Phone manufacturers across the globe produced some amazing devices in 2021, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Each phone boasts new features, improved designs, and alternate models to better suit your preferences. These devices don’t come cheap, so most buyers will likely have to choose just one. We’re reviewing some of the best smartphones of 2021 to help you narrow down your options.
The iPhone 13 (and its various models)
The newest incarnation of Apple’s flagship iPhone was undoubtedly one of the most highly anticipated new smartphones of 2021. The company traditionally introduces three or four versions of their latest iPhone annually, and this year was no exception. Apple released the iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 mini, the iPhone 13 Pro, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max in September.
Each model varies in size and capability, but many features are uniform throughout. Several standout features include:
- 5G Mobile Network capability
- 12-megapixel front and rear-facing camera.
- A15 Bionic chip for enhanced processing power.
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery with fast charge capability (50% battery with 30-35 minute charge).
- Memory capacity ranges from 128 gigabytes to 1 terabyte of space (iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max).
- MagSafe compatibility and wireless charging capability.
- Face ID, 6-meter water resistance, and a ceramic shield display.
The COVID-19 pandemic created supply chain shortages all through the year, causing scarcities in every commodity from food to clothes to phones. The iPhone 13 has managed to retain its value better than any previous iPhone because of the ongoing global chip shortage. The iPhone 13 is pricier than previous models as a result of this shortage (a standard iPhone 13 costs $799), but its resell price should also be much higher than previous models.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
While the foldable phone was initially a bit of a gamble, it was one that Samsung boldly undertook. The Galaxy Fold’s initial launch peaked a lot of interest, though it came with its fair share of durability and battery life issues.
Thankfully, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 was released in September of 2020 and proved to be a giant leap forward thanks to its larger front screen, increased durability, and standard 5G feature. The Samsung Galaxy Fold3 picks up where its predecessor left off by bringing several new features into the fold):
- A 6.2″ folded screen and a 7.6″ unfolded screen.
- A new S Pen with 4096 pressure levels.
- An under-front panel camera and a rear triple camera with Wide, Ultra-wide, and Telephoto lenses.
- 128 gigabytes of RAM with 256-512 gigabytes of storage.
- A side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
The Z Fold3 was announced on August 11th, then released on August 27th. It launched with a hefty price tag of $1,799, though Samsung also hosts trade-in promotions to make this phablet (smartphone + tablet) more affordable.
The Sony Xperia 1 III
Sony released several premium smartphones this year, but the Sony Xperia 1 III is easily a standout. This follow-up to last year’s Sony Xperia 1 II, maintains many of the same design features as its predecessor while also bringing new features to the plate. Xperia 1 II fans will be delighted to know that the Xperia 1 III also has front-facing speakers, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and dust and waterproof resilience.
The Xperia 1 III’s potentially greatest feature is its camera; this is the first smartphone to possess a variable periscope telephoto lens that can shoot in 70 millimeters or even 105 millimeters. Other standout features include:
- An increased refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz
- A “21:9, world’s first CinemaWide 4K HDR 10-bit 120Hz OLED”
- Photo Pro and Cinema Pro modes
- The extremely powerful octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset
Many photographers and filmmakers adore the Xperia 1 III and herald it as Sony’s greatest flagship smartphone yet.
The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro
OnePlus released their new flagship phones – the OnePlus 9 and the OnePlus 9 Pro – on March 26, 2021. These phones initially encountered controversy due to throttling issues earlier this year. These issues have since been resolved, which allows the OnePlus 9 Series to shine.
Both the OnePlus 9 and both variants of the 9 Pro boast some impressive specs:
- A 6.55-inch (6.7-inch with the 9 Pro) Full HD+ 120Hz display
- 8K and 4K video capture support
- A Sony IMX quad-lens camera
- Water resistance for up to 30 minutes in 1.5 meters
- Snapdragon 888 processor, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage
Most pundits agree that OnePlus has taken things to the next level with their pricier, yet premium, OnePlus 9 Series phones.
The Google Pixel 6 and the 6 Pro
The Google Pixel 6 is one of the more affordable premium smartphones on the market. Unlike many competitors such as the iPhone 13 or the Xperia 1 III, the standard Pixel 6 has a dual-camera system. However, the Pixel 6’s strongest feature is easily its Tensor chip – a system that specializes in neural network machine learning.
Other attractive features of the Pixel 6 and the 6 Pro include:
- FHD+ Smooth Display
- 128 gigabytes of storage
- A tactile alloy frame (Pixel 6) and a polish alloy frame (Pixel 6 Pro)
- Wireless fast-charging and 24-hour battery life
- A fingerprint scanner and Titan M2 chip & security core
Google continues to impress with its line of innovative smartphones. The Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro are incredibly versatile devices that can compete with their contemporaries on even footing.