What are the best phablets on the market going into 2017? With an increasing number of handsets now coming with 5.5-inch screens and larger, the phablet spectrum isn’t as expansive as it used to be.
T-mobile has a number of excellent phablets to choose from ranging anywhere from 5.5 to 6-inches, all with different key strengths and weaknesses. We’ve rounded up the best phablets available through T-mobile right now and grouped them by screen size and price point.
- ZTE Z Max Pro (6″) $ – Runner up
- LG V20 (5.7″) $$$ – Our Second Pick
- LG Stylo 2 Plus (5.7″) $
- Kyocera DuraForce XD (5.7″) $$
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (5.5″) $$$ – Our first pick
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus (5.5″) $$$
- Apple iPhone 6S Plus (5.5″) $$$
- Alcatel IDOL 4S (5.5″) $$ – Runner up
- Samsung Galaxy J7 (5.5″) $
1. ZTE Z Max Pro
For those obsessed with screen size, the ZTE Z Max Pro is a quality phablet with some very good specs for the price you are paying. Its big 6-inch 1080p display is easy to read and gives you the most real estate T-mobile has to offer for web browsing and media consumption.
The Z Max Pro has more storage than most phablets in this price range with 32GB of storage space for apps and games right out of the box. You can also expand your memory via microSD and carry a massive amount of music and movies with you on the go.
Don’t let the ZTE name scare you away; this phablet has all of the features you would expect to find on the more expensive phones including a fingerprint scanner for super-fast unlocking capability and peace of mind security. The Dolby Audio app provides great sound with any pair of quality headphones but not so much with the device speakers.
While this phablet is impressive for the price, the Z Max Pro camera leaves much to be desired. You also don’t get an NFC capability, which means no direct file sharing or making payments with Android Pay. If you want a 6-inch screen you will not find a better phone unless you pay triple the price.
Price Point: $
Buy the ZTE Z Max Pro from T-Mobile
2. LG V20
With a screen size that is slightly smaller than the ZTE Z Max Pro, the LG V20 is lightning fast with a secondary display for notifications instead of a blinking LED. The 6-inch 2K screen is very satisfying to the eyes when watching movies or playing games even though it’s not an AMOLED.
Internal memory on the V20 is expandable up to 2TB with a micro SD card; we are talking hard drive levels of storage. A replaceable battery means you will never go without juice if you keep a spare one on charge.
Like the Z Max Pro, the LG V20 has a camera that suffers in low light compared to other modern flagships like the Galaxy S7 Edge. You do get some great features like manual controls and a second wide angle lens, even though that has even worse low light performance compared to the primary snapper.
Some other features that make the V20 a phablet for power users include IR blaster and FM radio. A USB-C connector keeps you future proof and the fingerprint scanner is lightning fast. Overall, the V20 is an excellent choice for those looking for a large screen and loads of processing power.
Victims of the Note 7 fiasco seeking a replacement might not look much further than this if you can do without a stylus.
Price Point: $$$
Buy the LG V20 from T-Mobile
3. LG Stylo 2 Plus
If you are a big fan of doodling or coloring, the LG Stylo 2 Plus is a great alternative to the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note lineup. The 5.7-inch HD screen and built in stylus make this phablet a solid pick for the budget conscious or the flagship disenfranchised.
Battery life is impressive but this is most likely due to the lower resolution screen. The battery is also removable which makes it possible to go from zero to full charge in less than 2 minutes if you have a spare on hand. Having a fingerprint scanner on the Stylo 2 is a huge bonus that you might not expect to find on a phablet at this price point.
The 13MP camera is not great, you’ll want to use the flash indoors, and always have your subjects freeze their pose because of shutter lag. The Stylo 2 will does take good macro shots though as long as you have plenty of light and a steady hand. 16GB of expandable storage means you will have a hard time running out of space for all of your pictures and media; just know that your apps can’t be stored on the microSD card.
Overall, you get a ton of features with the Stylo 2 Plus that’s wallet friendly. Nice screen size, thin lightweight design, and running Android 6 Marshmallow and soon getting an OTA upgrade to Android 7 Nougat, according to T-mobile.
Price Point: $
Buy the LG Stylo 2 Plus from T-Mobile
4. Kyocera DuraForce XD
Built with a super durable design, the Kyocera DuraForce XD is an excellent choice for those who constantly get their phone wet or work in harsh environments. With a water/dust proof IP68 certification there is no need to buy a protective case because this phablet has one built right in. If you are used to carrying around a phablet with an Otterbox, you won’t notice much of a difference.
The front mounted speaker is surprisingly loud when listening to music or watching YouTube. The DuraForce XD is also packed with 16GB of expandable storage and includes Near Field Communications for things like direct file sharing and Android Pay.
The DuraForce XD is running an older version of Android Lollipop, which means it is light on features you get with flagship phablets but it’s also much lighter on bloatware. The processor is a bit on the slow side and the 8MP rear camera doesn’t take very impressive photos, but it will get the job done.
Overall, this phablet is built like a tank but its subpar hardware makes it look like a lightweight when compared to the cheaper LG Stylo 2 Plus or Z Max Pro. Putting a waterproof protective case on one of these other phablets would give you much more processing power with comparable protection.
Price Point: $$
Buy the Kyocera DuraForce XD from T-Mobile
5. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
This is by far one of the best phablets available right now. The Galaxy S7 Edge has one of the most cutting-edge mobile processors ever created; the Snapdragon 820 supports the ultimate experience in graphics, photography, power, and battery efficiency.
Its 5.5″ Quad HD Super AMOLED display offers vivid colors and dynamic contrast but because it’s curved screen, it becomes quite delicate and prone to cracks. So you will definitely want to put it in a wallet case that wraps around the whole device. The slightly smaller screen packs more pixels per inch when compared to the Galaxy Note 7 but your eyes probably can’t tell the difference.
Wireless charging and VR capabilities are a huge bonus but the 12MP rear camera is what makes the Galaxy S7 Edge stand out the most in our opinion. Don’t let the number of pixels fool you, the f/1.9 lens fitted with a new low-light sensor takes some of the best photographs available from a mobile phone today. It’s the same setup found on the now defunct Galaxy Note 7.
IP68 protection means you can get this phablet soaking wet and it won’t be affected. The S7 Edge comes fitted with 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded with an additional 256GB microSD card. You also get all of the features you would expect to find in a flagship including a lighting fast fingerprint scanner on the home button and NFC/MST for mobile payments.
Price Point: $$$
Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge from T-mobile
6. Apple iPhone 7 Plus
It wasn’t very long ago that Apple was once opposed to big-screen phones. Now, if you are an Apple fan who wants a Phablet, the iPhone 7 Plus is a no brainer. The new A10 fusion chipset combined with 3GB of RAM makes it one of the fastest phablets available on the market. Some of the best upgrades found on the iPhone 7 include the dual camera setup, battery life, water resistance, and stereo speakers.
Taking photographs on the iPhone 7 Plus is a real pleasure. Its large 5.5-inch HD display and choice between wide angle and telephoto lenses make framing your shot a breeze. In fact, the picture quality is so good it won’t be hard to fool your friends into believing your photos were taken with a Nikon or Cannon camera.
The stereo speakers sound great, if you are coming from an older iPhone, you will notice the difference the second you start playing music through the iPhone 7. The lack of a headphone jack might be a deal breaker for some but who really needs one when you are living in the age of wireless headphones? The only real disadvantage here is you can charge your phone while using headphones.
Bottom line, it’s an iPhone. If you desire the latest and greatest, this phablet is for you. Battery life is excellent and performance is smooth and consistent. The only real downside here is a lack of expandable storage. Your options are 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB – each with a different price point.
Price Point: $$$
Buy the Apple iPhone 7 Plus from T-mobile
7. Apple iPhone 6S Plus
You can save yourself some money by going with something a little older but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice performance. The iPhone 6S Plus is still a highly capable phone going into 2017.
Battery life on the iPhone 6S is exceptionally good, it can last all day with minimal or no charging. It has a beautiful 5.5-inch display featuring the same screen resolution found on the new iPhone 7 Plus. The screen is incredibly bright, clear, and adapts to variable conditions with ease.
The hardly outdated A9 Chipset, now paired with 2GB of RAM, is lightning fast. An upgraded Touch ID sensor makes unlocking the phone instantaneous. 3D touch allows you to carry out certain tasks with ease through quick actions.
No doubt one of the best features of the iPhone 6S is the camera. Apple has a great reputation when it comes to smartphone cameras and the 6S Plus doesn’t disappoint. It takes great low-light shots without the need to make any adjustments.
Storage options again include 32GB, 64GB and 128GB – none of which are expandable. Bottom line, if you are looking to save a few bucks the iPhone 6S Plus is a solid phablet that will handle whatever you can throw at it for years to come.
Price Point: $$$
Buy the Apple iPhone 6S from T-Mobile
8. Alcatel IDOL 4S
The IDOL 4S with Windows 10 delivers high-end design and performance with feature-rich software. The 5.5-inch Full HD display is paired with a Snapdragon 802 chipset and front-facing dual Hi-Fi speakers, giving you one of the best multimedia experiences available.
A 21 MP rear-facing camera with phase detection, auto focus, dual-tone flash, and a dedicated camera button makes the IDOL 4S seem more like a digital camera with a phone function. Around front, you get an 8 MP selfie snapper with a wide-angle lens and flash. Picture quality is mediocre and will leave much to be desired for photography enthusiasts.
This is a premium phablet for sure; its build is all glass and metal so if you are prone to drops you should put a case on it, as this phone will not take to hard floors or pavement very well at all. The Idol 4S is powered by a 3000mAh non-removable battery with excellent standby time and Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0.
One of the trademark features of the Idol 4S with Windows 10 is Virtual Reality and for a limited time you can get a free VR headset with purchase from T-mobile. That’s a huge bonus considering most VR headsets run at least an extra $99.
In addition to a great multimedia experience, the IDOL 4S has excellent security and productivity features. You get a rear mounted fingerprint scanner to turn on and unlock your phone but there is no iris scanner like the new Samsung Galaxy lineup. The IDOL 4s is also Continum-enabled meaning you can use the phablet just like a PC or turn it into a large-screen projector.
Price Point: $$
Buy the Alcatel IDOL 4S from T-mobile
9. Samsung Galaxy J7
The Samsung Galaxy J7 is a great choice for the budget conscious individual who wants a Samsung phablet. While its 5.5-inch 720P display isn’t very sharp, it is a Super AMOLED which means that the blacks are deep with excellent viewing angles. The screen can get very bright and is easy to read outdoors but a lack of an ambient light sensor means you have to make the screen adjustments manually.
Overall, the J7 user experience is stable and fluid. Apps open up quickly and there isn’t any stutter or lag for the most part. The J7 benchmarks well and is capable of running graphic intensive games smoothly but the audio levels via the rear speaker are quite low.
Most users will find the 16GB of internal storage sufficient for their needs but those who are app-hungry might desire a little more, even with the ability to drop an additional 128GB in via microSD. The removable battery is classic Samsung and battery life is what you would expect. Ultra power saving mode will help you squeeze every ounce of juice out of your phablet.
The rear camera is decent for the price and the ability to shoot 1080p video is great for YouTubers. The front mounted light can be turned on and off but it doesn’t operate like a flash. Pro mode is a stripped down version of what you find on the S6 and later – all you have here is exposure, white balance, and ISO.
Price Point: $
Buy the Samsung Galaxy J7 from T-Mobile