Looking for a brand new smartphone? Our best phone 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 operating system 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 you may want to check out our ranking of the best cheap phones
Our best smartphone list has undergone some major changes in the last few months with the introduction of them OnePlus 9, OnePlus 9 Pro, Oppo Find X3 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 11, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus.
There are many more upcoming new phones in 2021 with the Google Pixel 6 expected by the end of the year. Apple also just revealed the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro that may appear in this list in the near future.
We know that it's not all about the high-cost, super spec phones all the time, so we've made you a handy list of all the top smartphones that you can get on the market right now and we assess what really matters to you.
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 2021: which smartphone is for you?
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.
It 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.
The battery life is also solid, and we found it'd often see us through a whole day from a full charge. Note the 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.
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.
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.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is a top-tier flagship phone and one that improves on the main weakness of previous OnePlus handsets – their cameras. This is a phone that can compete with the other best phones, and some may even prefer its camera to the other phones on this list.
It has a 6.7-inch screen, which will likely impress you with its 'Fluid Display' that sets the refresh rate to 120Hz. Not only does it make game look better, but simply scrolling the web looks smoother. You'll also find nice upscaling and HDR10+ here.
It doesn't offer the absolute best battery life we've seen on a smartphone, but it features a 4,500mAh cell that is set to last you a full day from a single charge. It also has great fast charging and wireless charging features.
Thanks to a new Hasselblad partnership and a ‘freeform’ ultra-wide lens, designed to reduce the distortion at the edge of images, the OnePlus 9 Pro is the best OnePlus camera phone. It isn't the absolute best camera phone, but it's a remarkable step up from the company with a great 48MP main camera alongside an 8MP telephoto and 50MP ultrawide.
OnePlus may have focused its attention on the cameras for the OnePlus 9 Pro, but this is an overall incredible smartphone offering top-end power, a great display and most features you'd expect from any other phone you'll find on this list. Battery life isn't the absolute best, and it's remarkably expensive considering OnePlus' history in the smartphone market but it has earned its place this high on our best smartphone list because it's the overall package.
The iPhone 12 Pro is remarkably similar to the iPhone 12, and that coupled with the higher price means it may not be for everyone, but money aside it’s certainly the better phone.
The iPhone 12 Pro Max, however, has a few added extras that make it the best possible choice if money is no object and you're willing to have a big phone. This is a large phone with a 6.7-inch screen, but it does mean you get better battery life.
The iPhone 12 Pro has a great 6.1-inch OLED screen. It’s one of the best out there, but it’s not much better than the iPhone 11 Pro’s, and there’s only a 60Hz refresh rate. If you want an even bigger display, opt for the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The iPhone 12 Pro has acceptable battery life, but it’s not great while the Pro Max has better battery that will certainly see you through a full day on a single charge. You’ll be charging daily – and there’s no charging block in the box, though wireless charging is at least supported.
With 12MP main, ultra-wide and telephoto snappers, along with a LiDAR scanner, the iPhone 12 Pro has a versatile camera setup, and one that’s better in low light than its predecessor’s snapper assortment.
The iPhone 12 Pro isn’t a big upgrade on either its predecessor or the standard iPhone 12, but it's still one of the very best iPhones right now. If you want to save some money, you won’t be missing out on much with the basic iPhone 12 – while for the ultimate model there’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max. If you're willing to spend on it, you'll be getting the very best iPhone with the Pro Max.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 and Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus aren't the height of spec and prowess as its predecessors used to be - the Samsung Galaxy S20 used to sit at the top of this list - and instead Samsung's Ultra handset is taking the limelight.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 and its bigger sibling are trying to do something differently, and both are remarkably cheaper than the Galaxy S20 range was at launch. Both still offer a phenomenal smartphone experience, and with a lower price it'll be a top choice for many.
Much has been said about Samsung's switch to Full HD for the Galaxy S21, but in our testing we didn't notice the knock down in resolution much unless we were testing the phone side by side with a QHD display. With a 120Hz refresh rate and great brightness, the Galaxy S21's screen will satisfy many and if you're after a larger option you'll find the Plus is built for you with its 6.7-inch screen.
The battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S21 will last you a full day from a single charge, and its 4,000mAh cell means you'll get a lot of usage out of the handset without having to recharge the phone. We found the S21 Plus offers the longer battery life though with its 4,800mAh cell.
The Galaxy S21's camera is much the same as the Galaxy S20, but a few software tweaks have been included from Samsung that make it just that touch better. Overall, this isn't as phenomenal as the Galaxy S21 Ultra but for most just wanting to shoot the odd snap, this will suit you perfectly.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 will be the perfect smartphone for many with its great mix of solid spec, a great design and the fact it's cheaper than the Galaxy S21 Ultra as well as its predecessors. If you own the Samsung Galaxy S20 we wouldn't recommend buying this, but for others this will be the perfect smartphone. If you need a slightly longer lasting battery and a larger display, also consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (even though its specs are remarkably similar).
The iPhone 12 is a similar phone in a lot of ways to the iPhone 11, but with 5G for the first time, coupled with an OLED screen, a more durable build, and increased power, it’s the best iPhone for most people.
Plus, this time it comes with the iPhone 12 mini in tow that allows you to have a smaller screen size for your next iPhone with a 5.4-inch display making it an easy to hold phone.
The upgrade to OLED on the standard iPhone 12 means this has an excellent display – one that can stand up to its pricier siblings, though this is still just a 60Hz screen. The iPhone 12 mini may be small but it features 476 pixels per inch, which is an impressive result.
The iPhone 12’s battery life is solid – and better than its predecessor’s battery, but it still can’t compete with the longest lasting smartphones. You’ll probably be charging it nightly, but at least you have the option to do that without wires. The iPhone 12 mini battery isn't as good, but it's a similar affair.
The dual-lens camera (consisting of 12MP main and ultra-wide snappers) on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini performs well even in low light, but it’s not much of an upgrade on the iPhone 11 here. Though being able to use Night Mode with both sensors is a nice bonus.
The iPhone 12 isn’t the best spec iPhone available, but it strikes a good balance between price and features, packs a class-leading chipset, and has the future proofing of 5G. If you want a smaller device with that same spec, but a lower price, look to the iPhone 12 mini. So if you want an excellent iPhone that won’t completely decimate your bank balance, these are the ones to go for.
Samsung's latest Note entry is the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, with advanced features, a great-looking screen, and special features for the S Pen stylus which comes included in the phone, that give you added versatile ways to use your device.
Sure it's expensive, and pretty huge, and doesn't actually have all the bells and whistles of the Galaxy S20 Ultra or Galaxy S21 Ultra. But those weaknesses are made up for with plenty of advantages.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has one of the best display's on any smartphone, with a 120Hz refresh rate (at FullHD+ resolution) and the option of QHD+ resolution (at a 60Hz refresh rate) - plus at 6.9 inches there's plenty of space for movies, games and productivity apps.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera is... impressive. With 0.5x ultrawide, 1x regular, 5x optical and 50x digital zoom levels, you can get closer to subjects and still get stunning shots.
If the Note 20 Ultra has a slight weak point, it's battery. In the most of the world (basically outside North America) the handset comes with Samsung's Exynos 990 chipset which isn't quite as power efficient - if you push the handset, you'll need to recharge before the day is out.
This is a real top-end phone with top specs in every sector, so if your budget (and hand) can stretch for it, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the power and productivity user's phone of choice.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is the culmination of years of progress from the company, and it's the highest we've ever seen a smartphone from the manufacturer sit in this list of the top phones.
You'll get everything from a top-end processor, a phenomenal display, a power rear camera and much more in the Xiaomi Mi 11.
There's a 6.81-inch display on the Xiaomi Mi 11, and it has a top resolution of 1440 x 3200. This AMOLED panel is one of our favorites on smartphones right now, and it features a 120Hz refresh rate meaning gaming and more is super smooth.
The camera on the Xiaomi Mi 11 sounds great on paper, and while it may not as powerful as we had expected in real life it's a versatile shooter with a 108MP f/1.9 main lens and a 13MP f/2.4 ultra-wide backing it up. There's no telephoto shooter here, though.
The battery life is one of the weaker areas for the Mi 11, but it's not atrocious and we found the phone's 4,600mAh cell would last a full day of normal usage. If you're expecting to use your phone considerably more, you may want to look elsewhere on this list.
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is a great alternative to the normal names you'd expect in this ranking of the very best smartphones. Battery life isn't the best, and there's no telephoto camera but if you're okay with those concessions you may find the Mi 11 is built for you.
Read more: Xiaomi Mi 11 review