Whether you enjoy watching videos, gaming on the go or simply texting with fewer typos, the best big phones offer a lot of benefits. These devices — once called phablets — also tend to pack larger batteries than their smaller brethren, which translates to longer battery life.
These days, there are plenty of options for those who prefer larger handsets. Practically every high-end model comes in a bigger option, from Apple's iPhones to Google's Pixels and Samsung's Galaxy S20 and Note 20 series. And alongside their more expansive displays and improved longevity on a charge, many of those companies' super-sized flagships pack more elaborate cameras, with a greater quantity of lenses and the best optics and sensors on the market.
Keeping in mind all of the reasons why it pays to go big with your next smartphone purchase, we've compiled a list of the best big phones you can buy today. And if you'd prefer one of the best small phones, we've got you covered there, too.
- Best phones overall: Our top picks right now
- Longest-lasting phones: The best phone battery life
- Best wireless chargers for Android phones
What are the best big phones?
Samsung's dazzling new Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, with its massive 6.9-inch display, leads our list of big-screen behemoths. This is a flagship phablet that can truly do it all, thanks to an impeccable triple-camera system, super-powerful silicon, dynamic 120Hz refresh rate and that handy S Pen stylus.
iPhone fans will naturally look toward the iPhone 11 Pro Max as their best option for a big device given its Super Retina XDR panel, gobs of power, quality photography and long battery life. The only downside to the iPhone 11 Pro is, of course, its price. To that end, the 6.1-inch iPhone 11 features much of what we love about the 11 Pro for $300 less.
The Note 20 Ultra and Note 20 aren't the only Samsung options on this list. The 6.7-inch Galaxy S20 Plus and 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra also offer dazzling displays and cutting-edge multi-lens camera systems that can pull off some tricks iPhones can't. And then there's OnePlus, which has established a new standard for value between the too-good-to-be-true OnePlus Nord and powerful OnePlus 8 Pro.
If money is truly no object, there is no bigger phone than the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which packs a 7.6-inch display when unfolded. Of course, you'll pay a hefty price for it — $2,000.
But if two grand is too expensive, how does $250 sound? That happens to be the price of the Moto G Power, which packs a 6.4-inch display and 5,000-mAh battery to outlast every other phone we've ever tested in our web-surfing battery test, at an astonishing 16 hours and 10 minutes. Most phones only get around 9 or 10 hours.
Read on for a deeper dive into the best big phones of 2020, comparing specs, displays, performance, cameras and more. And be on the lookout for new phones, like the iPhone 12 range, OnePlus 8T and Pixel 4a 5G, due out before the end of 2020.
The best big phones you can buy today
The best big phone you can buy is the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. And it starts with a huge 6.9-inch screen with a dynamic 120Hz refresh rate, offering super smooth scrolling and gameplay when you want it. However, the Note 20's panel is also smart enough to dial things down based on what’s being displayed to conserve battery life. The S Pen also gets a bunch of upgrades this time around, from a faster 9ms response time and new air gestures to the ability to sync your scribbles with voice recordings.
Samsung also went big on the cameras with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. You get a 108MP main camera for capturing a ton of detail, plus a laser autofocus sensor to virtually eliminate blurring. The 50x Space Zoom is also very impressive, letting you cut in very, very close. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has plenty of other talents, too, including the ability to stream Xbox games, running Android apps on your laptop with Link to Windows and a wireless DeX mode that puts Apple’s AirPlay to shame.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review.
The iPhone 11 Pro Max is a familiar-looking phone that happens to pack a lot of improvements under the surface. Chief among them is the camera system. Now upgraded to three lenses, comprising wide, ultra-wide and telephoto optics, the latest range-topping iPhone has the versatility to capture stunning photos in any scenario.
But it's not just hardware that makes the device perfect for capturing moments. Apple's breakthroughs in computational photography take center stage on the iPhone 11 series, thanks to improvements to Smart HDR, the all-new Night Mode and Deep Fusion. All of these software enhancements automatically balance lighting and detail based on contextual awareness gleaned through machine learning, so the new iPhones are as intelligent as they are powerful. And with a fantastically bright 6.5-inch Super Retina XDR OLED display at your disposal, you'll have all the room in the world to view every photo and video you take — in stunning HDR, no less.
It's worth mentioning that the iPhone 11 line is days away from replacement. Apple is expected to build three larger variants of its next flagships: the 6.1-inch iPhone 12, 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Pro and range-topping, 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. Both Pro models are expected to tout additional cameras and potentially 120Hz displays, though the latter is sounding less likely the closer we get to launch.
Read our full iPhone 11 Pro Max review.
Samsung has released a slew of premium Galaxy S20 and Note 20 handsets this year, but the new Galaxy S20 FE (that stands for Fan Edition) might just be the most attractive of the bunch. It's certainly the most attractively priced, starting at just $699, which happens to be $300 cheaper than the regular Galaxy S20.
Despite that low cost of entry, however, you still get a flagship-caliber Snapdragon 865 processor for your troubles, as well as 6GB of RAM and a triple-lens camera system that includes a 3x optically-zooming telephoto lens. Galaxy S20 FE buyers also get a large battery, weighing in at 4,500 mAh, and the phone comes in a wide assortment of colors, ranging from red, to white to lavender.
If the Galaxy S20 FE has one shortcoming, it's that Samsung has skimped out on the charging brick it packs in with this handset, which tops out at 15-watt speed. That's only quick enough to get the phone to 35% capacity after a half hour, which is about half as fast as the latest, best charging solutions, like those offered by OnePlus. Still, you can always buy a faster charging adapter if you're willing to pay extra.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review.
Think of the iPhone 11 as occupying sort of a middle ground for display sizes on Apple's latest iPhones — not as massive as the iPhone 11 Pro Max, though not as compact as the iPhone 11 Pro. At 6.1 inches, the iPhone 11 gives you plenty of screen space to work with. Best of all, there's nothing middle ground about its price — at $699, it's the least expensive of the new iPhone models Apple introduced in 2019.
You don't have to make many tradeoffs for that lower price tag either. The iPhone 11 has the same top-of-the-line A13 Bionic processor found in the pricier Pro models, and though it only has two cameras to the three lenses on back of the iPhone 11 Pro, it offers many of the same photographic capabilities. This is the iPhone to get if you're overwhelmed by both the iPhone 11 Pro Max's size and price.
Read our full iPhone 11 Review.
The 6.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 20 may not have the astonishing 108MP camera from the $300 more expensive Note 20 Ultra model, nor does it have its 120Hz display or glass-and-metal design. But it is just as capable when it comes to getting things done, thanks to its Snapdragon 865 Plus processor, S Pen and all the enhancements Samsung has made to its Notes app and productivity features.
The Note 20 can cast to a wireless display or your Windows PC via the desktop Your Phone app, and now allows users to append audio recordings to handwritten or types notes. It also supports Xbox cloud gaming via the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate beta, making it well suited for play as well as work.
We do wish the Note 20 came with a beefier battery or perhaps more efficient chipset, as it lasted a fairly average 9 hours and 26 minutes in our custom battery test. That said, there aren't many serious downsides to going with the cheaper Note 20 versus the pricier Ultra, but you will save a ton of cash in the process.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 review.
You don’t get a much bigger phone than one with a 7.6-inch display, which is precisely how large the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 unfolds to be. A massive panel like that is ideal for running multiple applications at once, which the Z Fold 2 lets you do with its App Pair feature.
But let’s say you’re on the go, and the time’s not right to be carrying a massive tablet display everywhere. The Z Fold 2 folds down to a 6.2-inch cover display that can support all the same applications and activities as the primary panel. Even better, thanks to Samsung’s clever Continuity software, whatever app you’re using on either display will transition to the other one when you open or close the device.
Thoughtful features like that make the Galaxy Z Fold 2 not only the best foldable phone on the market, but the most versatile big phone — for those willing to shell out $2,000 for the privilege, that is.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review.
The amazing thing about the OnePlus Nord is that, while it may be at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of OnePlus' roster of phones, it doesn't compromise on much. Instead of the Snapdragon 865 processor found in the OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro, the Nord utilizes the lower-spec (but still 5G capable) Snapdragon 765G. And that's really as far as the cost-saving measures go.
Otherwise, you still get a 6.44-inch 90Hz full-HD OLED display, 30-watt fast wireless charging, a big 4,115-mAh battery, up to 12GB of RAM, a quartet of cameras on the back (including the same primary 48-megapixel lens as the OnePlus 8) and OnePlus' attractive design, all for £379, which still equates to less than $500.
Ah, but therein lies the rub. The OnePlus Nord isn't yet available for buyers in North America, and may never be. OnePlus says a Nord phone is coming west of the Atlantic before the end of the year, though we don't know what that device will look like compared to this one. Until then, interested parties in North America are free to try their hand at importing. If you happen to live somewhere you can own a Nord, however, you should buy one. You won't regret it.
Read our full OnePlus Nord review.
Measuring 6.78 inches from corner to corner, the OnePlus 8 Pro has one of the largest displays on any smartphone you can buy today. It’s also one of the prettiest AMOLED screens on any modern handset, with a quad-HD+ resolution and a peak refresh rate of 120 Hz.
While the OnePlus 8 Pro isn’t far from the first phone with a 120 Hz panel, it does one up the displays in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S20 series of handsets, because OnePlus’ device allows you to use the phone at its maximum resolution and refresh rate simultaneously. This is something avid gamers and streaming enthusiasts will appreciate, along with the panel’s boosted 240 Hz touch sampling rate, which makes the screen as responsive as it is smooth.
There’s a lot to like about the OnePlus 8 Pro aside from its screen, too — like its speedy Snapdragon 865 power and gobs of superfast LPDDR5 RAM, respectable quad-lens camera module and lightning-quick wireless charging, which can get the battery to 50% in just a half hour. At $899, it’s one of the most expensive handsets the company has ever released, though it slides in at several hundred less than the similarly-sized and specced Galaxy S20 Plus, making it a compelling alternative to Samsung’s flagships and one of the best big phones there is.
Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review.
Samsung's Galaxy S20 Plus used to finish higher on this list of the best big phones. But then the regular Galaxy Note 20 came out for $200 less, while offering a slew of useful tools focused around productivity, and so the S20 Plus doesn't seem quite as great a deal as it perhaps once did.
Nevertheless, this Galaxy offers the best mix of specs and features of any of Samsung's Galaxy S20 models. If the 6.4-inch Galaxy S20 is lacking in some respects, and the 6.9-inch Galaxy S20 Ultra is simply too expensive for a modest camera upgrade, then the Plus variant is just right.
For $1,199, the S20 Plus offers a striking display with a 120Hz refresh rate (something the smaller Note 20 lacks), 5G connectivity, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 865 processor, and solid battery life. S20 Plus buyers do miss out on the S20 Ultra and Note 20 Ultra's 108MP camera and 10x lossless hybrid zoom, but we think most people would be willing to accept those sacrifices for a discount compared to those models.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review.
Big screens tend to drain batteries faster than their more compact counterparts, but that's not a concern with the Moto G Power. Equipped with a 5,000 mAh battery, the Moto G Power was the longest-lasting phone we've tested in some time, holding out for 16 hours and 10 minutes on our battery test. That places the Moto G Power at the head of our list for best phone battery life.
But there's more to the Moto G Power than just a big battery. You get a sizable 6.4-inch screen to work with, though we wish the G Power produced more vibrant colors. The processor and cameras aren't high-end, but they do produce performance and pictures that measure up well against other phones in the Moto G Power's price range. And speaking of price, that's probably the best thing the Moto G Power has going for it — at $249, this phone is one of the most affordable phablets around.
Read our full Moto G Power review.
How to choose the best big phone for you
- Android or iPhone? Android phones give you more choice in terms of price, size and innovative designs — many of them happen to be larger, too. However, iPhones offer speedier software updates, better games and apps and better security and privacy. See our iPhone vs Android face-off.
- Unlocked or carrier? Most shoppers in the U.S. buy new phones through their wireless carrier. But an unlocked phone gives you the freedom to buy the device without any sort of contract and then bring it to the provider you want to use.
- Screen size: For fans of big phones, 6 inches and up is a good place to start. The biggest phones are 6.5 to just under 7 inches. If you want something you can easily use with one hand, go with one of the best small phones with a screen under 6 inches.
- Cameras: Don't pay attention to the megapixel count. Instead, look at camera face-offs between phones to see the photo quality and look for special features like Night Mode to get better quality in low light. Also see our best camera phone roundup.
- Battery life: Generally, phones with larger batteries (measured in mAh) offer the longest battery life, but that's not always the case. That's why we run our own custom battery tests, where phones repeatedly load webpages over a T-Mobile data connection while set to 150 nits of display brightness until they run out of juice.
How we test smartphones
In order for a smartphone to make our best phone list, it needs to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.
When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.
To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.
One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.
Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.