It’s the end of the year and it’s time to rank the best smartphones from the year 2021. Many brands upped their game in 2021. While others had a gloomy time. There was tough competition in all price segments and we saw pretty great smartphones at all price ranges. So, here are my picks for the year 2021. Please note that these choices are made according to international prices.
Best Budget Phone (Under $300)
There was a lot of great value for money devices under $300. Phones like the Realme 8, Poco X3 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy A32 4G were very popular in this price range. All these phones were specifically targeting an audience. However, the winner for the best budget phone of the year goes to Redmi Note 10 Pro. Redmi delivered with this one. The Redmi Note 10 Pro had a great glass-sandwich design that felt premium. It offered a great viewing experience courtesy of the smooth 120Hz OLED panel, loud stereo speakers, and minimal bezels. It even had a good camera system for the price. The Note 10 pro offered great battery life, fast charging, good performance, a headphone jack, and even an IR blaster. It couldn’t get any better than this for the price.
Best Midrange Phone (Under $600)
There was a lot of heat in this price range. Phones like the OnePlus Nord 2, Realme GT, Galaxy A52s, and the Poco F3 were awesome phones. I would not have believed that these phones were under $600 by just looking at them. However, one phone just demolished all the competition. So, my winner for the best midrange phone of 2021 goes to the Google Pixel 6. This is hands-down the best phone you can get at this price segment. It has a crisp 90Hz OLED display, great stereo speakers, a Tensor chipset, striking design, incredible cameras, and Google’s computational photography and software wizardry. The price for the Pixel 6 is insanely good. If anyone has $600 in their pocket and wants to buy a phone, Pixel 6 is the one.
Best Camera Phone
Samsung’s S21 Ultra, Google’s Pixel 6 series, Sony Xperia Pro-I, and Vivo X70 Pro+ deserve honorable mentions for this title. They all are equipped with great camera phones. This title is based on consistency and the overall hassle-free experience while using cameras. So, the best camera phone of 2021 goes to the iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max. These phones offer the most consistent photos and still the best videography for a phone.
Best Gaming Phone
There are only a few companies offering gaming phones. Asus, Lenovo, and RedMagic deserve honorable mentions for their phones. However, in my opinion, the winner in this category is the Poco F3 GT. It has the gaming phone feel to it in terms of design, performance, the physical trigger buttons and doesn’t have any useless gimmicks. It is way cheaper than Asus ROG 5S Pro and has way better software experience than Lenovo and RedMagic’s underbaked software.
Best Compact Phone
The iPhone 13/13 mini, ASUS Zenfone 8, and Samsung Galaxy S21 compete for this award. My winner for the best compact phone of 2021 goes to the Samsung Galaxy S21. The only reason is that it is the only phone with the least trade-offs. It offers a great user experience in a compact form factor and doesn’t miss out on anything. It still has a smooth 120Hz display, great battery life, great performance, and all being in a pocketable size.
The best folding phone goes to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. It offers exactly what a foldable is meant to offer. Everything that a normal phone does and enhanced productivity.
Most Improved Phone
The most improved smartphone of the year was the Galaxy Z Flip 3 in my opinion. Samsung rectified almost all the known issues. For instance, the cover screen usability, updated internals, IP X8 rating, and a 120Hz screen.
Best Flagship Phone
iPhone 13 Pro/Pro Max, Vivo X70 Pro+, Google Pixel 6 Pro are the runners-up for this title. However, one phone that set the tone for the year and remained the benchmark for flagships to beat deserves to be the winner. My winner is Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Best Overall Phone Which I Would Buy
The best overall phone has to offer a flagship experience with no trade-offs. However, price matters a lot. So, the best phone which I would drive daily would be the Google Pixel 6. For $599, you save a lot of money and get the same flagship experience. The price-to-performance ratio is insane. Google has lived up to the hype this year.