We love phablets for its’ potential to replace both your smartphone and tablet. While most phablets are premium and come with high price tags, there is a new breed of phablets that will meet the needs of the masses striking a balance between performance and cost.
No, you don’t need to take up another loan or pay a hefty monthly tariff to own one of these. From the biggest brands like Microsoft, Nokia, Sony, Lenovo, LG and Motorola as well as new comers Huawei and Oppo come low cost big screen smartphones that will fit anyones’ budget.
Costing only a fraction of what you would pay for a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 or Apple iPhone 6 Plus, these smartphones is guaranteed to make your money stretch further and with high end specifications like Full HD display, super fast quad core processor, up to 3GB of memory and fully capable cameras, you are not short changed either.
5 Top Consideration for a Smartphone
Before we take a closer look at these super-sized smartphones, let’s run through the key considerations when planning to buy a phablet.
1. Display Size: Of course we want a big display, the bigger the better because that’s the whole idea. After all, it is meant to be a phone and a tablet combined. People looking to buy a phablet do this to carry one less device. So they can have the best of both phone and tablet rolled together.
Bigger screen also meant better visual experience when watching your favourite TV shows or catching the latest movie. From processor demanding tasks like playing 3D intensive games to simply reading a ebook, nothing beats doing it on a bigger screen. For the productive type; entrepreneurs, commuters and business executives, working on a big screen
2. Processing Power: with new smartphones launching every season, even the fastest of smartphones today will be yesterdays news in a matter of months. Would you jump on the most expensive and fastest smartphone with the best processor? This depends on your requirement and the type of application you wish to run. But, our rule with processing power is, get the best you can afford and more so if you are into gaming. Make sure you get the fastest processor which is usually coupled with a strong GPU. Generally, quad core processors running at 2.0GHz or higher is recommended with the exception of Windows Phones.
3. Memory and Storage: 2GB RAM and 16GB Storage is pretty standard these days. Phablets may come with storage expansion in the form of MicroSD slot that lets you add up to 128GB extra memory subject to model and support. If you plan to carry a lot of content; movies and music with you, be sure to get a phablet with MicroSD slot.
4. Cameras: Smartphones have certainly taken the place of point and shoot cameras and will continue to do so simple because it is always available. You can leave home without your camera but you would not do so without your smartphone. The camera on your phablet needs to be good enough to take decent photos. We are not expecting SLR quality shots but together with onboard apps, you should capture sufficient quality to share be it photos or videos online.
Also, don’t forget the all important front facing camera. Not only are they great for video calls, but becoming more important these days for selfies. If selfies are your thing, make sure you get a phablet with wide angle front facing camera.
5. Size and Weight: it is unavoidable that a phablet is going to have a big foot print and you are definitely going to struggle trying to fit these into the pocket of your skin tight jeans. But you are not buying a phablet for that.
Still, you would want a phablet that is slim and compact enough to drop into your jacket pocket or folio case easily. Where compact goes, make sure the top and bottom bezels are smaller and the side bezels ultra slim.
Yes, it would be ideal if the phablet was just as big as its screen, edge to edge with no bezel to speak of but that day has yet to come.
Weight on the other hand is a matter of preference. For a device this size, some prefer it to be weighted and not too light for better handling. Device with metal alloy body or aluminium back plates are going to be more robust but it is going to add more weight.
The Top 10 Best Budget Phablets 2015
Here is our line-up of low cost smartphones with displays bigger than 5-inch, better known as phablets.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch Android Smartphone – ULTRA BUDGET
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch Windows Phone – BEST FOR BUSINESS
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch Windows Smartphone – BIGGEST WINDOWS PHONE
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch Android Smartphone – INTEL CPU
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch Android Smartphone – BIGGEST DISPLAY
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch Android Smartphones – BEST FOR ENTHUSIAST
- LG G2 5.2-inch Android Smartphone – LG’S EX-FLAGSHIP
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch Android Smartphone – METAL
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch Android Smartphone – PURE ANDROID
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch Android Smartphone – FAST CHARGING
- UPDATE: Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch Android Smartphone – NEWEST
For other premium and high-end phablets, check out Top 10 Best Phablets in 2015 on our sister site.
Best Budget Phablets Compared
Looks look at a spec-by-spec comparison between these smartphones.
Of the 10 budget phablets listed above, 5 of them come with Full HD 1080p resolution displays while others come with standard HD 720p resolution with the exception of BLU Dash. If you are looking for Retina or Quad HD see Top 10 Best Phablets 2015.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: 5.5-inch LCD display 480 x 854 pixels (178ppi)
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: 5.7-inch HD 720p (1280 x 720) IPS LCD (259ppi) Display
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: 6.0-inch Display HD 720p (1280 x 720) IPS LCD (245ppi) Display
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: 5.5-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD (401ppi) – FULL HD
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: 6.4-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD pixels (344ppi) – FULL HD
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: 5.5-inch 1080p Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) IPS LCD (401ppi) – FULL HD
- LG G2 5.2-inch: 5.2-inch True Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) HD-IPS + LCD (424ppi) – FULL HD
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: 5.5-inch HD (1280 x 720 pixels) IPS LTPS Display (267ppi)
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: 5.2-inch AMOLED 1080p Full HD (1920×1080) Display (423ppi) – FULL HD
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: 5.5 inches HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD Display (401ppi) – FULL HD
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: 5.5 inches HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD Display (401ppi) – FULL HD
The fastest and best performance smartphones title goes to not one but two smartphones, the OnePlus One and Moto X.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: Quad Core 1.3GHz with Mali-400
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 Quad Core 1.2GHz processor
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Dual Core 1.7GHz processor
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: Intel® Atom™ processor Z2760 Dual Core 2.0Ghz processor
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: Qualcomm MSM8974 Quad Core 2.2GHz processor
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: Qualcomm© Snapdragon™ 801 processor with Quad Core 2.5GHz processor – FASTEST CPU
- LG G2 5.2-inch: Qualcomm MSM8974 Snapdragon 800 Quad Core 2.26GHz Krait 400 processor
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon Quad Core 1.2GHz processor
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: Qualcomm®Snapdragon™ 801 with Quad Core 2.5GHz processor (MSM 8974-AC) – FASTEST CPU
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AB Quad Core 2.3GHz processor
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: HiSilicon Kirin 925 1.8 GHz Octa-Core 1.8G 4 x A15 Core + 1.3G 4 x A7 Core – OCTA CORE
Memory & Storage
While Windows Phone cope well with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of Storage, Android Phones prefer 2GB of RAM and 16GB of Storage. Of the line-up, apart from the Windows Phones and BLU Dash, all other phablets have at least 2GB of memory and 16GB of storage. OnePlus One is the only phone with tripple memory at 3GB.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: 512MB RAM, 4GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 32GB
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB, 30GB free cloud storage
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: 1GB RAM, 8GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 64GB, 30GB free cloud storage
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage – DOUBLE MEMORY
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 64GB – DOUBLE MEMORY
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: 3GB RAM, 16/64GB Storage – TRIPPLE MEMORY
- LG G2 5.2-inch: 2GB RAM, 16/32GB Storage – DOUBLE MEMORY
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 32GB – DOUBLE MEMORY
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: 2GB RAM, 16/32/64GB Storage – DOUBLE MEMORY
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: 2GB RAM, 16GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB – DOUBLE MEMORY
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: 3GB RAM, 32GB Storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB – TRIPPLE MEMORY, BIGGER STARTING STORAGE
Decent cameras are just as important if this were to be your all in one device and we are not let down by the fully capable rear facing and front facing cameras on these phablets. Four of our phablets (Lumia 640 XL, OnePlus One, Huawei Ascend G7 and Oppo Find 7a) have the best combination rear facing and front facing cameras at 13MP and 5MP respectively while others have at least a 5MP or higher rear facing camera and sufficient front facing camera.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: 5MP rear facing autofocus camera with LED flash, 0.3MP front facing VGA camera
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: 13MP rear facing autofocus camera with LED flash, 5MP front facing wide angle camera – BEST COMBINATION
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: 5MP rear facing autofocus camera with LED flash, 0.3MP front facing VGA camera
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: 13MP rear facing autofocus camera with LED flash, 2MP front facing wide angle camera
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: 8MP rear facing autofocus camera with fast-capture with Exmor RS, 2MP front facing camera
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: 13MP rear facing autofocus Sony Exmor IMX214 camera with Dual LED, 5MP front facing camera – BEST COMBINATION
- LG G2 5.2-inch: 13MP, 4160 x 3120 pixels, autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash rear facing camera, 2.1MP front facing camera
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: 13MP AF BSI F2.0 rear facing camera with Flash, 5.0MP front facing camera – BEST COMBINATION
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: 13MP rear facing camera with LED Flash, 2.0MP front facing camera
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: 13MP Sony Exmor IMX214 BSI sensor, LED Flash rear facing camera, 5MP front facing camera – BEST COMBINATION
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: Dual 8 MP, 3264 x 2448 pixels, autofocus, dual-LED flash – MAXIMUM COMBINATION
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: 2600mAh
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: 3000mAh; standby: 37 days, talktime (2G): 30.3 hours, talktime (3G): 24 hours, WiFi web browsing: 14.2 hours, Video Playback: 10.7 hours.
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: 3400mAh; standby: 28 days, talktime (2G): 25 hours, talktime (3G): 21 hours, WiFi web browsing: 11.5 hours, Video Playback: 9 hours.
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: 2500mAh Lithium Polymer, standby: 300 hours, talktime (2G): 15 hours, talktime (3G): 12 hours
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: 3050mAh Li-Ion, Talk time: 16 hours, Standby time: 820 hours, Music listening time: 110 hours, Video playback time: 7 hours
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: 3100mAh LiPo battery
- LG G2 5.2-inch: 3000mAh LiPo battery. Standby time: 790hrs (2G), 900hrs (3G), Talktime: 16.5hrs (2G), 17.5hrs (3G)
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: 3000mAh
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: 2300mAh, mixed use up to 24 hours
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: 2800 mAh Li-Po with quick charge, 30 minutes charges up to 75%, 70 minutes to full charge. 5 minutes charge is enough for 2 talk time. – FAST CHARGE
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: 3600 mAh Li-Po battery, Talk time: Up to 23 hrs (3G), Standby Time: up to 690 hours
Size & Weight
The title for the slimmest phablet goes surprisingly to Sony Xperia Z Ultra with the biggest 6.4-inch screen. The phone measures only 6.5mm thick followed by Huawei Ascend at 7.6mm. Other are 8.9mm to 10mm thick. Motorola’s Moto X has a curved backplate starting at 3.8mm thick to 9.9mm at the centre. The lightest phone however goes to LG G2 at 143 grams followed very closely by Motorola Moto X at 144 grams. These as you would image have the smallest displays at 5.2-inch and a polycarbonate plastic chassis.
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: 155.5 x 78.8 x 10 mm, 175 grams
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: 157.9 x 81.5 x 9mm, 171 grams
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: 164.2 x 85.9 x 9.8mm 220 grams
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: 157 x 78 x 6.9 mm, 162 grams
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: 179 x 92 x 6.5 mm, 212 grams – SLIMMEST
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: 152.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm, 162 grams
- LG G2 5.2-inch: 138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm, 143 grams – LIGHTEST
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: 153.5 x 77.3 x 7.6 mm, 165 grams
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: 140.8 x 72.4 x (3.8-9.9mm), 144 grams
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: 152.6 x 75 x 9.2 mm, 170 grams
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: 150.5 x 75.7 x 7.5 mm, 165 grams
- BLU Dash 5.5-inch: Android 4.2
- Lumia 640 XL 5.7-inch: Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Denim
- Nokia Lumia 1320 6-inch: Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Cyan
- Lenovo K900 5.5-inch: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4-inch: Google Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
- OnePlus One 5.5-inch: Cyanogen 11S based on Android 4.4
- LG G2 5.2-inch: Android OS, v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), upgradable to v5.0.2 (Lollipop)
- Huawei Ascend G7 5.5-inch: Android OS, v4.4.2 (KitKat) with Emotion UI 3.0
- Motorola Moto X 5.2-inch: Android OS v5.0 (Lollipop) no customisation or skin
- OPPO Find 7a 5.5-inch: Android OS 4.3
- Huawei Honor 6 Plus 5.5-inch: Android OS 4.4
NOTE: Some manufacturers offer Android OS updates to 5.0 Lollipop but this is market dependent.
The BLU Dash may have the size, at 5.5-inch, it lacks the resolution. It has the lowest resolution compared to the other phablets in our comparison. With most carrying at least 720p HD, the BLU Dash’s display only carries 480 x 854. It is after all the cheapest phablet in our line-up.
The Lumia 640 XL is Nokia’s latest Phablet with Microsoft at the helm. The other phablet from Nokia is the older and bigger Lumia 1320 also in our comparison. These Window Phones are for the affordable market. If you are after a flagship or premium Windows Phone, a few of these are on the horizon but will only be available once Windows 10 is launched.
The Sony Xperia has an advantage in that it is IP58 certified – dust proof and water resistant over 1.5 meter and 30 minutes and has recently received an upgrade to Android 5.0.2 Lillipop. If you are after a no compromise big screen phablet then the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is your ticket with its ultra big 6.4-inch screen.
The OnePlus One is great for enthusiasts who likes to tinker. Based on a very customisable, community driven CyanogenMod, an open source variant of the Android OS. Not only do you get the latest variant of the Android OS but frequent updates and skins or themes to fit your style.
Oppo Find 7a, the cut down but still capable version of Oppo’s flagship smartphone, the Oppo Find 7, the 7a has a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution display instead of Quad HD (2560 x 1440) and slower processor.
The latest big screen smartphone on our list is from Huawei, the Honor 6 Plus is capable of dual SIM with a nano-SIM slot and a micro-SIM slot that support features such as dual stand-by and dual call. The second SIM slot is shared with the microSD card slot, which means if you want dual SIM, you will need to forgo the ability to add up to 128GB microSD flash memory.