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By 5 December 2014 | Categories: news

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5. Hisense Infinity Maxe X1

Hisense may not be a household name in terms of smartphones and phablets, but the 6.8” Infinity Maxe X1 (review) is well worth noting. The reason why it finds its way onto our list is the supreme value for money proposition it presents: for a mere R5 000 you get a full HD 6.8” display and a Snapdragon 800 processor. Its size does blur the line between phablet and tablet, and can become a bit unwieldy at times, but this is quickly forgotten when viewing content or playing games. A stylus would have been a welcome addition, but luckily there’s a large 3900 mAh battery onboard, ensuring that two days life is easily achieved. While the X1 might be plastic heavy, it gives users plenty of bang for their bucks.

4. Nokia Lumia 1520

Along with Apple, Nokia also took the plunge and tried its hand at phablets, resulting in two 6” devices, with the Lumia 1520 (review) serving as flagship. The 1520 is the second largest phablet on our list and the only phablet running Windows Phone 8 (8.1 with update). Its size makes it perfectly suited for viewing content in landscape, especially on its bright and saturated display featuring plenty of clarity at 367 ppi. 

Also in the mix is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and 2 GB of RAM. This means the Lumia 1520 is snappy when multitasking, an important concern for phablet users. Much like the iPhone 6 Plus, the Lumia 1520 does not make the most of its large real estate, and could also benefit from an S Pen-like stylus in our opinion. In spite of this, the Lumia 1520 is still a well-made device that any user should consider carrying - if it can fit in your pocket.

3. Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The frenzy following the iPhone 6 Plus launch in September was quickly negated by the #bendgate incident. But that’s not the reason why Apple’s first foray into phablets sits third on our list. Instead, the phablet does not fully capitalise on the increased dimensions that its 5.5” display affords. That being said though, there is still plenty to love about the 6 Plus, including its superb screen quality and the same A8 chip found on the smaller iPhone 6, and as such performs as good as it looks. 

One of its key features is the excellent 8MP camera on the rear, utilising Apple’s iSight technology to capture some fantastic images. The iPhone 6 Plus is a great all-round phablet, but expect the next iteration to really start challenging Samsung’s Note range.

2. LG G3

When it comes to specs, the LG G3 (review) is not shy, with the South Korean manufacturer ensuring that its flagship tops every phablet measurable around. Its design is also quite striking, with LG incorporating a faux-aluminium coating on the rear of the device. Up front though is where the actions is, with the G3’s 5.5” Quad HD display registering a massive 534 ppi. You’d be hard pressed to find another mobile device with a better screen than the G3. 

The G3 packs plenty of high end components under the hood as well, with 3 GB of RAM and a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor ensuring that the G3 can handle work and play with ease. When we received the G3 for review back in July we were taken aback, since we only expected these types of specs in 2015. The fact that it did not end up on this year’s top spot is set to cause grumblings amongst certain TechSmart staff members for at least well into the new year.

1. Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Having pioneered the phablet back in 2011 with the original Note, Samsung’s latest offering still proves the one to beat. Serving up stronger specs than its predecessor, there is very little that the Galaxy Note 4 can’t handle. From the moment you power up the Note 4, it feels special, sporting a 5.7” Quad HD display (1440x2560) that brings all multitasking elements to life. Samsung has integrated a host of high-end specs to deliver uncompromised performance, with a choice of Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 805 chipset or a quad-core Exynos 5433 processor, both of which are available in SA. 

The Note 4’s real virtue however lies in the improved S Pen, upping this phablet’s functionality and giving it a distinct edge over the competition. Added to this is an ultra-battery saving mode and fast charging feature to see you through a full day’s use. When you factor in its outstanding 16 MP primary camera, the Note 4 has no discernible fault at all, taking it to the top spot as our phablet of the year.

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