The BEST Smartphones of 2021

So i’ve spent the last five and a half months collecting and testing all the top globally available smartphones i’ve rated every single ones performance camera battery and display based on what price it’s selling for and giving them an overall value rating so with that in mind these are the top 22 smartphones in the world right now from good to better to the best some of these will surprise you okay so at the back end is nokia specifically the x20 which is their affordable flagship 2021 phone and nokia’s doing a lot of great stuff right now their phones are all inexpensive they’re bloatware free nokia gives extended warranties and loads of software support their entire angle is sustainability smartphones that you buy and you keep it really is an admirable message but i think they focused a little too much on this at the cost of how capable their phones actually are like for this x20 their marketing doesn’t even mention a single specification that’s like applying to university but refusing to show them your grades and fundamentally it’s because this phone is absolutely crushed by even the cheaper phones from companies like xiaomi so b minus and then we’ve got samsung they recently came out with the a52 which is like their mid-range flagship of the year and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it it’s a fun’s pleasant to use but it costs too much for what it is it’s pretty clear that all samsung’s done is taken one of their top end phones and made everything a bit worse but for 500 in today’s market you can nearly buy yourself an actual flagship so you don’t need to make this kind of compromise.

Do you remember the oppo find x3 pro the company’s 2021 flagship that looks a little too close to the iphone for it to be a coincidence well there’s plenty to like about it it’s supremely comfortable for starters thanks to being made of one continuous sheet of glass and that microscope camera on the back is it’s unlike anything i’ve ever seen on a phone before but the main issue and this seems to happen every year is that as soon as oppo launches a flagship phone it is pretty much destroyed and valued by oneplus flagship that launches a month later both companies use very similar components and materials and they are good components and materials but the fact that this phone is selling at the equivalent of fifteen hundred dollars makes it much less good for the money and that’s actually a pretty great segue on to our next phone so we’re getting pretty used to the idea of paying over a thousand dollars for a top-end flagship right but zte has something to say about that yeah zte they are still making phones but the ax130 ultra genuinely is worth talking about because it has the highest end snapdragon 888 chipset a 144 hertz refresh rate amoled display big battery fast charging stereo speakers really everything and it even looks an awful lot like samsung’s note 20 ultra which is not a taller criticism and most significantly i’m told this is going to cost 800.

Excuse me i was having a whale of a time with it until i tested the cameras and they really revealed just how much progress the competition has made everything from the interface to the image processing feels really behind i’ll reserve final judgement until updates drop because this camera hardware should be better than this but in its current state it’s a b and thanks to surfsharkvpn for sponsoring this video okay the iphone 12 mini what is it has not been a commercial hit when apple first came out and announced that they built a fully flagship 5g iphone that literally fits into your palm i think a lot of us thought whoa that’s gonna fly off the shelves but it didn’t according to research firms this phone only made up about five to seven percent of total iphone 12 sales but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad phone i think the reason it didn’t sell well is because a the price is so close to the much bigger iphone 12 combined with b the apple has kind of built an association between their smaller phones being their cheaper phones which may have created the perception that the 12 mini was an inferior product but really it is the same speedy experience with a great camera as the 12 that i can recommend to any iphone fan who doesn’t need a power user’s level of battery life okay now we’re getting on to the really good phones the rog phone 5 is a beast it’s the highest performing smartphone.

I have used today it’s six thousand milliamp hour battery is ludicrous actually earning it the best battery phones so far in 2021 and its speakers are so punchy that you will want to stop whatever it is you’re doing and just lose yourself in them its only problem comes from the fact that it’s a pretty specialized device like it takes a certain kind of user to want to carry a phone of such monumental proportions tolerate some slightly outdated looking bezels and use a camera system that feels noticeably lacking but if you are that user then bob’s your uncle but what kind of surprised me almost as much as phone number one is going to surprise you is that even though asus has been dominating the gaming space for a while now i don’t think they’re the best value anymore enter the lenovo legion phone dual 2. it almost exactly matches the rog in specs but you get 50 more ram and 100 more storage by default it has fans built inside of it instead of needing this external attachment and somehow it’s cheaper the hardware on this phone is so good for the money that they can’t be making a lot of profit but it is a little let down on the software front like the camera image processing isn’t getting the best out of the camera hardware you have here still though this is an a-grade phone and is also the winner of best gaming phone on the market right now okay you might remember from my best phones of 2020 video that one of the winners was a bit of a surprise the zenfone 7 pro.

It was just this no-nonsense combination of a great price huge battery seamless uninterrupted screen and a capable camera that can also double as basically the greatest selfie machine of all time well this is basically the successor to that so as you can probably imagine it’s a very good phone but it’s no longer one of the best simply because all they’ve done is taken last year’s zenfone 7 and given it a slight spec bump and that’s just not enough against companies who are really pushing still though i’m willing to bet that if you ever get to try this selfie camera it is so good that you have to smile alrighty you might remember my video on this guy the vivo x60 pro plus to be honest i’ve used a decent amount of vivo devices over the years and i’ve always liked them but i’ve never really loved them they kind of developed a reputation for a garish software overlay and crazy levels of skin beautification in the cameras but the viva x60 pro plus is the first viva phone i’ve used that understands sophistication did i just change my entire outfit to film one sentence maybe aesthetically it treads the line well between looking fashionable and looking like it means business and everything from the gaming performance to the camera performance is very close to the best you can buy and it helps that the camera is just super fun to use too it’s slightly let down by a mono speaker and middle of the line battery but that doesn’t stop me loving it number 13.

This could be an unlucky one again [Music] fashion fruit it’s the iphone 12 pro this is a great phone but the reason that it’s not higher up on the list is that the way i see it it’s just an optional extra to the 12. it offers a few fairly minor features like a lidar scanner for better augmented reality and a two times telephoto lens i appreciate these but for the majority of consumers the only notable difference will be the extra storage it comes with the fact that it’s heavier and the fact that it has a matte finish it’s basically the iphone to get if you want to spend a bit more than the base but you don’t want to get the max sized one and that leads me onto the base iphone 12 because this phone hugely benefits by how similar it is to the 12 pro you know just before they launched i was using both these phones at the same time and i couldn’t even tell you how many moments i had where i’d pick one off the table use it for a good five minutes only to realize i picked the wrong one up this phone is just as powerful the screen is almost identical you still get all the same ios features it’s just 200 cheaper the only reason this isn’t higher up on the list is that it only comes with a 60 hertz display versus 120 or the 144 we’ve started seeing now and it only starts with 64 gigs of storage which is going to end up being more like 50 by the time you factored in the size of the operating system so still an a grade and just above that i would put samsung space flagships [Music] there we go the s21 and s21 plus are not the most exciting devices .

they don’t do anything particularly new or groundbreaking in fact in a lot of ways they’re a complete side grade from last year’s s20 phones but they bring in a lot of smaller quality of life improvements they’ve had a redesign that takes them from some of the worst looking flagships to some of the best in my books and in a bit of a surprise turn of events they’re cheaper than last year’s okay we’re in the top 10. and if you are enjoying this video then a sub to the channel would be mighty i realized that for the last month over 50 of you watching have been subscribed so thank you this is the xiaomi me 11. it’s great it’s cheaper than the base s21 in just about every region but the us and spec wise it’s more of a match for the galaxy s21 plus which is two hundred dollars more than that [Music] the best way to think about the mi 11 is there’s a high-end flagship all around with the best in-class display the only potential hurdle is xiaomi’s miui software skin which to be honest i like but i’ve showed it to enough people who don’t to know that not everyone does and just above the me11 is not today milo then we’ve got the oneplus 9 now this phone had a bit of a rough launch i think what happened is that oneplus basically spent an entire month before it came out hyping up their collaboration with hasselblad giving us never-ending teasers about how it was going to revolutionize photography but then when the phones actually arrived hasselblad might as well not have been involved you couldn’t tell and so justifiably most reviewers came down pretty hard on this but a few weeks later i got a call from oneplus they said we watched your camera comparison we took your feedback on board and we’ve improved them don’t get me wrong this didn’t immediately make it a dream camera system but for its price now it is a good camera system and even without optical image stabilization it takes crisp smooth video plus of course being a oneplus phone you get fast bloat free software with guaranteed updates it’s a little more focused on exactly what the user needs with no unnecessary extras and because of this they’ve managed to keep to their tradition of staying more affordable than their competitors definitely a grade phone then we’ve got the oneplus 9 pro which is the 9’s more expensive

counterpart and the reason it’s above it is that if you have the budget it’s worth it it’s basically the oneplus 9 but with all those little bits that had to be trimmed put back into it it’s not quite an ultraphone but it is a fully fleshed out flagship and in my eyes the best flagship phone under one thousand dollars okay we can’t make a list of the best phones without including the pixel 4a it was google’s mid-range phone from 2020 and i usually try and refrain from recommending last year’s options when a new one may well be around the corner but given that this is available now for 299 dollars compared to 3.49 it was launched at given that it’s only gotten better since it launched and the because it’s a google made phone it’ll most likely still get updates all the way till android 14. i wouldn’t hesitate in still recommending it the pixel 4a should not be as good as it is no part of this phone’s spec sheet is impressive in 2021 but it’s just carried by phenomenal software not to mention it’s a really enjoyable size the bezels are nice and even and it’s powerful enough that i don’t think you’ll be worrying about speed but as much as i do like the pixel i’d be lying if i said that that was the best compact phone you can get because that award goes to the zenfone 8. you might remember how i completely grilled the way it looks in my full review and i stand by it but that doesn’t change the fact that like the iphone 12 mini this is a flagship phone through and through but unlike that phone this one has a great battery too this is pretty much the only small phone where the fact that it’s small has no negative consequences so this is an a plus in my books but now we’re on to the big boy phones in fifth place is the iphone 12 pro max it’s a phone that providing you have the budget and the palm size it’s an easy win i totally agree that it’s not the most exciting phone in the world but the reason that this is still the main phone i use on a day-to-day basis is that it’s supremely reliable the combination of ios levels of optimization with the best hardware you can get on an iphone means that if i want to post an instagram story i know it’s going to look good if i want to send a whatsapp voice note i know it’s going to sound good and the battery is going to reliably get me.

through any day i throw at it also this phone is so strong that it’s the first i’ve ever used caseless i’ve dropped this thing enough times and seen it come back unscathed enough times that i just don’t worry about it anymore the only two things that do sting a little are the fact that it’s distinctly uncomfortable to hold and that it’s the only phone even close to this price bracket that doesn’t have a high refresh rate screen now slightly better than even that is why is samsung’s top end phone i think the galaxy s21 ultra is genuinely the most refined polished device they’ve ever released it’s a big visual upgrade over the s20 ultra plus a long list of subtle corrections which is exactly what that phone needed it’s taken it from incredibly capable with mixed delivery to incredibly capable with strong delivery i like the way it looks i like the way it feels and providing you’ve got a hand big enough to hold it i have no reservations in recommending it and that leaves us with the best overall flagship phone if money was no object and this award is going to the xiaomi me 11 ultra i could spend 15 minutes straight just talking about this phone actually that’s what i did a few weeks ago i’ll leave the video linked up here but fundamentally the summary is this thing is a nuclear missile xiaomi looked at what samsung was doing and built a phone squarely targeted straight at it it takes samsung’s best features and one-ups it in almost every aspect for the same price i wouldn’t say it completely invalidates samsung’s s21 ultra i think this is still a nicer looking phone i still think this has a more consistent camera but for a true power user you just can’t get more than this on a phone so what on earth can be better than that well we’ve got two more phones and they’re not trying to be the highest end phones you can buy but they’re focused on value and their value proposition is just so unbelievably good that it makes you want to take a chair sit down and just have a think what are other companies doing so in second place is the redmi note 10 pro

Now for those of you who don’t know redmi is a spin-off brand of xiaomi who have basically built a reputation for one of the highest spec to price ratios on the market so in this case we have a 108 megapixel camera a 120 hertz display 5020 million power battery and it’s 279 this thing is stupid levels of value it does have ads in the software but you can turn them off and i mean look these are the kinds of photos i’m taking on this phone it’s not even funny don’t get me wrong you will know when you’re using it that it’s not a thousand dollar flagship but it outperforms its price so severely that i’m gonna have to give this an a plus plus in terms of value and that leaves us with number one the most worth it phone of 2021 and i guess by implication the most worth it phone to have ever released it’s the poco f3 just like redmi poco is yet another value-centric spin-off company of xiaomi but the difference with this phone is that it’s less about camera and it’s more about processing power so in this case for 350 you get a 120 hertz amoled display you get a 4 520 milliamp hour battery but the kind of crown jewel here is a snapdragon 870 chip it’s not the absolute bleeding edge you can get but it’s an overclocked version of last year’s flagship 865. for this price that is ridiculous levels of performance it makes the google pixel 4a look like it belongs in a museum and while this isn’t google pixel quality software no amount of software is going to change the fact that it’s twice as powerful and i think what makes this phone particularly impressive is the fact that it takes more than a cursory glance to even realize that it’s not a flagship it still has a glass back it still has decent haptics and it’s just crazy that i can play the most demanding games on the entire android platform at nearly their highest settings on a phone that costs barely a quarter of what the highest n1’s do and so the poco f3 earns not just my best affordable phone award but also my overall best value phone award.

if you wanted to go even cheaper you can get the poco m3 pro which is fantastic value or something like the real me 8 for 200 but my general recommendation is that if you can try to spend a bit more you will get a lot more okay couple of things to mention here there’s been no lg on this list because sad to say but lg has finally left the smartphone market there’s been no sony on this list because at the time of filming they haven’t quite launched their next xperia 1 mark iii and also to be honest thus far i have not tested a single sony phone that i thought for a mainstream market was better than the competition but open to changing my mind on that in the future though and finally i decided to keep foldables out of this video too just because as a category of phones i feel like they’re much harder to rank under the same criteria okay here’s something to think about for a second your location your operating system every hardware detail of the device you’re on right now as well as all your past browsing history these are things that you’d want to keep to yourself right well this is how much information a website immediately knows about you the second you click on it and to be honest if it’s a website you trust then it’s fine but there’s probably a fair few that you visit that you wouldn’t want to know this and that’s where surfsharkvpn comes in as far as i’ve seen it’s the most affordable way to keep yourself anonymous it’s just over two dollars a month for as many people and devices as you want but there’s another perk because you can effectively pick the location that you want your device to come from i can for example pick the us and watch us tv shows you can effectively have the exclusives for every single region without leaving your home like if i want to watch batman the dark knight i just switch to canada and i can do that so check the link in the description and use the code boss that’ll give you 83 off and an extra three months for free if you enjoyed this video then do consider checking out my zenfone 8 review the best compact phone i’ve ever used or for something a bit more chill 20 inventions that i think are completely next level thanks for watching my name is aaron this is mr who’s the boss i’ll catch you in the next one

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