CES 2017 Phablet Roundup: Big smartphones steal the show in Vegas

The Consumer Electronics Show for 2017 has come and gone – and while normally what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the rules don’t apply when we are talking about the latest gadgets. Out of close to 15 smartphones by our count worth mentioning from the show, nine of them were phablets, which means big screens take the cake yet again.

Here is our roundup of the biggest phones from CES 2017.

CES 2017 Phablet Roundup

  1. LG Stylo 3 (5.7″)
  2. Asus Zenfone AR (5.7″)
  3. ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom (5.5″)
  4. Huawei Mate 9 (5.9″)
  5. Honor 6X (5.5″)
  6. ZTE Blade V8 Pro (5.5″)
  7. ZTE Hawkeye (5.5″)
  8. Xiaomi Mi Mix White (6.4″)
  9. Alcatel A3 XL (6.0″)

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LG Stylo 3

LG officially took the wraps off its third generation of the mid-range Stylo phablet at CES 2017.
LG Stylo 3. Photo: LG.

Just as we expected, LG officially took the wraps off its third generation of the mid-range Stylo phablet at CES 2017. The Stylo 3 (called the Stylus 3 outside the US) offers some moderate upgrades over the previous version like an improved stylus and fingerprint scanner.

The new Stylo packs a 5.7-inch HD display on top of a MediaTek octa-core processor, paired with 3GB of RAM and driven by the latest version of the Android operating system, 7.0 Nougat. Except for its unique note jotting capabilities, the software experience of the Stylo 3 is pretty much identical to what you would find on the LG V20.

Speaking of the note taking functions, the LG Stylo 3 closely mimics the defunct Galaxy Note 7 by letting you take notes on the fly without the need to navigate through your phone. Don’t let the Stylo fool you though, its specs are too modest to be a Note competitor – especially the 13MP camera that doesn’t perform anywhere near as well in low light.

LG Stylo 3 key specs

  • 5.7-inch, 1,280×720-pixel resolution screen
  • Mediatek MT6750
  • 3GB memory
  • 16GB storage (expandable to 2TB)
  • 8-megapixel front camera, 13-megapixel rear camera
  • 3,200mAh removable battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • 155.6 mm by 79.8 mm by 7.4 mm, 149 grams
  • Stylus
  • Fingerprint scanner

LG Stylo 3 specifications, news and information

Asus Zenfone AR

The Asus Zenfone AR was announced Thursday at CES 2017 in Las Vegas
Asus Zenfone AR. Photo: Asus

Its official, the world’s first smartphone with 8GB of RAM is a phablet. We’re talking specifically about the new 5.7-inch Zenfone AR by Asus. It was announced Thursday at CES 2017 in Las Vegas and it’s also the first smartphone that will be Tango-enabled and Daydream-ready.

The Zenfone AR phablet is equipped with ASUS TriCam, a three-camera system consisting of a 23MP main camera, motion-tracking camera, and depth-sensing camera and runs on Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. Bringing all of these sensors together will be a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with a WQHD Super AMOLED display and a new five-magnet speaker, making Daydream VR apps, games, and videos more immersive and entertaining.

Asus says that the Zenfone AR was developed in close cooperation with Google to deliver the best Tango and Daydream experiences. Tango was created by Google and brings a unique augmented reality (AR) user experience to smartphones, such as AR gaming, AR utilities and indoor navigation. Daydream is also a Google platform for high quality, mobile virtual reality and supports Daydream VR apps.

Asus Zenfone AR key specs

  • 5.7-inch, 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution screen
  • Snapdragon 821
  • 4/8GB memory
  • 32/64/128/256GB storage (expandable)
  • 23 MP f/2.0 front camera, 8MP f/2.0 rear camera
  • 3,300mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Fingerprint scanner

Asus Zenfone AR specifications, news and information

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom

Asus announced the 5.5-inch Zenfone 3 Zoom at CES 2017
Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom. Photo: Asus.

Alongside the Zenfone AR, Asus also announced the slightly smaller 5.5-inch Zenfone 3 Zoom. Unlike the AR, which has an array of cameras for Augmented Reality, the main focus with the Zoom is photography. It uses two rear cameras with different focal lengths to provide what ASUS calls 2.3x optical zoom.

This technology doesn’t work like a true zoom lens, which can smoothly adjust focal length between its extreme settings. The Zenfone 3 Zoom simply switches between the two cameras in addition to performing digital zoom. The wide angle camera has a 25mm equivalent focal length that captures a wider field of view but makes objects appear smaller and farther away than they appear to the naked eye. The approach is similar to what we see with the dual camera system found on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Aside from the dual rear camera, another other standout feature of the Zenfone 3 Zoom is its large 5000mAh battery, which should deliver excellent battery life when combined with the octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU found in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625. It also has half the amount of RAM as the Zenfone AR, with 3GB or 4GB options available.

Internal storage capacity on the Zenfone 3 Zoom comes in 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB options that are expandable via microSD. The aluminum uni-body chassis is available in three different colors: Glacier Silver, Navy Black, and Rose Gold with a color-matching capacitive fingerprint scanner on the back. The phablet is expected to be available in February.

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom key specs

  • 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution screen
  • Snapdragon 625
  • 4GB memory
  • 32/64/128GB expandable storage
  • Dual 12 MP, 25mm, f/1.7, OIS & 59mm, f/2.8 primary camera, 13 MP, f/2.0 secondary camera
  • 5,000mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 6.0
  • Fingerprint scanner

Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom specifications, news and information

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei took the opportunity at CES 2017 to announce the Mate 9 in the US.
Huawei Mate 9. Photo: Huawei.

We’ve seen the 5.9-inch Mate 9 coming to the United States for quite some time now, but Huawei took the opportunity at CES 2017 to make things official, with the added bonus of announcing Amazon Alexa support to the device – making the Mate 9 the world’s first smartphone ever with this functionality (another win for phablets).

According to Huawei, Alexa will give customers ‘a natural, convenient user interface’ to get information or perform tasks. The company said they are collaborating with Amazon to ‘develop a rich voice activated consumer experience’. Current owners of the Mate 9 will be getting an over-the-air (OTA) update that carries the Alexa support.

Huawei’s Mate 9 is powered by an Octa-core HiSilicon Kirin 960 chip that is paired with a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. The phablet comes packed with 4GB RAM and 64GB of memory that is expandable via microSD and is backed by a 4000 mAh battery with SuperCharge technology.

With fast charging support, 10-minutes of charging will give users enough power to watch two full movies, says Huawei. The Mate 9 also features a dual-rear camera (20MP +12MP) with an f/2.2 aperture, OIS, auto focus and dual-LED flash. Around front, the device sports an 8MP camera with an f/1.9 aperture, which should perform well in low light.

Huawei Mate 9 key specs

  • 5.9-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution screen
  • Kirin 960
  • 4GB memory
  • 64GB storage (expandable via microSD)
  • Dual 20 MP +12 MP, f/2.2, OIS rear camera, 8 MP, f/1.9, 1080p front camera
  • 4,000mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Fingerprint scanner

Huawei Mate 9 specifications, news and information

Honor 6X

Huawei first announced the 5.5-inch Honor 6X in China last October but the big reveal at CES 2017 made it official here in the US.
Huawei Honor 6X. Photo: Huawei.

Huawei first announced the 5.5-inch Honor 6X in China last October but the big reveal at CES 2017 made it official here in the US. The Chinese electronics giant launched its mid-range Honor 6x phablet globally, which includes dual-lens camera technology and Kirin 655 octa-core chipset.

Just like Samsung’s new A7, this phablet will bring premium design details to the budget end of the phablet market. The Honor 6X has a 5.5-inch display and all metal design that features a unique fingerprint scanner around back which opens the 6X in a fraction of a second. Users can swipe through images and take pictures without touching the screen.

The Honor 6X features a Full HD display with a Kirin 655 octa-core chip paired with your pick between 3GB or 4GB of RAM depending on how much internal storage you opt for. Choices here are going to be 32GB or 64GB. Either way you get a 3,340mAh battery and the Huawei EMUI 4.1 overlay running over Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

One of the best features of the Honor 6X is Its camera set up, which includes a 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel dual configuration for the rear and a 8-megapixel camera up front. Color options for the Honor 6X include silver, grey and gold.

Honor 6X key specs

  • 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel HD display (403ppi)
  • 2.1GHz octa-core Kirin 655 processor
  • 32GB expandable (US markets)
  • 12-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Android 6.0 with Huawei’s EMUI 4.1 software
  • 3,340mAh battery
  • Fingerprint sensor (no NFC or Android Pay)

Huawei Honor 6X specifications, news and information

ZTE Blade V8 Pro

For those of you looking to get dual-cameras on the cheap, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro looks to be another promising mid-range device
ZTE Blade V8 Pro. Photo: ZTE.

For those of you looking to get dual-cameras on the cheap, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro looks to be another promising mid-range device like the Honor 6X. Also sporting a 5.5-inch Full HD display, the ZTE Blade V8 Pro takes advantage of two 13MP lenses to change the focal point in your images, a nice feature that is usually reserved for higher end smartphones.

The Blade V8 Pro phablet also has a fingerprint reader, expandable memory and dual-SIM capabilities – a nice feature for anyone who travels frequently or has two numbers. Looking under the hood, we find a 2.0GHz, eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor coupled with 3GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage – expandable up to 128GB.

On the front, there is an 8MP camera for selfies that also packs in a flash module. Powering all of this hardware is a 3,140mAh battery that supports quick charging, which ZTE claims will last up to 24 hours. The Blade V8 Pro will run Android 6.0.1 and is currently available for pre-order.

ZTE Blade V8 Pro key specs

  • 5.5-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution screen
  • Snapdragon 625
  • 3GB memory
  • 32GB storage (expandable via microSD)
  • Dual 13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera
  • 3,140mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 6.0
  • Fingerprint scanner

ZTE Blade V8 Pro specifications, news and information

ZTE Hawkeye

The 5.5-inch ZTE Hawkeye is the smartphone winner from Project CSX
ZTE Hawkeye. Photo: ZTE.

ZTE took the stage at CES 2017 not only to unveil one, but two smartphones. The 5.5-inch ZTE Hawkeye is the smartphone winner from Project CSX, the company’s attempt to crowd source ideas for a smartphone through community voting.

Still in its infancy, the ZTE Hawkeye prototype shown at CES 2017 has a high-resolution camera that will track your irises’ movements to assist you with hands-free reading and scrolling. It will also come with a removable case that has a self-adhesive attachment, helping the phablet stick to most flat surfaces anywhere, which is a nice feature for hands-free photography.

These features were pitched, submitted and approved by both ZTE and its fans alike. The company plans to ship the phone globally in Q3 of 2017 but there’s still some work yet to be done. Color options, material and finish haven’t been voted on yet, but ZTE will post 15 total versions for people to vote on. The ZTE Hawkeye is now live for funding on Kickstarter for less than $200.

ZTE Hawkeye key specs

  • 5.5-inch, 1,080×1,920-pixel resolution screen
  • expandable storage
  • Dual rear camera
  • Android 7.0
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Self adhesive
  • Eye-tracking, hands-free scrolling

ZTE Hawkeye specifications, news and information

Xiaomi Mi Mix White

A brand new version of the 6.4-inch Xiaomi Mi MIX phablet was introduced by Xiaomi's Hugo Barra on stage at CES 2017
Xiaomi Mi Mix in White. Photo: Xiaomi.

A brand new version of the 6.4-inch Xiaomi Mi MIX phablet was introduced by Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra on stage at CES 2017 and the only thing setting it apart from the original Mi MIX is it now comes in pearl white finish. No additional hardware changes were mentioned.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX was originally unveiled in October 2016 as a limited edition concept smartphone, made in collaboration with French designer Philippe Stark. The key feature here is its huge 6.4-inch near bezel-less display with curved edges on top, and 91.3 percent screen-to-body ratio.

A marvel of design, the only bezel on the Mi MIX sits at the bottom, where the 5MP front camera is located. The phablet is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, paired with 4GB/6GB of RAM and 128GB /256GB of internal storage, all fueled by a 4,400 mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 technology. Around the back is a 16MP camera and a fingerprint scanner.

While the black variant phablet is already available in China, Xiaomi currently has no plans to bring the Mi Mix to any other part of the world including the United States where Apple and Samsung dominate the market. It was initially only available in black, but the white variant is slated to come out in China later this year for around $550.

Xiaomi Mi Mix key specs

  • 6.4-inch, 1,080×2,040-pixel resolution screen
  • Snapdragon 821
  • 4/6GB memory
  • 128/256GB storage (not expandable)
  • 16 MP, f/2.0 rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 4,850mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 6
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Color options: Black and White

Xiaomi Mi Mix specifications, news and information

Alcatel A3 XL

Chinese handset maker Alcatel has taken the wraps off a new phablet at CES 2017
Alcatel A3 XL. Photo: Alcatel

Chinese handset maker Alcatel has taken the wraps off a new phablet at CES 2017, which is targeted at more budget conscious buyers – the 6-inch Alcatel A3 XL. Designed for those who “live on-the-go,” the nicely size IPS display makes getting everyday tasks done easily and making for a more enjoyable multimedia experience.

The main disappointment with this device is the somewhat low 1280×720 resolution. While this makes for longer battery life, the pixel density is well below what you would expect to find on a smartphone in 2017.

Looking under the hood it’s clear the low resolution can be attributed to a mediocre quad-core MediaTek MT8735B chipset and 1GB of RAM. Based on these specs, it’s hard to tell whether the Alcatel smartphone will be able to live up to what the company claims will be a “fantastic multimedia experience.”

The camera specs aren’t too impressive either. You get an 8-megapixel primary camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing snapper. The A3 XL offers 8 GB of internal storage, which can be expanded to an additional 32 GB via a microSD card.

A budget handset, no doubt, but one nice thing about the A3 XL is that it does boast a fingerprint sensor and it will also come pre-loaded with the latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. The entire package is fuelled by a 3000 mAh battery.

Alcatel has not revealed the price or availability of the A3 XL in the United States. Considering the specs, however, and the fact that the phablet is targeted at the budget conscious buyers, we would expect the A3 XL to be one of the cheapest phones on the market.

Alcatel A3 XL key specs

  • 6-inch, 1,280×720-pixel resolution screen
  • MediaTek MT8735B
  • 1GB memory
  • 8GB storage (expandable)
  • 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • 3,000mAh non-removable battery
  • Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Fingerprint scanner

Alcatel A3 XL specifications, news and information



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