Christmas Gift Guide: Best Phablets of 2013

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By Alistair Charlton | December 12, 2013 7:37 PM EST

From Samsung and Sony to Nokia and Huawei, we look at five of the best phablets for the person in your life who wants a gadget to function as smartphone and tablet in one.

What at first appeared a fad became an established part of the smartphone landscape in 2013, as the phablet phenomenon gained momentum with Sony, HTC and Nokia joining Samsung's super-size phone party.

Offering the big-screen benefits of a tablet, while still being pocketable and able to make calls, the phablet makes an ideal present for someone who is looking to replace both their smartphone and their tablet with one multi-functional device.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 - from £420

Samsung was the first major manufacturer to bring the phablet concept from its native South Korea to the west in 2011 with the original Galaxy Note. Since then, the Note 2 and Note 3 have accelerated consumer demand for a bigger phone - and uniquely among this list, the Samsung features an integrated stylus.

Called the S-Pen, the stylus can be used to tap and poke your way around the Android operating system - brimming with Samsung's own apps, as you'd expect - or to draw and write notes on the 5.7in, high definition display.

The glossy plastic and fake leather finish won't suit all tastes, but for many the screen, stylus and suite of photography features will make up for it.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra - £445

Sony's first foray into the phablet market, the Xperia Z Ultra is remarkably thin at just 6.5mm and with a 6.4in screen it's one of the biggest smartphones ever made. There's no stylus included with the Ultra, but it's screen can be navigated with just about anything, such as a pencil or the end of your headphone cables. Plastic covers over the phone's microUSB, microSD and SIM card slots mean the Ultra is waterproof, while its Full HD screen borrows technology from Sony's Bravia television range to provide excellent results.

Acknowledging a 6.4in phone might be too big for many, Sony sells a companion Bluetooth device which can be held to your face and used as a wireless handset.

Nokia Lumia 1520 - £550

The most recent company to enter the phablet fray, Nokia's Lumia 1520 has a 6in, full-HD display and retains the Finnish phone-maker's sleek design and high build quality seen across its Lumia range. Also shared with its stablemates is the 1520's PureView camera which produces superb shots, thanks to optical image stabilisation and a suite of photograph apps called 'lenses'. The 1520 is the largest Windows Phone 8 device on the market and also has the highest resolution of any phone running the Microsoft operating system. If you want WP8 and a big screen, this is the phone for you.

Huawei Ascend Mate - £270

Huawei might not have the brand following to match Samsung and Nokia, but the 6.1in Ascend Mate shouldn't be discounted on its unrecognisable name alone. Just like the other four phones in this list, the Huawei is powered by a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM - beaten only by the Note's 3GB. The Ascend Mate is let down by its screen resolution, which is still high definition, but lacks the sharpness and clarity of its rivals - and at 9.9mm thick it's one of the chunkiest phablets on the market.

But despite all this, the Huawei's price of around £270 makes it an attractive option.

HTC One Max - £570

Finally, the HTC One Max is the third installment of the Taiwanese phone-maker's One trilogy of sleek, aluminium smartphones, following the One and One Mini. The phone's 5.9in display is Full HD and slightly smaller than the competition, but its a full centimeter taller than the Galaxy Note 3, and not far behind the Z Ultra. The One Max runs Android, but HTC's Sense interface with the company's Blinkfeed news aggregator gives the device an identity of its own.

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