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The Best Big Screen Smartphones, 2015.

Updated on January 12, 2015
Some top, big screen smartphones for 2015.
Some top, big screen smartphones for 2015.

People are demanding bigger and bigger smartphone screens. It gets tiresome to carry around a tablet and a phone when one device will cover your needs.

The idea of 'phablets' has been around for a while but that is an ugly, weird little word that is never going to catch on. So, this page takes a look at the best smartphones that are big enough for a genuinely good gaming experience, that will not make the internet seem cramped and will serve as your own personal, portable cinema.

They have been selected on the basis that they have excellent high resolution screens, fast processors plus high quality peripherals like cameras, connectivity and speakers.

So, if you are thinking big for your next smartphone, this page is designed to help you choose.

On this page

  • iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • HTC Max
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
  • Sony Xperia Z3
  • Motorola's Nexus 6
  • Xiaomi MI3 and MI4

The Evolution of the iPhone

It is impossible to talk about smartphones without starting with the Apple iPhone.

Apple have responded to the growing demand for big screen smartphones by

  • Growing the standard iPhone
  • Producing a jumbo version

The picture below gives a good idea of how far things have gone in the last couple of years.

iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Size Comparison
iPhone 5, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Size Comparison

Other Comparisons

If you have never had the chance to handle these phones, the picture below give an idea of the kinds of size and style that are available.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (left) vs iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (left) vs iPhone 6 Plus
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs MX4 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 vs MX4 Pro
iPhone 6 vs. Nokia Lumia 930
iPhone 6 vs. Nokia Lumia 930
Meizu MX4 Pro vs. iPhone 6 Plus
Meizu MX4 Pro vs. iPhone 6 Plus
Lumia 1520 vs iPhone 6 Plus
Lumia 1520 vs iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3
Apple iPhone 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3
Meizu MX4 vs Xiaomi Mi4
Meizu MX4 vs Xiaomi Mi4

The Overview

We all love tables...

Smartphone
Screen Size
PPI (pixels per inch)
Processer
Price Unlocked *
Price with Plan
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
iPhone 6
4.7 inches
326 ppi
Dual-core 1.4 GHz Cyclone
$800
$200 (T-Mobile)
iPhone6 Plus
5.5 inches
401 ppi
Dual-core 1.4 GHz Cyclone
$1,000
$200 (T-Mobile)
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
5.6 inches
524 ppi
Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450
$1,369.99
$400 (AT&T Wireless)
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
5.7 inches
515 ppi
Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450
$800
$749.76 over 24 months (T-Mobile)
Xiaomi Mi3
5.0 inches
441 ppi
Quad-core 2.3 GHz Krait 400
$450
N/A
Xiaomi Mi4
5.0 inches
441 ppi
Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
$400
N/A
Nexus 6
5.96 inches
493 pp
Quad-core 2.7 GHz Krait 450
$1,000
$699.84 over 24 month (T-Mobile)
Sony Xperia Z3
5.2 inches
424 ppi
Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
$600
$630.00 over 24 months (T-Mobile)
HTC Max
5.9 inches
373 ppi
Quad-core 1.7 GHz Krait 300
$450
$249.99 (Sprint)
Meizu MX4 Pro
5.5 inches
546 ppi
Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A15 &
$400
N/A
 
 
 
quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A7
 
 
Lumia 1520
6.0 inches
367 ppi
Quad-core 2.2 GHz Krait 400
$500
$200 (AT&T)
 
 
 
 
 
 

*Prices vary hugely. These are representative prices at the time of publishing.

Pricing plans given are examples. You will need to research for the best deals!

Smartphone Performance: What Matters?

Screen Resolution

There was a time when Apple's iPhone 4 Retina display was so superior to rivals, there was no real contest. Nowadays, Samsung's flagship phones have significantly sharper resolutions than any competitor, including Apple. The question is: does this matter? After all, we have reached the point that you hardly notice resolution improvements unless you get very, very close to the screen.

What you might appreciate, instead, is that the iPhone 6 has an IPS LCD screen with fantastic brightness, extreme viewing angles and remarkable color accuracy. In daylight, especially, you will be impressed by the improvement on previous models.

What about the Cheaper Phones?

You might like the the fact that the Xiomi MI3 and MI4 both have better resolution than current Apple smartphones for around half the price, even if the screens are not as bright.

Cameras

Point and shoot digital cameras are disappearing as the cameras in smartphones keep improving.

The new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have the same 8 megapixel camera as the iPhone 5 but there are new image processors onboard which significantly improve still and video capture.

Most people would say that the iPhone renders natural colors better than any rival. The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has a 16-megapixel camera but has been criticized for poor quality low-light and indoor images.

The camera of the Nexus 6 is a big improvement on the Nexus 5 and better than other Motorola offerings,

The MX4 Pro sports an amazing 20.7MP camera from Sony (the IMX220 Exmor RS).

XIAOMI MI3
XIAOMI MI3

Best Big Screen Smartphone for Gaming?

Ecosystem

Apple has traditionally been number one choice for gaming because of the Apple ecosystem. The best games still tend to land in the Apple Store before they hit Android. This is a lot less noticeable now, than it was a few years ago.

Processor

The iPhone 6 has a 64-bit processor whilst most rivals have 32-bit set ups. Recent tests at the independent 'Which?' magazine found that Apple's iPhone 6 was the fastest smartphone available, followed by the iPhone 6 Plus then the Galaxy S5.

So, the iPhone 6 Plus looks like a good choice for gamers.

Bear in mind though that any quad core processor with respectable RAM behind it, will make for a great gaming experience.

Pricing of Big Screen Smartphones

New, super-efficient, chip sets from Taiwanese maker, MediaTek Inc, have allowed Chinese smartphone manufacturers to deliver high performance phones in the last year at hugely reduced prices when compared to Apple and Samsung products.

As you can see in the table above, the flagship Samsung Note Edge is selling at around $1400. Motorola's Nexus 6 is around $1000.

The Meizu MX4 Pro, which has a respectable performance and similar screen size is an amazing $400.

iPhone Subsidies

US carriers have shielded consumers from the full cost of an iPhone for many years but this is set to change.

All four major US carriers began offering no-subsidy installment plans in 2013. By mid-2014, over forty per cent of AT&T's users were on no-subsidy plans and other carriers report big changes too. The advantage is that, in the longer term, people pay less for no-subsidy deals, despite the tempting low cost of starting.

This means that Android smartphones will grab more attention as users can make real comparisons of overall costs.

Having said that, many people will pay the extra to keep the Apple operating system they know and love.

XIAOMI MI3 and MI4 compared
XIAOMI MI3 and MI4 compared

Why are Xiaomi and Meizu so Cheap?

The Xiaomi Mi4 has a Quad-Core processor, 3GB RAM and a 5-inch screen. It sells for around $400 The MI3 is around $300

Why are they so cheap? Mostly it is down to the way that the chip Taiwanese chipmaker has pre-installed support for lens and mics.


The Others

It is not all about Apple v Samsung v The New Kids from China.

There are other players in 2015 and this is where they get a mention.

Nexus 6
Nexus 6

Motorola's Nexus 6

If design matters to you, the most stylish alternative to the iPhone has to be the Nexus 6. Motorola have always produced phones with a distinctive appearance and, unlike Samsung, the company never took Apple as a role model.

The Nexus 6 has a great specification. Screen resolution is superior to the iPhone 6 plus and its 64-bit. 2.7GHz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor plus adreno 420 graphics with 3GB RAM, is blazing fast.

The front facing controls (eschewed by Apple) makes it easy to operate. There is an SD card slot (again not an Apple feature).

The only real downside is price. This is recommended for anyone who wants a great smartphone that will stand out in the crowd and does not mind paying $1000.

Nexus 6 Tap and Go
Nexus 6 Tap and Go

Sony Xperia Z3

Windows smartphones have yet to find a place center stage. They are always in the wings. apparently lurking as a good idea whose time will come. To me, this is a questionable notion.

Windows is all about productivity. It is about spreadsheets and presentations. It is not about finding a place to eat as you walk the streets of an unfamiliar city or pass time on a commute.

Having said that, the Sony Zperia is a fine phone with a great specification and someone will love it.

HTC One and HTC Max (right) comparison
HTC One and HTC Max (right) comparison

HTC One and HTC Max

If you are a fan of HTC the HTC Max will give you the big screen you need for mobile gaming and movie viewing.

One huge plus for the HTC One is that it has, probably, the best speakers in the business. This enhances gaming, movies and music listening.

The aluminium body also helps dissipate heat, which any hardworking processor will appreciate.

Who Will Dominate in 2015?

Both Apple and Samsung look set to lose ground in 2015 as they make way for the cheaper, but very impressive, Chinese makers.

Apple fans will not surrender the iOS operating system easily, however. It is simpler to use, and more intuitive than Android or Windows.

Almost certainly, it is Samsung that will suffer most, unless it can cut costs sharply. It has a product based on aping Apple but has always undercut rivals on price. How can it compete with even cheaper makers that ape Apple just as well?

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