The Top 10 Best Smartphones in 2021 - Ranked
Including the best mobile phones from Apple, Samsung and a few other exciting Android brands, our team has reviewed and rated some of the most highly anticipated smartphones for 2021. Here is how they stack up.
From 5G connectivity to ever-expanding batteries, faster processors, and 120Hz refresh rates for those flagship phone displays, there’s a lot here to be impressed by. If you’re looking for a new phone for 2021, you will find it here on our list. There’s something here for everyone, whether you need to upgrade for a large capacity, have a tight budget to stick to, or some very specific features in mind.
You might be surprised to find some older models from 2020 and 2019 are still some of the best options too.
1. Xiaomi Mi 11
The Xiaomi Mi 11 didn’t receive our first ever five-star rating for nothing. This is one of the most highly anticipated smartphones for 2021 and it certainly impressed us. It’s one of those all-round great phones, where the top specs are used in every area, from the screen to the battery.
Not only is it a sleek and good-looking flagship phone from Xiaomi, but it also has many notable upgrades from the Mi 10 predecessor that make the increased price worth every penny. Xiaomi haven’t just released a new phone model for the sake of it.
We particularly like the 2.5K resolution that’s exceptionally crisp, new videography modes to complement the range of great photography options, and the fast charging. The only thing missing is a headphone jack.
Click here to read our Xiaomi Mi 11 5G review
Click here to find and compare Xiaomi Mi 11 5G prices
2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
It has impressed smartphone critics at every level – we are no exception. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the top-of-the-line model from Samsung that any fan of their phones would be ecstatic to own. The only reason it comes in at second place is the price tag. Be prepared to save up for this one.
The specs of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are, arguably, worth the price though. The camera set-up with 100x super resolution zoom 108MP wide-angle rear camera and 40MP selfie camera is amazing. If you buy a phone based on how great the cameras and photography features are, the S21 Ultra is top of your list. Your holiday snaps will be beyond epic.
And the battery life? Robust!
Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
Click here to find and compare Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra prices
3. Apple iPhone 12 Pro
The Apple iPhone 12 Pro is a very good model and it’s the highest ranked Apple smartphone on our list. We really enjoyed testing the night camera and playing around with the third-party photography apps.
In terms of aesthetics, the iPhone 12 Pro is possibly the best-looking phone on this list too. We love the classy, muted shades of gold and Pacific blue. The back of the phone is matte, to keep smudgy fingerprints to a minimum.
As for the battery and screen, they could be improved (in fact, the screen and capacity upgrades are the only real thing separating it from the iPhone 12 Pro Max) but this is certainly a very good phone. A solid offering from Apple for 2021.
Click here to read our Apple iPhone 12 Pro review
Click here to find and compare Apple iPhone 12 Pro prices
4. Oppo Find X3 Pro
The Oppo Find X3 Pro is the brand new Oppo Find model for 2021. Tall and slim, it mimics the iPhone 12 range with its camera set up and design but promises something unique with a 6.7-inch curved screen and 10-bit colour support. Adaptive dynamic frame rate tech will fluctuate up to 120Hz too.
As you’d expect from any smartphone that makes this list, it has some great specs. The 12GB RAM is certainly impressive and there’s the new Snapdragon 888 processor to make the performance snappy and seamless.
Sure, it’s not the most attractive phone, but based on the specs we predict that the Oppo Find X3 Pro will certainly make waves this year.
Click here to find and compare Oppo Find X3 Pro prices
5. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
A step down from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra… but still an amazing phone on its own! The S21 Plus has a brilliantly fast processor and unbelievably fast 120Hz display, but with a little bit more of an affordable price tag.
Furthermore, the battery life in this smartphone is clearly designed to keep up with the improved display and processor. A 4800mAh battery is more than capable, so this phone provides a top-notch performance.
The only potential problem is the storage. For the average phone user, 128GB or 256GB is a huge capacity. But for heavy phone users and photographers who want to enjoy the great camera set up, you may be disappointed that there’s no way to boost the capacity with a MicroSD card.
Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review
Click here to find and compare Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus prices
6. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
Not to be confused with the 4G option, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G was made for the fans. And it certainly lives up to their high expectations (and ours too).
It’s fast, has all the high specs you expect, and a sleek design that’s hard not to like. We were particularly impressed with the cameras when we had a chance to review this phone. The three rear cameras and decent selfie camera mean this phone can really take some good shots.
The 5G is another future-ready feature that is common across many of these best smartphones for 2021. Thankfully, you can toggle off the 5G feature on this model until there’s a compatible 5G network, to save battery life.
Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G review
Click here to find and compare Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G prices
7. Apple iPhone 12 Mini
If being able to comfortably fit your smartphone in your pocket is important to you, then the Apple iPhone 12 Mini is the best option. The bitesize version of the iPhone 12 has that brilliant Super Retina XDR display, along with the specs and features that make the iPhone 12 range so attractive.
You would expect the smaller, cheaper model to have poorer performance, but that’s not the case. Apple have ensured that even the iPhone 12 Mini has the A14 Bionic processor, 5G compatibility, and iOS 14 operating system.
Battery life takes a hit, but that’s to be expected. You can’t fit a larger battery in a smaller phone! Regardless, for everyday use you will find that it exceeds your expectations.
Click here to read our Apple iPhone 12 Mini review
Click here to find and compare Apple iPhone 12 Mini prices
8. Xiaomi Mi Note 10
A 108MP camera at this price range is unusual, and that alone would be enough to earn the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 a place on this list. It doesn’t have the best power (the battery is average to good) and the screen is nice but
there are better displays out there… yet this phone is still charming.
The overall feel of the phone is sleek and modern. It feels more expensive than it is! We also enjoyed the decent storage space and 6GB of RAM. It can keep up with your favourite apps, music and amateur photography sessions with little to no fuss.
Considering that this phone model was first released back in 2019, it’s done very well to still be making number 8 on ‘best of’ lists in 2021.
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is large, expensive, and we just love it. The 6.8-inch screen with QHD+ resolution just feels and looks so good. Add in the S pen stylus and anyone who likes their phones to feel almost like a tablet, will fall in love.
This is another phone from 2019 that’s still popular as we head into 2021. The Android 9 operating system and octa-core chipset are no longer the highest specs available, yet the 12GB RAM, 4,300mAh battery, and up to 512GB storage are still market-leading or close to it.
You can’t deny that despite being an older model, the Galaxy Note 10 Plus is still a worthy consideration for a fast, large and capable phone this year.
10. Apple iPhone SE (2020 edition)
Cheap and cheerful, the 2020 edition of the iPhone SE doesn’t have the highest specs, but it has all the features you love about Apple smartphones. Like the iPhone 12 Mini, it’s a smaller pocket-size device, which means the battery is immediately limited.
The Apple iPhone SE (2020) has a 1,821mAh battery, only 3GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. The screen can be worked with just one hand, but it won’t impress you with the sharpest, fastest graphics. The same goes for the camera – it’s nice, but it’s not amazing.
Overall, It’s small and compact. If you don’t need or want a huge, powerful phone but still want decent specs from a brand you trust, the iPhone SE (2020) is a good option. Your wallet will love the price tag too.
Click here to find and compare Apple iPhone SE prices
Conclusion – Best Mobile Phones in 2021
2021 is going to be a great year for smartphones, with 5G connectivity expanding and 108MP cameras taking photography to the next level.
Apple and Samsung continue to dominate our list of the best smartphones as we enter 2021, which is totally to be expected. Except, we have some new and surprising phones from other brands entering the landscape. Xiaomi is one to watch this year, with their Mi 11 model the first ever phone to receive a 5-star rating from our team. This model well and truly earnt its place at the number 1 spot.
Furthermore, keep an eye on that Oppo Find X3 Pro – it’s designed to compete with the iPhone 12 range and it certainly has some great features to explore when it is released.