What is the best phone released in 2021? The team tests dozens of smartphones each year and examines the cameras, screen, battery, performance, speakers, etc. —in this list we show our favorites. For the undecided, there is also a buying guide, with all the phones in detail.

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The best phones of 2021 face to face

  The smartphone of the year The best cameraThe best designThe cost benefitThe best battery The best folding the most sustainable the best for games
Product Apple iPhone 13 Pro Google Pixel 6 Pro Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro Xiaomi 11T Pro Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Fairphone 4 ROG Phone 5
Figure
Pros
  • Excellent 120 Hz screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great camera module
  • 10-120Hz adaptive screen
  • Super versatile camera
  • Android 12
  • Five years of security updates
  • IP68 Certification
  • Price
  • Amazing design
  • Flexible screen
  • IPX8 Certification
  • Four years of system upgrade
  • Good build quality
  • Excellent 120 Hz AMOLED display
  • Solid performance
  • Good main camera
  • Good battery life
  • Triple input for dual SIM + microSD
  • NFC
  • Stereo speakers
  • 100% battery maximum in 17 minutes
  • Beautiful screen
  • Very performance at a competitive price (abroad)
  • Interesting video features
  • The 2 well-calibrated 120 Hz displays
  • Successful, waterproof design (IPX8)
  • Well-tapped hybrid format
  • OneUI and Flex mode, a perfect combination
  • Good photos during the day
  • No notches or clippings on the main screen
  • 3 Android updates, 4 years of security patches
  • 5-year warranty
  • Manufacturer compensates for the garbage production of each unit
  • Compatible with 5G
  • Modular and easy to repair
  • Smooth 144 Hz AMOLED display
  • The raw power of the Snapdragon 888
  • Exemplary temperature control
  • Excellent autonomy
  • Mature design but full of personality
Cons
  • Usb-C port is missing
  • “Fast” charge only with 20 watts
  • Magic eraser tool
  • Battery charging time
  • Limited storage availability by region
  • A niche product
  • Battery capacity
  • Median camera for category
  • Camera a little bulky
  • Camera performance drops in low light
  • No 5G support
  • No wireless charging support
  • Overall camera quality below average
  • Limited storage for 8K video
  • Snapdragon 888 with heating problems
  • Really big and heavy
  • No IP certification
  • Photo set does not innovate
  • Selfie camera under screen disappoints
  • Autonomy is just OK
  • Very slow fast charge
  • Thermal performance bottleneck (but no overheating)
  • Price still high
  • Intermediate specifications
  • Very large and heavy
  • LCD screen with thick edges
  • The photography module is median
  • ROG UI software monitoring
  • Bulky dimensions and weight
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We discussed internally about what the best smartphones of 2021 and we came to the conclusion above. But, of course, individual factors always depend on personal taste. For those who shoot a lot, the iPhone 13 Pro has the best camera of 2021, as well as there is no shortage of options for those who do not like iOS. When making the decision we think of the general public, but that does not represent anyone specifically.

Therefore, you’ll find below a general shopping guide on what features and differences you can expect on the best phones of 2021. And then we include a brief description and an alternative to each device in this article.

Take a shortcut:

  1. Buying tip: what mobile phones offer in 2021
  2. recommends: the best smartphones of 2021
    1. Best phone of the year: Apple iPhone 13 Pro
    2. Best mobile camera in 2021: Google Pixel 6 Pro
    3. Best design: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
    4. Best value for money: Galaxy A52s
    5. Best battery of the year: Xiaomi 11T Pro
    6. Best Foldable of 2021: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
    7. Most Sustainable Smartphone: Fairphone 4
    8. Best smartphone gamer: ASUS ROG Phone 5
  3. How did you choose the best smartphones?
  4. Alternatives to buying new ones
  5. Next days of campaigning at a glance
  6. Other lists of the best mobile phones

Buying advice: what smartphones have to offer in 2021

Every year, mobile phone manufacturers try to add interesting new features to their models —from cameras to batteries to their own format. Below are some tips on what to look for when buying a smartphone in 2021.

What features do the main phones currently offer?

  • Format: Folding screens are probably the most interesting innovation among smartphones in recent years. Thanks to the flexible screens, the formats of the phones themselves are also becoming more flexible. So in 2021 you can choose between the ultra-compact Galaxy Z Flip 3, the standard bar format of iPhones or Xiaomis or the folding tablet Z Fold 3. You can check out a current overview of folding phones here:
    • The best folding cell phones on the market
  • Cameras: The vast majority of top-of-the-line smartphones offer at least three cameras on the back — wide-angle, ultra-angle dweller, and telephoto. Don’t get carried away by the resolutions: The difference between 12 and 108 megapixels is not as big as the numbers suggest. More important than this are factors such as sensor size or image processing algorithms.

A good camera is essential for a premium phone in 2021/ ©

  • Batteries: You don’t have to worry about battery life this year. Even with intensive use, the vast majority of models usually endure a full day of use. The differences are greater, however, when the time comes to charge: while Xiaomi charges some phones in a few minutes with 120 watts, Apple and Samsung are more conservative. More information about batteries and fast charging can be found in the following article.
    • Does fast charging damage your phone’s battery?
  • Screen: first 60, then 90, 120 or 144 hertz: over the past two years, mobile phones have gained faster and faster screens —and finally, in 2021, the Pro models of the iPhone 13. High refresh rates ensure smoother viewing, whether from games or in everyday use. However, the more Hertz the higher the battery consumption, so manufacturers have included adjustable rates, depending on the content displayed. You can read more about the screens in the following link.
    • AMOLED, LCD, IPS, TFT, LED, mini-LED: how they work and what the differences
  • Processing: By 2021, there’s almost no need to worry about the performance of a top-of-the-line phone. All of the best devices offer more than enough power for today’s games —and everyday use, of course. The same applies to 5G, which is now standard in the premium segment. When it comes to memory, though, you should carefully evaluate how much you need before buying. Because the expansion option with microSD cards have virtually disappeared between the flagship line.
    • Complete guide to processors for mobile phones

recommends: these are the best cell phones in 2021

Want to know more about the different cell phones? In the following paragraphs, we briefly present our chosen ones and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. After all, depending on the type of use, it may be the case to consider another model.

Apple iPhone 13 Pro: the best smartphone of 2021

iPhone 13 Pro currently offers the best feature set on the market. But if you don’t like Apple or iOS, you’ll find interesting alternatives from Samsung, Xiaomi and others/ ©

Note

Pros

  • Excellent 120 Hz screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great new camera module
 

Cons

  • Still with Lightning port
  • “Fast” charge with only 20 watts

Read the full review of iPhone 13 Pro on here

The choice of the best phone in 2021 depends, of course, on which ecosystem you prefer —Android or iOS. Our choice fell on the iPhone 13 Pro because, in our opinion, it offers the best overall package in every respect, from the camera and performance to the operating system and ecosystem.

In our iPhone 13 Pro review, we were especially impressed with the camera’s new features, especially Cinema Mode and Photo Styles. And of course we like to see that the Pro model received the same camera as the Max version this year.

And then, of course, there are updates like the 120 Hz screen (finally!), the strongest battery, the smaller notch or, as in every year, the most powerful processor. You can find an overview of all current models in the iPhone line at the following link —because in addition to the iPhone 13 Pro, Apple currently has five other phones on its shelf.

  • Comparison of all iPhone models in 2021

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iPhone 13 Pro

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2.2 Google Pixel 6 Pro: best mobile camera in 2021

Behind this black bar is the best cell phone camera of 2021 / ©

Note

Pros

  • Adaptive refresh rate (10 to 120 Hz)
  • Super versatile camera
  • Android 12
  • Five years of security updates
  • IP68 Certification
  • Price
 

Cons

  • Battery charge time
  • Limited availability to very few countries
  • Niche product

Click here to read the Google Pixel 6 Pro review on

The Google Pixel 6 Pro not only has arguably the most attractive camera unit of the year, but also arguably the most versatile. Yes, Google is not alone with the team of wide-angle, ultra-angle and periscopic telephoto cameras. But no other manufacturer has delivered camera features as impressive as Google this year —with impressive image quality at the same time. Fearless to say: the best mobile camera in 2021 comes from Google.

But the Pixel 6 Pro also convinces beyond its photographic capabilities. Design is certainly a matter of taste, but it’s definitely remarkable —and we like that. The appliance fits well in the hand and is protected against dust and water according to IP68 standard. The AMOLED display convinces with a great display quality and a variable refresh rate of 10 to 120 hertz.

Finally, the new SoC Tensor performs well and is simply fun to use in combination with the new Android 12. However, the fact that Google promises three Android version updates and five years of security patches may not be enough for all Android fans. There was also criticism of the few storage options (the iPhone offers up to 1 TB!) and, of course, the fact that the device is not officially sold in Brazil.

As a highlight, with a suggested price of $899 (about $5,050, in direct conversion), the Google Pixel 6 Pro isn’t a bargain, but it still has a very competitive price for a flagship. And if you don’t want telephoto, Google Pixel 6 also offers a great camera for $599 (almost $3,370). In the article segur, we go into detail about all the differences between the models:

  • Pixel 6 vs Pixel 6 Pro: Which flagship does Google match you the most?

2.3 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: best design of 2021

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is extraordinary — and our favorite design of the year / ©

Note

Pros

  • Amazing design
  • Flexible screen
  • IPX8 Certification
  • Four years of security updates
 

Cons

  • Battery capacity
  • Disappointing camera for category

Click here to read the Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 on

Yes, five stars. That doesn’t mean the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the perfect phone. But that means Samsung has finally managed to bring a new category of devices to the general public: foldable smartphones. The Z Flip 3 no longer looks like a fragile prototype, but as a day-to-day-to-day object, thanks to IPX8 certification, among other things.

And what a fancy object! The effect caused by the folding screen has not passed even after weeks of our test. And when folded, the phone is considerably compact. In addition, Samsung has improved usability with minor hardware and software improvements —for example, the external display is now more useful and offers more functions than in the previous model.

But of course there are weaknesses too. At just under 900 euros, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is in the top price segment of the smartphone, but offers comparatively little camera. And the battery is not as strong as that of rigid competition. It is certain that the latter simply have more room for the cells in their much thicker carcasses.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (128 GB)

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2.4 Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro: best cost-performance in 2021

The Redmi Note 10 Pro already has a few months, but still offers an excellent value for money / ©

 

Note

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Excellent 120 Hz AMOLED display
  • Solid performance
  • Good main camera
  • Good battery life
  • Triple input for dual SIM + microSD
  • NFC
  • Stereo speakers
 

Cons

  • Camera a little bulky
  • Camera performance drops in low light
  • No 5G support
  • No wireless charging support

Click here for the review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

The Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro looks a little lost here among flagships of over $5,000. But despite – or perhaps because of – its low price, currently around $ 2,300, the phone has earned its place on this list. The device brings to the general public several features that were only found on top-of-the-line devices.

This starts with the large AMOLED display, which ensures smooth 120 Hz viewing. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G can’t keep up with the strongest SoCs in the 7 series or even the 8 series, but it’s enough for most games. Just missed the 5G here. On the other hand, you get a very decent usage autonomy thanks to the good battery of 5,000 mAh.

The main camera uses a 108 megapixel sensor from Samsung and provides solid results. However, miracles from the ultra-angle camera and dual telephoto camera —as well as in low light conditions— should not be expected. But of course: the significantly lower price compared to the other devices on the list requires some sacrifices.

As the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro was released there in March 2021, you can expect some special offers in the coming weeks.  An interesting alternative, if you do not get excited to buy in marketplaces, is to choose a 2020 model (which was left out of this list for not being a release this year), the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE:

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Alternative: Galaxy S20 FE (128 GB)

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2.5 Xiaomi 11T Pro: the best battery of 2021

More powerful than a refrigerator: the thick adapter on the left completes the battery of the Xiaomi 11T Pro with 120 watts / ©

Note

Pros

  • 100% battery maximum in 17 minutes
  • Beautiful screen
  • Very performance at a competitive price (abroad)
  • Interesting video features
 

Cons

  • Overall camera quality below average
  • Limited storage for 8K video
  • Snapdragon 888 with heating problems
  • Really big and heavy
  • No IP certification

Click here to read the Xiaomi 11T Pro review

The Xiaomi 11T Pro marks an impressive speed record: in just 17 minutes, the 5,000 mAh battery is charged at 100%. Instead of charging your phone at night, you can do complete the battery while bathing or brushing your teeth. That changes a lot.

The Xiaomi 11T Pro screen impressed editor Ben Lucks in the review, but the strengths were out there. Although the 11T Pro is very fast thanks to the Snapdragon 888, the phone cannot make the most of its performance due to heating problems. And the camera system with its 108 megapixel sensor and 8K video has a good setup, but the image quality is a bit disappointing in practice.

The end result is that the Xiaomi 11T Pro is a monster of specifications that is less than the sum of its parts. However, if battery and charge performance are your main concerns, then you’ve come to the right place. The only problem is not finding the model officially for sale in Brazil:

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Xiaomi 11T Pro

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2.6 Samsung Z Fold 3: the best folding of 2021

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more of a tablet than a mobile phone / ©

Note

Pros

  • Two well-calibrated 120 Hz displays
  • Waterproof and robust design (IPX8)
  • Well-tapped hybrid format
  • OneUI and Flex mode, a perfect combination
  • Good photos during the day
  • No notches or clippings on the main screen
  • 3 Android updates, 4 years of security patches
 

Cons

  • Photo set does not innovate
  • Selfie camera under screen disappoints
  • Autonomy is just OK
  • Very slow “fast” load
  • Thermal performance bottleneck (but no overheating)
  • Price still high

You’ll find the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 here

What we wrote about the Flip above also applies to the Galaxy Z Fold 3: Samsung’s folding swells up the level. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more robust than its predecessor and looks more mature. It offers the same IPX8 certification as the Flip model, but with a considerably more expensive starting price and therefore will remain a niche model.

What a niche! The two 120 Hz displays are excellent, and thanks to robust performance and continuously improved software, daily use is really fun. The charm falls only in games, when the thermal bottleneck gives the faces, and the battery life is also not exactly worthy of praise.

  • Galaxy Z Fold 3: How does Samsung’s Flex mode work?

The camera set does a decent job —but can’t keep up with today’s flagships, which is a bit disappointing considering the price. But anyway, the successor to the Galaxy Note series is more geared towards being a working tool, not a professional camera; even considering the innovation of the selfie camera under the screen, which debuted before on models of ZTE, and whose quality is below expected.