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4 ‘phablets’ that are easy on your wallet

The Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G has a fun custom interface, 16GB of internal storage and mostly strong data and internal performance.
The Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G has a fun custom interface, 16GB of internal storage and mostly strong data and internal performance. TNS

They’re bigger than your average smartphone and smaller than a tablet. That means the size is easier on the eyes than your phone for games and videos, and they’re small enough to travel well. Even better, these impressive big-screen “phablets” won’t cause a huge drain on your wallet.

Nokia Lumia 1320

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The wallet-friendly Nokia Lumia 1320 is an LTE-capable phone with solid build quality, good performance and a healthy helping of Nokia’s extra software perks. This Windows 8.1 phone has a 6-inch, 720p HD display, a plus for videos, games and other apps with lots of detail and features. Nokia Creative Studio gives you photo editing tools. Group images into stories with Nokia Storyteller. OneDrive gives you 7GB of free storage and the ability to sync with other devices, so your data travels where you do.

The bad: You won’t find your dream camera with the Lumia 1320’s 5-megapixel shooter, and storage space is limited.

The cost: $225.21

The bottom line: Steer toward Nokia’s Lumia 1320 for an affordable supersize phone you can rely on, but not before checking out Android rivals with fancier specs and comparable price tags.

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G has a 6.1-inch HD screen, the Android 4.3 operating system, a fun custom interface, 16GB of internal storage, clear call quality, and mostly strong data and internal performance. It supports a 32GB MicroSD card for external memory.

The bad: Weak image quality from the Mate 2’s 13-megapixel camera, a poor speakerphone, and low pixel density in the screen are drawbacks. It’s also far too big for some hands at 6.3 inches long and 3.3 inches wide.

The cost: $290.29

The bottom line: You’d be hard-pressed to find a phone for the size and price of the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G that performs as well as it does.

LG G Vista

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: The LG G Vista is inexpensive with a carrier agreement, has a bright and expansive 5.7-inch HD display and features LG’s customary software goodies. It has an 8 megapixel camera and runs the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Supports a 64G microSD card for external storage.

The bad: The phone’s size (3.1 inches wide by 5.99 inches long) can be unwieldy for some, onboard storage is minimal and its 720p resolution keeps the display quality from shining.

The cost: $1 (with 2-year contract) to $399.99

The bottom line: Given its midrange specs, the LG G Vista for AT&T and Verizon is a solid buy if you want a big “phablet” at a low cost.

ZTE Grand X Max+ (Cricket Wireless)

CNET rating: 3 stars out of 5 (Good)

The good: Cricket’s competitively priced ZTE Grand X Max+ has a 6-inch HD screen, nimble 5 megapixel front- and 13 megapixel rear-facing cameras, a lightweight design and 4G LTE. It runs on the Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. Supports 32G microSD card for external storage.

The bad: The phone’s smooth texture and large size (3.27 inches wide by 6.38 inches long) render it unwieldy at times. Constant static on calls can be distracting.

The cost: $200-$219

The bottom line: Despite its few drawbacks, the ZTE Grand X Max+ is a good, low-cost buy for a big-screen handset.

Karen Sullivan contributed.

The ‘phablet’ class

▪ “Phablets” are a smartphone-tablet hybrid, typically with screen sizes between 5 and 6 inches. The idea is that the right phablet should do the job of the two devices.

▪ The larger frame allows manufacturers to add features that often reserved for tablets, including batteries that go longer between charges and a more spacious keyboard for typing.

▪ If you carry your phone in your pocket, you might want a smaller phablet or bigger pockets. If you carry your devices elsewhere, you may find it easier to go big.

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