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Best Samsung phones 2021: finding the Galaxy phone for you

Included in this guide:

A selection of the best Samsung phones including Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (left), Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (Image credit: Samsung)

There are so many excellent Samsung phones that even if you’ve decided you’re only interested in the South Korean phone maker, choosing between the best Samsung phones can be tricky - but we're here to help.

This year alone we’ve had the flagship Samsung Galaxy S21 range, along with the foldable Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, and more, so there's a lot to choose from. The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is likely to land before long as well, and then before you know it we’ll be in 2022 with our eyes on the Samsung Galaxy S22 range.

But some of the top options are older too, especially if you're after an affordable Samsung phone, so we've included phones fit for almost anyone.

When buying any phone it's worth considering not just the price, but also the screen size - do you want a big immersive display or a small one that's easier to use one-handed? Battery life is key to many people too, as you probably don't want to run out of juice before the day is up.

Then consider what else matters to you, from photography to sheer power. If you don't plan to take a lot of pictures or do much more than use social media, then you might not need to spend out on the best options in these areas.

To make things easier, we've included an overview and a specs list for each, and we’ve highlighted the key good and bad points, so you can make a quick decision as to whether each phone is a good fit for you.

But if you’re open to other brands then make sure to check out some of our other best smartphone guides too, many of which are linked below.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are fast approaching at the end of November and we're expecting to see big discounts during this time. Keep an eye on the best phone Black Friday deals for the best offers on Samsung phones with the best sim only Black Friday deals also potentially saving you some money. 

Best Samsung phones 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone

Specifications
Release date: January 2021
Weight: 227g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3200
CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
RAM: 12GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP
Reasons to buy
+The best camera zoom+Mesmerizing design
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive at any level-No microSD card slot

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s top, premium flagship for 2021, and what a phone it is. For the first time Samsung has offered S Pen support on an S-range handset here, meaning that you can optionally get the Galaxy Note range’s best feature.

But even without that, this is a stunning handset, with a brilliant quad-lens camera capable of 10x optical zoom. In fact, in our review we called it the best camera zoom on any readily available Android phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra also looks great, with a smooth Gorilla Glass back that has a matte finish that looks better than the reflective Galaxy S20 range, while around the front there’s a curved edge-to-edge 6.8-inch screen.

And speaking of that screen, for the first time on a Samsung phone you get both a QHD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate at the same time. And being a high-end Samsung screen this is one of the best around.

There’s also oodles of power of course, and while obviously very expensive, this actually has a cheaper starting price than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra did at launch.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone for flagship buyers on a budget

Specifications
Release date: January 2021
Weight: 169
Dimensions: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.2-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic, versatile camera+Cheaper than the Galaxy S20
Reasons to avoid
-No microSD support-Screen isn’t the best

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is the most basic and affordable of the Galaxy S21 range, but it has a lot going for it beyond its relatively low price.

The triple-lens camera is highly versatile, including the three core lenses that we’d expect from a premium smartphone – namely a main one, a telephoto, and an ultra-wide. They all perform well too.

There’s also high-end power, solid battery life, and an AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. At 6.2 inches it’s also a lot more compact than the rest of the S21 range, so it’s ideal if you don’t want a massive phone.

And beyond being the most affordable of the range, the Samsung Galaxy S21 is actually a step down in price from its predecessor, so it’s a bit of a bargain – though to achieve that the screen resolution has been dropped to Full HD+, and the back of the phone is ‘Glasstic’ rather than actual glass.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 review

A Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone if you don't need Ultra excess

Specifications
Release date: January 2021
Weight: 200g
Dimensions: 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Battery: 4,800mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous new design+Great performance
Reasons to avoid
-No microSD support-Expensive (but justified)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is perhaps the least interesting of the three Samsung Galaxy S21 models – lacking the sheer excess of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, while costing a chunk more than the Samsung Galaxy S21, but this is still a top handset.

It offers a much larger screen than its cheaper sibling, at 6.7 inches, and it packs a glass back, where the standard Galaxy S21 makes do with plastic. It also has a larger 4,800mAh battery – though with the larger display that extra battery power is necessary.

Elsewhere it’s a very similar phone, but that’s no bad thing, as it has a top-end chipset, plenty of RAM, a capable triple-lens camera, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and a stylish design.

It’s certainly expensive, particularly considering the display is only 1080 x 2400, and the lack of a microSD card slot means you might want to shell out for a 256GB model, but these are minor complaints about what’s otherwise an excellent phone.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone for stylus fans

Specifications
Release date: August 2020
Weight: 208g
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.9-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+5x camera zoom crushes it+New useful S Pen features
Reasons to avoid
-‘Ultra’ expensive-Slower charging

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is a beast of a handset with a beast of a price, but it has the specs to match, with a 108MP main camera, a 12MP periscope one, and a 12MP ultra-wide one, while the screen is a massive 6.9-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED one with 496 pixels per inch and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

But the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra doesn’t stop there, as it also stands out from rivals thanks to its S Pen stylus, letting you doodle on the screen, sync voice recordings with your hand-written notes, and more.

Plus, the phone also has top-end power of course, including 12GB of RAM and either a Snapdragon 865 Plus or Exynos 990 chipset. Which you get depends on where you are in the world, but they’re both exceedingly powerful.

There’s also 5G, loads of storage, a premium design, an in-screen fingerprint scanner, and a big battery, so this is a phone that almost has it all – though the charging could be faster and it’s slightly disappointing that you can’t use both a 120Hz refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution at the same time.

The biggest stumbling block though is simply the price, but if you have the money and want everything that the Note 20 Ultra is offering, then it’s a fantastic choice.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 on a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best foldable Samsung phone

Specifications
Release date: August 2021
Weight: 271g
Dimensions: 158.2 x 67.1 x 14.4-16mm / 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.2-inch / 7.6-inch
Resolution: 2268 x 832 / 2208 x 1768
CPU: Snapdragon 888
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 4,400mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP / 4MP
Reasons to buy
+S Pen support – finally+More durable design
Reasons to avoid
-Still very expensive-Cameras could be better

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung’s best foldable phone yet, thanks in part to its support for the S Pen stylus, which makes it a great device for sketching and handwriting on.

That’s helped by the massive 7.6-inch foldable screen, which we found big enough to even work on spreadsheets from. We found the 6.2-inch cover display a bit more cramped, but both screens have a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes them pleasant to interact with.

We were also impressed by the durability of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, and it’s not just sturdier than before, it also packs water resistance. Add to that a top-tier chipset and this is almost a perfect foldable – though its high price still holds it back.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review

A Samsung Galaxy S20 FE against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung mid-ranger

Specifications
Release date: October 2020
Weight: 190g
Dimensions: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990
RAM: 6GB/8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 8MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Can take great pictures+Powerful processor
Reasons to avoid
-Not very ‘lite’ in price-Cheap-feeling design

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition is basically a Samsung Galaxy S20 Lite, but it retains many of the Galaxy S20’s best bits.

The highlights are its screen, camera, and chipset. For the first of those you get a 6.5-inch 1080 x 2400 Super AMOLED screen with a silky smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

The camera meanwhile is a triple-lens one, consisting of a 12MP main snapper, a 12MP ultra-wide one, and an 8MP telephoto one, ensuring all the main photography bases are covered. In our review we also found that these lenses performed well.

Finally, the chipset is either the Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 – the former is what you get with the 5G version of the phone, while the latter comes with the 4G model, but both are high-end. The build could be better and the price is perhaps a bit steep, but otherwise the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition really is a fan pleaser.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition review

A Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone for those who don't need the latest model

Specifications
Release date: March 2020
Weight: 186g
Dimensions: 161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3200
CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP + ToF 3D
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Powerful yet sleek+Much-improved zoom
Reasons to avoid
-Ever-higher price-Improvements are mostly iterative

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus sat at the top of this list throughout 2020, only being knocked further down now that the S21 range is here.

So unsurprisingly this is an absolutely fantastic phone. The design isn’t massively changed from the Galaxy S10 Plus, but most other elements have been upgraded. The screen now has a silky