The best smartphones for 2021

We will thoroughly test each phone on Digital Trends, and after hundreds of reviews, we are confident to recommend to you whether a particular phone is suitable for you.

After a lot of debate and in-depth research, we chose Apple iPhone 12 Pro as the first choice for the best mobile phone.

Although a mobile phone cannot meet everyone’s needs, we have many other selected products based on your needs. Android fans will love the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and those who want to save money or buy a smaller phone have many options.

This is why the iPhone 12 Pro finally won, and our choice among other smartphone categories.

Best smartphones at a glance

Best overall smartphone: Apple iPhone 12 Pro

Why you should buy it: This is a complete package that contains great hardware, great cameras, and consistent software. Target audience: People who like iPhone and are willing to pay to upgrade to the basic iPhone 12.

Why we choose iPhone 12 Pro: Apple’s iPhone lineup continues to grow, but the best choice in this group is the iPhone 12 Pro, which makes it the best overall smartphone you can buy today.

The steel frame and excellent surface treatment, with some subtle and powerful colors, make the new angular design of the 12 series to a higher level. The excellent display gives it a bright spot, and now it has a smaller frame, even in any case, the refresh rate is not 120 Hz, which is great in all situations.

iPhone 12 Pro also has the best camera system in Apple’s history, focusing on improving low-light performance. The main camera allows more light to enter, and the results show that the photos are brighter and clearer than before.

The new A14 bionic chip enables all cameras to use night mode now. With Pro-only LiDAR cameras, you can take portrait mode photos in night mode. The rest of the content fully meets your expectations.

No matter how you do it, these specifications can run iOS 14 without interruption, and it is also easy to prepare for the next three major iOS updates.

Battery life is not a prominent feature a few years ago, but the 12 Pro allows you to easily spend a day of heavy work. Even including the use of 5G, every operator supports it.

Runner-up: Apple iPhone 12

For all the features provided by the iPhone 12 Pro, there is an obvious problem: it is no better than the basic iPhone 12. For just $799, you can almost get the same experience as the 12 Pro, which is incredible. You missed the stainless steel frame, replaced by aluminum, with slightly lower specifications, and missed the telephoto camera and LiDAR sensor.

But other than that, the daily experience is the same, including excellent main camera photos, good battery life, 5G and the new MagSafe accessory system. If you don’t know you need a Pro from the beginning, it’s best to buy a basic iPhone12.

This is the best choice. Just consider spending an extra $50 to add 128GB of storage space, which is the value of the 12 Pro provided by default.

Best Android phone: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Why buy it: This is the best, it has a huge and beautiful screen, excellent software, a lot of features, and an excellent multi-lens camera. In addition, there is the S Pen stylus. Target: People who want a long battery life that can handle productivity, games, videos, and all the phones they use every day.

Why we choose Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra fits its name and tradition of Note phones. It is by far the largest mobile phone in the series, and it must be a “super” mobile phone. It has a large 6.9-inch AMOLED screen and weighs 208 grams. However, to go beyond the overall size, you will have one of the most powerful and powerful phones today.

It is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset and up to 12GB of RAM, plus a sizable 4,500mAh battery, which can last a full day of hard work-and it has future 5G connectivity.

The S Pen stylus defines Note. Its response time is as short as 9 milliseconds, which is better than ever, and its use is not limited to drawing-it is also a productivity tool.

The large camera module on the back has an excellent 108-megapixel main camera, a 12MP optical zoom camera, an additional 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera — and a new laser focusing system that solves the problems of the Galaxy S20 Ultra.

The best smartphones for 2021

It can take 5x optical zoom photos without losing details, and it can reach out from there. In addition, it can handle 8K video and has many interesting shooting modes, such as “single shot” mode. This camera is one of Samsung’s best cameras.

All of these are before you see any other features, such as wireless DeX mode that connects your phone to a TV or monitor to provide a desktop-like experience, an absolutely amazing display, and wireless reverse charging.

In addition to the standard functions of excellent hardware, it also has the advantages of high quality, water resistance, and wireless charging. Disadvantages? Regardless of size, the fingerprint sensor on the display is not very good…that’s it.

However, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is expensive, and you will have to spend at least $1,299 to own one, but in fact, you are now buying the best Android phone. Need a substitute? It is worth seeing the Galaxy S20+, especially if you don’t need an S Pen, but the Note 20 Ultra can give you value for money.

Runner-up: Google Pixel 5

The Pixel series is still the only Android option that can fully compete with Apple iPhone in several key areas, including security, timely software updates, and software design. But it has meaningful artificial intelligence functions that anyone can appreciate.

Google manages the Android operating system, so in the Pixel series, it can optimize hardware and software, similar to what Apple did on the iPhone. This approach, coupled with the simple “less is more” philosophy, makes mobile phones fun to use.

It has the best software experience on the phone and runs smoothly. The spotlight feature of the Google Pixel 5 is its dual-lens camera, which is one of the best cameras around-yes, no matter the price.

Best cheap smartphone: Motorola Moto G Power

Why buy it: Motorola provides you with basic products in all sizes and some nice features. Target audience: Budget-conscious buyers still want to have large, powerful mobile phones.

Why we choose Moto G Power: If you need a rugged phone with a low price, you can choose Motorola. It just completes the formula at this point, and the latest version is Moto G Power.

For less than $250, you will get a huge 6.4-inch display, 4GB RAM, a Snapdragon 600 series chipset and healthy 64GB storage. This is the biggest benefit: a huge 5000 mAh battery, no matter what you throw at it, it can be easily charged for two days.

Elsewhere, Motorola continues to show that it can produce consistent and useful software. It is simple and useful to use on Android, just a few adjustments and applications can enhance the overall experience.

You can quickly make gestures to perform daily tasks, such as starting the camera or turning on the flashlight, and Moto Display is the best way to quickly manage notifications when you receive them. Obviously, this money will make you miss many high-end features.

The body is plastic, the screen is not very good, and the camera can only do the job. You also cannot get a complete waterproof rating or other hardware additional features, such as wireless charging. But in fact, these are not the basic components of the experience. You can use Moto G Power to easily do everything you need to do on your smartphone at a reasonable price.

Best value: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Why buy it: The core experience of Samsung’s flagship product is cheap. Target audience: People who are eager to use high-end Android, but want to keep the price reasonable without causing major damage. Why did we choose Galaxy S20 FE: Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series is an easy choice throughout 2020, but later that year, it launched a special version: Galaxy S20 FE.

This $700 price segment has become extremely crowded in 2020, especially due to pressure from Google Pixel 5 and OnePlus 8T, but for most people, the S20 FE is the group’s choice.

The biggest thing the Galaxy S20 FE can do is that its core is the Galaxy S20 device. You will get excellent specifications, a beautiful large screen with a high refresh rate, an excellent multi-camera system, 5G, IP68 water resistance, and fast charging.

Samsung cut corners in some strategic places, such as plastic backplanes, lower display resolution and some minor specification adjustments. However, these do not directly change the way you use your phone.

For most people, it is difficult to find the difference between the $700 Galaxy S20 FE and the $1200 Galaxy S20+ in daily use. This is not necessarily good for Samsung’s bottom line, but if you want a flagship Android phone experience without an incredible price tag, that’s great.

Best small smartphone: Google Pixel 4a

Why you should buy it: Google’s smartphone method is great for small, simple, and affordable phones. Target audience: People who stretch their hands (and pockets) to use large modern smartphones.

Why did we choose Google Pixel 4a: Today, it is almost impossible to find a truly small mobile phone, because mobile phones of all price points are getting bigger and bigger. But the Pixel 4a is very small, one of the smallest phones you can buy today, and its 5.8-inch display is surrounded by small bezels.

In addition to size, Pixel 4a has many other uses. Google’s simple and practical software can run well on this low-end hardware, and can provide longer battery life for the size of the phone, thereby doubling the value. Yes, the screen is quite ordinary, and the specifications will feel a little tired in a few years, but this comes with the field.

You can also get Google’s legendary camera, even in this small and cheap device, it has a 12-megapixel sensor that can take photos of competitors that are three times the price of a phone. Without a secondary camera, the selfie camera is slightly above average, but frankly, we are just picking nits-this is the best camera in the price range.

Even better, you get all of them at an incredible price: Google Pixel 4a is only $349. Therefore, not only can you stop reaching out, but you can reach it without having to straighten your wallet.

Best foldable smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

Why buy one: Foldable devices are the future of smartphones, and Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G is the best of them. Target audience: If you have a lot of budget for buying a phone and want to stand out from the crowd, you can consider using this phone.

Why did we choose Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G: Foldable devices have not consolidated their status as the best overall phone during calls, especially at current prices, but it is undeniable that foldable screens will occupy an important position in the future of smartphones. Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G is a perfect example.

When you turn off your smartphone, you get a relatively ordinary-looking shape that can use the external screen to perform basic tasks, and then turn on a huge mini tablet screen as needed.

No need to deal with exposed hinges or bezels, just a large screen to use multiple applications, or expand content to read comfortably. When finished, it will be folded and protected from damage.

And because it is Samsung’s high-end phone, you get an incredibly good experience overall. Powerful camera, excellent battery life, excellent software and excellent manufacturing quality-just as you would expect. The problem is that it is still too expensive to recommend to most people: the Galaxy Z Fold 2 costs $2,000.