Best US market phones of 2021 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 3 August 2022.

Last updated: August 3, 2022 (Changelog)

Seeing how popular our Buyer's guide is, we decided to do one specifically for the US market because it is pretty different from the other parts of the world.

One important difference is that the major Chinese brands are almost absent. Not all of them (there is OnePlus), but the vast majority of popular Chinese brands of smartphones such as Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, vivo, etc., are only available as gray imports.

In addition, the traditional brands with a presence in the US market offer a more limited selection of their smartphones. For instance, the high-end Nords from OnePlus are not available, Motorola's Edge family is small, while Samsung's Galaxy A series has been reduced to just a couple of phones.

The absence of strong competition from the Chinese brands also gives a fighting chance to some OEMs that wouldn't normally take a big cut of the total shipments. Motorola is just one example.

A few things to keep in mind, we didn't include any phones, which are considered gray imports. For once, you won't be getting after-market support and warranty in most cases, and secondly, it's hard to find a phone that would work with US carriers unless it's specifically made for the US market. That's why we try to keep things as official and retail in our selection as possible, and you will find most, if not all, of the handsets below available through the manufacturers' official stores or via the major retailers and the carriers themselves.

So, without further ado, here's our comprehensive list of devices, which are worthy of your attention and hard-earned cash in descending order.


Best phones above $1000


Editors' choice above $1000

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Specs
  • 'Best iPhone ever'
  • Robust build , IP68 rating
  • Most potent chipset on the market
  • Large 120Hz Dolby Vision OLED
  • Flagship 12MP cameras, LiDAR scanner
  • Top-notch battery life
  • Class-leading speaker quality
  • At least 5 years of firmware updates
  • No charger, no headphones in the box
  • Not the fastest to charge

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is still Apple's best iPhone. And it's the best current smartphone that you can buy on the US market - especially if you value gaming, photography and vlogging on the go.

The 13 Pro Max brings some long-overdue features like a ProMotion 120Hz display, a smaller notch, and a more prominent camera upgrade with a larger sensor for the main camera, a 3x telephoto, and an improved ultrawide camera with macro mode.

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max offers fantastic dust and water resistance, plus its Ceramic Shield is incredibly crack proof. Of course, the latest iPhone is unmatched when it comes to performance. If you are an iPhone type of person, the 13 Pro Max is a no-brainer. If you are after the best flagship - that's also this iPhone 13 Pro Max, as long as you don't mind using Apple iOS.

All of these apply to the regular Pro, in fact. It's up to you to decide which size suits you best. No matter the hardware differences, you will still get the same experience. Got to love Apple for that.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Specs
  • Truly innovative form factor, smaller hinge gap, S-Pen support
  • Waterproof!
  • Hardware offers unique usability potential, the software is there to unlock it
  • Great 120Hz AMOLED screens
  • Outstanding speakers
  • Under-display camera
  • Solid all-round camera system, complete with unique selfie capabilities
  • Gap is still present and even the new tougher display protector is still soft and susceptible to damage
  • The Snapdragon 888 chipset is a bit thermally-constrained and underperforms slightly
  • Disappointing battery life, ships without a charger
  • Not quite flagship-grade camera quality

The waterproofed Galaxy Z Fold3 is a handset you can get if a regular bar doesn't cut it anymore. It has an improved hinge and offers ingress protection, plus it introduces an under-display selfie camera. Truly innovative, some may say.

Samsung's third generation of phone-turns-into-tablet foldable comes with an improved build, chipset, cameras. On the software side, OneUI is there to help if you're wondering what to do with the form factor, but multi-tasking and selfie-taking are two areas elevated to a whole different level.

The camera system isn't half bad, but it's not quite a match for Samsung's non-folding top-end models - a periscope is missing, the others aren't state-of-the-art either. The Z Fold3 battery life is quite uninspiring, though, and there is no charger inside the box. The stereo speakers are still as wonderful. Overall, Samsung's way past the proof of concept stage with this one, so it's worth a look if you're shopping with an unlimited budget.

The Galaxy Z Fold4 announcement is just around the corner, so you may as well wait for the newer one, or the price cut that shall be introduced for this Z Fold3.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G

Specs
  • It’s a Galaxy S Ultra and it’s a Galaxy Note!
  • Outstanding high-res OLED screen, S-Pen.
  • One of the best cameraphones, long zoom capability
  • Flagship-grade speed, 5G, all sorts of connectivity options.
  • Solid design, IP68-rated.
  • Not very fast to charge - 45W charger has no benefit over 25W.
  • No charger, no headphones in the box
  • Regional chipset divide could bother some users.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best flagships for many reasons. First, it’s not only a Galaxy S Ultra, but also a Galaxy Note Ultra. Yay, the Note lives! It also gathers all the cutting edge tech Samsung can offer to the public so far, short of a foldable screen, of course.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has one, if not the best mobile OLED screen with all the bells and whistles, and with native S Pen support, of course. And now that the S-Pen comes integrated within the Ultra, you won’t need to purchase a pen-holding case.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also offers excellent battery life (for a flagship), the latest-gen fingerprint reader, and loud and clear stereo speakers.

One of the most important aspects of the Galaxy S22 Ultra are its cameras. A quad setup means you get two teles on this Galaxy Ultra going all the way up to 10x. And all of these cameras, plus the selfie, deliver excellent photo and video quality.

The continued regional divide that leaves the bulk of the world with what some perceive as the inferior Exynos chipset is hardly ideal. The good news is that the US market is getting the Snapdragon-powered model, so here is another reason to get it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $1000


Editors' choice up to $1000

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Specs
  • Outstanding sturdy and water-proof desgin
  • Still rather compact
  • Brightest OLED screen, 120Hz
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Unmatched performance, 5G
  • Great photo and video quality all-around
  • Compact as it may be, the 'small' 13 Pro weighs a lot
  • The chipset is prone to heavy throttling under max load
  • The fast charging isn't very fast

The same reason we picked the iPhone 13 Pro Max applies to the 13 Pro. It's the latest and greatest from Apple and there are hardly any other flagships worth considering for $1,000. One of the standout features this year are the 120Hz ProMotion display, the larger main camera sensor and the improved ultrawide camera capable of excellent macro photography.

Just like the Pro Max, the standard Pro model also offers water and dust-proofing and Ceramic Shield for increased resistance to drops and scratches. The chipset powering up the handset is currently the most powerful solution on the market. It's mostly about the OS, though, as iOS might not be everyone's cup of coffee, but given how popular iPhones in the US are, we have a feeling most of the users won't mind it. So in case the Pro Max is too big for you, and you are in for a high-end iPhone, the standard Pro is the most logical choice.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Specs
  • The best OLED screen, 1000+nits, 1440p, 120Hz, HDR10+, S-Pen support
  • Outstanding battery life, fast to top-up the 5,000mAh battery
  • Overall great camera performance across the board, long zoom capability
  • Somewhat bulky and slippery, rear camera bump can be an eye sore
  • Scant retail package
  • Regional chipset divide could bother some, lack of microSD slot too

The previous Galaxy S21 Ultra still gathers a lot of cutting-edge tech, short of a foldable screen. It has a superb display with all the bells and whistles, including S Pen support. Battery life is excellent, the latest-gen fingerprint reader is great, the stereo speakers are loud and clear.

Then there are the cameras. A quad setup means you have two teles on this Galaxy Ultra going all the way up to 10x natively. The main unit offers an excellent 108MP Nonapixel concept with advancements in HDR, low light and autofocus performance. The selfie camera continues along the same lines, delivering praise-worthy results.

The barebones retail package is not our favorite trend, even if it's being marketed as environmentally friendly. The disappearance of the microSD slot for this generation is hardly ideal either. Ultimately though, these are small enough as to be largely immaterial, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the best flagships and the best Android smartphone.

The reason we picked the S21 Ultra is that its price often drops down at about $800, which makes it quite the deal. So, if sold at such a promo – you may want to consider it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $900


Editors' choice up to $900

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Specs
  • Beautiful new design, IP68, GG Victus
  • Google's own Tensor chip
  • Large 120Hz OLED, HDR10+, bright
  • Three flagship cameras with top-notch photo and video quality
  • Class-leading speaker quality
  • Fast firmware updates
  • No charger and not the fastest to charge
  • Average battery life
  • HDR+ is overly aggressive, color inconsistencies
  • Limited availability

The Pixel 6 Pro has a lot of new features we liked instantly. The new design is cool, the 120Hz OLED screen is great, and the phone has one of the fastest chips on the market.

The Pixels are known for their cameras, and the Pixel 6 Pro delivers handsomely - it has a triple rear camera - a 50MP primary, a 12MP ultrawide, and a 48MP snapper with long-range 4X zoom. The photo and video quality have been improved significantly, and there are even some new tricks thanks to the Tensor chip. Finally, since it's a Pixel, you can expect on-time Android updates

The new Pixel 6 Pro also brings a brand-new selfie camera - a long-overdue upgrade over the previous models. It's an 11.1MP sensor with 4K video capturing.

It's not all great, though. Its battery life is uninspiring; the HDR+ won't be everyone's cup of tea. There are also color inconsistencies between the primary and the ultrawide cameras.

Read full review
OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro

Specs
  • Superb 120Hz LTPO2 AMOLED display with granular HRR control
  • Excellent sustained performance and thermals
  • Reliably good performance from the primary camera
  • Competitive battery life
  • 80W SuperVOOC charging speeds are excellent
  • Distinctive design with premium finish, water-resistant in US
  • OxygenOS 12 no longer has that OnePlus fan-favorite look and feel
  • Ultra wide is not at the level of last year's model and also lacks AF or Macro
  • Most games limited to 60Hz refresh rate
  • Front camera and telephoto camera only offer 1080p video recording

OnePlus 10 Pro is the company’s current flagship and it’s one of the best phones you can get right now at about $900. It comes with an outstanding LTPO2 OLED display, superb sustained performance, and offers reliable camera performance. The best part – the phone is water-resistant for the US market!

One thing you should know is that the camera system is simply worse than the OnePlus 9 Pro due to downgrading of the ultra-wide camera. While the quality difference isn't massive, it is still objectively and measurably worse and also drops the macro functionality in favor of a frankly pointless fisheye effect.

The 10 Pro is certainly a strong contender, but that might depend on who you ask. If you're looking to buy into an expansive ecosystem, you might want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, the 10 Pro does have a capable all-around camera with enough features to keep photographers and casual picture-takers happy while also catering to content creators who appreciate a color-accurate display.

Read full review

Best phones up to $800


Editors' choice up to $800

Samsung Galaxy S22 5G

Samsung Galaxy S22 5G

Specs
  • IP68 rating, Gorilla Glass Victus, metal frame, 167g
  • Superb 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Versatile triple camera that goes from ultra wide to 3x zoom with excellent performance across the board
  • Great performance
  • Stereo speakers
  • No charger in the box
  • The bitter taste in your mouth from calling the 64MP camera telephoto

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is one of the most compact Android flagships available and the small size didn't come at the cost of cut features.

The Galaxy S22 comes a 1080p 120Hz AMOLED and flagship hardware – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US. It has an improved camera system since the controversial S21 – now we have a 50MP OIS primary, a 10MP OIS 3x telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The selfie camera is the flagship-grade 10MP AF unit we’ve seen on the S21. All cameras deliver top-notch quality in stills and video, day and night.

The smallest Galaxy S22 offers a decent battery life even if it’s a bit lower than the S21’s. It is one of the most compact droids available right now, among the most powerful, too, and an easy enough recommendation.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13

Specs
  • Outstanding design - sturdy and water-proofed
  • Bright OLED screen, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Dependable battery life
  • Loud stereo speakers, excellent output
  • Unmatched performance, 5G
  • Great all-round photo and video quality across all three cameras
  • Minor upgrade over iPhone 12
  • No 120Hz refresh rate
  • The notch is still an eyesore even if smaller
  • The fast charging can be handled better

It does lack a high refresh rate screen, but the iPhone 13 is one of the most durable and powerful phones on the market, yet lightweight and comfortable. The OLED screen is great; it has reduced though still huge notch, offers outstanding contrast and brightness, Dolby Vision and HDR10 support.

The iPhone 13 has the latest Apple chip with 5G, there is also latest Apple dual-camera with Cinematic mode, you get stereo speakers, fast charging, and even MagSafe support.

The iPhone 12 is still on sale if you want to spend $100 less - it's pretty much the same phone sans the halved storage and lack of Cinematic mode. The rest are mostly cosmetic changes.

Read full review
OnePlus 9

OnePlus 9

Specs
  • Good display performance
  • Relatively clean software and great UI performance
  • Powerful loudspeakers
  • Good performance from the main wide and ultra-wide cameras
  • Fast charging
  • US market gets ingress protection
  • Plastic frame
  • No dedicated telephoto camera
  • Outdated front camera
  • Worse battery life performance than previous models

The OnePlus 9 is another all-round smartphone that deserves a spot on this list. It did not make it to the flagships, or the flagship killers, but its current price of about $700 makes it an excellent contender in its price bracket.

The OnePlus 9 has a superb 6.55-inch 120Hz Fluid AMOLED screen with HDR10+ support, and it employs the most current Snapdragon 888 5G chipset. We found its primary and ultrawide cameras on the back to be quite capable with a good photo and video quality.

The good OnePlus traits continue with powerful stereo speakers and the incredibly fast 65W charging.

The OnePlus 9 is not without a few caveats, of course. The international model has no ingress protection, there is no zoom camera on the back, the selfies aren't that good, and most importantly - the battery life is uninspiring.

Still, those omissions aren't enough to distract us from this excellent versatile smartphone, and we do recommend exploring it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $700


Editors' choice up to $700

Apple iPhone 12

Apple iPhone 12

Specs
  • Attractive design with exquisite fit and finish
  • Excellent OLED screen
  • Loud stereo speakers, superb audio quality
  • Good photo quality across the board, day and night
  • 5 years of guaranteed major updates
  • No charger or headphones in the box
  • No high refresh rate screen
  • Battery life is shorter than iPhone 11
  • We miss TouchID as FaceID does not work with a mask on

The iPhone 12 from last year offers a brand-new design (compared to its predecessors, of course) with a hint of nostalgia. It's one of the most durable and powerful phones on the market, yet lightweight and comfortable. Another big upgrade over the predecessor is the new OLED screen of high-resolution.

The iPhone 12 offers the most powerful chip for 2020 with 5G, there is the latest Apple dual-camera, you get stereo speakers, fast charging, and even MagSafe support. It also makes a lot of sense in the US market as you get flagship, iOS experience for just under $700 and more importantly, Apple will continue the software support for the handset for years to come.

Read full review
Asus Zenfone 8 Flip

Asus Zenfone 8 Flip

Specs
  • Unique design with a flip rear camera, no screen notch
  • 90Hz HDR10+ Super AMOLED
  • Snapdragon 888 with 5G, 8GB RAM
  • Dependable battery life
  • Great photo and video quality across the board
  • The best selfie camera you can have
  • Stereo speakers, NFC, microSD
  • No OIS on main and tele cameras
  • No ingress protection
  • Not that fast charging
  • Outdated selfie camera

The Zenfone 8 Flip can be purchased at about $650 in some US retailers and that’s why we are recommending it. The Flip is basically a Zenfone 7 Pro with updated Snapdragon 888 chipset and the same motorized and rotatable triple camera.

While the three shooters are the same as on the Zenfone 7 Pro - a 64MP primary, an 8MP 3x tele, and a 12MP ultrawide snapper, Asus has decided not to offer optical stabilization on the primary and the zoom snappers. We can understand not having stabilization on the main camera, but it's a bit preposterous not having such on the telephoto cam.

Still, the Zenfone 8 Flip is an impressive all-round smartphone with flagship skills on a reasonable $650 price. Plus, it's a selfie master and an incredibly powerful selfie tool, skills few can match. And that’s why it's worth considering.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 13 mini

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Specs
  • Tiny OLED, high-res, bright
  • Iconic design with ceramic shield, aluminum frame, IP68
  • The latest Apple A15Bionic chip with 5G
  • The cameras take some great photos and videos
  • Night Mode and Dolby Vision available
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Improved battery life over 12 mini
  • Potential throttling under certain conditions
  • No charger, no headphones

The new Apple iPhone 13 mini is a smaller version of the iPhone 13, and it's lost nothing. The most important updates over the 12 mini are the larger battery capacity, the smaller screen notch, and the doubled base storage. We sure don't think iPhone 12 mini owners should update, but we do consider the 13 mini as the best compact phone there is right now!

The iPhone 13 mini packs a 5.4" OLED screen of 1080p resolution and the powerful Apple A15 chip with 5G connectivity! It has the same dual-camera as the regular iPhone 13, complete with sensor-shift stabilization, Night Mode and Dolby Vision video capturing. It also enjoys loud stereo speakers and improved battery life. The mini is one of the most durable phones to date as it has the same Ceramic Shield and IP68 waterproofing as the standard and Pro models.

You can also consider the Apple iPhone 12 mini as it is now cheaper, and the differences with the 13 mini aren't exciting.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G

Specs
  • Excellent AMOLED HDR10 screen, 120Hz, superb color accuracy
  • Good-looking S21-like body, water-resistant, grippy
  • Flagship-grade performance, 5G
  • Outstanding camera performance, day and night, photo and video
  • Likable no-nonsense OneUI 4 with powerful features
  • Loud enough stereo speakers
  • No charger in the box
  • No dynamic screen refresh rate
  • No 3.5mm jack, no microSD, no AF for selfies (pick one)

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G is a brilliant smartphone with top-notch features. It excels in the most critical departments - display, performance, camera, speakers, software, even design. For that - it's a great smartphone! And it can be found on as low as $600 in the US.

But it's not a Fan Edition, not like the S20 FE. For a phone that's supposed to cater to the fans, ditching the charger and the microSD slot does not make sense. And it doesn't bring any substantial camera updates, not even AF for selfies or ultrawide, though the improved photo quality could be arguably enough.

Still, Fan Edition or not, the S21 FE is quite the deal right now and we do recommend it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $600


Editors' choice up to $600

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 6

Specs
  • Standout rear design is unique to Pixel 6
  • Beautiful UI with fun and colorful elements; extended firmware update support; newly enabled Voice Typing and on-device voice to text processing
  • Google Tensor chip offers great all-around performance and excellent graphics performance
  • Great all-round photo and video quality across all three cameras
  • Camera bump prone to accumulating dust
  • The display maxes out at 90Hz, others do 120Hz
  • Charging can be faster
  • Tensor chip throttles under sustained peak load

The vanilla Google Pixel 6 is pretty much in its own category as it's unmatched around these parts. It is a waterproofed smartphone with a reasonably large 6.4-inch OLED with 90Hz refresh rate support and HDR10+. The highlight of the Pixel 6 is Google's first in-house developed Tensor chip, which turned out to be the fastest Android platform with incredibly powerful photographic skills.

The new dual-camera is impressive - it has a new 50MP primary with OIS and an improved 12MP ultrawide shooter. Super Zoom is supported, too, which is the AI replacement of the missing telephoto camera. The photo quality is the usual Pixel-level, which says a lot, plus there are some new cool tricks possible thanks to the Tensor chip.

The (€700) Pixel 6 is an excellent all-rounder with all sorts of flagship traits sold at a reasonable price. It will be getting the new Android updates first, will be leading the Android photography once again, and the Tensor chip is showing some great potential. Its limited availability, 90Hz instead of 120Hz screen refresh rate, and the missing telephoto camera is what's stopping it from being a great choice.

Read full review

Best phones up to $500


Editors' choice up to $500

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Specs
  • 120Hz Super AMOLED screen
  • Versatile camera
  • Decent performance
  • Stereo speakers
  • IP67-rated for dust and water resistance
  • No charger in the box
  • Downgraded since A52s in performance, 3.5mm jack, no Wi-Fi 6

The Galaxy A53 is a very good offer even if it’s a downgrade since the Galaxy A52s. The A53 is now competitively priced and offers IP67-rated design, a great 120Hz Super AMOLED screen, snappy performance with 5G, a reliable versatile camera setup with OIS.

The Galaxy A53 supports up to 25W fast charging, but the charger is sold separately. The missing Wi-Fi 6 and audio jack from the A52s are baffling. But even with these, it is one solid allrounder and deserves a spot on this list.

Read full review
Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Specs
  • It's an iPhone, and a 'cheap' one at that, as iPhones go.
  • TouchID!
  • IP67 rating
  • Apple A15 Bionic with 5G chipset
  • The camera takes some great photos and videos
  • Stereo speakers
  • While technically 'compact', the massive bezels mean small usable screen area
  • Apple’s excellent Night mode is sorely missed here
  • Battery life is only so-so
  • 60Hz LCD screen
  • No charger in the box

Apple released a new SE model in 2022 and it’s quite affordable. It's hardly perfect though, but Apple has the iPhone 13 mini and 12 mini for those seeking perfection. So, the SE has a dated a form factor introduced years ago and reuses a lot of the iPhone 8 bits. That means a single camera, a small battery, giant screen bezels and - TouchID.

The best bit about the iPhone SE 2022, outside its incredibly compact and lightweight body, is the chipset – it employs the Apple A15 Bionic chip with 5G, the same one behind the latest iPhone 13 generation. The A15 chip is more powerful than even the beefiest Android, and it'll remain capable for years to come, during which time it'll keep getting software updates - the iOS way. It's a very affordable entry into that iOS world too.

Read full review
Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a

Specs
  • Large and super-bright OLED display
  • Excellent performance
  • Solid camera performance
  • Stereo speakers
  • First in line for OS updates
  • IP67 water resistance
  • No support for high screen refresh rate

Then there's the Pixel 6a 5G that’s quite the deal. It packs a compact HDR OLED screen, offers excellent performance and top-notch camera quality via the dual-camera system on the back. The phone is also IP67-rated for dust and water resistance.

The Pixels are among the first phones to get the new Android versions, which is nice. The only issue we have with this 6a model is the lack of a high refresh rate support for the screen.

SPECS
Apple iPhone 11

Apple iPhone 11

Specs
  • Water resistant design, glossy back
  • Bright screen
  • Excellent battery life
  • Stereo speakers with great quality
  • Great main camera performance
  • Amazing video quality and stabilization
  • Excellent selfie photo and video quality
  • Enormous notch and bezels
  • Low-res screen
  • Comes bundled with a 5W charger
  • No 3.5mm jack, limited NFC functionality
  • The camera photos come out bland
  • No AF and Night Mode for the ultrawide
  • No telephoto

Apple's older iPhone 11 is not an easy recommendation given that it's older than two years, but it's one of the few devices that make sense in the category. Apple's continuous software support for older devices and its compatibility with all US carriers help build a stronger case.

However, no high-end phone with any amount of self-respect can be seen with a 5W charger in the box, except the iPhone 11. It's also on the bottom of the list when it comes to pixels on a screen per dollar spent, plus it's one of the most expensive phones with an LCD. It's not exactly a looker either, sporting a dated design made even less premium by the thickest of bezels.

Ah, but the iPhone 11 has a lot going for it if you look past all that. Obviously, it's one of the most affordable of this year's Apple crop, which means it's a cheap way to get that beast of a chipset, industry-standard video recording, and Night mode, albeit with one camera short of the Pros. The superb battery life doesn't hurt its case either.

Read full review

Best phones up to $400


Editors' choice up to $400

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52 5G

Specs
  • Beautiful design, IP67-rated body
  • Great AMOLED screen of 120Hz refresh rate
  • Impressive battery life
  • Balanced stereo speakers, loud enough
  • Great all-round camera experience, photo and video
  • 5G, microSD, 3.5mm jack, Android 11, One UI 3.5
  • 15W bundled charger not maximizing charging potential
  • The GPU performance is uninspiring
  • The selfie experience could have been better

One of the few Samsung phones from the Galaxy A series offered in the US is the A52 5G. A great all-rounder packed with a slew of premium features such as 120Hz OLED panel with 800 nits brightness, fast 25W charging and 12MP ultrawide camera. And we were impressed by its loud stereo speakers and dependable 4,500mAh battery (105h endurance rating).

The IP67-rating and the great AMOLED are tough to match, and Samsung promises a lot of future updates for this A52. Not to mention the Snapdragon 750G is one potent SoC for the price.

Read full review
Motorola Edge (2021)

Motorola Edge (2021)

Specs
  • Big, 144Hz, HDR10-compliant LCD panel
  • Powerful Snapdragon 778G
  • Water-repellent design
  • 108MP main camera and ultrawide with AF
  • 5,000 mAh battery with 30W charging
  • Stereo speakers
  • Display not OLED
  • No microSD slot

The Motorola Edge (2021) is US-only smartphone that's currently on discount and perfectly fits the $400 category. The device stands out with a fast 144Hz display, 108MP main camera and a powerful Snapdragon 778G SoC. Its clean Android experience remains the phone's key selling point, though. To be honest, the device is rather hard to recommend in its original price bracket, but since it's on discount (at the time of writing this guide), it's easily one of the best sub-$400 solutions on the market.

It's also one of the few handsets on the US market to feature the popular 108MP. Unfortunately, we haven't reviewed the phone, and we don't really know how it will perform, but we bet it's going to be decent at the very least, judging by our previous experience with the said sensor.

Last, but not least, the Edge (2021) is a particularly sensible solution for anyone looking for a big-screen handset. At 6.8", there's hardly any alternative, and the best part is that Motorola didn't cheap out with a panel. Sure, it's LCD, but it does have that HDR10-compatibility and a higher than most 144Hz refresh rate. Games would look great, as long as you can find ones that utilize the display's refresh rate. The 30W fast charging, a rare occurrence in Motorola's mid-range portfolio, ensures that the big 5,000 mAh battery won't take too long to charge.

Best phones up to $300


Editors' choice up to $300

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Specs
  • 120Hz LCD screen
  • Powerful enough Snapdragon 695 5G chipset
  • Water-repellent design, stylus
  • Triple-camera on the back with a 50MP OIS primary
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • No stereo speakers
  • LCD display may not be as attractive as an OLED

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) can be found at about $300 on T-Mobile and it’s an outstanding mid-range phone with a 120Hz display, good performance and incredibly reliable camera. The large battery is a thumbs up, too.

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) also offers clean no-nonsense Android experience. IF you can find this phone at about $300, you should get it.

SPECS
Motorola One 5G Ace

Motorola One 5G Ace

Specs
  • Big, HDR10-compliant screen
  • Water-repellent design
  • Powerful Snapdragon 750G behind the wheel
  • Very good photo quality, day and night
  • Clean Android experience
  • Comes with Android 10
  • No high refresh rate mode

Motorola's One 5G Ace handset is a recently discounted powerful smartphone with the same Snapdragon 750G SoC and a big 6.7-inch HDR10-compliant screen. It definitely gives these Samsungs a run for their money. In fact, this phone easily wins our Editor's Choice award in the under $300 category. It has a powerful, unrivaled Snapdragon 750G chipset for the money, a big 6.7-inch display, HDR10 at that, and a solid 5,000 mAh battery to run all that.

The One 5G Ace uses the same camera setup as its rivals and doesn't miss on the microSD card, NFC and 3.5mm audio jack. More importantly, in typical Motorola fashion, the company made it splash-resistant - a nice bonus to have when buying a budget handset these days. And in case you are wondering, yes, the One 5G Ace works with Verizon, you just have to get the UW Ace version of the phone. It's the same phone but compatible with Verizon's 5G network.

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

Specs
  • Vibrant and bright display
  • Lightweight and sleek design
  • Great chipset performance with excellent thermal management
  • Wonderful battery life and support for fast charging
  • No high refresh rate mode
  • Lacks ultra-wide camera and 4K video recording
  • Single loudspeaker is unimpressive

In the context of the US market, OnePlus is in a great position with T-Mobile and Metro to be offering smartphones in its Nord lineup that are well-equipped and intended for the pre-paid market. The Nord N20 brings a great AMOLED screen with in-display scanner, excellent battery life, all packed in an attractive and sleek plastic body.

Overall, the Nord N20 is a well-equipped device with enough features to satisfy the above-average smartphone user. It plays games very well - with minimal throttling - and it yields excellent battery life. Not to mention, it charges up very quickly thanks to the included SuperVOOC charger.

This display, although not a high-refresh rate one, is still brighter and produces a nicer image than equivalent LCD panels in this class. To wrap it all up, the Nord N20's Snapdragon 695 also brings 5G to this affordable price point.

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Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Specs
  • Bright Super AMOLED screen, small notch
  • Eye-catchy design
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Very good photo quality, day and night
  • Impressive 4K clips from the main cam
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers
  • Slow to charge

And in case you are a Verizon subscriber (the handset works only with Verizon), the Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is unbeatable in this price category. It has an AMOLED screen and flagship-grade performance in addition to its great battery life and photography skills. It even offers 5G connectivity at that price.

There is a catch, though. The screen is 720p resolution, and charging the beefy battery takes longer than we'd have liked it. Then again, at that price, we are getting plenty, more than we would have hoped for, in fact.

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Best phones up to $200


Editors' choice up to $200

Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

Specs
  • Large screen, 90Hz, small notch
  • Adequate performance for 720p OS experience
  • 50MP primary camera
  • Android 11
  • microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Water-repellent coating
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers, no UW camera

The $199 Moto G Power has a 90Hz LCD screen and a large 5,000mAh battery – and that’s why it is one of the best phones under $200.

The G Power (2022) comes with water-repellent coating and offers adequate performance. It has no ultrawide camera or stereo speakers, but at this price point – we didn’t expect such features anyway.

SPECS
Nokia G20

Nokia G20

Specs
  • Large screen, small notch
  • Adequate performance for 720p OS experience
  • Okay camera experience, ultrawide and macro
  • Android 11
  • NFC, microSD, 3.5mm jack, FM radio
  • 720p screen

The $190 Nokia G20 is a unique suggestion for its clean Android. It has a large 720p screen and a good enough chip to handle such resolution, plus it shows potential with its quad-camera (wide+ultrawide+depth+macro). The 5,050mAh battery seems excellent for the job, too.

The Nokia G20 isn't the fastest phone, and its screen sharpness isn't ideal, but it's quite cheap, and Android 11 is a treat you'd probably like.

SPECS
Samsung Galaxy A03s

Samsung Galaxy A03s

Specs
  • Solid build, good grip
  • Large screen with excellent contrast
  • Outstanding battery life
  • The daylight camera quality is good
  • Relatively recent Android and solid OneUI Core
  • 3.5mm jack, microSD, NFC
  • Subpar performance, lag is occasional
  • Dull screen colors
  • Sluggish charger, no fast charging support
  • Poor selfies, videos, speaker

The Galaxy A03s is a good entry-level smartphone - that's undeniable. It has a good screen, a reliable battery, a recent Android OS with OneUI interface, and a non-nonsense primary camera.

It is a cheap phone with rather cheaper screen and subpar performance, but at $169 we just cannot ask for more.

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Most recent updates

August 3, 2022:Added Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 5G, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Asus Zenfone Flip 8, iPhone SE (2022), Galaxy A53, Pixel 6a, OnePlus Nord 20 5G, Samsung Galaxy A03s, Motorola G Power (2022). Removed Galaxy Z Flip3, ROG Phone 6s, OnePlus 9 Pro, Galaxy S21 5G, Zenfone 8, OnePlus 8T, Pixel 5a 5G, iPhone SE (2020), Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, Samsung Galaxy A12.

Dec 16, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G with the Motorola One 5G Ace as our Editor's Choice in the sub-$300 category.

Best phones by category


Reader comments

  • Quericus
  • 01 May 2022
  • YeV

With the exception of 1+ this list also applies to the Canadian market; 1+ isn't widely available here. Nokia, Motorola, Google, Asus and Sony can be ordered by Amazon or some Staples or Best Buy stores. Samsung and Apple are the dominant bran...

Listen to this. I went to phone finder and selected all your options (except bootloader), and there are 14 results. Surprising not many. Samsung S10, S10e, S10+ Samsung M62, F62 Sony Xperia 5 II, 1 II, 1 III, Pro, Pro-I and LG V60 Here is t...

  • Anonymous
  • 04 Feb 2022
  • keI

i think the iphones are kinda overrated but still good list, found some great phones to recommend to family