For most of us, smartphones are at the center of our universe. The typical feature set of these palm-size marvels is astounding. It’s your phone, your messaging device, your web browser, your camera, your music player, your GPS, and more. The best smartphone delivers great cameras, the performance you need to multitask and the battery life to last the whole day.
When it comes to buying a new phone, some people may prefer to have the biggest display possible along with the most advanced specs. Phone-makers are innovating and evolving faster than ever before, and the past year has been one of the more interesting ones for phones. In 2021, buying the best phone means looking for something that should last you a few years.
Top 10 the best smartphone 2021 in UK
If you’re looking to buy a new smartphone then our best smartphone guide is designed to show you the top handsets on the market today in 2021.
1. OnePlus 8 Pro
The attention to detail placed on how each OnePlus phone is delivered to customers is second to none, and the OnePlus 8 Pro is another great example of that. The whole package radiates a feeling of premium. The OnePlus 8 Pro does carry over much of the aesthetic. OnePlus has also never disappointed in terms of core hardware and that is how the brand attained its reputation. Hardware and performance have always been strong points for OnePlus. Everything about the OnePlus 8 Pro is just so fast and slick it’s almost surreal.
OnePlus has said many times over the years that the thing that separates the maker from others is that they actually listen to the fan base and evolve their phones in line with their input. So, OnePlus offering not just its usual fantastic mix of rapid hardware, slick software and eye for design detail, but also a full suite of advanced smartphone features and a strong camera system, too.
2. OnePlus NORD
If you’re thinking of buying the OnePlus Nord in 2021, then this will be an invaluable resource for you. Right now the mid-range phone market is getting fuller and fuller and that means choosing between all the devices on offer becomes harder and harder. OnePlus first made its name by offering very good phone specs at very good prices, so it’s fitting that it’s now back in that groove with the OnePlus Nord. While OnePlus phones have slowly got more expensive over the years, the Nord goes the other way and is a fantastic mid-ranger.
All in all though, this is an amazing package that OnePlus has put together for the price. Throw in the phone’s low weight (147 grams), understated and stylish design.
3. Oppo Find X2 Pro
Oppo isn’t the first name you think of when it comes to flagship smartphones, but this year saw the company produce one of 2020’s finest handsets in the Oppo Find X2 Pro.
The handset may cost over £1000, but it goes toe-to-toe with the best from Samsung and Apple for specs and features – to the point it took home the Best Smartphone and Best Premium Phone trophies at this year’s Trusted Reviews Awards.
The Oppo Find X2 Pro is a beauty; the camera is fantastic, its screen a knockout, and with masses of storage and class-leading fast charging. Oppo has hit the target with its Find X2 Pro. We’ve had to wait a while, but the Oppo Find X2 Pro is now available in the UK.
4. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Mobile Phone
Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE takes the best parts of its flagship phones, replaces the back with plastic, flattens the display and drops the price. The result is a flagship experience that’s easier on the pocket, with no real disadvantages.
The cameras are great, avoiding the gimmicks, while the 5G version – the one you want – has loads of power. There’s great speakers, a 120Hz display for smooth gaming and the option to expand the storage via microSD.
The final version of the Galaxy S20 to launch in 2020 was designed to offer the fans what they wanted. This is a flagship phone that’s been pulled back slightly to land at a much more appealing price – and that makes this a winning Samsung Galaxy phone. Indeed, it makes it a winning flagship choice – whether you’re a Samsung fan or new to the brand.
5. Samsung Galaxy S21
The new Galaxy S21 marks a shift in Samsung’s thinking for how it positions its flagship phone. The new S21 is closer to the paired back Galaxy S20 FE of last year rather than its predecessor – but, ultimately, that’s no bad thing.
While the front of the Samsung Galaxy S21 looks much the same as last year, the 2021 Galaxy S range has had one of its more significant shake-ups around the back. Samsung led the way in the curved glass-sandwich trend, leading to many Android devices having a similar look. With the S21, you now get a “glasstic” back – which does basically feel like plastic – along with a camera module design that gently merges into the side of the phone.
Some may baulk at the lack of a glass back when they are forking out upwards of £700 but, from not really damaging it in the looks department to doing a better job of batting away fingerprints, it’s not a bad thing. Samsung has also gone a tad more extravagant with the colors this year and, while they can look a bit garish on online images, our Phantom Violet model is eye-catching in all the right ways.
The Galaxy S21 does an amazing job – it will make the average user produce snaps far better than what you might expect. You won’t run into any performance hurdles with the Galaxy S21 either, tackling almost anything you can throw at Android with no sign of wavering. You can bounce around from social media app to watching videos and taking pics in a flash.
6. Realme X50 Pro 5G
Once a rare breed of smartphones, today the flagship killers are everywhere. And Realme is jumping on this proverbial bandwagon with one of the cheapest Snapdragon 865-equipped devices on the market – the Realme X50 Pro 5G.
Respectable for the price on paper, the Realme X50 Pro 5G is also nicely futureproofed with sweet 5G goodness and includes the fastest charging speeds currently available. Realme is successfully filling the void and it does more than just answer the call of the need for speed. Indeed, the Realme X50 Pro is fast – it has access to the fastest of networks, fastest of processors, and even the fastest charging.
Realme’s 65W SuperDart charging premieres with the X50 Pro and it promises a full charge in 35 mins. That’s quite impressive and we suspect it will become a standard feature for the maker’s upcoming top-tier offers. The catch, however, is that it’s not being ranged by any networks at the time this review’s being written; so you’ll have to buy it outright. Anyway, here is the full features to get you started.
7. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the third iteration of Samsung’s folding phone and has been significantly improved, it deserves to not only be on this list but to be near the top.
The Galaxy Z Fold 2 serves as a very capable smartphone and small tablet, providing an extremely strong and fast 5G connection in both modes. The outside display offers a typical 6.2-inch smartphone experience, while the large 7.6-inch main display is stunning with a 120Hz refresh rate and Samsung’s lovely AMOLED technology.
There is no doubt that Samsung is a leader in mobile innovation, and the intricate details the company explores to create and refine its products are impressive. Samsung using advanced internal components, such as the LPDDR5 RAM, which is not found on many other smartphones. This is a high-end phone, so you truly are getting your money’s worth.
8. Sony Xperia 5 II
That has changed this year and the Sony Xperia 5 II follows the Xperia 1 II, which won our smartphone Product of the Year Award for delivering a level of video and audio performance above that of other flagship Android phones. On paper, it looks like this model can impress us in a similar way: it’s smaller, cheaper and has similar specs.
More than any other smartphone, the Sony Xperia 5 II feels like a tool. It’s not just that it has a very understated design (though this definitely plays a part), it’s that Sony’s whole approach is to give you as much control over the phone as possible. Control over how it looks, and sounds, and takes photos and video.
The combination of Sony’s trademark 21:9 aspect ratio with a slightly smaller 6.1-inch display compared to the larger Xperia 1, makes for a pleasantly narrow phone that fits in the hand nicely without feeling cramped to use.
9. The Google Pixel 5
The Pixel smartphone represents Google’s ideal vision of Android but there was always something off about Google’s Pixel phone that made it hard to blindly recommend. Each Pixel was dismayingly met with some compromise that hindered us from loving (almost) everything about it, no matter how much we really wanted to. The Pixel 5 is different this time around.
The Google Pixel 5 isn’t a phone that blows you away with fancy multiple lenses. It keeps things simple with a 12.2MP main camera and a 16MP ultra-wide one, with no dedicated zoom lens.
What it does do, is offer a pure up to date Android experience in a smart minimal package, with solid well-lit camera performance and powerful image editing tools for tweaking on the move, with a battery that will comfortably last you through the day.
If you want to keep up with the latest Android features for the next few years and aren’t fussed about night or zoom photography, this could very well be the best handset for you.
10. HUAWEI P smart 2021 Smartphone
Traditionally each year’s P Smart model has been one of Huawei’s top-sellers precisely because it pulls together all the key technologies that matter to the mainstream and presents it a properly affordable package. The ambitiously named P Smart 2021 does all that and looks extremely good doing it. From the massive 6.7 inch screen to the quad camera setup and the side mounted fingerprint sensor, the P Smart does shape up like a strong contender in the budget phone category.
The LCD screen to be a delight with rich, yet balanced colours, and loads of fine detail on display. Although both the frame and body are plastic the glossy back panel looks classy while the whole package feels sturdy and, frankly, marvellous in hand.
It also has sure-footed performance and rugged reliability, and excellent battery life.
In the end, it certainly earns a podium finish in the highly competitive budget phone category.
How to buy a best smartphone?
SMARTPHONE PERFORMANCE: PROCESSOR AND RAM
Your smartphone processor, also known as the chipset or the SoC, is the component that is responsible for just about everything functioning on your smartphone. It is essentially the brain of the system, and most of these processors also come equipped with AI capabilities that essentially make your smartphone as ‘smart’ it is today. So, when you choose your smartphone, it is integral to know what processor you’re getting along with it since the performance directly correlates with it.
CHOICE OF OPERATING SYSTEM
It boils down to two options – Android or iOS. The choice is actually more complicated than you imagine since both operating systems have a sizable list of pros and cons. If you’re someone who enjoys tinkering around with your device and customising it to your heart’s content, you’re Team Android. If you like a simple, powerful OS which gets constant software updates and is supported for a more extended period, you’re Team iOS.
PREFERED USER INTERFACE
You also have to keep in mind that numerous smartphones come with their own skin or UI (user interface) smacked on top of Android. Remember to try and experience the UI before buying the device to see if it works for you.
A GOOD DISPLAY
Smartphone display sizes seem to be ever-increasing and are continually pushing the boundary of what we’d expect a smartphone display size to be. As far as display types go, you have LCD and AMOLED displays. AMOLED displays have variants such as OLED or Super AMOLED (in the case of Sam- sung) and have better contrast and darker blacks. Next, you also have various resolutions such as Full HD, Full HD+ Quad HD. You should also check the screen protection on your device.
THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF STORAGE
The current standard is 64GB on lower-end models and 128GB to 512GB on flagships. With swift sharing apps and technologies, almost all of us import every single GB of data from our previous phones to the new ones. So, adequate storage is essential.
BATTERY LIFE THAT FITS YOUR DAILY REQUIREMENTS
The golden standard of battery life in flagship smartphones is 6+ hours of screen on time. Anything with higher capacities can mostly allow even heavy-users to power through.
CAMERA QUALITY THAT JUSTIFIES THE PRICE
In 2020, multi-cameras are the norm and phones with just one rear camera are extremely rare now. You usually get a primary lens which sports the highest MP count, a portrait lens, and a wide-angle shooter. And then, you also have a few extras that some manufacturers add such as the ToF (Time of Flight) sensor, macro lens, and colour filter lens. The wide-angle lens enables the magnitude of images you can now take on phones. Capturing sprawling scenes is not a problem anymore! The portrait lens, when done well, can produce spectacular bokeh shots too.
MISCELLANEOUS THINGS TO CONSIDER
Fingerprint sensor vs Face Unlock
Reverse wireless charging
In general, smartphones have snaked their way into almost every living moment of our technologically-fueled lives. More people are buying smartphones, and the number of options is also increasing. Choosing a smartphone from such an overwhelming list of options might get confusing, so we made a guide that helps you pick the best smartphone for your needs. Before buying your next smartphone, it’s important to do your research to find the best option for you.