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Best phones in 2021 so far

By Roland Udvarlaki July 12, 2021, 11:30 am

There are a lot of companies out there making the best phones on the market. We’ve created this buying guide to help you find some of the best Android devices and the best iPhones that are available today. If you’re due for an upgrade, keep reading since you might just find your shiny new gadget. We also have a separate list for some of the best Samsung devices.

We regularly update these lists to provide the most up-to-date buying guides possible. We also regularly test and review these devices, so rest assured we know what we’re doing and are recommending the best products for you to choose from.


Best Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is hands-down the best flagship device on the market, and it’s also the best phone Samsung has to offer. It has a large 6.8-inch display powered by the Snapdragon 888 5G enabled chipset and 8-16GB of RAM. The build of the device is premium, made out of glass with aluminium sides.

The main camera is a 108MP sensor. It also has a 10MP periscope telephoto camera for 10x optical zoom, 10MP telephoto for 3x optical zoom and last but not least, a 12MP ultrawide sensor. If you regularly take photos both day and night, and want to enhance your skills, and perhaps also to use an S-Pen, the Galaxy S21 Ultra ticks all the boxes.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate flagship smartphone on the market today, offering the best of the best you can pick up today.

Runner-Up: iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G

iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G

This is the most premium iPhone with unique camera features and telephoto capabilities. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with Apple’s powerful A14 Bionic chipset and 6GB of memory for a seamless multitasking experience. It might be a very expensive device, but the truth is it’s one of the most capable ones on the market today. It’s a premium smartphone with a large 6.7-inch OLED display and has a triple camera setup and a LiDAR sensor.

If you’re in the Apple ecosystem, and want to get the absolute best flagship from Apple, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones you can choose from.

iphone 12 pro max stock

iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G

If you want the latest and the greatest from Apple, the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers all of the power, build quality and camera in a premium package.

Best for Most: Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

Samsung Galaxy s21 plus 5G

While the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max are known to be the absolute best devices, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is also widely known for offering top-notch specifications for slightly less. Its 6.7 inch Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 888 chipset and 8GB of RAM gives you a day’s worth of power thanks to the 4,800mAh battery.

The build quality is on the premium side too, with a glass rear panel and aluminium side. It has a 12MP main sensor, 64MP telephoto with 3x hybrid zoom when you want to take a closer picture, and it also has a 12MP ultrawide sensor.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is the best device for most people who are looking for the absolute best specifications and experience at a price that’s not too hard on your pocket.

Runner-Up: iPhone 12 5G

iPhone 12 5G

It took me a while to figure out whether I should include the iPhone 12 Pro or stick with the more affordable iPhone 12 for this spot, but as you can see, I ended up with the iPhone 12. The main reason comes down to price and the fact the hardware is simply the best for most people.

It might lack some Pro camera features and a telephoto camera, but it has largely the same specifications and features as its more expensive Pro sibling. It has an all-day battery life, the same powerful chipset and a truly amazing OLED display, offering crisp detail while watching movies or playing games.

iphone 12

iPhone 12 5G

If you're looking for the best iPhone in 2021, the iPhone 12 is the one that should be considered.

Best for Speed: OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

oneplus 9 pro 5G

OnePlus has always been known to offer some of the fastest devices on the market, and the OnePlus 9 Pro is no different. It can launch applications insanely fast, and it can handle graphics intensive games really well. It’s perfect for multi-tasking and it also has a 120Hz high refresh rate OLED panel.

The rest of the hardware is also very premium, it has a 50MP ultra-wide sensor and a 48MP Hasselblad-color graded camera. It’s powered by the latest Snapdragon 888 chipset with 8/12GB of memory.

OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

The OnePlus 9 Pro is the premium flagship from the company that once promoted itself as the flagship killer. It's a true flagship device with a great camera, excellent performance and all the features you’d expect.

Best Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

samsung galaxy z fold 2

Both Xiaomi and Huawei have their own competitors in the flagship foldable smartphone segment. However as we all know, Huawei will likely never be sold in the US, and it won’t have Google Play services either if you manage to import one. As for Xiaomi, while their device is impressive, adding up the import fees and other taxes can end up costing you a lot more than you might expect.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best foldable smartphone you can pick up today. It offers an ultra thin glass on the inner display to help protect the screen. The internals are also flagship grade and it’s best suited for those who multitask a lot, enjoy reading and like playing games on a bigger screen. It’s one of the best devices for consuming media, since you can take it with you anywhere, since it can fit in your pocket.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

If you're on the market for a new tablet, but want to take it with you everywhere you go, and you can afford it, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 offers the best experience you can find from a foldable smartphone today.

Best Compact: iPhone 12 mini 5G

iphone 12 mini 5g

Unfortunately, there aren’t any true competitors to the iPhone 12 mini when it gets to compact devices in the Android world. Apple has done it again and made one of the best and most compact devices. The iPhone 12 mini has all the same features and functionality as the standard iPhone 12, but given its size, it has a smaller battery and smaller display.

It has a flagship A14 Bionic chipset and 4GB of RAM. On the front, there’s a 5.4 inch OLED display. There’s also a dual camera setup, a 12MP main sensor and a 12MP ultrawide camera. It has an IP68 water and dust certificate and it can also charge wirelessly.

iphone 12

iPhone 12 mini 5G

The iPhone 12 mini offers flagship features at an affordable price (considering it's an iPhone) in a mini, premium package.

Best Ultrawide: OnePlus 9 5G

oneplus 9 5g

I wanted to include the OnePlus 9 for the “Best for Most” category, but ended up going for the Galaxy S21 Plus due to its software quality. The OnePlus 9 still offers a great, clean and minimal software, but Samsung is simply better at updates nowadays. The OnePlus 9 offers true flagship features with a 120Hz OLED display, top-tier Snapdragon chipset and Hasselblad color-graded main camera. It’s a true flagship device with great features and performance.
oneplus 9 for product boxes purple pocketnow

OnePlus 9 5G

The OnePlus 9 offers top-tier performance with a Snapdragon 888 chipset, 8GB of memory and a great battery life.

Best Camera: Google Pixel 5 5G

google pixel 5 5g

If we look at the market, Huawei probably has the best camera on a smartphone today, but you can’t pick it up anywhere. Because of this, I’ve decided to give the best camera category to the Google Pixel 5, which is the best point-and-shoot device on the market. It’s as powerful as any other mid-ranger on the market, and it stands out due to its stock Android software and amazing camera capabilities.

It might not be the best for gamers and those who multitask a lot, but it’s still an ideal smartphone for consuming content and keeping up with friends and family. It has a 6 inch OLED display with 90Hz high refresh rate and a 4,080mAh battery.

google pixel 5 stock

Google Pixel 5 5G

Google’s newest Pixel 5 might not have the flagship internals, but it proves it can keep up with the competition and offer best-in-class camera capabilities at an affordable price tag.

Best Affordable: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

samsung galaxy a52 5g

The Samsung Galaxy A52 5G is Samsung’s best mid-ranger device yet. It comes with a top-tier camera setup that provides flagship-like quality, a mid-range chipset and great multitasking features. It might not be a powerhouse, but it’s good enough for gaming and consuming content on-the-go, and keeping up with friends and family.

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

If you're looking for an affordable Samsung phone that offers the best experience at a good price tag, look no further. The Galaxy A52 5G has you covered.

Best Budget: Google Pixel 4a

google pixel 4a

If you want your images to look like they were taken on a high-end, premium flagship device, the Google Pixel 4a is here to help. It doesn’t have the ultra wide-angle camera, but the main camera sensor is identical to the one in the more expensive Pixel 5. It has a normal single camera setup and it’s perfect for taking point-and-shoot photos that are social media ready. The performance is decent, considering its price, and the features are also good enough to keep up with family and friends.

Google Pixel 4a

The Google Pixel 4a has an identical main camera as the more expensive Google Pixel 5. Given the price tag, it's an excellent device if you want a best-in-class camera and good performance.

Our Recommendation

If you’re looking for the absolute best and most premium flagship device, and money isn’t an issue, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 Pro Max offer the best performance and experience from each side. If your budget is a bit more restricted, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus or Galaxy S21 are excellent choices, while the iPhone 12 will also serve you well from Apple.

When it gets to the budget category, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, OnePlus 9 and Galaxy A52 5G are all excellent devices with great cameras, flagship level performance and great multitasking capabilities. If you want the absolute basic device with a decent performance, but a flagship level camera, the Google Pixel 4a will take some breathtaking photos.


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