Looking back just three years ago, and the smartphone landscape was completely different than what it looks like now. We don’t have nearly as many companies offering flagship devices, with many phone makers opting to focus on the budget and mid-range markets.
But the wonderful thing about that is with time, some of the best smartphones don’t need the latest and greatest processing power just to provide a wonderful experience. In 2021, there are the usual suspects like OnePlus, Samsung, and Apple, but Motorola continues to release incredibly solid budget-friendly phones, while we’ve even been seeing great options from the likes of TCL and others.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro present a “return to form” for Google, as these devices look to reclaim the title of the best smartphone for everyone. With an incredibly low price and even more incredible software improvements, Google’s 2021 flagships are quite impressive.
With the Galaxy Z Flip 3, Samsung presented a foldable form-factor for everyone who doesn’t want a folding tablet. From the redesigned cover screen to improved durability, this phone is simply incredible in every aspect, except for battery life.
If you want a reliable smartphone that offers amazing battery life without breaking the bank, the 2021 Moto G Power is the way to go. This phone features a triple camera setup headlined by a 48MP lens while being rated for up to three days of battery life.
Ignoring the company’s software frustrations, the OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the best smartphones of the year and includes all of the features one could want. There’s an excellent camera system that has been fine-tuned by Hasselblad, 65W fast wired charging, 50W fast wireless charging, and a display with a 120Hz refresh rate.
It should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S21 Ultra remains the top pick for anyone looking for the best flagship Android experience. Samsung included all of the bells and whistles including the ability to take better shots of the moon, without the need of a telescope or other fancy equipment. Plus, the company has already released the One UI 4 update, bringing many of the best Android 12 features to the device.
Those who don’t care about Android vs iOS can understand how the iPhone 13 is an appealing device. Apple has done it yet again, making this one of the fastest phones on the market, while improving the camera system and including bonus features such as MagSafe.
We love the Pixel 6 as it gets you about 90% of the experience offered by the Pixel 6 Pro. But if you want the best phone that Google makes today, it’s easily the Pro model with its triple camera setup, larger display, and bigger battery.
With the Motorola One 5G Ace, you’ll get a phone that really doesn’t try and do anything that’s too flashy. The company packed a 5,000mAh battery into this beast, along with a 6.7-inch display and a triple camera setup headlined by a 48MP lens. Plus, it features 5G support and will work on all of the major U.S. carriers.
For much of the year, the Galaxy A52 was at the top of the mountain if you were looking for the best mid-range Android phone. This won’t grab any headlines but will offer solid performance across the board while sporting a total of four rear cameras and offering IP67 water and dust resistance.
Over the past couple of years, TCL has come out of the gates swinging for the fences. The company is trying to make a play in the budget and mid-range sectors of the market, and the TCL 20 SE offers a fantastic experience while being perfect for those who want a massive display.
Instead of OnePlus focusing on the flagship market and trying to take down Samsung, the company has pivoted to the mid-range and budget markets with its Nord series. The OnePlus Nord N200 is the latest in the line here in the U.S. and features a 6.49-inch FHD+ LCD display with a 90Hz refresh rate, triple camera setup, and a massive 5,000mAh battery.