the Samsung around 515 PPI and the Nexus only 498 PPI. In reality that means that the screen on the LG is a little sharper, but again, you’re unlikely to notice that too much. So, the Nexus comes out on top if you’re looking at size, though technically the display on the LG should be a tad crisper.

Cameras and Pictures

Of course, you’re going to want some awesome cameras so you can take pics to show off on that big screen, and we’ll take the front facing cameras first. Here the LG is the clear winner, with a full 8 MP front facing cam, the Samsung comes in second with its 3.7 MP front cam, and the Nexus trails with just a 2 MP cam.

Moving to the back, the LG and the Samsung are both getting a 16 MP camera with optical image stabilisation and LED flash. The LG also gets laser autofocus, which is pretty cool. The Nexus has only a 13 MP camera, though it also gets optical image stabilisation and a dual LED flash. Bottom line? LG is your best bet for great pics…

Operating System and Internal Memory

All three models are Android phones, and whilst they do ship with different versions of the operating system, all can be upgraded to the latest 5.1 Lollipop incarnation of Android, so nothing to worry about there.

There is an issue when it comes to internal memory though. Both the Samsung and the LG have 32 GB of built in memory, and an SD card slot for up to 128 GB of additional storage. The Nexus, on the other hand, does not have that SD card slot, and comes in two versions with either 32 GB or 64 GB of non-expandable storage. So, if you’re looking to keep a ton of stuff on your phone then you might want to discount the Nexus.

Portability

Big screens mean big devices, and that means that portability really can become a problem with phablets. Yes, you want a big screen, but you also want something that’s relatively comfortable to carry around with you.

It shouldn’t surprise you that the smaller screened LG comes out on top in the portability stakes. It measures 149mm by 76mm by 8mm and weighs just 155 grams. The Samsung comes next at 153mm by 79mm by 8.5mm and 176 grams. Finally, that huge screen on the Nexus means that the device measures 160mm by 83mm by 10mm and weighs 184 grams. Want something that’s easy to carry around? The LG G4 it is.

Which is Best?

This is a really, really tough call. All three of these devices are absolutely excellent, and your decision is going to come down to where your priorities lie. In our opinion, the LG is the best bargain, it’s cheaper and has the best camera, it has expandable storage and is more portable. You do need to compromise a little on screen size though, since it’s the smallest of the three. But you’re really not going to be disappointed in any of these phablets in the end, they’re all great choices!