The BEST Smartphones of 2021 🔥
Weve had a significant push for foldables weve had complete flagship experiences in tiny footprints. Weve had budget phones that have actually changed my entire perception of value so its time to declare some winners. Weve got 10 categories all leading up to the single overall 2021 champion a phone, so good ive even got a special trophy made just for it. Okay lets start with design what is the most impressive phone from the outside and there are a couple of close contenders. Ive spent almost the entire year raving on about samsungs s21 ultra how its striking, but at the same time, somehow also understated. I was really close to giving this to xiaomi, because while they do make some, how do i put this polarizing designs? They do also have a couple of standouts, like the me 11 light, which is so thin that it barely feels real and the mix 4, with its completely even uninterrupted screen made possible by an actually decent in display, selfie camera, but the winner of best phone design Of the year im going to give to the vivo x70 pro plus, this phone is supremely comfortable to hold theyve, designed a finish that you literally cannot get fingerprints on. Even if you try to the buttons feel distinctly luxury. And while i wouldnt say i particularly love this glossy section on the back, it can also double as a mirror to be able to take rear camera. Selfies with now, we cant have a best without a burst, so welcome to a bonus round of who has made the ugliest phone of the year and theres.
A few strong candidates, asuss zenfone 8, was notably devoid of character kind of looks a bit like a wish.com phone. This smartphone for snapdragon insiders, yes, thats, the real name made by qualcomm. The chipmaker themselves also feels very much like a prototype, but the winner of ugliest phone of the year has got to be this special edition version of the honor 50.. The only way i can think to describe this phone is its a bit like someone just vomited the alphabet, all over it but theres another side to design, because, as well as making a phone look and feel premium. The other challenge that a lot of companies are starting to face is the size constraint. How do we fit all the things that people are starting to want into a phone while keeping it compact and theres one phone that, i think, has done this better than any honorable mention to the asus zenfone 8, which boring design aside is 90 of the capability Of the big ones achieved into 60 of the footprint, a lot of things had to be re engineered to make this possible and also props, to samsungs z, flip 3.. As a tech person, this is a hard phone to recommend to someone its a thousand dollars, but it has the specs of a 500 phone. However, excuse my french, it just feels flipping fantastic super premium, really nice materials and the fact that it folds in half means that were not just talking about fitting in your trouser pockets.
This can fit into your shirt pocket, but the winner of best compact smartphone of 2021 im giving to the iphone 13 mini no gimmicks, no one particularly groundbreaking feature its just. The complete latest iphone experience smaller and now, thanks to huge battery improvements, this 13 mini lasts longer than last years, full size iphone 12.. Speaking of battery, though there is a limit to how much youre going to be able to get from a small phone. If endurance is a high priority, you are going to need to look bigger, and the winner of this category is not the phone i expected see. Battery life is a very complex specification, most reviewers, including myself. We just generally try to keep it simple by referring to how many milliamp hours of capacity that a phone has, but the truth of it is. It depends on display technology how well the phone regulates temperature massively on software and how efficiently its able to allocate resources. But also things like battery voltage and so in 2021 weve ended up in a situation where, even though we have phones like the galaxy s21 ultra and the xiaomi 11 ultra with five thousand million power capacities or hell even the rog phone 5s pro with a 6 000 million power capacity, theyre all beaten by a phone with less than 4500 the iphone 13 pro max. This phones battery life is so unbelievably healthy. I have sometimes finished days using it with over 70 left.
I mean you can technically get a phone that lasts even longer. You know theres ones that are effectively just a dialer with a power bank taped to them, but this is the best battery life in a form factor thats somewhat palatable. Then hey. If you find my videos palatable, then the sub to the channel would be prized. What, if you dont, want something palatable? What, if all you wanted, was an absolute beast, a speck monster, a phone designed to play the most demanding games you can get on a mobile platform well youre. In luck, gaming phones have never been as competitive as they are now in 2021, theyre. Getting so good that its almost frustrating that developers arent making games that properly take advantage of them, anyways theres three main companies fighting in this space. You have red magic, whos, making such high powered hardware – rich phones for literally 500, but you do genuinely wonder where their profits coming from ridiculous value. But the phones do feel a little rushed with arguably half baked software. Then you have the other extreme, with asus, whose rog phone 5s pro hits 1500, but hey. If you have 1500 and you like games, there is nothing quite like it. In fact, this thing basically takes a 2021 flagship and tops it in almost every regard. It doesnt have a 5000mah battery, it has 6000, it doesnt have a snapdragon 888. It has an 888 plus, it doesnt have a 120hz refresh rate, it has 144.
and were not talking 8 or 12 gigabytes of ram 18.. Also, quite importantly, for a gaming phone, a reliable accessory ecosystem, whether thats, earphones or controllers, or external, pulling attachments, you have options but, in my opinion, the best gaming phone sits somewhere in between these two with the lenovo legion, dual 2.. It avoids the software pitfalls of the red magic, it gets very close to the performance of the asus and it starts at 700 kind of funky, looking though, and finally just before we get to the best overall phones in each price tier, i just want to touch On foldables, because, while i dont think these flaccid book style open closed phones are the final destination, they do still feel a bit like a half baked idea in some senses. 2021 is the first year where i have seen some mainstream conversation about them so its time to analyze. If a foldable is what you want, the only company it makes sense to buy from is samsung. There is microsoft who makes the surface duo nice looking, but far too many compromises to recommend it. There is huawei, but no google services makes it a really dicey option and there is royal the company who actually made worlds first foldable, but i wouldnt trust their software support as theyre primarily a display company. Their foldables are more of a tech demo than actual consumer ready phones, so that leaves us with two choices: samsungs z, fold, three or samsungs z, flip three and between them i would award best foldable phone to the z fold, three, its the only foldable that does Deliver a tangibly expanded experience compared to just a normal flagship.
The potential for extreme productivity is here: youve just got to decide if youre in the minority whos willing to look past all its compromises to be able to take advantage of it all right. So those are all the specialist phones done. The winners for people with specific needs, but now its time to look at the overall winners, so were gon na have best budget phone, best, mid range phone, best, flagship phone, best super phone and then finally, the overall best value phone across all of these categories. The one that will be taking home this very fancy trophy that ive had made for it. Alright, so im classing budget phone is anything around or under 300 and, to be honest, every realistic contender in this segment is either a spin off company of xiaomi or oppo and its not hugely surprising. The main profits to be had in the smartphone market are not here. Honorable mention too the realme 8. This company is quite consistently bringing out some of the most extreme price to performance ratios, ive ever seen, and also the poco x3 pro and the just announced poco m4. I know theres a lot of different names here, but these two are pretty special. However, the winner of best budget phone on the market is xiaomis, redmi, note 10 pro. I genuinely think – and i dont say this – a lot for budget phones. This is a beautiful device and for about 250 dollars, it is shockingly well rounded good battery life, good stereo speakers, fluid 120 hertz display and importantly, for me, also a really good camera for the price.
My only slight reservation is that xiaomi have literally just announced the redmi note 11 pro, which is china only for now, but based on past history. I would expect a global release, probably early next year now then weve got the mid range category, the 300 to 600 sweet spot. All phones – i recommend here – are phones that feel complete. Even though theyre half the price of the top tier and in this category, there is one clear winner, which is almost a shame because of how many good options there are like the oneplus nord 2, which is a 400 phone, that you could very easily mistake. For a 700 phone screen battery camera, the polish just makes it that little bit more premium. That said, there have been a reasonable amount of people who have said that their nord twos have exploded. We are only talking a handful, but thats still enough to suggest that it might be a fundamental problem with this particular handset. So im gon na hold off on saying you should buy one, the poco f3, though, if 400 is all you want to spend, i cant recommend it enough its got the flagship feeling and finally, the real me gt. This is the highest end. Phone realme makes, and so given how much this company manages to pack into 200 phones. You can probably imagine that for 500, this thing is stacked, but specs arent, everything and based on the experience of actually using them.
One phone takes the cake here: google pixel, the pixel 6 is not just a phone that can kind of keep up with its more expensive offerings. There is a magic to it. The way it feels to use is not good or great. Its delightful and the camera, while not without inconsistencies, is really powerful and really fun. So what about flagships? The best phone in between 600 and 900 at this kind of price were talking. Luxury were talking things. You dont need, but you might want potentially quirky extra features and also you can demand extreme reliability. Okay, a couple of honorable mentions one to xiaomis me 11, an all round technically tremendous package, one to the oneplus 9, which had mixed reception at launch, but that was mostly due to over hyping. Then the phone actually being bad and multiple updates. Later it now stands as a really good option, and also the samsung galaxy. Where are you s21, which is not what id call an exciting phone, its definitely not breaking any technological records? But it is a neat practical package that you can trust and even though the camera hardware is about as exciting as watching paint, dry, im constantly surprised by how much samsungs managed to push out of it, but the winner at 899 dollars only just qualifying for this Category is the google pixel 6 pro just like the 6, the 6 pro just it just feels alive its lifted by like really fun, intuitive customizable software and quite an underrated screen too, i wouldnt say its the best phone when you can buy mostly let down by Some not too stellar video, recording and some good, but not great battery life, but it is the best until you hit a thousand dollars plus.
But what, if you do? What, if you just want the best phone and money, is no object? Heres, where things get interesting in this category, youve basically got each companys top tier, offering theyre no holds barred. Innovation crammed hero, phones, huge cameras, big batteries, gorgeous screens all the extras. Okay, two runners up first, is that vivo x70 pro plus i mentioned at the start. Its just its one of the most fun phones ive ever used with an emphasis on the camera, its a treat comprised of top shelf hardware and really powerful software and its so good that, in a fair few scenarios, i would say this is the best phone for Photos and secondly, the samsung galaxy there we go s21 ultra. This was the first major flagship to come out in the entire year and its so well, rounded that its still now considered by many a benchmark for others to strive for worth. Also mentioning is sony. I feel like theyve, come a really long way in the last few years and for certain top level pros. No one does it better, but they dont quite make my default recommendation to most power users. Theres two phones that do first is xiaomis me 11 ultra. This is a really similar spec to samsungs s21 ultra, but it feels like its almost been built to beat it. It takes the already extreme and dials it up just a little further with one of the most obvious examples being the second screen on the back.
It lets you check for time without turning your phone over it lets you take photos using your main rear cameras, theyve even added a feature. That means you can just use this second screen and it will boost your battery to no joke 14 days on a single charge. The second winner has got to be the iphone 13 pro max on the face of it, a very similar phone to the 12 pro max and aside from one thing, it would be pretty easy for me to write this off as a small iterative upgrade, but that One thing the battery life improvement makes this so unbelievably reliable, but its changed the way i use my phone combine, that with cameras, speakers and a screen that are very close to best in class. Now is a good time to be an iphone user and to upgrade said iphone. The normal iphone 13 pro is also really strong, its basically the same phone, but instead of extraordinary battery its more like excellent okay. That leaves me with one final decision to make. If i had to pick one phone out of every single one on this table, what would it be, which is the most surprising best value experience you can get well here? Is our super heavy custom obsidian black trophy and it is for smartphone of the year 2021. The google pixel six – it is crazy to me that a phone costing just 599 can actually get me excited to use it in almost all cases.
With these kinds of phones, it normally boils down to which one makes the least compromises versus a flagship, but the pixel 6 has almost the same hardware and almost the same experience as the 899 pixel 6 pro and even at 899. That phone feels pretty special and while for 8.99, i would rate the pros. Camera is very good, not the best at 599, with almost the same experience, the normal pixel 6 becomes pretty much the best value camera system. You can buy and im not just talking about on a phone, okay, heres, something we can all relate to. Video calls that look something like this well, this is what todays sponsor the obspot tiny 4k is trying to combat. This is probably the most jacked webcam youve ever seen, youre going to want to hear this. It shoots video in 4k, with an hdr feature. It has built in autofocus, as well as dual omni directional microphones, to isolate noise, thats, all fine, but more unusually, also a gimbal. This camera can smoothly pan and rotate on its own accord, and it uses ai to be able to do so. Making sure that your face is always in the center of the frame and the side effect of this intelligence is that you can also control it. With gestures, very interesting, indeed, links for the old spot, tiny are down below to check out my last gadgets, video click here or to find out why the metaverse is both hugely exciting and kind of horrifying click.
Here my name is aaron.