When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone, the world quickly developed a sweet tooth for minimal design guided by functionality and the mantra “less is more.”Before that, offerings like the original Motorola Razr also championed sleek, easy-to-use devices, though not to the same level of popularity as Apple’s products. Looking around today, it seems that this effect is gradually wearing off.
Standard 4-inch smartphones simply don’t seem to cut it any longer, and the consumer technology market wholeheartedly agrees — so much, that 2013 introduced the term “phablet,” a portmanteau of phone and tablet, into the tech-enthusiast vocabulary. Smartphone manufacturers responded enthusiastically to the demand for these giant phones/mini tablets, offering up phones with larger screens, and the mean distribution for smartphone size shifted to an all time high, with the likes of Sony pushing the 6″ barrier.
It all began when Samsung’s Note 3 decided to push buyers’ attention from intensive quality to sheer size. The device made its debut with a 5.5″+ screen that amazed consumers worldwide. This quickly became a trend, and the likes of HTC, Nokia, and even LG entered the scene with their own mega-smartphones. Today, there are very few companies who aren’t rapidly (and literally) expanding their smartphone offerings.
With over 90% of smartphones adopting this trend, it can be hard to decide on which model to make your own, especially when so many phones look so similar. That’s why we’ve carefully studied the specs and screen sizes of smartphones available in electronics stores, and put information together to give you a list of the top five largest smartphones.
Sony Xperia Z Ultra – $545.99
In the world of smartphones, if there was a winner in terms of sheer size, it would be the Xperia Z Ultra. With a 6.4-inch screen, it is the largest phone currently available to consumers. Performance and battery life, despite all the glorious adjectives used in Sony’s marketing campaign, is merely average. With its Snapdragon 800 processor, the Ultra Z can handle most apps with ease, but isn’t that great when it comes to power consumption.
Needless to say, it wouldn’t go well with skinny jeans because of its size. But it isn’t as heavy as it looks — in fact, at only seven millimeters thick, this big-screen phone is impressively light and slick. The Ultra Z comes in two well thought-out versions — An Xperia version, and a Google Play version, which are the custom and stock version of Android OS, respectively. The Xperia version has a few interface design caveats that make it difficult to use, like smaller system fonts and a diminished menu bar.
The Ultra Z sports a 1080p display, which is its standout feature. The display itself is a pleasant upgrade from other Sony devices, being more pixel-dense and boasting a wider viewing angle. This makes the device ideal for reading, watching video, or web browsing, and everything that requires an immersive screen to enjoy. However, this comes at a great compromise — the Ultra Z’s size makes it awkward to use in public for receiving calls, a primary features for most phone users.
An interesting comparison to put its size in context: the device is only 0.6 inches smaller than Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 – $334.72
When Sony snagged the title of “Largest Smartphone”, it was a close call. They only just managed to steal it from the defending title-holder, Samsung. Coming in at second, the appropriately-named Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3 is symbolic of Samsungs emphasis on raw power.
The display itself isn’t as dense as the Sony Ultra Z, and is benchmarked at a disappointing 233 Pixels per inch (PPI). What it lacks here, however, is more than made up for by its efficient power consumption and lower pricing.
The Galaxy Mega is priced at around $335, and is ideal for those familiar with the Samsung-flavored Android OS. It’s about 0.1 inch smaller than the Ultra Z, and is slightly lighter than it, too.
Samsung’s Imaging department has never failed to surprise users. The device has a solid integrated camera, though even this has its flaws. Photos snapped in the daytime or with plenty of indoor lighting, are detailed and have a great color balance. Too much light sometimes results in washed-out hues, and some exposure problems. Owing to the large size, it becomes hard to snap pictures quickly without a resulting motion blur. Low-light photography tends to become a little noisy and hard to do, especially for those without a steady hands.
If you’re looking for a phone that isn’t centered around a near-perfect viewing experience on the LCD display, this is your best shot.
Huawei Ascend Mate – $317.55
Every category of devices has one which is catered for those with a lower budget. In the expansive world of humungous smartphones, the Huawei Ascend Mate fulfills that role — and quite well, at that.
Priced at a mere $317.55, it is the cheapest phone mentioned in this article. Sized slightly smaller at 6 inches, the Ascend Mate packs an insanely efficient and high-capacity battery allowing users to keep tapping away on its screen for hours without bothering to plug in.
The most useful feature here is the user interface. Design aficionados might disagree with that statement, but the fact that Huawei has addressed the problem of usability that arises with a large screen is very thoughtful and instantly earns them points in product design. The custom Android flavored user interface has been tweaked and realigned to be usable even with one hand!
The display is slightly better in terms of pixel density, than the Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3, and has an above-average camera. But the Ascend Mate is aeons behind in power and performance capabilities. It can handle some apps from the Google Play Store, but critics claim that the gaming experience isn’t that great (compared to others in this category) owing to Huawei’s in-house quad-core processor that is in the device. Unlike all the other phones mentioned, the Huawei Ascend Mate also lacks LTE support — but for that low of a price, one can’t ask for much.
HTC One Max – $599.99
The One max is a mixture of some good features and some annoying ones. The device stands at 5.9 inch tall, and sports something unusual for most phones in this category — a rear mounted fingerprint scanner.
This quirk seemed a fitting response to its Apple iPhone 5S counterpart, with one little snag — the large HTC One Max is simply too big to afford a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, because it is hard to locate and not sensitive enough to work on the first attempt.
The rest of the features are breathtaking. A dense, sharp, and immersive display with over 373 pixels per inch (PPI) makes it a delight to use. This is complemented perfectly with a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor that enables a seamless and smooth experience across all apps, and makes multitasking a breeze.
This phone is a mashup of a myriad of product design principles, some good and some bad, which makes it a good option only for those who are genuinely interested in only a good display.
LG G Flex – $709
This last phone is the latest release from LG, and comes with a 6 inch display. The display is sharp enough for reading and viewing video, the processor fairs well in terms of power consumption (aided by its 3500mAh battery) and performance, and the camera is very impressive at 13 Megapixels.
This phone, however, comes with a twist. Literally!
A new on-spur product design experiment from LG, gave us this phone, which is bent inwards, like a concave mirror. The LG G Flex is the first smartphone to come with a flexible display. Driven by LG’s experience in manufacturing state-of-the-art OLED TVs, the G Flex now brings a curved and flexible form factor that fits in the palm of your hand, which is what LG calls “A triumph of engineering”.
Innovation is abundant with this device — and the price reflects that. At $700, it is the most expensive phone on this list.
Aside from its iconic curved display, it also features an ambidextrous rear button that can be used for anything, from controlling the volume to snapping photographs.
More intriguingly, LG says the entire phone has a special coating that is designed to automatically “heal” scratches and minor blemishes. How it actually does that seems to be a closely guarded secret.