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The Best Smartphone in 2021
It’s no secret that smartphones have taken on an essential role in our lives, allowing us to connect with others and the world at large. With a hefty price tag and so much of our lives intertwined with our devices, picking out a new smartphone is no decision to take lightly!
The smartphone industry is constantly innovating, so it can be overwhelming to keep up with the latest developments. Leaders like Apple and Samsung now compete with other brands that bring ultra-fast processing, exceptional cameras, and niche features to the table. With prices ranging from about $150—$2,000+, determining which devices are worth the investment can be challenging.
Fortunately, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best smartphones on the market for a range of budgets, lifestyles, and purposes. Whether your device needs to help you work on the go, connect with your loved ones, or express yourself, you’re sure to find your perfect fit!
The Best Smartphone You Can Buy
The Best Overall Smartphone: iPhone 12 Pro
Screen: 6.1-inch OLED display
Storage: 128, 256, and 512 GB
Battery Life: About 8 hours 30 minutes
It’s safe to say that Apple has a firm grasp on the smartphone market, and their latest iPhone 12 Pro is a testament to that. Apple debuted the most striking version of the iPhone yet in late 2020, impressing Apple fanatics with its new telephoto camera lens, doubled base storage, and sleek, stainless steel frame. Whatever role a smartphone plays in your life, you simply can’t go wrong with iPhone 12 Pro.
Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro is equipped with the fastest smartphone chip yet and 5G capabilities, making it a productivity powerhouse for any daily task you use your phone for. With Apple’s expansive library of apps, you’ll find a tool for virtually every purpose, from locating lost dogs to exploring local events. Multiple wide cameras and night mode allow you to capture your life in striking detail and color, including 4K HDR Dolby Vision.
The Best Smartphone for Work: Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
Screen: 6.9-inch AMOLED display
Storage: 128 or 512 GB
Battery Life: About 10 hours 30 minutes
If your job keeps you on the move, you know how important it can be to access work tasks directly from your device. Meet Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra, the best office companion since the coffee pot. With its stylish, sleek design and exceptional craftsmanship, this smartphone is sure to spark some office envy.
Galaxy Note20 Ultra conveniently connects to your Windows PC, enabling you to work fluidly on either device. One of the hallmarks of this smartphone is its S Pen stylus, a feature that will streamline taking and sharing notes. When you can sync your notes to apps like Outlook, Microsoft Word, and Powerpoint, working smarter (not harder) is easier than ever—no matter where the workday takes you.
The Best Smartphone for a Budget: Apple iPhone SE
Screen: 4.7-inch Retina HD
Storage: 64, 128, and 256 GB
Battery Life: About 9 hours 20 minutes
Apple’s newest model of the iPhone SE is the brand’s budget-friendly option in their smartphone lineup, but don’t be fooled—this affordable option packs a lot of power in a smaller package! This model still has premium features like the ability to safeguard your personal information with Touch ID, take videos in 4K, FaceTime friends in HD, and pay on the go with Apple Pay.
The second-generation Apple iPhone SE is a prime option for those looking for a full-featured smartphone without the hefty price tag. If you’re interested in a device that cuts back on features you may not need without sacrificing those you do, look no further than iPhone SE.
The Best Smartphone for Photography: Sony Xperia Pro
Screen: 6.5-inch 4K HDR OLED display
Storage: 512 GB
Battery Life: About 11 hours
If photography has gone from your passion to a profession, Sony’s Xperia Pro redefines how you can capture moments. This device was designed specifically for photography, videography, and content creation. Sony’s Photo Pro app features a robust set of settings and adjustments to help you get the perfect shot.
Xperia Pro’s convenient HDMI micro port allows you to quickly connect to your camera, using the phone as a monitor that will display your subject matter on the stunning 4K OLED HDR screen. The device’s connectivity lets you save photos to your phone, streamlining your workflow with direct cloud uploads.
The Best Smartphone for Kids: iPhone 12 Mini
Price: Starting at $699+
Screen: 5.4-inch OLED display
Storage: 64, 128, and 256 GB
Battery Life: About 7 hours 30 minutes
The thought of giving your kid a smartphone may be daunting to some parents, but Apple’s iPhone 12 Mini strikes the perfect balance between fun features and heightened security. The phone’s smaller body and intuitive, easy-to-learn iOS interface make this an excellent option for our small humans.
Apple’s robust privacy system can help give parents peace of mind. Features like Find My iPhone and location sharing keep you looped into your child’s whereabouts. At the same time, extra measures are built into the device to help protect your data and personal information. Parents are even able to block certain content and restrict screen time as needed.
The Best Smartphone for Gaming: Asus ROG Phone 5
Screen: 6.78-inch AMOLED display
Storage: 256 GB
Battery Life: About 15 hours and 45 minutes
If you want to up the ante of smartphone entertainment, the ROG Phone 5 from Asus gives mobile gaming an immersive upgrade. The ultra-vibrant AMOLED display and 144 Hz refresh rate create an unmatched visual experience to heighten gameplay.
This device is equipped with everything you need to take mobile gaming to the next level. Its high-capacity battery and 65 Watt HyperCharge adapter prolong your charge, avoiding the dreaded low battery that inhibits gameplay. With premium stereo sound effects, ten different motion control options, and a built-in cooling system, getting lost in the game has never been easier.
The Best Smartphone for Durability: Sonim XP8
Screen: 5-inch FHD display
Storage: 64 GB
Battery Life: About 25 hours
We’ve all fallen victim to a cracked phone screen — with Sonim XP8, that’s a thing of the past. If your livelihood requires a little extra protection for your smartphone, this durable device features a military-grade design and a list of certifications that ensure its functionality in extreme environments.
Sonim XP8 has both brawn and brains. It’s built with the latest Bluetooth connectivity, has video-calling capabilities, and advanced GPS technology. The screen was optimized to work with gloves and wet hands, making this an ideal device for those who need a reliable device on the job.
The Best Smartphone for Android Lovers: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Screen: 6.8-inch Infinity-O display
Storage: 128, 356, and 512 GB
Battery Life: Up to 24 hours
For loyal Android users in the market for a top-of-the-line smartphone experience, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra is a device that delivers. It’s equipped with the highest resolution photos and videos on a smartphone yet, a blazing-fast processor, and stylus pen compatibility for on-the-go creativity.
It may be flashy, but this smartphone isn’t just all looks—it’s resilient and reliable, too. The screen and body use the toughest Gorilla Glass available for extra protection against scratches and drops, plus the device is water and dust-resistant to enhance its longevity. If you’re partial to the Android operating system, you’ll be delighted by this cutting-edge device.
The Best Smartphone for Battery Life: Motorola Moto G Power
Screen: 6.4-inch FHD+ Max Vision display
Storage: 64 GB
Battery Life: Up to 3 days
Some people are simply too busy to remember to charge their phone—if this sounds like you, consider switching to Motorola’s Moto G Power, a device designed to optimize battery longevity. With a single charge, you can power three days of use without thinking about plugging in.
In addition to its robust battery life, Moto G Power has an impressive AI-powered camera for picture-perfect shots, an ultra-wide lens and Macro Vision technology for vivid closeups, and crystal-clear audio from Dolby stereo speakers. At a price point of only $219.99, Moto G Power is truly the complete package.
The Best Smartphone for Prepaid Plans: Motorola Moto G Play
Screen: 6.5-inch Max Vision HD+ display
Storage: 32 GB
Battery Life: About 16 hours
If you want all the power of a smartphone without committing to a traditional carrier contract, Moto G Power by Motorola is your go-to device. Compatible with several prepaid carriers, this device is an affordable option with an entertainment emphasis. Plus, with a price point below $200 and no long-term contract needed, Moto G Play redefines how you see smartphones.
Moto G Play’s 6.5-inch, ultra-wide HD display allows you to binge-watch your favorite shows and movies in vivid color. For those who are creatively inclined, you’ll have a personal photo studio in your pocket with a 13 MP camera and editing effects like portrait mode, spot color, cutout mode, and more.
Which Smartphones are best for your Life & Style?
Apple and Samsung dominate the smartphone space for a good reason. Their dependable, cutting-edge devices are tried-and-true options for nearly anyone. However, as you can see, there are plenty of alternative brands to choose from with offerings that are just as exceptional.
When making a smartphone decision, look for the device that packs the most punch in your day-to-day life. For example, if you’re always away from home, consider a smartphone that’s 5G compatible so you can stay connected. If you travel around throughout the day, look for something with a battery life that goes the distance. Choose the device that will simplify your life, then take the time to learn all of the features that can streamline your day.