The great big tablet, phablet or phone debate.

Last updated: 24 March 2016


The great big tablet, phablet or phone debate.

The sheer number of devices out there these days is staggering – how on earth do you choose which to invest in? Is it worth updating your LG phone to the latest device? Or should you use that money to buy a state of the art tablet like the iPad Mini 4? Or, indeed, do you smash them both together (metaphorically, of course) and create the stupidly but also charmingly named ‘phablet’?

Well here’s a guide to help you make that decision, based on the features you enjoy the most. Good luck, and remember that size does matter.

The best device for… Hearing another human voice.

Everyone texts, it’s true, but some of us are just way more comfortable picking up the phone and hearing a voice at the other end.

Of course, these days it’s not as simple as just punching in a number – you’ve got a whole host of video call and message options too, and they always look better on a bigger screen.

Conclusion: If you’re a caller, you should stick with your phone, but if you’re also into sending your favourite carbonara recipe via Snapchat or FaceTiming your long distance boyfriend then a phablet will give you the best of both worlds. Sorry tablets, this time you lose.

The best device for… Watching stuff.

This is the one area where our beloved, trusty phones completely fall down. Squint-watching the Netflix app on an iPhone 5s is a bit of a disaster, but this is where tablets truly shine.

If you prefer to snuggle up in bed for movie time, then an iPad Mini 4 would be perfect – obviously with two or three pillows to prop it up. However, if you’re more the type to download something on the BBC iPlayer app and watch it on your commute, then a phablet is the obvious choice.

Conclusion: iPad wins for people who like a portable lounging device, but if you’re catching up on your favourite TV shows while out and about, it’s all about having a massive, massive phone.

The best device for… Taking photos.

There’s long been a stigma around taking photos with a tablet, but if you get the iPad Mini 4 you might just get away with it. It’s not so huge that you look like a gawping tourist, but it’s big enough that you get to see every beautiful pixel in all its retina-esque glory.

Honestly though – so many devices have such amazing cameras now that this really might boil down to how big your hands are, how much intense photo editing you’re planning to do on the device, and how subtle you want to be about taking your snaps…

Conclusion: It’s all to play for with these devices. The techier you want to get with your photos, the bigger the device you should pick. Don’t go too extreme though… we’ve heard they’re selling selfie sticks for the MacBook now, and that is, in our opinion, a step too far.

The best device for… Playing games.

This is an easy one – it really depends on what type of game you’re playing. If you occasionally indulge in a Candy Crush binge, then your phone is just the right level for you. If your tastes are a little more complicated (like a fighting game, or something strategic) the bigger screen on a phablet like the iPhone 6 Plus will definitely be appreciated.

However, the powerful tech inside a tablet like the iPad Mini 4 will be more appropriate for a sophisticated RPG – and worth the investment.

Conclusion: The bigger your device, the more complex the games you can play.

The best device for… Reading.

The world consumes most of its content via mobile devices, and so monitoring your habits and preferences will really help you make this decision.

If you’ve been craving an e-reader recently, tablets like the Samsung Tab or iPad Mini 4 have Kindle and other reading apps to save you from buying two devices with that comfortable book-like size. However, any phablet will have these features too, plus the ability to quickly check and easily read articles on the move.

Conclusion: Big into reading novels curled up at home? Splash out on a tablet – you’ll never look back. Are you the person standing on the train scrolling through the latest news? That’ll be one phablet to go, thanks. Or, are you the kind of person who thinks “Why read when selfies and emojis express everything we need to know?”. That’s an easy one. Bag yourself the latest handset.


So we hope you’re now feeling a little more certain about what your next device investment would be. If not, check out our guide to phablets.