Buying a phone in 2021 has never been more confusing. It can be hard to know which one is best for you with so many different types available. Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
Top 10 smartphones of 2021
1. iPhone 12 – Best Overall
With a new facelift, Apple has listened to its critics and delivered. Sporting sharper edges compared to its predecessors, the iPhone 12 is easier to hold and store. It also has the same 6.1 inch retina XDR display that is used on the pro model, a first for Apple.
Furthermore, the price jump to the pro model doesn’t make sense when both models share the same design, processor, display, and camera setup. The iPhone 12 also beats out the mini with its bigger display and more powerful battery.
All of this makes the regular model the best pick out of the 4 variations. Starting at $830 for the 64GB model, the 5 colour options solidify the iPhone 12 as the best phone in 2021.
Read the full iPhone 12 Review
2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Best Performance
After last year’s disappointing Galaxy S20 Ultra, Samsung has redeemed itself with its latest flagship phone. It comes with the latest and best specs an Android phone can offer at the moment. However, it does have a hefty price tag, hence its number two spot.
Powered by the newest Qualcomm processor, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the fastest phones on the market. It is also completed with a 6.8 inch screen and a powerful camera with both ultrawide and two zoom level functions.
Starting at $1,999.99, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is fitted with advanced video features, 8k recording, and gaming performance. While expensive, there is no doubt that Samsung has delivered everything a phone could possibly offer.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
3. Samsung Galaxy S21/S21 Plus – Best Balance
The Galaxy S21 and Plus model offered new aesthetic and colour choices over last year. Samsung has also improved the battery life and upgraded both models with a new processing chip. This provides them with great long term potential and performance.
Almost identical phones, the plus provides an even bigger battery and a slightly larger screen size at 6.7 inches compared to the 6.2 inch regular model. Furthermore, having the same processing chip as the ultra makes this a very competent phone.
Starting at $800, and $1000 for the plus, the Galaxy S21 is a great balance between price and performance. In addition, it is worth noting that both models are discounted often, or packaged with a bundle. This makes these models great value options.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
4. Oneplus 8 Pro – Best Value
Arguably the company’s first flagship model, the Oneplus 8 Pro was released in 2020. However, it is still one of the most compelling phones in 2021. It features long-awaited additions that move this phone to the list of top smartphones available.
Wireless charging, an IP68 waterproof rating, 8GB Ram, and 128GB storage, are just some of the changes made. With the addition of a powerful 48mp ultrawide camera, the Oneplus 8 Pro becomes one able to compete even with Samsung’s finest.
Starting at $899, this phone has an amazing value. Take into consideration that the 8 Pro is from last year, meaning you also get more for your money.
Read the full Oneplus 8 Pro review
5. iPhone 12 Pro Max – Best Camera System
While the Samsung S21 Ultra may offer the edge in terms of productivity. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is a top end model that comes complete with all the tech and features Apple has to offer.
Offering a stunning 6.7inch OLED display, and long battery life, the 12 Pro Max also has one of the best camera systems. Its three rear cameras make image processing on this phone super high quality.
However, if camera quality isn’t your priority, then its price tag and large size move it down the list of best phones of 2021. Starting at $1,099, most people might prefer the cheaper and smaller iPhone 12.
Read the full iPhone 12 comparison review
6. iPhone 12 mini – Best Small Smartphone
The iPhone 12 mini is bought for only one reason and that reason is an important one. Its 5.4 inch screen and overall smaller size allow for easy use in one hand. In addition, it’s one of the only small phones on the market that doesn’t compromise the performance and build quality.
The iPhone 12 mini is spec’d out with the same processor, camera and materials used in the bigger models. Yet, it is still big enough to read messages and emails and powerful enough to play games and watch HD videos.
With a lower price than the other models, its modest $699 price tag separates it from other small phones available.
Read the full iPhone 12 mini review
7. Oppo Find X3 Pro – Versatile All Rounder
The Find X3 Pro is Oppo’s flagship phone. Expensive like other high performance phones on the market, it does come with similar specs.
Fitted with the latest Snapdragon chip, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, the Find X3 Pro is a strong competitor to Samsung and Apple. Dual rear cameras with ultrawide function offer the ability to take quality shots with great detail and range.
The Find X3 Pro starts at $1,500. Definitely a powerful and versatile phone, but its price tag is the only reason it sits at number 7.
Read the full Oppo Find X3 review
8. Google Pixel 5 – Most Compact
A 6 inch screen and an 8 inch waistline make the Google Pixel 5 the most compact phone on this list. It is also extremely well priced at $699 while still having 5G, an ultrawide camera, and a very decent OLED screen with a 90hz refresh rate.
The Google Pixel 5 phone may not be able to compete with the fastest or most powerful phones on the market. Yet, with its balanced and lightweight design this phone has secured itself at the top of its niche.
Read the full Google Pixel 5 Review
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra – Best for Productivity
If the best phone for you means lasting morning to night with heavy usage, then Samsung’s top of the line model is what you need. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a massive 4,500 mAh battery, combined with a 6.9 inch screen.
Just like the S21 Ultra, this phone also comes with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor. Furthermore, its 12GB of RAM and 120Hz refresh rate make for unhindered performance. Combine this with triple rear cameras, and you have one of the best phones for productivity.
Starting at $1,300, the Note 20 Ultra is a fantastic all rounder phone with proven longevity.
Read the full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
10. Xiaomi Mi 11 – Great Performance
The Mi 11 has one of the highest quality displays in the market for its price, as well as a decently powerful camera. However, the downside lies in its software smoothness and large size. This makes it hard to rank the Mi 11 higher.
Xiaomi utilizes their own MIUI software in tandem with android 11 which still has some unresolved issues from the years before. In addition, with many brands offering smaller models like the iPhone 12 mini, Xiaomi seems to be going backwards with its larger phones.
Despite this, the Mi 11 still is one of the most powerful phones on the market with the same processor as the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Its 120Hz refresh rate and WQHD+ resolution are hard to fault, and Xiaomi has kept the design impressively slim at 8.1mm.
Its saving grace could be its $900 price tag. But time will tell whether Xiaomi can improve its interface problems.
Read the full Xiaomi Mi 11 review
In 2021, most flagship phones will cost between $900 and $1500. Smartphones today are incredibly powerful and investing in a good one can provide many benefits.
While there are many different brands, Apple and Samsung have stood at the top in terms of build quality, performance, and functionality. However, they often come with hefty price tags, especially for top range models.
If you have a certain budget or don’t use all the latest features, then buying a model that is a year old can save some money.