Take creativity to the next level with the best smartphones of 2021
With so many mobiles to choose from, searching for the best smartphones in 2021 can be a sad venture. You can get safe bets at a higher price – Apple’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, or one of its siblings, the iPhone 12 or 12 Mini. Or you can even splash on Samsung’s Z Fold 2, a flexible, folded Android phone that’s sure to keep you away from the crowd.
There’s so much to choose from – so we’ve researched and tested hundreds of Android and iOS devices to bring you a list of our best smartphones.
You should first ask yourself – what is your priority? If you are after a champion camera phone, you want to see our best camera phones. For the creative powerhouse, you’ll probably be more interested in Samsung’s latest Galaxy S21 Ultra with its amazing screen, super versatile camera and S Pen support. Alternatively, there are other low-cost options from the OnePlus choices if you want premium hardware without pen input.
Before choosing a phone, remember that the best iPhone app and Android app available for creative people. If you’re jumping from iPhone to Android, for example, Starler Good Notes will have no alternative to Google’s mobile OS.
Once you’ve cross-checked the apps you must have and know which OS you need, our list of the top ten creative phones will help you determine the right device for your personal life, productivity, work, and everything in between.
Best smartphones available now
1. iPhone 12 Pro Max
Weight: 228g, Dimensions: 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.4mm, OS: iOS 14 | Screen size: 6.7-inch, Resolution: 1284 x 2778, CPU: A14 Bionic, RAM: 6GB , Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB , Battery: 3,687mAh , Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP , Front camera: 12MP
Super camera,Great battery life & Very expensive Bulky
It is tear-poorly expensive, but there’s no denying that the iPhone 12 Pro Max is the best, the most featured iPhone Apple has been the best.
If you can handle the size of its 6.7in screen, you will be treated, to an incredibly powerful A14 bionic processor, 6GB of RAM, one of the best smartphone cameras in the world, and incredible battery life for boot.
These are all wrapped in Apple’s tried and tested minimal design, smooth and quick to run by iOS 14. If you can handle its large size (and larger price tag) you will be more than the contents of Apple’s latest and greatest handsets.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The best Smartphone for creative Superstars,
Weight: 208g , Dimensions: 164.8mm x 77.2mm x 8.1mm , OS: Android 10 , Screen size: 6.9-inch , Resolution: 1440 x 3088 , CPU: Snapdragon 865+ , RAM: 12GB , Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB , Battery: 4,500mAh , Rear camera: 108MP + 12MP + 12MP , Front camera: 10MP
Super camera,Incredible screen,Expensive,Slower charging
The Note 20 Ultra is one of the most sought after smartphones for creative people to scribble, draw, create notes, and be productive. With the exception of its great camera setup and gorgeous large AMOLED display, its party trick – the removable S Pen Stylus – offers plenty of flexibility.
Samsung’s Stylus has already taken a great phone to create fancy drawings with improved stress sensitivity from handwritten notes (which can be converted to straight and text) and have made it truly amazing.
With a stunning build, ultra-powerful specs and a versatile camera setup capable of shooting 8K video, this could make the best phone money, especially if you use its indomitable stylus.
3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The best do it all Smartphone
Release date: January 2021 , Weight: 227 g (Sub6), 229 g (mmWave) , Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm , OS: Android 11 , Screen size: 6.8-inch , Resolution: 1440×3200 , CPU: Exynos 2100 (5 nm) – International Snapdragon 888 (5 nm) – USA/China , RAM: 12GB/16GB , Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB , Battery: 5,000Ah , Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP , Front camera: 40MP
Excellent camera zoom,Big and bulky,Expensive
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra does all you need to do. Its big, bright, bold, beautiful standards on any screen will amaze you when you watch your favorite content. And not to mention the most versatile camera system available with S Pen support (S Pen sold separately), it’s a creative suite to yourself, it allows you to take 8K video and snap pictures with a 108MP still camera and 10x zoom.
Finding flaws with the Galaxy S21 Ultra is hard to find if you can go beyond its high-end and thick frame. Perhaps there are fewer flaws than any other flagship phone on the market, with Samsung once again at the top.
4. iPhone 12 and 12 Mini
The best bang for buck IPhone
Release date: October 2020 , Weight: 164 g , Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4 mm , OS: iOS 14 , Screen size: 6.1-inch , Resolution: 1170 x 2532 , CPU: A14 Bionic , RAM: 4GB , Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB , Battery: 2,815mAh , Rear camera: 12MP+12MP , Front camera: 12MP
Beautiful display,Solid camera,Battery life could be better,Base storage low
The iPhone 12 has a 6.1 inch display and has the same 5G support as Apple’s other new IPhones with very good (But not the best), Camera performance. The OLED screen is a pleasure to watch and the new Mag saf feature is an interesting addition to Apple’s arsenal.
For anyone with short sleeves or skinny jeans, the iPhone 12 Mini is the only compact flagship worth considering for a compact competition such as a 5.4-inch screen size, top-level power, and click-top camera, at a fair cost, for every penny. Worth the price
Despite the more expensive Pro models having swankier cameras, they make the best joke for the box option at 12 and 12 minutes of the latest iPhone range lineup if you don’t need optical zoom. Be prepared for an included charger to avoid any shocks while unboxing. There will be happy use.
5. Samsung Galaxy S20 (& Plus)
Excellent across the Board
Release: February 2020 , Screen size: 6.2-inches , Screen type: AMOLED , Resolution: 1440 x 3200 pixels , Sharpness: 563 pixels-per-inch , Certification: HDR10+, Gorilla Glass 6, 120Hz , Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9 mm , Weight: 163g , Rear camera: 12MP (wide + OIS) + 64MP (telephoto) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + ToF sensor (on Plus only) , Front camera: 10MP (wide) , Maximum video resolution: 8K, 30fps , Storage: 128GB , Memory card slot: Yes , Battery: 4000mAh
Amazing screen,Brilliant camera,Busy interface,Dull design
The Samsung Galaxy S20 may not be the best equipped of the S-20 series but it is still the most popular. Why? Because it packs an impressive set of features and a sharp, glossy screen in a super-manageable shape. Also, it costs a lot less than its older sibling, the S20 Ultra.
The device comes complete with three rear cameras, including a 64MP 3x zoom telephoto camera to help you capture shots from an impressive distance. The main camera is low resolution at 12MP, but its night time performance is a big step compared to last year’s Galaxy S10. Combined with an ultra-wide camera and video recording up to 8K, the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus S20 Ultra cover all bases without breaking the bank.
Like the iPhone 11 Pro, water and dust resistant, the S20 also supports wireless charging. Although not Apple’s competitor, you can add storage via an SD card. There is no doubt about it, you can buy the best smartphone money in a moment.
6. Sony Xperia 1 II
Best Smartphone for Videographers
Release date: February 2020 , Weight: 181.4g , Dimensions: 165.1 x 71.1 x 7.6 mm , OS: Android 10 , Screen size: 6.5-inch , Resolution: 1644×3840 , CPU: Snapdragon 855 , RAM: 8GB , Storage: 256GB , Battery: 4,000mAh , Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP , Front camera: 8MP
Extensive manual camera tools,Gorgeous 4K screen,Very expensive,Occasional camera slowdown
Despite the fact that most smartphones today include camera sensors, including iPhones, Sony has not been able to achieve top-class status with its smartphones to date. The Sony Xperia 1 II is expected to change from the brands’ alpha camera line-up to surveillance and baked pro-grade video and photography software.
The phone’s spaces are that the Flashship matches the board’s full Slapdragon 855 chipset with 8GB of RAM, and a metal frame sandwich protected by Gorilla Glass 6 with that ultra-long 4K screen is a premium Xperia 1 II exterior too.
Loaded up with three 12MP cameras: a wide, ultra-wide and 3x zoom camera and time-of-flight sensor, the Xperia 1 II is nothing special compared to many flashships like the OnePlus 8 Pro on-paper. Combined with Jis Optics, eye tracking and a new Photo Pro app, which gives photography enthusiasts more control over photos, though dives in and the Xperia 1 II starts to come out.
Here the full IP68 features water and dust resistance as well as a few more blossoms including Creator mode that guarantees the right color in compatible apps including Netflix and jacks a 3.5mm headphone without mentioning the stereo speakers.
7. OnePlus 8 Pro
A fantastic all Rrounder
Release date: April 2020 , Weight: 199 g , Dimensions: 165.3 x 74.4 x 8.5 mm , OS: Android 11, OxygenOS 11 , Screen size: 6.78-inch , Resolution: 1440 x 3168 , CPU: Snapdragon 865 , RAM: 8GB/12GB , Storage: 128GB/256GB , Battery: 4,510mAh , Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 48MP + 5MP , Front camera: 16MP
Beautiful screen,Fast wireless charging,No expandable storage,No periscope camera
It’s not categorized in any particular case, but the OnePlus 8 Pro is a great, affordable all-rounder that includes Sony’s latest smartphone camera sensor.
The OnePlus 8 Pro sports a 120Hz dynamic AMOLED screen with a flagship-grade phone, a competitive-beat price tag. Its huge, expansive display is just perfect for viewing and reading. Combined with Sony’s second-generation 48MP camera sensor (IMX689), it has the same basic camera hardware as Oppo’s great Find X2 Pro, so it’s fascinating on the front as well.
The latest version of the OnePlus loads up with storage and RAM stacks, not to mention Oxygen OS, offers 8 Pro deliverable all-round performance, and the inclusion of wireless charging in the series adds to the Samsung Galaxy S-Grade convenience. Matching the flagship Qualcomm power and stereo speakers all means OnePlus 8 Pro is also a great choice for gamers.
8. Google Pixel 5
Solid Camera with great Software and editing Smarts
Release date: October 2020 , Weight: 151g , Dimensions: 144.7mm x 70.4mm x 8mm , OS: Android 11 , Screen size: 6-inch , Resolution: 2340 x 1080 , CPU: Snapdragon 765G , RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB , Battery: 4000mAh , Rear camera: 16MP + 12MP , Front camera: 8MP
Fantastic camera software,Handsome, minimal design,No telephoto camera,Night shots could be better
The Google Pixel 5 is not a phone that takes you away with fancy multiple lenses. It keeps things simple without a dedicated zoom lens with a 12.2MP main camera and a 16MP ultra-wide one.
With the powerful, Snapdragon 765G processor and 8GB of RAM things are getting very confusing. On paper, then, the Pixel 5 doesn’t sound like the most powerful, feature-packed phone in the world, but its price reflects that aptly.
All it does is end up with an Android experience in a smart minimal package, with a solid-illuminated camera performance and powerful image editing tools for tweeting in steps, a battery that will keep you comfortable throughout the day.
If you want to keep up with the latest Android features for the next few years and not be fooled about night or zoom photography, this might be the best handset for you.
9. Oppo Find X2 Pro
Great for file Hoarders
Release date: March 2020 , Weight: 217 g (Ceramic) / 200 g (Leather) , Dimensions: 165.2 x 74.4 x 8.8 mm (Ceramic) / 9.5 mm (Leather) , OS: Android 10, ColorOS 7.1 , Screen size: 6.7-inch , Resolution: 1440 x 3168 , CPU: Snapdragon 865 , RAM: 12GB , Storage: 512GB , Battery: 4,260mAh , Rear camera: 48MP + 13MP + 48MP , Front camera: 32MP
Fastest charging,High storage capacity,Expensive,No wireless charging
Oppo is relatively unknown until recently, but it landed in a bang. Last year, its branding was all over Wimbledon and now it has launched the Find X2 Pro, one of the best smartphones of the year so far.
From a camera standpoint, the X2 Pro introduces Wow, Sony’s second-generation 48MP sensor to the world. Capturing high-resolution images with great depth and plenty of detail, the great thing about the photos shot on the Find X2 Pro is that they look natural and realistic, especially when capturing captives on Samsung phones. By packing a 5x zoom telephoto camera, the Proti will get you closer to the action, and its ultra-wide camera is Pin-Sharp 48MP so you can crop for GoPro-SK shots.
The flagship power supply, decent battery life and absolutely jaw-dropping screen inside and out, affects the X2 Pro. That said, we didn’t even cover the phone’s two standout features – the X2 Pro gives the fastest charge on the market – gaining power from 0-100% in 38 minutes, not to mention half a terabyte of storage – that’s three times what the Samsung S20 Ultra offers. Instead, power users will like that Oppo is good and has really arrived
10. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
Most Polished foldable Available
Release date: August 2020 , Weight: 282 g , Dimensions: Unfolded: 159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9 mm / Folded: 159.2 x 68 x 16.8 mm , OS: Android 11, One UI 3.0 , Screen size: 7.6-inch / Cover display: 6.23-inch , Resolution: 1768 x 2208 / Cover display: 816 x 2260 , CPU: Snapdragon 865+ , RAM: 12GB , Storage: 256GB/512GB , Battery: 4,500mAh , Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP , Front camera: 10MP
Beautiful design,Very expensive ,Cameras could be better
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the first foldable to feel like the original deal. The design is beautiful with a strong hinge mechanism. The flexible display is still more brittle than glass, but the phone’s modified design reduces reliance on it.
Unfortunately, the cameras do not match the design. The 12MP trio, though still very capable, lags behind the other flagships on this list and it fights with strong backlighting and dark visuals. Truth be told, you don’t buy Z Fold 2 based on cameras. It’s about the foldable design that pushes it to the top of the foldable pack.
If you want something exclusive then your luck. The i-watering price tag means you won’t see them too much in the hands of others. This keeps most phone buyers out of reach, but the design and functionality proves that any folder can be a great daily driver, with bo-factor booting.