The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021

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.

Now is a great time to buy a new top mobile, because the Black Friday phone deals have cut the prices of some of our favorite picks – with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals raging, you can pick up a top device for some money off. Find a few examples of great reductions at the bottom of this intro.

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 over the last year with the introduction of the likes of the Google Pixel 6, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, OnePlus 9 Pro, Oppo Find X3 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

There are always upcoming new phones too, so expect this list to keep being updated.

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.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 1

Google Pixel 6 Pro: save $200 on an unlimited plan + save up to $700 when you trade-in at Verizon
Verizon has one of the best trade-in offers for the Google Pixel 6 Pro this Black Friday. If you take out an unlimited data plan, you’ll automatically save $200. On top of that, you’ll save up to $700 when you trade in a handset. That combination adds up to a pretty hefty discount.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 2

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: $1429 $1099.99, plus free Chromebook 4
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was the last flagship Note device Samsung made, which makes it a really powerful device. with this discount, you can get it for only $1099.99 and, Samsung will also throw in a free Chromebook 4 which is a really impressive free gift to be getting.

Trade-in: get up to $275 off in addition

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 3

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: save $200 on any unlimited plan + a further $1000 with a trade-in at Verizon
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the company’s most expensive but also most powerful devices. Verizon is offering a big trade-in discount here with up to $1000 of available. On top of that, you will also save an extra $200 simply by taking out an unlimited data plan. That’s a big saving, knocking a good chunk off your costs.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 4

OnePlus 9: $729.99 $599 at Amazon
Save $130
– While Samsung often stands out as the best option for Android, OnePlus is an extremely worthy competitor. Amazon is currently offering one of the brand’s best devices – the OnePlus 9 – for only $599. That’s down from $729.99 making it a brilliant saving on this mid-range powerhouse. If you’ve had the Google Pixel 6 in your mind as your next device, this will be possibly its best competitor for price and features.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 5

iPhone 13 Pro Max: at Affordable Mobiles| Three | £119.99 upfront (with code BFTR25) | 100GB data | Unlimited calls and texts | £50 per month
Put off by the high bills found on a lot of the iPhone 13 Pro Max deals out there? This deal from Affordable Mobiles brings your monthly bills down in exchange for a higher upfront cost. Use the code BFTR25 and you’ll only pay £119.99 upfront. Then after that, you’ll be left with monthly bills of just £50. For that price, you’ll get a 100GB of data plan.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 6

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra | SIM-free | £1149 £969
One of Samsung’s most powerful devices, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is rarely discounted. In this Black Friday sale, you can get this flagship handset for just £969. That’s a saving of £150 and one of the cheapest prices we’ve seen on the device since it launched at the start of this year.

The Best 15 top smartphone tested and ranked 2021 7

Google Pixel 6 Pro: at | Vodafone | £75 £50 upfront (with code TR25) | 200GB data | unlimited minutes and texts | £39/pm
If you know you’re more interested in the Google Pixel 6 Pro, this could be the perfect deal for you. It is quite a fair bit more expensive than the regular Pixel 6 but, when you use the code TR25 here, you will only pay £50 upfront. Then, you’re left paying £39 a month for the massive 200GB of data!

Best phone 2021: which smartphone is for you?

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra from the front and back with its screen on

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (Image credit: Samsung)

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

A top tier smartphone, and it takes our best crown

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

The best camera zoom
Mesmerizing design
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.

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.

An iPhone 13 Pro in blue, against a white background

The iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: Apple)

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An iPhone 13 Pro Max in gold, against a white background

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Apple)

2. iPhone 13 Pro / iPhone 13 Pro Max

The best iPhones

Release date: September 2021 | Weight: 204g / 240g | Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.7mm / 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 15 | Screen size: 6.1-inch / 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 / 1284 x 2778 | CPU: A15 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Battery: 3,095mAh / 4,352mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Great performance
Strong battery life
Limited design changes
Notch still too large

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are the best iPhones available at the time of writing, offering more power than ever before, improved cameras, 120Hz refresh rates and surprisingly good battery life.

Whether you choose the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro or 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max you’re getting a sharp OLED screen with a 120Hz variable refresh rate. The continued presence of the notch is annoying, but it’s slightly smaller this time and easy to ignore, especially once you see the overall quality of the display.

Apple has outdone itself with the battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is genuinely great, rather than just being great for an iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro’s isn’t quite as good, but it’s still decent and an upgrade on the iPhone 12 Pro’s life.

The iPhone 13 Pro range includes the same lens types as last year, but with larger pixels and new modes, including an impressive macro mode, and a slightly less significant Cinematic mode. Between all this and their improved low light performance, these cameras are ace.

While the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are the best iPhones, they’re slightly topped by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which has a better design and a more versatile camera, but these phones come very close, and are the obvious choice for iPhone fans. With a higher refresh rate than the iPhone 12 range, a new macro mode and a smaller notch, they aren’t the biggest upgrades but they’re undeniably great.

The OnePlus 9 Pro on a white background showing the front and back of the handset

OnePlus 9 Pro (Image credit: OnePlus)

3. OnePlus 9 Pro

A giant leap for OnePlus photography

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 197g | Dimensions: 163.2 x 73.6 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3216 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 50MP + 8MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP

The best OnePlus camera phone
Very powerful phone
Expensive for OnePlus
No microSD support

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.

Read more: OnePlus 9 Pro review
Price comparison: The best OnePlus 9 Pro deals

An iPhone 13 against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)

4. iPhone 13

The best Apple iPhone bang for your buck

Release date: September 2021 | Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 15 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 | CPU: A15 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: Up to 19 hours | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Strong battery life
Powerful internals
Minimal design changes
No 120Hz screen

The iPhone 13 isn’t as big an upgrade as the iPhone 13 Pro, as it lacks a 120Hz refresh rate, but with oodles of power and good battery life it’s a strong choice if you don’t have a fortune to spend.

With its 6.1-inch 1170 x 2532 OLED display, the iPhone 13 has a bright and clear screen. It doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate, but it does at least have a slightly smaller notch than the iPhone 12.

In our tests the iPhone 13 reliably lasted through a day of use, but not much more. That puts it in fairly average territory, yet it’s still an improvement on many previous iPhones here.

The iPhone 13 lacks a telephoto camera, but its main and ultra-wide perform well, with the former having larger pixels than the iPhone 12’s. With improved image stabilization too, plus some new shooting modes and features, there’s a lot to play with here, and a lot to like.

The iPhone 13 Pro / Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S21 range have the edge over the iPhone 13 when it comes to specs and features, but this standard iPhone model comes close to matching them, especially when it comes to battery life. And actually, it probably has slightly more power than its Android rivals.

Samsung Galaxy S21

The Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image credit: Samsung)

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy S21 / S21 Plus

Not the best of the S series, but nevertheless great

Release date: January 2021 | Weight: 169g/200g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9 mm / 161.5 x 75.6 x 7.8 mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.2-inch / 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB / 256GB | Battery: 4,000mAh / 4,800mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Fantastic, versatile camera
Cheaper than the Galaxy S20
No microSD support
Screen isn’t the best

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).

Xiaomi Mi 11

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

6. Xiaomi Mi 11

Xiaomi’s 2021 flagship

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 196g | Dimensions: 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB | Battery: 4,600mAh | Rear camera: 108MP + 13MP + 5MP | Front camera: 20MP

Great photography modes
Fast performance
Temperamental fingerprint scanner
Weak battery life

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

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A Google Pixel 6 against a white background

The Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Google)

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A Google Pixel 6 Pro against a white background

The Google Pixel 6 Pro (Image credit: Google)

7. Google Pixel 6 / Google Pixel 6 Pro

The best phones for pure Android

Release date: October 2021 | Weight: 207g / 210g | Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm / 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9mm | OS: Android 12 | Screen size: 6.4-inch / 6.71-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 / 1440 x 3120 | CPU: Google Tensor | RAM: 8GB / 12GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: 4,614mAh / 5,003mAh | Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP / 50MP +48MP + 12MP | Front camera: 8MP / 11.1MP

Multitalented camera
Big and beautiful screen
Contentious design
Average battery life

The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the most exciting phones Google has launched in a long time, or arguably ever.

They both have a design that’s unlike any other phones, with a large camera visor and a three-tone color scheme, and they’re just as interesting on the inside, with a Google Tensor chipset that’s been designed and built specifically for these handsets.

Both also excel for taking photos, with a 50MP main and 12MP ultra-wide snapper – along with a 48MP telephoto camera offering 4x optical zoom in the Pixel 6 Pro’s case.

And speaking of the Pixel 6 Pro, this is a true flagship, with a 6.7-inch QHD+ 120Hz screen and 12GB of RAM. The standard Pixel 6 has slightly lesser specs, but also comes in at temptingly affordable price, and both phones run Android 12, with Google’s vision of the software intact.

So they’re a great showcase for Android, but middling battery lives and a chipset that’s not quite a match for rivals in benchmarks stops them ranking higher on this list.

Read more: Google Pixel 6 review | Google Pixel 6 Pro review

Oppo Find X3 Pro

(Image credit: Oppo)

8. Oppo Find X3 Pro

A premium device for a premium price

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 193g | Dimensions: 163.6 x 74 x 8.3mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3216 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 50MP + 13MP + 50MP + 3MP | Front camera: 32MP

Fantastic cameras
Good-looking display
Oppo’s most expensive
No periscope camera

The Oppo Find X3 Pro is a follow-up to one of 2020’s best smartphones – that’s unsurprisingly the Oppo Find X2 Pro – and this handset is the most accomplished smartphone from the manufacturer so far.

You’ll find a top display, processor, camera and much more on the Oppo Find X3 Pro that justifies its high price tag.

The 6.7-inch display on this phone is one of the very best on the market right now. The resolution is fantastic, it’s punchy and you’ll enjoy using the screen on this device if you’re after a large phone.

The Oppo Find X3 Pro is one of the better battery life smartphones out there, and we found in our testing that it’d often last a full day of medium to high use. If you do need to recharge often, it features some top-end fast-charging to make up for it.

There is some fantastic spec here making it one of the very best camera phones you can buy right now. This is where the Oppo Find X3 Pro shines through, and we found the camera was able to take colorful images with plenty of detail.

This isn’t the cheap handset you may expect from Oppo. It’s a top-end phone that’s capable of fighting against the big guns of Apple, Samsung and OnePlus that surround it. If you’re after something different, be sure to read our review below.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra on a white background with its S Pen stylus sitting next to it

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Image credit: Samsung)

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

This productivity powerhouse is the best phone to get stuff done on

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: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 108MP, 12MP, 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Useful S Pen features
Great-looking screen
Slow charging
Huge size

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.

Realme GT

(Image credit: Realme)

10. Realme GT

The first Realme phone on this list

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 186g | Dimensions: 158.5 x 73.3 x 9.1mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.43-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP

Distinctive design
One of the cheapest great phones
Cameras are only okay
Software issues

Realme hasn’t ever featured on our ranking of the best smartphones, until now. This new handset from the company is its best yet, and it features top-end specs that can compete with the very best phones but with an affordable price.

The Realme GT can be difficult to find in the UK, but if you’ve got the determination you’ll likely enjoy what this can offer for an affordable price.

The 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display impressed us on the Realme GT, and while it won’t match the absolute top-tier of smartphone screen technology it’s a great choice for watching video and more.

Expect a solid day of battery life from the Realme GT, and its recharging technology is particularly impressive. If your phone is empty, you can recharge it to full in just over 30 minutes.

The camera is one of the weaker elements of the Realme GT, but bear in mind that this is a cheaper phone and we think you’ll be okay with what this handset is capable of. It features a 64MP main camera, 8MP ultra-wide and a 2MP macro camera.

This is one of the cheapest entries in our ranking of the very best smartphones, and if you’re after something a little different to the rest of the phone market it’s worth considering. Its bold design and affordable price are two key differentiators that make the Realme GT shine.

Read more: Realme GT review

OnePlus 9

(Image credit: OnePlus)

11. OnePlus 9

A great-value option with no major drawbacks

Release date: March 2021 | Weight: 192g | Dimensions: 160 x 74.2 x 8.7mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 888 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 50MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP

Great specs for the cost
Good camera
No telephoto camera
Lack of flagship-material polish

The OnePlus 9 is a lesser phone than the OnePlus 9 Pro in a number of ways, but it’s also quite a bit cheaper, and arguably keeps the soul of its pricier sibling intact.

For one thing it retains the Hasselblad branding (and the camera expertise that goes with that), as well as having the same camera hardware as the OnePlus 9 Pro – minus that phone’s telephoto snapper.

At 1080 x 2400 pixels, the OnePlus 9 doesn’t have the sharpest screen, but it’s sharp enough, and its 120Hz refresh rate coupled with AMOLED tech makes it one of the best displays you’ll get for this sort of money. It’s also quite big at 6.55 inches.

There’s a big 4,500mAh battery in the OnePlus 9, which comfortably lasts a day and charges very quickly, as it supports 65W charging. Plus, there’s wireless charging in here too if you wanted to opt for a charging pad instead.

This is the big upgrade for the OnePlus 9, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of the OnePlus 9 Pro is makes some fantastic true-to-life imagery that you won’t be embarrassed to share with your friends. It features a 48MP wide camera, 50MP ultra-wide and 2MP depth sensor.

The OnePlus 9 is a phone that almost has it all. From its great screen to its high-end chipset, capable cameras, long-lasting battery, and good software. Much like the phones before it, this isn’t the absolute best choice but it’s very good for the price.

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iPhone 12 Pro

The iPhone 12 Pro (Image credit: Apple)

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iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 12 Pro Max (Image credit: Future)

12. iPhone 12 Pro / iPhone 12 Pro Max

A great iPhone pair

Weight: 189g / 228g | Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mm / 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm | OS: iOS 15 | Screen size: 6.1-inch / 6.7-inch | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 / 1284 x 2778 | CPU: A14 Bionic | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: Unknown | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Varied color choices
Clear and vibrant screen
No charging block in box
5G still an expensive luxury

The iPhone 12 Pro takes everything great about the iPhone 12 and elevates it. Then there’s the iPhone 12 Pro Max that offers better battery life and a slightly more powerful camera as well as a huge screen. The extra for the iPhone 12 Pro may not be worth the notable price hike, but this phone pairing was undeniably the best Apple had released until the iPhone 13 range arrived.

Apple’s 6.1-inch OLED screen on the iPhone 12 Pro really grabbed our attention – it’s fantastic for video streaming and gaming, even if it’s set to 60Hz while other phones are pushing 90Hz and even 120Hz refresh rates. Yes, the notch cut out at the top is still here, but we find it to be easy to ignore after a while, even as other phones do just fine with punch-holes in displays.

This is some of the best battery life we’ve ever experienced on an iPhone, with further optimizations within iOS and a larger cell inside the phone itself. It’s still not game-changing, but it’s better than other Apple handsets and the iPhone 12 Pro Max is particularly notable.

The triple camera setup on the iPhone 12 Pro is fantastic. While the three rear cameras aren’t too different than the ones in the iPhone 11 Pro, save for the added LiDAR sensor that supposedly enables portrait mode-style shots even in Night Mode. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is the one to go for though if you want the very best camera on an Apple device.

The iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max are very powerful, and they’re also the very pricey. While the same amount of money could buy you a Samsung phone with a bigger screen and more storage at the base level, most iOS users don’t want to deal with Android. Instead, they can look forward to a few key upgrades over the iPhone 11 Pro, like 5G and MagSafe for clipping on accessories (as well as wireless chargers) easily and securely.

Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus (Image credit: Samsung)

13. Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20 Plus

Previously the best two smartphones in town

Release date: March 2020 | Weight: 163g/186g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm/161.9 x 73.7 x 7.8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.2-inch/6.7-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990 | RAM: 8GB/12GB | Storage: 128GB (S20) or 128GB/256GB/512GB (S20 Plus) | Battery: 4,000mAh/4500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

A top screen
Excellent cameras
Still quite high price
Iterative improvements

The Samsung Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus were previously the best smartphones money could buy, but we’ve now pushed these further down our list since the introduction of the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra.

These two handsets remain in our best of list because they’re still some fantastic choices for your next Android phone, and the price is likely to continue dropping in the next few months.

Both these devices have phone screens that are a cut above the rest, and each is capable of a 120Hz refresh rate that will allow for far smoother scrolling and gameplay on your phone’s screen.

The battery life on the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S20 Plus isn’t the best we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, but larger batteries than the S10 series allow these devices to last longer and it’ll be enough for your day. Both devices come with wireless charging, and there’s also a Reverse Power Share feature that allows you to top up your friend’s phone too.

Samsung has improved the camera suite on the Galaxy S20 devices compared to the Galaxy S10. It may not look far better on paper, but larger pixels and improved software adds to the flagship experience.

The S20 and S20 Plus are packed full of great features, and while they may no longer be the very best that Samsung has to offer these are still a satisfying smartphone experience. If we had to pick one, we’d go for the bigger screen, larger battery slightly improved rear camera of the Galaxy S20 Plus, but both phones deserve this place in our ranking.

iPhone SE

iPhone SE (2020) (Image credit: Apple)

14. iPhone SE (2020)

The cheapest new iPhone came in 2020

Release date: April 2020 | Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1134 x 750 | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Low price for an iPhone
One-hand-friendly and light
Has the Touch ID home button
Battery life could be better
Old screen technology

The iPhone SE 2020 is the sequel to the one-hand-friendly iPhone from 2016, and it takes the power and specs we loved from the iPhone 11 series and crams them into the design of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8.

This new iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch screen borrowed from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, so it’s bigger than the original iPhone SE, but remains one-hand-friendly. That’s become important for people who have been demanding a smaller phone. This is the one to get, even if the resolution and bezel won’t wow anyone.

As long as you aren’t a power user (who would likely opt for the iPhone 11 series anyway), then you’ll be OK with what Apple offers in terms of battery life. It’s not going to last you any longer than a day, though, with generally the same amount of power as we saw on the iPhone 8, which had a 1,821mAh battery capacity.

For the money, the iPhone SE 2020 takes perfectly fine photos in good light. You won’t notice much of a difference outside of it occasionally failing to nail perfect exposure levels and depth of field outdoors during the daytime. Dim the lights, however, and you’ll notice one glaring omission: the night mode that’s on the more powerful iPhones. That requires an upgrade to at least the iPhone 11.

This isn’t Apple’s most powerful iPhone, but it’s the best value for people who want to stick with iOS 13 without paying through the nose. Its screen technology won’t wow you like an iPhone 12 Pro, and there’s just one camera on the back, but starting £419 means this is hard to be if you’re on a budget and don’t want to switch to Android.

Read more: iPhone SE 2020 review
Price comparison: The best iPhone SE 2020 deals

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iPhone 12

The iPhone 12 (Image credit: Apple)

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iPhone 12 mini

The iPhone 12 mini (Image credit: Apple)

15. iPhone 12 mini / iPhone 12

Great value iPhones

Weight: 134g / 164g | Dimensions: 131.5mm x 64.2mm x 7.4mm / 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.4 mm | OS: iOS 15 | Screen size: 5.4-inch / 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2340 / 1170 x 2532 | CPU: A14 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: Unknown | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Colorful OLED display
Future-proofed with 5G
Cameras are similar to last iPhone 11
Battery life only okay

The iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini aren’t technically superior to the iPhone 12 Pro series, but both are priced so well (for iPhones) and each has most of the key features you’ll want  from an Apple device. The iPhone 12 takes the place of the iPhone 11 with the same 6.1-inch screen, but a few new features like MagSafe. Then there’s the new iPhone 12 mini, which is similar but comes in a smaller package.

The 6.1-inch screen is the same size as the display on the iPhone 12 Pro, fitting in between the iPhone 12 mini and 12 Pro Max sizes, making it an appealing choice if you want a large screen, but not the biggest. If you want the smaller version, it has a 5.4-inch screen. For the first year, the more ‘affordable’ flagship also gets an OLED screen, which is a big perk. It’s a brilliant-looking phone, if you don’t mind the notch.

These iPhones can deliver all-day battery life, and it’s slightly better than the iPhone 11 battery, which we thought was stellar in 2019. What are you going to be missing? The pricier iPhone 12 Pro series does last a bit longer, but given no phones come with faster chargers this year, you’ll have to shell out for Apple’s fast charger unit just like the Pro owners.

This is close to the best iPhone camera, with both a 12MP main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide camera to cram more into the frame.  It’s missing the triple-lens camera on the Pro models, which adds in a telephoto lens, but you’re getting the two essential cameras from that pairing, and it includes a long exposure night mode that will automatically brighten up dark photos.

It’s not as good of a value as Samsung’s top-ranked handset, but the iPhone 12 is a great iPhone for some people simply because it costs significantly less than much of the competition. And, unlike the iPhone SE 2020, which we also praise for being good value, you’re getting most of the features found on the Pro-level handsets like the camera’s stunning Night Mode.

You’re at the end of our best smartphone guide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you still – if you’re stuck on which model is for you, we’ve got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.