Your buying guide for the best big phones in 2018

Phones used to be small. Even the first iPhone only had a 3.5in display that today looks remarkably tiny.

The iPhone XS Max has a 6.5in display, and it isn’t the only phone with one that big. In fact, Apple was relatively late to the big phone party.

You may have heard the term phablet, which means phone-tablet. If you’re anything like us, you might even want to use a large phone all the time and not even have a tablet at all.

Size matters

Most phones with displays over 5.5in are considered phablets, but in recent times phones have got taller and thinner displays in order to fit in larger overall displays. Most of the phones in this chart have these taller aspect ratios as they are known 

Not all phones with large screens could be considered ‘big’ though - Despite its 5.7in screen we wouldn't consider the regular Galaxy S9 to be a phablet, because its tiny bezels mean it's not a huge handset, yet we would consider the iPhone 8 Plus a phablet with its 5.5in screen, a regular 16:9 display aspect ratio and big bezels. 

Samsung, Huawei, LG and others all have phones that require two handed use most of the time, such is the size of their displays. But big phones have other great benefits like larger batteries and the pay-off is often well worth it. Though some need the large battery as the big screen drains the cell faster. 

The benefits

Watching films and TV becomes much more pleasant on a large screen phone and you’ll find yourself appreciating the photos you take even more when viewed on a big, vibrant display. 

Take into account that the number of pixels will be stretched over a larger screen area, so a Quad-HD screen will be appreciated here more than it would on a compact phone. That said, though, even a full-HD screen will look crystal clear on a big phone - just watch out for anything lower in resolution than this. 

These are the ten best big screen phones you can buy today

Best big phone 2018

1. Google Pixel 3 XL

Google Pixel 3 XL
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 16 October 2018

The Pixel 3 and 3 XL are the best Android phones you can buy at the moment. They marry Google's excellent Android 9 Pie in its purest form with the company's most premium hardware to date.

The phones also have the best cameras on a smartphone ever. What the single rear camera achieves with software smarts beats the iPhone XS, Galaxy Note 9 and Huawei P20 Pro in most scenarios.

If you want the best phone around and don't want an iPhone, the Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL are it.

Read our Google Pixel 3 XL review.

2. OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 16 October 2018

The OnePlus 6 doesn't have everything you could possibly want on a smartphone, but it does offer an unrivalled level of bang for your buck.

If you really want things like waterproofing and wireless charging then you'll need to spend more, which is fine if you have the budget.

Its gaming mode is very good, though and for most people, the OnePlus 6 is simply a steal with amazing design, build quality, specs and performance at an affordable price.

Read our OnePlus 6 review.

3. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 20 June 2018

The Galaxy S9+ is a gorgeous and almost flawless phone, offering premium specs and features in a sleek and well-made design. There is the issue of it being very similar to its predecessor but we're glad Samsung hasn't dropped the headphone jack and introduced a notch - if it 'aint broke.

It's easily one of the best smartphones money can buy but a key question is whether you should get it over the regular S9. The answer is yes, but only if you can afford the extra cost, don't mind the larger size and will make use of the additional features such as the second rear camera.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review.

4. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 24 October 2018

The Mate 20 Pro is an outstanding phone. The cameras will be the highlight for many people, but it really is a fantastic all-rounder with a top-quality screen, super-fast charging, wireless charging and excellent battery life.

It isn't perfect, but the small niggles shouldn't be deal-breakers for most people.

Read our Huawei Mate 20 Pro review.

5. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 5 October 2018

If you want an Android phone with every feature under the sun, the Galaxy Note 9 is it. With premium design, amazing battery life and the unique S-Pen, it's pretty much the most you can spend on a phone right now.

That said, its features aren't for everyone and it will be too big and expensive for many. The regular S9 has similar design and most of the features and costs less (and will fit in most pockets to boot).

But the Note 9 has the best display on a smartphone on its release and the 4000mAh battery has incredible stamina. It even has liquid cooling and can run the most demanding mobile games.

If it's up your street, it's the only choice.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review.

6. Apple iPhone XS Max

Apple iPhone XS Max
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 28 September 2018

The XS Max is everything a flagship phone should be: beautifully made, high performance for everything including gaming and - ultimately - desirable.

The screen is an all-new size, and it bears some thought when choosing between the XS and XS Max, but it's great you don't have to compromise on features if you don't want the bigger, heavier phone.

Feature upgrades compared to the iPhone X aren't huge, but if you need dual-SIM then you will want an XS or XS Max. It's really just the price that will be a barrier for some people.

Read our Apple iPhone XS Max review.

7. Honor Note 10

Honor Note 10
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 8 October 2018

Although you'll have to import it if you live outside of China, the Honor Note 10 has proven excellent in our testing. It is all screen, and if you want a phone with the biggest one around, this is it.

Performance is great and video and games looks stunning on one of the biggest OLED panels you can find without a notch. As with most Honor phones, it's also pretty affordable.

If you want a phone with flagship specs to replace a tablet the Honor Note 10 fits the bill.

Read our Honor Note 10 review.

8. Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Apple iPhone 8 Plus
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 9 April 2018

The iPhone 8 Plus is a hard phone to recommend. Sure, it's powerful, but so is every other flagship - and with a dated design and huge body, the 8 Plus is lagging behind. Throw in the fact that the wireless charging is slow, the fast wired charging costs you extra, and flagship camera feature Portrait Lighting just doesn't work well enough yet, and the 8 Plus is a tough sell.

If you're coming from an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus there's not much to justify the upgrade - though moving from a 6 or 6s is more understandable. And if you're currently an Android user, you'll find phones that are just as fast, with modern designs, for far less money in the Android ecosystem.

Read our Apple iPhone 8 Plus review.

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 11 December 2017

Even though the Note 9 is now out and improves the battery life and S-Pen, the Note 8 is still a killer phone. 

The huge, amazing display is still among the best you can get while the processing power is still close to the very best. The dual cameras take excellent portrait photos and the only thing the S-Pen lacks compared to the Note 9 is Bluetooth.

You should be able to save a lot of money if you opt for it today over the newer model.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review.

10. Honor Play

Honor Play
  • Rating: ratingsratingsratingsratingsratings
  • Reviewed on: 15 November 2018

At £279, it's very easy to recommend the Honor Play. The display is no match for rival gaming phones like the Razer Phone or Asus ROG, but the Play offers top notch performance at a far lower price than either of those, which might make it the ideal phone for gamers on a budget.

The specs are almost identical to the pricier Honor 10 and even the much pricier Huawei P20, though it's worth noting that it's got a metal chassis rather than a glass back, and the camera isn't a patch on the ones in those phones.

Still, even if you're not a gamer, this is one of the best value phones on the market, offering flagship performance at a fraction of the price, so long as you don't mind missing out on the best photography features.

Read our Honor Play review.