Best AT&T phones to buy in 2021

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Best AT&T phones to buy in 2021
As one of the big three US carriers, AT&T is responsible for providing wireless services to over 100 million people. Its 4G wireless services cover over two thirds of the population, enabling anything from staying connected with friends and family to watching TV on the go. AT&T's next-generation 5G network is growing steadily and now covers dozens of markets across the US.

Naturally, AT&T offers some of the best phones you can buy today: the newest iPhones, the latest Samsung Galaxy phones, and anything in between to fit any need and budget. But with dozens of great options available, picking becomes quite a challenge. So, which is the best AT&T phone to buy in 2021? Allow us to be your guide.

Best AT&T cell phones available right now:



Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G


The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is one of the most advanced phones Samsung has in its current lineup, and is possibly one of the best foldable phones you can get... until its successor comes along. We found the Galaxy Z Fold 2 to be a great living proof for the foldable phone concept, with serious added value when it comes to multitasking. We enjoyed to carry it around, and use the large external display for our day-to-day usage needs, then unfurl it open for longer reads, browsing sessions, working on documents, to game or watch video.

It performs heavy tasks with aplomb, the battery life in everyday activities is good, the new Hideaway Hinge moves in a smooth yet sturdy manner, and the camera samples are up there with the best, especially the selfie shots with the main sensor. All in all, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 can convince you in the viability of bendy phones as the future going forward, if you can swallow that early adopter pricing... and (nudge, wink) a skinny jeans bulge.

You can check out our full review of the Z Fold 2 right here.

iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max


The new iPhone 12 Pro models are a refinement of last years in almost every way. Besides the new design, they have new chips that are more powerful and energy-efficient, bringing them back to the performance peak. The biggest addition, however, is the 5G support. A bit late to the party, the iPhones can now also tap into AT&T's 5G network for extra-fast download and upload speeds. The base storage on the Pro models has been finally bumped to 128GB, so you can go for the cheapest Pro variants without regrets.

The camera system on the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max has also been upgraded with new sensors and new features, with the Pro Max having a slightly different 2.5X zoom camera and sensor-shift optical image stabilization on the main sensor. 

For a detailed look into these two phones, check our iPhone 12 Pro review and iPhone 12 Pro Max review.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


If high-end specs and an impressive zoom camera are what you search for, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is the best Android phone AT&T has to offer. It has the latest Snapdragon 888 chip and a huge OLED display with a variable refresh rate that can go down to as low as 10Hz and as high as 120Hz. The powerful camera system at the back stands out with its remarkable zooming abilities and 108MP of resolution. On top of that, the phone has a huge, 5000mAh battery for all-day action. The fingerprint reader is new, bigger and faster and the phone now even supports Samsung's S Pen. Unfortunately, you'll need to buy it separately and get a dedicated case for convenient carrying, so it's far from the elegant solution the Note 20 offers. Despite all those upgrades, the Galaxy S21 Ultra costs less than its predecessor, at "just" $1,200. Still, you're getting plenty of phone for that money.


Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra


In the States, the Note 20 Ultra comes with the new Snapdragon 865+ chip, which puts it ahead of the S20 Ultra and other first-half-of-2020 flagships when it comes to performance but behind the Galaxy S21 family. The camera system is not as extreme as the one on the S21 Ultra, but it still makes some amazing photos, as you can see from our camera comparison.

But what sets the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra apart is, of course, the integrated S Pen. This year it's improved for an even better drawing and writing experience. In order to fit the S Pen, however, the Note 20 Ultra sacrifices some battery capacity and comes with 500mAh smaller battery than that of the Galaxy S20 Ultra. 

The Note 20 Ultra packs 5G and a slew of other features. You can learn about them from our Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review.

Samsung Galaxy S21 and S21+


The Galaxy S21 and S21+ are the best AT&T Android phones for the majority of people. They don't have the Galaxy S21 Ultra's 108MP camera and extreme zooming abilities, but they do offer beautiful displays with 120Hz refresh rate and relatively large batteries. The design is also significantly improved and although there have been some changes to to fit the phones into their new price tags, the value they offer has increased drastically. And if you're looking for something similar but even cheaper, the Galaxy S20 FE is still a great offer.


iPhone 12


This is the iPhone to buy if the idea of spending $1,000 for a new phone doesn't sit well with you. For less than $30/month, you get pretty much everything that the Pro models offer, including the OLED display, which finally makes an appearance on a non-Pro iPhone. The main difference is the omission of the Telephoto camera, which isn't ideal but you have to make some sacrifices if you want to save $200. Speaking of which, you're also getting only 64GB of storage, which in 2021 is even more egregious than it was last year. Getting 128GB will only set you back about $2 more per month, however, which isn't that bad.

To learn more, check our iPhone 12 review.

LG Velvet


$400
off

LG Velvet Snapdragon 765G, 128GB storage, Quad-camera system

$300
$699 99
Buy at AT&T

Update: In early April 2021, LG announced that it will be exiting the smartphone business. Hardware and software support will vary by region.

LG finally got rid of its cumbersome naming scheme with the release of the elegant LG Velvet. Marking a new direction for the company, the Velvet doesn't have the best Snapdragon chip available but also spares you the high sticker price that comes with it. Instead, LG bets on striking design and premium build to lure customers. 

The phone does have the almost mandatory quad-camera setup and, of course, support for 5G. If you're staying away from Samsung phones and Pixels are just too basic-looking for you, the LG Velvet will be happy to nest in your palm.

For an in-depth look, read our LG Velvet review.

iPhone SE (2020)


Apple isn't likely to release another SE model for a while, so last year's iPhone SE remains the best budget option on Apple's side of the smartphone market. The A13 Bionic is powerful enough to keep the phone relevant for years. The small display and unimpressive battery life are some of the drawback this iPhone has but overall, you're getting plenty of bang for your buck.

Interested in this phone? Learn more from our iPhone SE review.

Google Pixel 4a 5G


Google's budget 5G phone is perhaps the company's best overall device of the year, if you're looking at value alone. It has the same chip and camera system as the pricier Pixel 5, lacking some extra features like 90Hz refresh-rate and wireless charging, which many users don't care about. What's most important about it is the Google Camera software it uses. Just like all the other Pixels, the camera of the Pixel 4a 5G can compete head-to-head with phones that cost twice as much. As long as you don't get into extreme zoom levels, that is. But for everyday use, the Pixel 4a 5G offers great functionality.

To learn more, check our Pixel 4a 5G review.

Related phones

Galaxy Z Fold 2
  • Display 7.6 inches 2208 x 1768 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ 12GB RAM
  • Storage 256GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4500 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI
iPhone 12 Pro

PhoneArena Score:

9.0

User Score:

9.5
  • Display 6.1 inches 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2815 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
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
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
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
Galaxy S21

PhoneArena Score:

8.5

User Score:

10.0
  • Display 6.2 inches 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI
Galaxy S21+

PhoneArena Score:

8.5

User Score:

8.0
  • Display 6.7 inches 2400 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 8GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, not expandable
  • Battery 4800 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI
iPhone 12

PhoneArena Score:

9.0

User Score:

8.2
  • Display 6.1 inches 2532 x 1170 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Dual camera) 12 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A14 Bionic 4GB RAM
  • Storage 64GB, not expandable
  • Battery 2815 mAh
  • OS iOS 14.x
Velvet
  • Display 6.8 inches 2460 x 1080 pixels
  • Camera 48 MP (Triple camera) 16 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G 6GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4300 mAh
  • OS Android 11

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