Best big phones 2021: which phablet should you buy?

With each passing year, the average size of smartphones seems to increase, and so too does the selection of the best big phones, which is why we’ve created this guide.

We’ve only included truly large handsets, with all of the phones below having at least a 6.5-inch screen, so you’ve got plenty of space to enjoy apps, movies and games. With a screen this size, there’s even scope to work and create on your phone – though one of the best tablets would be a better fit for that if you’re doing it regularly.

All of the phones below - from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to the iPhone 12 Pro Max and beyond - are also excellent handsets though, as having a big screen alone isn’t enough to qualify for this list.

These are the very best big smartphones, meaning that they also typically have great cameras, loads of power, decent battery life and stylish designs, or some combination of those features. As such, they’re often very expensive too, but if you can afford them then you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

For each entry we’ve included an overview and a specs list, so you can see which phone is the best fit for you – or click through to our full reviews for more details. And if you're on a budget, or don’t specifically want a massive smartphone, make sure to check out our best cheap phones and best smartphone guides.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

A top tier smartphone, and it takes our best crown

Release date: January 2021 | Weight: 227g | Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 | RAM: 12GB / 16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP | Front camera: 40MP

The best camera zoom
Mesmerizing design
Expensive at any level
No microSD card slot

At 6.8 inches the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a truly massive phone, and its AMOLED screen has more than just size going for it, as it’s very sharp at 1440 x 3200 (for 515 pixels per inch). It also has a 120Hz variable refresh rate, for smooth interactions, a high 1,500 nit maximum brightness, and support for HDR10+.

But this is an exceptional phone in other ways too, from its superb quad-lens camera – complete with an impressive 10x optical zoom – to its top-tier power, masses of storage, sumptuous design, and big 5,000mAh battery.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra even has some handy extras, like support for Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which lets you really make the most of that big screen – though it is sold separately.

High price aside this phone has few flaws, though it’s worth noting that there’s no microSD card slot, and that charging tops out at 25W. Still, overall this is one of the very best phones you can buy, especially if you want something with a big screen.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

OnePlus 9 Pro

(Image credit: OnePlus)

2. OnePlus 9 Pro

A giant leap for OnePlus photography

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 197g | Dimensions: 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3216 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 50MP + 8MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP

The best OnePlus camera phone
Great power
High price
No microSD support

The OnePlus 9 Pro is the most premium phone OnePlus has ever made at the time of writing, and it also has a big AMOLED screen, at 6.7 inches. That’s slightly smaller than some on this list, but still definitely on the large side.

It has all the power you’d expect from a flagship with ‘Pro’ in the name, and it also has a much better camera than previous OnePlus phones. The company has partnered with Hasselblad here and offers a quad-lens rear snapper with a 48MP main sensor, a 50MP ultra-wide, an 8MP telephoto (with 3.3x optical zoom), and a 2MP monochrome shooter.

These mostly perform well, with the ultra-wide being a highlight as it avoids the distortion often found at the edge of ultra-wide shots taken on other phones.

As for the screen itself, that’s sharp at 1440 x 3216 with all-around high quality, and the OnePlus 9 Pro also sports an appealing design and speedy 65W wired charging (as well as 50W wireless charging). Actual battery life could be better, and there’s no microSD card slot, but otherwise this is a top handset.

Read more: OnePlus 9 Pro review

iPhone 12 Pro Max

(Image credit: Apple)

3. iPhone 12 Pro Max

The best iPhone yet is only for those with deep pockets

Weight: 228g | Dimensions: 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm | OS: iOS 14 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1284 x 2778 | CPU: A14 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: Unknown | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Long battery life
Powerful rear camera
Feels too large
Very, very expensive

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the biggest and best iPhone you can buy, so if you’re in this article and looking for an iPhone then there’s no question – this is the handset to get.

It has a 6.7-inch 1284 x 2778 OLED screen with 458 pixels per inch. So it’s sharp, as well as being clear, bright, and offering excellent color reproduction. It’s also durable, with a Ceramic Shield coating that should make the display less easy to damage than most phone screens.

The camera also impresses, with 12MP main, ultra-wide and telephoto snappers, along with a LiDAR scanner for judging depth. The numbers here might be lower than on some other phones, but the results are remarkable, even when the lighting isn’t.

You also get cutting-edge power, respectable battery life and all the benefits of iPhone ownership, such as access to the App Store. That said, this phone is very expensive, and screen size aside it’s not much different to the cheaper iPhone 12 Pro, so consider how much you value the extra space.

Read more: iPhone 12 Pro Max review

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

A slightly larger version of the Samsung S21, but is it for you?

Release date: January 2021 | Weight: 200g | Dimensions: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB / 256GB | Battery: 4,800mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Gorgeous new design
Great performance
No microSD support

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus isn’t Samsung’s biggest phone or its best one, but it’s close on both fronts.

With a 6.7-inch screen it’s just one inch smaller than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, though its display is nowhere near as high resolution, at 1080 x 2400. Still, it uses AMOLED, has a 120Hz refresh rate, and supports HDR10+, so it’s a great screen nonetheless.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is also if anything even more stylish than the S21 Ultra, with its smaller camera block and contrasting rear glass and camera block colors. You also get plenty of power, from either a Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 chipset (depending on which country you buy the phone in), and it has an impressive triple-lens camera too, with a 12MP main sensor, a 64MP telephoto one and a 12MP ultra-wide.

Its issues are similar to the Galaxy S21 Ultra – there’s no microSD card slot, charging tops out at 25W, and there’s no charger in the box. But since this is a cheaper phone those complaints are even more forgivable.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung gets the 'Ultra' right

Release date: August 2020 | Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.9-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3088 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 108MP, 12MP, 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Useful S Pen features
Great-looking screen
Slow charging

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung’s latest stylus-equipped flagship. Yes, the S21 Ultra supports the S Pen too, but it’s sold separately. With the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra you get the pen thrown in, and the device has a slot you can store the stylus in when it's not in use.

You also get an even bigger 6.9-inch screen, which is big even by big-phone standards. That display is 1440 x 3088, so it’s sharp, and like most recent Samsung flagships it has a 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support – though unlike the S21 Ultra you have to choose between the maximum refresh rate and the maximum resolution. You can’t have both at the same time.

This phone also has a triple-lens camera, including a 108MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a 12MP telephoto (with 5x optical zoom), and it performs every bit as well as you’d hope something this expensive would.

That great performance extends to its core power too, thanks to a high-end (but no longer quite top-end) chipset, and 12GB of RAM. So if you want a massive, powerful handset with a stylus included, the Note 20 Ultra has you covered.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Xiaomi Mi 11

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

6. Xiaomi Mi 11

Xiaomi's 2021 flagship

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 196g | Dimensions: 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Battery: 4,600mAh | Rear camera: 108MP + 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 20MP

Great photography modes
Fast performance
Temperamental fingerprint scanner
Weak battery life

The Xiaomi Mi 11 is for our money an even better phone than the pricier Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, and it certainly qualifies for our best big phone list, thanks to its 6.81-inch display.

That’s a 1440 x 3200 AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate, and it can match the Galaxy S21 Ultra for brightness at 1,500 nits. So the Xiaomi Mi 11 has a great screen, and it also has an excellent camera, including a 108MP main snapper, a 13MP ultra-wide, and a near-unique 5MP telemacro lens for extreme close-ups.

This phone also has flagship power from its Snapdragon 888 chipset, and a slim, stylish design, with an eye-catching camera bump.

Its battery life could be better, there’s no telephoto camera, and the fingerprint scanner isn’t the best we’ve come across. For these reasons, the Xiaomi Mi 11 doesn’t rank higher in this article, but it still comes highly recommended.

Read more: Xiaomi Mi 11 review

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