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iPhone 6 Plus: Large-screen smartphone alternatives to Apple's phablet

The iPhone 6 Plus is a fantastic large smartphone, but it is very expensive and locks you into the Apple ecosystem. There are several Android and Windows Phone alternatives if the iPhone is not for you.
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1 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

I have tried a lot of large screen smartphones and for my life as a 2 hour train commuter, professional engineer, regular business traveler, and father the Apple iPhone 6 Plus is the best big screen smartphone I have ever used.

However, we all have different needs and thankfully there are plenty of choices available for all those various needs. Let's take a quick look at the iPhone 6 Plus before taking a look at six good alternatives, all with displays at least 5.2 inches in size.

  • Screen size: 5.5-inch LED with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 pixels-per-inch)
  • Cost: $749, $849, and $949 for 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB models
  • Pros: Solid construction, great camera, long battery life, vast iOS ecosystem
  • Cons: No IR port, no wireless charging, limited NFC functionality

 

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2 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

LG G3 in hand

The LG G3, see my review, is one of the best Android phones available today. You can buy it from your carrier and be confident that you can use it for years with an external storage card slot and removable battery. It is big, but doesn't feel that big with the rear buttons and minimal side bezels.

  • Screen size: 5.5 inch Quad HD IPS with 2560x1440 pixels at 538 ppi
  • Cost: $600
  • Pros: Very high resolution display, removable battery, microSD expansion, wonderful camera, customizable software
  • Cons: Fair battery life, carrier bloatware is present, no water resistance
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? The LG G3 is a big phone that doesn't feel like a big phone. THe removable battery and microSD means it will be with you for years.

 

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3 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Sony Xperia Z3

I had an Xperia Z2 for a couple weeks, but felt Sony makes the phone longer than necessary. The Z3 has much the same form factor with a few internal improvements and will be coming to T-Mobile soon.

  • Screen size: 5.2 inch full HD (1920x1080 pixels)
  • Cost: Not revealed yet, likely about $600
  • Pros: Gorgeous display, solid camera performance, waterproof and dust resistant, elegant glass and metal construction
  • Cons: Long with wasted space above and below display, square style, port covers
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? The Sony Xperia line feel like they could be Apple products, but they run Android and let you use it in the rain or pool without worry.

 

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4 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Nokia Lumia 1520

Prior to purchasing the Apple iPhone 6 Plus, the Nokia Lumia 1520 was my primary device. If not for the lack of apps then I may still be using it today more than the iPhone 6 Plus.

  • Screen size: 6 inch 1080p ClearBlack resolution display at 368 ppi
  • Cost: $520 for Lumia 1520.3 model
  • Pros: Cortana, excellent camera, improved Windows Phone 8.1 OS, nearly perfect display, Qi wireless charging, microSD expansion card slot, fast performance
  • Cons: Lack of apps, heavy and big device
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? If photography is your primary need, then nothing beats a high end Lumia. If you don't need niche apps, or American Express, then you may want to consider the Lumia 1520.

 

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5 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 will be coming to US carriers in October. The Note series sets the bar for stylus input and advanced functionality. It is also the Samsung devices with the highest specifications released each year.

  • Screen size: 5.7” Quad HD Super AMOLED (2560 x1440)
  • Cost: $750
  • Pros: S Pen functionality, fast Snapdragon 805 processor, excellent camera, waterproof, removable battery and microSD card, large battery
  • Cons: Samsung extra apps and carrier bloatware
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? If you want to use a stylus on your phone, then nothing beats a Galaxy Note. The Note series have great specs and is one of the closest competitors, many say it easily beats, the iPhone 6 Plus.

 

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6 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Huawei Ascend Mate 7

Huawei has been rolling out some fantastic high end smartphones and the Ascend Mate 7 is their best effort yet.

  • Screen size: 6 inch display with 1920 x 1080 pixels at a 368 ppi
  • Cost: Unknown, likely in the $550 to $650 range
  • Pros: Well made aluminum phone, large battery, 
  • Cons: Limited RAM and internal storage, not waterproof, Emotion UI may not appeal to some
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? The Ascend Mate 7 has the potential to be a low cost option for a 6 inch device, but it is not yet available through retail channels. The UI is reminiscent of the iPhone, but Android fans may not like that.


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7 of 7 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

2014 Moto X

Last year's Moto X was one of my favorite devices ever, in large part because of its diminuitive size. Motorola went a bit too far, IMHO, and made a large phone with the new Moto X while not putting enough into the battery.

  • Screen size: 5.2 inch 1080p AMOLED screen at 423 ppi
  • Cost: $499 and $549 for 16GB and 32GB capacity
  • Pros: Amazing Motorola services, rock solid device, vibrant display, custom Moto Maker option
  • Cons: Rather low capacity 2,300 mAh integrated battery, limited internal storage with no microSD card slot
  • Why buy this instead of the iPhone 6 Plus? The Moto X excels in the software that makes your life more efficient and it really is tough to beat on a daily basis. It is much more pocketable than an iPhone 6 Plus as well.

 

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