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Best smartphone 2021: the 15 top mobile phones tested and ranked

The best smartphone of 2021
A selection of the best smartphones right now (Image credit: Apple, Samsung, OnePlus)

Looking for a new phone? Our best smartphone ranking is here to give you a definitive answer on the next phone you should buy. We've put together this list from our wide variety of reviews of handsets from a variety of manufacturers in the Android and iPhone space.

If you already have your mobile OS allegiance set, you may want to check out either our ranking of the best Android phones or best iPhones. If what's on offer in our best smartphone list is a little too pricey for your taste, then don't fear, as we've also got a list of the best cheap phones right now.

Our best smartphone list has undergone some major changes in the last few months with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.

We also expect to see major changes throughout 2021 in this list with rumors of upcoming phones such as the iPhone 13, OnePlus 9, Sony Xperia 1 III, Oppo Find X3 Pro and more. Plus, we've just seen the Xiaomi Mi 11 debut and that may soon enter this list.

We know that it's not all about the high-cost, super spec phones all the time though so we've made you a handy list of all the top smartphones that you can get on the market right now, assessing what really matters to you.

2020 saw an almost complete overhaul of this list with brand new devices entering the top 15 including the Samsung Galaxy S20OnePlus 8 ProiPhone SE and, most recently, the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and OnePlus 8T.

We test these phones rigorously through our review process, making sure that we check every angle and feature - but most importantly, considering whether they've got a decent battery, great screen, strong design and a cracking camera.

Then, perhaps most importantly, we consider the price too. Not everyone can afford (or even wants) a supercar-like handset in their pocket at all times, so we've ensured to give you a full ranking.

Want to know the best part of this list for you? Our best phone list has never looked better. Let's get started on our list of the top 15 handsets. You can see them quickly below, and then we're set to talk you through the very best phone in the world right now. What could it be?

Best phone at a glance:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  2. OnePlus 8 Pro
  3. iPhone 12 mini / iPhone 12
  4. Samsung Galaxy S21 / S21 Plus
  5. iPhone 12 Pro / iPhone 12 Pro Max
  6. Oppo Find X2 Pro
  7. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  8. Motorola Edge Plus
  9. OnePlus 8T
  10. Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20 Plus
  11. Xiaomi Mi Note 10
  12. iPhone SE (2020)
  13. Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus
  14. iPhone 11
  15. Sony Xperia 1 II

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The 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 our best smartphone in the world right now, and we think it's a fantastic choice for you with one of the best cameras, phenomenal power, great battery life, a solid design and a whole host of other great features.

The Galaxy S21 Ultra isn't a cheap handset, the price is high for this one, but if you're looking for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2021 you will be hard pressed to do better than this latest from Samsung.

Screen: The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features a top 6.8-inch screen with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and a Quad HD resolution. This is one of the best smartphone displays on the market.

Battery life: The Samsung S21 Ultra's battery life is solid, and we found it'd often see us through a whole day from a full charge. If you're playing around with the 120Hz refresh rate, battery life is likely to be lesser but it's a top choice if you're after a long lasting phone.

Note the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn't come with a charger in the box though, so you'll have to use your existing one or buy one separately.

Camera: Samsung's 108MP camera on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is going to be the highlight for many, and the camera doesn't disappoint on this phone. Like its predecessor, you can take 100x zoom photography, but it's far improved here over the Galaxy S20 Ultra with two cameras working to do the heavy lifting.

Mini verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra won't be for everyone with its high price, but it's the ultimate smartphone you can buy right now taking our crown for the best smartphone money can buy. Be sure to read our full review before making your final decision, but if you're after one of the best overall smartphone experiences we believe you'll find it here with Samsung's latest.

Read more: Galaxy S21 Ultra review
Price comparison:
The best Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra deals