Best smartphones of 2021 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 30 December 2021.

Last updated: December 30, 2021

Welcome to the always-up-to-date GSMArena Smartphone Buyer's Guide where we round up the best smartphones you can buy.

You will find the different categories of phones below with our top pick as a highlight. Click on the category to see the other suggested options.


Flagship phones Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Specs

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is currently Apple's best iPhone. It finally 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.

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Flagship killers Xiaomi Poco F3

Xiaomi Poco F3

Specs

The Poco F3 is one of the hottest surprises this season. It's a proper flagship-killer, the catchy name behind all those overqualified mid-ranges. The F3 impresses with a 120Hz AMOLED screen and the second-best Qualcomm chip right now - the Snapdragon 870 with 5G.

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Camera phones Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Specs

Breaking a streak of Galaxy title holders, the Mi 11 Ultra is our latest Editors' choice for cameraphone. It packs a unique combination of top-class hardware and puts it to good use, producing great results across virtually all scenarios.

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Gaming phones Asus ROG Phone 5

Asus ROG Phone 5

Specs

Nobody does smartphone gaming quite like Asus. Four iterations into the ROG Phone line, that remains a fact. The ROG Phone 5 is a true powerhouse in every sense of the word - a phone that is specifically crafted to deliver the best possible gaming experience, with any other concern or consideration taking a back seat. It just so happens that when you make an excellent gaming flagship, you usually end up with an excellent all-around device in general that has plenty of appeal outside gaming.

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Battery life champions Xiaomi Poco F3

Xiaomi Poco F3

Specs

The most recent Poco F3 replaces our previous top pick for a battery life champ - the Poco F2 Pro. It is currently one of the most powerful smartphones and the most dependable performer when it comes to battery life.

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Compact phones Apple iPhone 13 mini

Apple iPhone 13 mini

Specs

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!

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Premium all-rounders Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G

Specs

The €380 Samsung Galaxy A52s is our new top pick for this category as it strikes a balance between premium features and attractive pricing. The latest Galaxy A52s features a great 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, there is also the Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset with flagship-like performance and HRR gaming, we did like the stereo speakers and all sorts of ports and wireless connectivity.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €300) Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

Specs

There is no better mid-ranger than the Redmi Note 10 Pro if your budget is around the €300 mark (MSRP of €279). The phone offers excellent screen and camera quality, plus a splash-resistant glass design. Its chipset may not be the fastest, but it's up to par.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €250) Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro

Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro

Specs

The €220 Poco X3 Pro is easily the best phone around the €250 mark. It has a large 120Hz display and one enormously powerful (for the class) Snapdragon 860 chipset with plenty of RAM and storage. The phone is IP53-rated for splash resistance and offers Gorilla Glass 6 screen protection.

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Midrange all-rounders (up to €200) Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Xiaomi Poco X3 NFC

Specs

There is no better mid-ranger than the €189 Poco X3 NFC if your budget is around the €200 mark. It was, in fact, our previous top pick for the €250 category, but now it's even cheaper!

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Entry-level phones Xiaomi Redmi 9

Xiaomi Redmi 9

Specs

Our top pick to buy in the most affordable category is the Redmi 9. It is a great budget smartphone with a large 6.53" 1080p screen and powerful enough Helio G80 chip. It has four cameras on its back - wide, ultrawide, macro and depth.

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US market phones Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Specs

As we already pointed out, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is currently Apple's best iPhone. And it's the best current smartphone that you can buy on the US market - especially with Samsung Galaxy S phones getting their yearly replacement quite soon.

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Best phones by category

Reader comments

Update 🙄🙄

  • Renee

I like it too

A52s is a 2021 phone.