From great Android phones to the latest iPhones, plus a few different options for those who don’t want to settle, we walk you through the very best handsets available on the market with all of their pros and cons.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
If money is no object and you want an iPhone, the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best one you can get. It features one of the best displays in its class: its 6.7-inch screen has excellent pixel density and color calibration, and peaks at a whopping 1200nits of brightness, making it easy to discern outdoors. It also has the fastest chip on any smartphone as of now.
The camera has also improved like every year and this time around one of the major new features is Dolby Vision HDR video. Apart from the professional-looking 4K video footage and the crazy-fast chip to process it, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the first iPhone to use “sensor-shift” stabilization for taking photos, meaning images in low-light conditions are clearer. The iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with the familiar iOS interface and the beautiful Apple ecosystem, coupled with the typical for Apple 5 years of software updates, making sure the phone will remain fast even after years of use.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The S21 Ultra is sporting the same 5000mAh battery piece as the S20 Ultra, and the same high display pixel density, but the variable display refresh rate alone results in a 15-20% diminished power draw. When you factor in the new and more efficient 5nm chipset, the end result is a phone with one of the longest battery endurance in its class. Last but not least, the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports the S-Pen, so Galaxy Note fans will feel at home with this phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
Last but not least, at $1,300 we feel the price is a bit too high, but Samsung often runs deals, and chances are that you will be able to get it for less. S Pen lovers won’t be disappointed, but those looking for the best value-for-money or for a more compact phone might want to look elsewhere.
The OnePlus 9 is not as flashy as the Pro, but it has all the basics down — a super-snappy performance, powered by top-tier hardware, clean software experience, beautiful 120 Hz AMOLED screen, and a pretty good camera. What makes the OnePlus 9 a true contender is its price tag — $729.
Its drawbacks include a plastic frame and the fact that the camera is outperformed by the Galaxy S21, which is within the same price range. But the OnePlus 9 can still stand on its own two feet and is worth looking twice at.
Apple iPhone 12 mini
If you want a compact phone with top-notch performance and an excellent camera system, the iPhone 12 mini is the one for you. Like any other iPhone, it comes with 5 years of software updates to make sure it’s still fast after years of use.
Read more: Apple iPhone 12 mini review
Google Pixel 5
Google made the conscious decision of making its 2021 Pixel phone an upper-midranger that’s easy to pocket. It doesn’t have a top-shelf processor, but it still delivers that excellent Google camera experience and the cleanest version of Android you can get on a phone.
It’s snappy, it’s super-easy to use with one hand, its grippy texture is pretty cool, it’s light and fun.
Samsung Galaxy A52
Samsung really pulled all the stops when refreshing its midrange Galaxy A series this year. The Galaxy A52 comes with a 90 Hz Super AMOLED screen, stereo speakers, which can sound quite nice, and a camera that’s quite the performer. The main sensor has an optical image stabilizer-equipped module, which is rare to see on midrange phones. It comes in a few fun, fresh colors. On top of providing a core smartphone experience, it is also ready to welcome you to the Samsung ecosystem with the full featureset of the Samsung SmartThings app being available out of the box.
Motorola One 5G Ace
Motorola has always been the smartphone fans’ sweetheart because it can really churn out some solid midrangers at pretty reasonable prices. The Moto One 5G Ace stays true to this formula and aims to bring 5G to the masses. It still has its signature snappy performance, competent camera, and great battery that Moto phones are known for. Its screen may not be a jewel, but for $350, the Moto One 5G Ace offers quite a bit of value.
Apple iPhone SE (2020)
Read more: Apple iPhone SE (2020) review
Google Pixel 4a