The Best Phones of 2021

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The Best Phones of 2021
Which is the best phone to buy right now, in early 2021? Unsurprisingly, mostly 2020 phones, but not for long! The Galaxy S21 series is just around the corner, bound to bring at least one change to this list.

From great Android phones to the latest iPhones, plus a few different options for those who don't want to settle, we walk you through the very best handsets available on the market with all of their pros and cons. 

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With no further ado, here are the best phones you can buy right now.

Best phones of 2021:

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

If money is no object and you want an iPhone, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best one you can get. It features one of the best displays in its class: its 6.7-inch screen has excellent pixel density and color calibration, and peaks at a whopping 1200nits of brightness, making it easy to discern outdoors. It also has the fastest chip on any smartphone as of now.

The camera has also improved like every year and this time around one of the major new features is Dolby Vision HDR video. Apart from the professional-looking 4K video footage and the crazy-fast chip to process it, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the first iPhone to use “sensor-shift” stabilization for taking photos, meaning images in low-light conditions are clearer. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the familiar iOS interface and the beautiful Apple ecosystem, coupled with the typical for Apple 5 years of software updates, making sure the phone will remain fast even after years of use Read more:

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the new super-premium S Pen-wielding smartphone by Samsung. It’s an extra large phone with a huge camera bump, plus it’s heavier than before and it barely fits in a pocket. If you like a big phone, though, this one is among the best: it has a luxurious feel, and it features a new toughened glass that can theoretically survive a head-high drop. The 6.9-inch screen is class-leading and features a 120Hz refresh rate for a buttery smooth experience. Under the hood, the Note 20 Ultra is the equivalent of a muscle car: Snapdragon 865+ is perfect for gaming, and you have 12GB of RAM for effortless multitasking. Camera quality is also excellent and you have up to 50X zoom. Battery life, however, is just good, not quite great. You will need to charge it every night.

Last but not least, at $1,300 we feel the price is a bit too high, but Samsung often runs deals, and chances are that you will be able to get it for less. S Pen lovers won’t be disappointed, but those looking for the best value-for-money or for a more compact phone might want to look elsewhere.

Read more:Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra stands at the top of the Android food chain. It is equipped with the newest LTPO OLED display technology that allowed for both the record 1500 nits of peak brightness, 15% less battery consumption than what's on the S21/S21+, and the dynamically-allocated refresh rate that can go down to 10Hz when you are looking at static images, or go all the way up to 120Hz when you scroll.

If you thought that the camera system in the Galaxy S20 Ultra was good, think again. The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes things further, or should we say brings them closer - thanks to the two dedicated zoom cameras you get the longest, cleanest zoom on a phone. The Galaxy S21 Ultra also comes equipped with the latest and most powerful chip by Qualcomm, the new Snapdragon 888. 

The S21 Ultra is sporting the same 5000mAh battery piece as the S20 Ultra, and the same high display pixel density, but the variable display refresh rate alone results in a 15-20% diminished power draw. When you factor in the new and more efficient 5nm chipset, the end result is a phone with one of the longest battery endurance in its class. Last but not least, the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports the S-Pen, so Galaxy Note fans will feel at home with this phone. 
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Good

  • The longest, cleanest zoom on a phone, and most versatile camera set
  • The best battery life in its class
  • Brightest display with the most granular adaptive refresh rate
  • Stylish Contour Cut design and richer variety of colors
  • Unique 12-bit color RAW capture at 108MP
  • S Pen stylus support
  • Next-gen Wi-fi 6E standard support

The Bad

  • Still big and bulky to carry and use, especially with an S Pen case on
  • $1200 gets you just 128GB, no charger, earbuds, or memory card slot
  • The new ultrasonic finger scanner is still comparatively slow
  • Softness in the main camera sample edges

Read more: 

Apple iPhone 12 mini

The Apple iPhone 12 mini is the best compact phone that you can get right now. It features the iPhone 12's blazing-fast processor and camera system, and it comes at a reasonable starting price of $700. Its 5.4-inch display is OLED with excellent colors and brightness, and its thin and compact body makes it perfect to use with one hand and very easy to carry in most pockets.

If you want a compact phone with top-notch performance and an excellent camera system, the iPhone 12 mini is the one for you. Like any other iPhone, it comes with 5 years of software updates to make sure it’s still fast after years of use.

Read more: Apple iPhone 12 mini review

OnePlus Nord

The OnePlusNord is a $400 Android phone extraordinaire that wants you to rethink whether you need to spend double or triple its cost on a flagship.

Its arguments are a beautiful design with a glass back and one of the freshest shades of blue we've ever seen on a phone, a beautiful AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate for a super smooth experience, 5G support, super fast charging, and a camera that is almost as good as what you get on a flagship.

If Google had made this, the name of the phone could have been the "2020 Google Nexus". It really is in many ways the same brilliant idea reborn, from the clean Android version to the fast performance.

Read more

Apple iPhone SE (2020)

The AppleiPhone SE (2020) might look just like the iPhone 8 and for that matter even the iPhone 6, but look under the hood, and it comes with an Apple A13 Bionic chip, more powerful than on Android flagships. It also comes with a single camera, but one that has been fine tuned to capture brilliant looking photos and 4K video recording quality is far above what you typically see in a $400 phone. Add to that the value of the iOS ecosystem, and you can understand while many users will be tempted by the new SE despite its lackluster battery life.

Read more: 

Google Pixel 4a

The GooglePixel 4a follows up on the popularity of the affordable Pixel 3a, which brought most of Android best at a competitive price point. Last year’s midrange 4a is still a great deal, with Google bringing a surprising amount of polish for just $350. Between its excellent camera, good display, and competent specs, the Pixel 4a is an incredible value and a triumphant addition to Google’s smartphone legacy.

And if you want 5G connectivity and slightly beefier specs, you can always go for the Google Pixel 4a 5G.

Read more:

Related phones

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Display 6.9 inches 3088 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 108 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI
Pixel 4a
  • Display 5.8 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP (Single camera) 8 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3140 mAh
  • OS Android 11
iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Display 6.7 inches 2778 x 1284 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 3687 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
iPhone 12 mini
  • Display 5.4 inches 2340 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2227 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
  • Display 6.4 inches 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 48 MP (Quad camera) 32 MP front
  • Hardware Snapdragon 765G 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4115 mAh
  • OS Android 10
Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Display 6.8 inches 3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 108 MP (Quad camera) 40 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 5000 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI


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