Best Smart Phones In 2021
Note that the reviews above may not show your carrier, but most of the phones here are unlocked and can be used with various US carriers. Read on to learn what to look for when shopping. as well as our top picks for Android phones.
Whether you’re look for a big or small, entry-level or high-end phone, Android has the right choice for everyone. And unlike Apple’s rigid release cycle, Google’s computer hardware partners unleash a seemingly endless stream of new devices year-round. But here’s the catch: with so many options, how do you decide which is right? Fortunately for you, we test and review almost every smartphone available from major US vendors.
When should you buy a new Android phone?
The Android release cycle has become forever; A new line of flagship phones is currently being launched every month. However, now is a good time to buy. The Samsung Galaxy S21 series will hit the market in early 2021, and Samsung is not expected to launch prominent new high-end phones until August. Google will likely update its Pixel line at the same time. The OnePlus 9 series was launched a few months ago, so we think it will be a few more months before we see the next OnePlus flagship. And LG is out of the phone commercial.
Despite tough competition, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE remains an outstanding Android phone.
5G Android phones
Virtually every high-end phone you buy now will have 5G. If you’re buying a low-end device, don’t worry; Current 5G systems from AT&T and Verizon across the country don’t offer a huge performance boost over 4G, and even T-Mobile’s new low-end Android phones have started to integrate midband 5G.
If you want the finest network speeds in the upcoming, look for a C-band phone. C-band networks, mainly coming to Verizon and AT&T in late 2021 or early 2022, will potentially offer several times the speed of systems. Lowband 4G and 5G. At the time of this writing, the Google Pixel 5, LG Wing, Samsung Galaxy A32 5G and A52G, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 series all have C-band (but note that OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro are only for T – Mobile and Verizon and the providers that use these networks). We hope many other phones released this year have it too.
For our most popular 5G phones, check out our list of the best 5G phones.
That list includes phones from under $ 200 to just under $ 2,000. At the low end, the OnePlus Nord N100 and the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G offer excellent value for money. A word of advice at the end: mobile phones (which do not mention the manufacturer’s name) are often not very good.
Most phones sold in the US cost $ 600 or more, as they are sold with monthly payment plans that hide costs for 24 or 30 months. But there is also a thriving market that mainly costs prepaid phones that cost $ 300 or less. Take a look at one of the cheapest OnePlus phones, Nokia phones, or ZTE models sold by prepaid providers for decent quality at a great price.
The pandemic prompted phone makers to re-evaluate the high prices of flagship phones that we saw previous this year. The Galaxy S20 FE, the lesser Galaxy S21, and the OnePlus 9 all had a “flagship” price of $ 1,000 to $ 600 to $ 700, a refreshing change in a troubled economy.
Verizon’s 5G millimeter wave system continues to impose a “millimeter wave tax” on its devices; Verizon 5G-compatible phones often cost $ 50 to $ 100 more than 5G phones from the other two providers. If there is an exception, it is usually because Verizon or the manufacturer is tacitly subsidizing the phone.
For more information, check out our stories on the best cheap phones, the best cheap phone plans, and 9 tips for getting the best price on a cell phone.
What size cell phone is right for you?
In recent years, the shapes and sizes of Android phones have changed dramatically. Many manufacturers have started making their phones taller and narrower, resulting in one-handed models with incredibly large screen sizes. In our article on the current measurement of mobile phone displays, we take a closer look at the new form factors.
You can find Android phones with indicated screen sizes ranging from 5.6 inches to almost 7 inches. However, with the new form factors, it is very important to consider the width of the phone and the width of the screen. A tall, narrow handset can be much easier to work with than a wider one.
The 2.7-inch-wide Google Pixel 4a fits perfectly in the hand.
What’s the best Android version?
Not all androids are created equal. Device manufacturers like Asus and Samsung have been transferring their own visions to Android for some time. If you want a pure Google experience, go for a Pixel device. These are the developer models where Google rolls out updates first. Motorola and OnePlus also have very fresh user borders, although they tend to add more invisible features to Android.
See how we test phones
Android 11 is the most current version, although Android 12 is slated to be released in the coming months. Many phones still have Android 10. Don’t buy a phone with Android 9 or earlier, because the older the Android software version, the more likely it is to have serious security vulnerabilities. Also, check out how many rounds of operating system updates the manufacturer is promising.
Why not Oppo, Vivo or Xiaomi?
Three of the top five smartphone manufacturers in the world don’t sell phones in the US, and we mostly serve American consumers. In the case of Oppo and Vivo, this is because they ceded the US marketplace to their friend OnePlus. Xiaomi has said several aeras that its business model, which is heavily reliant on ad revenue and subscription services, will not work in the US, Huawei, which once topped the list, has been hit by sanctions prohibiting the company from using US components or software on smartphones.
We do not indorse importing foreign phones for use in the US as they often do not work on US cellular networks.
Should I buy through a carrier or unlocked?
The US market is still dominated by phones sold by carriers, but buying your phone direct and unlocked gives you more freedom to switch carriers if you want.
Unlocked phones don’t come with carrier software or a rolling payment plan, so you can switch to another carrier at your convenience or sell them on eBay. An unlocked phone is actually yours. All phones on this list can be purchased directly without operator involvement. But most people still buy their phones finished cellular carriers, who offer a single point of service and support, as well as monthly payment plans that lower the phone’s starting price. Operators also sometimes limit Wi-Fi calling capabilities to phones that they sell in their own stores.
With this in mind, choosing Android as the mobile operating system is only half the battle. If you’re still not sure, checkered out our list of the best phones regardless of operating system.