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Best Samsung phones 2021: finding the right Galaxy for you

Best Samsung phone 2021
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, Note 20 Ultra and S10 Plus (Image credit: Samsung)

When it comes to the best Samsung phone, there are a lot of different devices to choose from. In recent times, the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 range has led to both the standard model and the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra joining our rankings.

There's a decent chance we'll shake this list up in the future given all the phones Samsung has in store for 2021. We've only recently got our hands on the budget-friendly (for a 5G device) Samsung Galaxy A52 5G and there's also the Samsung Galaxy A72 vying for a place on our list – both affordable options with the latest mid-range specs. If you can't wait for those though, or you want to spend a little more on a premium Samsung device, there are plenty of other top options – namely, flagships from yesteryear – we've listed below.

Samsung now offers an ideal handset for almost everyone and every budget. The range includes flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, to cutting-edge foldable phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, and more affordable handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S10e that are still powerful handsets years after its release.

You’ll find all of these and many more in our list, ranked from best to worst. However, don’t just buy the top-rated model, as you might find one of the others suits you better depending on your needs. All of these phones come highly recommended, and for each device, we’ve included an overview and specs list, so you can see at a glance what makes them shine.

If you’re after a new Samsung phone, read on for a comprehensive guide, and make sure to check back often. 2021 looks like it's going to be a big year for Samsung with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy S21 FE and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 looking like they could change up the list even further.

Best Samsung phones 2021

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

A top tier smartphone, and it takes our best crown

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 more: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: TechRadar)

2. Samsung Galaxy S21

Not the best of the S series, but nevertheless great

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 more: Samsung Galaxy S21 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Ultra done right

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. According to our review it has the best-looking screen of any phone and the best camera of any Android phone – one which is also brilliant fun to use, thanks to its 5x optical zoom, fun filters, and slick camera interface. Though both have arguably been bettered now by the S21 Ultra.

The camera here includes a 108MP main sensor, 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 S20 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

4. Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is just right

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-smooth 120Hz refresh rate, it packs a more powerful chipset, and its cameras have had a big boost.

The most exciting lens is its 64MP telephoto one, facilitating a 3x hybrid optical zoom, but there are also 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide ones, as well as a depth sensor.

Add in a massive 4,500mAh battery, 5G support, and all the things you expect from a Samsung flagship - like water resistance and an in-screen fingerprint scanner - and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is clearly one of the very best phones from any company, not just the South Korean giant.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Future)

5. Samsung Galaxy S20

The most one-hand-friendly version of Samsung's 2020 flagship

Specifications
Release date: March 2020
Weight: 163g
Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.2-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3200
CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990
RAM: 8GB/12GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Good camera upgrade+Samsung’s best display yet
Reasons to avoid
-Quite expensive-Lowest spec in the range

While slightly less exciting than the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra, the standard Galaxy S20 has a lower price going for it, as well as a more pocket-friendly size.

Though at 6.2 inches this is still far from a small phone, and with a QHD+ resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, and one of the best quality AMOLED screens yet put on a phone, the display is worth shouting about.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 also has an impressive camera setup, headlined by a 64MP telephoto sensor, which is joined by a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide one – so it misses out only on the S20 Plus’s depth sensor.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 is also available in a 5G flavor, has a large 4,000mAh battery, and top-end power, thanks to either a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 chipset (depending on where in the world you buy it).

Read our Samsung Galaxy S20 review

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

(Image credit: Future)

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus

This is a top Samsung phablet

Specifications
Release date: August 2019
Weight: 196g
Dimensions: 162.3 x 77.2 x 7.9mm
OS: Android 9
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3040
CPU: Snapdragon 855 / Exynos 9825
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB
Battery: 4,300mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 16MP + ToF 3D
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Handy S Pen stylus+The best screen on a smartphone
Reasons to avoid
-Supremely expensive-Camera isn't 'the best'

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus might have been superseded by the Note 20 Ultra, but it's still one of the best stylus-toting phones available. It comes with a massive screen, powerful processor, and four rear cameras.

The highlight of this device is the aforementioned S Pen, a stylus that helps you do loads with your device. It isn't just used for drawing and taking notes; a range of gesture controls help you get the most out of your handset.

Yes, the phone is expensive (prohibitively so, to some), but every penny you pay goes straight into one of the top Samsung phones about, and one of the best handsets full stop.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

(Image credit: Future)

7. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Basically the Samsung Galaxy S20 Lite

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 a 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

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

(Image credit: TechRadar)

8. Samsung Galaxy Note 20

Not the best choice, but still good

Specifications
Release date: August 2020
Weight: 192g
Dimensions: 161.6 x 75.2 x 8.3mm
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB
Battery: 4,300mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Versatile three-camera array+S-Pen is brilliant, as ever
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for a phone with a plastic back-Only has a 60Hz display

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 is less exciting than the Note 20 Ultra. In fact, given its plastic back and FHD+ screen, it’s rather less premium than you might expect from a handset in the Note range, but it’s still well worth considering if you want a relatively affordable phone with an S Pen.

And this phone has more than just the S Pen going for it. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 also has high-end power, thanks to its Snapdragon 865 Plus or Exynos 990 chipset (depending on region) and 8GB of RAM. Plus its triple-lens camera (with a 12MP main, 64MP telephoto, and 12MP ultra-wide sensor) allows for versatile photography.

Despite its lesser specs this is still far from an affordable handset, but if you can’t stretch to the Note 20 Ultra and you want something newer than the Note 10, then it remains a good choice.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Future)

9. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

The most futuristic phone of 2020

Specifications
Release date: August 2020
Weight: 282g
Dimensions: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm (unfolded)
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 7.6 and 6.23-inch
Resolution: 1768 x 2208 and 816 x 2260
CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB/512GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP + 10MP
Reasons to buy
+Much bigger front Cover Display+Refined second-gen hinge
Reasons to avoid
-As expensive as phones come-Lacks Samsung’s best cameras

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the company’s best foldable yet at the time of writing, improving on the original Galaxy Fold in a number of ways, and offering a more premium experience than the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip.

This really is a tablet and a phone all in one, and it looks and feels suitably futuristic, while also packing a much bigger (and therefore more useful) Cover Display than its predecessor. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is power packed as well, and has the same 120Hz refresh rate as other premium Samsung phones.

However, it lacks Samsung’s best cameras and makes most smartphones look cheap, which is why we can’t rank it higher. But if Samsung can fix those issues for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 then it might have a masterpiece on its hands.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

(Image credit: Samsung)

10. Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

A likeable and solid choice

Specifications
Release date: March 2021
Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 75.1 x 8.4 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Snapdragon 750G 5G
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Battery: 4,500mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 12MP + 5MP + 5MP
Front camera: 32MP
Reasons to buy
+Solidly built+Good display
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre power-Lacks excitement

A solidly dependable choice for a mid-range handset, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G doesn't offer anything you'll love but with a high-refresh rate screen and a better rear camera than elsewhere in the A series, you'll appreciate what it can do.

And, of course, there's 5G connectivity at a good price, as well as a solid design that may feel a little cheap, but also feels robust and workable. 

The main highlight here is the Super AMOLED screen that looks fantastic, especially when watching videos, so streaming fans should take note of this one.

Read the full Samsung Galaxy A52 5G review