Smartphones are coming in various sizes and shapes. Some are large, some are small, some have rounded corners and others sharp. Having hundreds of available options can make the selection process of a phone very tedious and overwhelming. In order to chose a mobile phone, you have to consider the following options:
What is your price range?
You first need to understand what is the amount of money you are willing to spend in order to buy a smartphone. Are you going to buy a budget phone or you are going for a flagship phone? There are various price ranges.
Smartphones over $1000 will probably have all of the features you need. Mid-range phones around $400 will also serve you as well as the ones that cost $1000 or more. On the other hand, even budget phones these days are doing their work as expected and you will be able to use it to surf the internet although not in high speeds. You will have to be realistic with the selection of the price range and not try to go for something that you can not afford.
Before buying a phone, do not forget that there are refurbished ones or second hand options. You can also find previous generation flagship phones phones on the cheap, especially if they are 12-18 months old. Sometimes, you can buy such a phone and keep it for over 2 years.
Check also what phones are your carrier offering you. Phones that are subsidized via a carrier can save upfront costs and also allow you to pay them on monthly installments over a year or two. Making such financial arrangement with the carrier it might not save you money in the long run but they will make a more expensive phone affordable to buy.
What features/specs do you need for your phone?
Before deciding what features your phone should have, start by creating a list with the most important things it should have. Start by asking yourself:
- Do I need a phone with a large screen?
- Do I need to only make phone calls?
- Will I use it for other things, like watching movies, social media, etc?
- How much battery capacity needs to have? Can I charge it daily overnight or I will be constantly on the move?
- Am I going to use it as a camera?
- Do I need it to have large storage capacity for my photos and documents?
- What durability do I want it to have? Do I need it to be water resistant or be somehow protected from the falls?
All the above are questions that will help you craft the appropriate specifications you need for your phone so that you won’t break the bank.
What operating system do you prefer?
Unfortunately, there are only 2 major operating systems on the market, Android & iOS. The good is that you are not going to get overwhelmed with that selection. Ensure that you go to a shop and try to use both types of operating systems. Some people prefer Android because they can find a lot of free apps, and some others prefer iOS because of the quality of the operating system. Whatever you decide, remember that this selection is most of the times subjective and there is no clear winner.
In the next pages, we have created a curated list of phones that we would choose for each category.
1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (best Android flagship phone)
The dual telephoto lenses offer the best zoom ratios so far
Large 6.8 inch AMOLED display
No charging brick in the box
No slot for microSD cards
With a price of $1200 it is the best premium Android phone that currently exists on the market. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has it all. With a dynamic 6.8-inch AMOLED display and a resolution of 1440×3200 pixels leaves nothing to the imagination. The powerful Snapdragon 888 CPU and the 12 GB / 16 GB RAM are going to run all applications in the market. The 5000 mAh battery is also enough to allow you web surfing for more than 10 hours non-stop.
But we are not over. One of the killer features of the S21 Ultra is its main camera. With a 108 Mpixels sensor and the dual telephoto cameras setup with 3x and 10x optical zooms adding also the Space Zoom 100x functionality it can deliver not only excellent quality images but also amazing quality moonshots. With the amazing video of up to 8K resolution you will become your own videographer and your videos will become viral to the social media.
2. iPhone 12 Pro Max (best iPhone)
Long battery life
The camera is powerful
Expensive compared with other phones of the same specs
No charging brick in the box
The iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best iPhone devices. If you enjoy big screens, you will enjoy its 6.7-inch OLED display. The display is one of the best on the market and the images on the screen are rendered crystal sharp with vivid colors. The A14 CPU offers unprecedented performance. Unfortunately, the RAM memory is only 6GB compared to other phones like the Galaxy S21 Ultra (above) but the phone is still capable and smashes all the benchmarks when it comes to multitasking and gaming.
The iPhones battery has quite good storage capacity allowing it to run more than 10 hours while web surfing. The camera picture & video quality are excellent and offers a 2.5x optical zoom and a 12x digital zoom. The starting price of it is $1099 for the 128GB model and $1399 for the 512 GB model.
It is difficult to compare the iPhone 12 Pro Max with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra above. The S21 starts at $100 higher price but it also offers 10x optical zoom and 120Hz AMOLED display. In any case, choosing the one over the other would be a clearly biased selection.
Mid-range phones / Flagship killers
3. Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G
Display with 144Hz refresh rate
Long battery life
Excellent main camera
Stereo speakers, IR blaster.
It would be preferred to have an OLED display instead of the LCD one.
No slot for microSD cards
It is not just luck that the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G is in that list. The specifications that this phone have, has nothing to lose compared to the other flagship phones. Its price that starts at around $599 make it affordable to people that need a really good smartphone but they are not willing to put their hands deep into their pockets.
It comes with an 6.67” FHD+ screen with a resolution 2400×1080 and the amazing refresh rate of 144 Hz. Its octa-core Snapdragon 865 CPU is powerful for all tasks you might need to do. The 108 MP triple camera with AI offers camera shots with impressive details to both close & far shots. The camera also allows you to even record videos at 8K at 30fps.
The phone comes with a MIUI 12 interface based on Android 10 and although it is not the native Android interface it offers great functionality. It has a battery of 5000 mAh it can offer up to 18 hours of web browsing.
4. OnePlus 8T
AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate
Super fast charging with bundled charger
Very good performance
The camera could be better.
We have chosen to include the OnePlus 8T in that list for two reasons. The first one is because of its 6.55-inch AMOLED display with a super-smooth refresh rate of 120Hz that makes the OnePlus 8T a joy to use. At a resolution of 2400×1080 pixels which is exactly the same with the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G you will have difficulty to see any significant optical difference with higher resolution displays of other flagship phones.
The second reason that we have chosen that phone is the battery and its charging capability. The battery in OnePlus 8T might be only 4500 mAh but it is capable of keeping the phone fully operational for a whole day offering around 13 hours of continuous web browsing. But the most amazing about the battery is that it has a super fast charging capability by using OnePlus’ new Warp Charge 65 technology. With other words you can recharge the battery with a 65W power brick to fully 100% in 39 minutes, or charge from zero to 55% in almost 15 minutes. Surely enough it is not the fastest charging phone on the market. The top position is being held by Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra which charges from 0 to 100% in around 21 minutes but again the charging speed of OnePlus 8T seems like a technology that came from the outer space. We think that even Dr. Emmett Brown from ‘Back to the Future’ would be jealous of it.
The OnePlus 8T is the first OnePlus phone to launch with the OxygenOS 11. This is based on the Android 11. The phone is coming with a Snapdragon 865 chipset in two variants. One of 8GB RAM and 128GB storage at around $599 and an other at 12GB RAM and 256GB storage at $640. The performance in the benchmarks is almost the same with the remaining phones that have the Snapdragon 865 processor.
The camera on OnePlus 8T is not something that super excites us. It comes with quad-camera on its back the primary of whose shoots images at 48MP. The quality of the pictures is good but not perfect.
Entry level / Budget phones
For a lot of people, a budget phone is a phone that cost between $300 to $500. For us, this price range belongs to the mid-level category. In our case, budget phones do have price no greater than $300 which is again too great as a number. In order to clarify it, we don’t believe that an iPhone SE at the price of $399 belongs in the category of the budget phones. Theoretically the price of the phones should be affordable to most of the people.
In that category there are hundreds of phones but Xiaomi is the company that dominates it. Most of the Xiaomi Redmi Note phones could be listed in that category. Apart from that, there are also phones like the Samsung Galaxy A41, A31 and M21. The Motorola Moto G 9 Play, the Motorola one Fusion+, etc. The list is endless. We currently have mixed feelings on what we should choose for this category. Due to the low price, smartphone manufacturers are being forced to differentiate their phones with one and other and they have to do a lot of hardware sacrifices in order to keep the cost down. As such, you can find phones with great battery capacities, others with great processors and others with perfect cameras but not all of these combined.
Because we believe that we may leave some good phones outside of the list we are not going to choose only 2 phones but more. The only difference is that we are not going to give any analysis of the capabilities of each phone.
Xiaomi Poco M3
Good IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels
6000 mAh Li-Po battery with fast charging
Main camera at 48 MP shooting 1080p video at 30fps
We would like to see a little bit faster processor
Motorola One Fusion+
6.5″ IPS LCD, HDR10 display with a resolution of 1080×2340 pixels
5000 mAh Li-Po battery with fast charging
Main camera at 68 MP needs extra work
Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC
6.67″ IPS LCD at 120MHz with HDR10 and resolution of 1080×2400 pixels
5160 mAh Li-Po battery with fast charging (100% in 65 min)
Good for its price Snapdragon 732G CPU
Gorilla Glass 5, IP53 rated
Samsung Galaxy M21
6.4″ Super AMOLED with resolution of 1080×2340 pixels
6000 mAh Li-Po battery with fast charging
Decent 48 MP camera with night mode & 4K video recording
The Exynos 9611 chipset is capable but not as fast as the Snapdragon 712
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9s
6.67″ IPS LCD with HDR and resolution of 1080×2400 pixels
Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection
5020 mAh Li-Po battery with fast charging
Good 48 MP camera quality
Qualcomm SM7125 Snapdragon 720G
The only negative is the slow charging