Know someone looking for a new smart phone who prefers it be among the best available? You’ve got some good options to start with for whomever you have in mind.
To be clear, these are what each of these manufacturers would consider to be their best. More than just speeds and feeds, they represent features and functionality meant to be a cut above all others. Bigger and better screens. Fantastic photos and video. Great battery life. A smooth experience. All of those things come into play when you expect to use something elite.
These devices are here to guide you on what might be the best fit. All of them came to market in 2021, and represent some of the best handsets currently available.
Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro bear no resemblance to the Pixel phones of the past. These are easily the most elegant phones Google has ever made, which wasn’t a high bar to hurdle over. They also made them larger than previous models, with an all-glass design from front to back. Despite the thick camera module sticking out from the back, they do look and feel sleek.
Both phones offer more of almost everything, too. You get 12GB of RAM, and start at 128GB of internal storage. Google’s new proprietary Tensor chipset makes its debut, powering all the features and functions. That leads to not only a performance boost, but also better battery life, which is crucial compared to previous Pixel phones.
The camera is the jewel of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and it’s also very different this time. More so from a hardware perspective, starting with the 50-megapixel image sensor, plus 12-megapixel ultra-wide and 48-megapixel telephoto lenses. New front cameras also make selfies even easier. You can shoot in the same modes, including more light capture with Night Sight, as well as new options through Motion mode. When it comes to mobile photography, these are two of the phones to beat.
To get all the details on what these phones can deliver, look out for a full review here on the Best Buy Blog.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro or 13 Pro Max
These are the best iPhones Apple currently has. They’re an iterative upgrade from the iPhone 12 Pro models, so it’s more worth it to upgrade from the iPhone 11 or earlier. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are the same, except for their relative size. They offer the same features and functions, including camera output.
The camera features prominently in both devices, as Apple tries to improve output in both photos and video. Night mode is better in low-light conditions, while you also get to control white balance and colour temperature. Photographic Styles also lets you determine what kind of colour you want in the shot. Dynamic range isn’t as good as the Pixel 6, but these phones have a decided edge on the video side.
Cinematic mode takes video to a different level by making it easier to change focus. It can look dramatic, though you are limited to doing it in 1080p, as 4K resolution may come later. When it comes to shooting great video, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are hard to beat.
The good news is both phones also start at 128GB of storage, so you have more to use from the start. The usual features also return, like Face ID, MagSafe, True Tone, and more. Apple also retained the Lightning charging port, in case you have accessories that still use it.
Samsung Galaxy S21, S21+, S21 Ultra
All three of these phones came out together, and the one you go with depends on need or want. The Galaxy S21 Ultra clearly has the best camera and largest AMOLED display, but the other two are equally capable in running smoothly. Apart from screen size and camera layout, the three share a lot of similarities. They all run on the same software, same processor and same storage options.
As there was no Galaxy Note this year, these three phones become even more compelling as options. You can only use the S Pen with the S21 Ultra, if you’re so inclined, though you will have to buy it separately. There are even cases with holsters for it. The other two don’t work with the pen, though hold other advantages, like easier one-handed use, as one example. They also get software updates the same way the Ultra does, so you’re never left behind.
On the camera side, the S21 Ultra has features the others don’t. That includes two telephoto lenses (3x and 10x), plus the large 108-megapixel image sensor on the main wide lens. Not to mention a larger, higher-resolution screen,
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3
The person you have in mind may not remember what flip phones were like in a bygone era, but the Galaxy Z Flip3 should appeal to them, either way. It flips open the way older school phones did, featuring a 6.2-inch Super AMOLED. Clamp it shut and you get a 1.9-inch Cover Screen display to peek into notifications and features. That Cover Screen also comes in handy when it’s time to take a selfie with the rear camera, too.
Samsung also used better glass for the main screen, plus software that also makes better use of the phone’s unique build. Plus, there’s just something really satisfying about flipping a phone open or closed. The hinge is pretty sturdy, so prying it open won’t feel flimsy.
Bear in mind this phone doesn’t have the best camera Samsung offers because the specs and output are more in line with the Galaxy S21 and S21+. You do have unique ways to capture photos and video, like folding the phone at 90-degrees or lower and propping it up to shoot hands-free. You can also do video calls this way by having the front camera face you.
Despite its smaller size (when clamped shut), it supports wireless charging, and uses a split-battery configuration to keep the lights on for longer. There are few phones out there like this one, and certainly few that are as pocket-friendly as this one is.
Other phones to consider
Note that within this list are multiple choices. If you don’t want the Pro or Ultra of a particular model, you can always look at their siblings. In the case of the iPhone, Apple complements the Pro models with the iPhone 13 and 13 mini, both of which are highly capable. Indeed, they may actually be better fit for most. You lose out on the telephoto lens, but many of the other camera features still apply.
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