Do you want a fast phone? A smartphone that takes photography to the next level? Or are you more focused on nabbing yourself the best phone for online gaming or digital drawing?
We’ve gathered what we consider to be the best of the best for whatever you might be looking for.
- Best iOS
- Best Android
- Best for photography
- Best for battery life
- Best for music
- Best for gaming
- Best for digital drawing
- Best for budget
Best iOS - iPhone 12 Pro Max
If you’re a fan of iPhones, then Apple’s latest release (as of summer 2021) is sure to be on your list. The iPhone 12s are Apple’s best to date, with the most helpful features, speediest chips, largest screens, and most high-spec cameras. If you’re looking for the biggest and most powerful of the iPhones, then the 12 Pro Max is the one for you.
Release date: October 2020
Price: £1,097.99 - £1,396.99
Features that make it the best iOS
- Has the largest display of an iPhone so far at 6.7 inches with sharp and clear display resolution (2778 x 1284) for a vivid screen
- Has triple rear cameras: 12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Wide, and 12MP Telephoto to experiment with different lenses, and 12x digital zoom to capture landscapes far away
- Includes 4K video recording
- You have the option of three storage capacities, all of which are large and will usually not require any expansion (which you can only do with iCloud on an iPhone, anyway): 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
- Has a battery capacity of 3,687mAh (second only to the iPhone 11 Pro Max), which allows for 20 hours of video playback and 80 hours of audio playback
- Has a waterproof rating of IP68, which means the phone can withstand up to one metre of water submersion for 30 minutes
- Has Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless listening
- Is compatible with 5G for speedier downloading
- Compatible with MagSafe technology, a new secure way of charging for Apple phones
Best Android - OnePlus 9 Pro
When you think of Android, you may immediately think of Samsung. Although their phones are great, they’re usually better for specialised features (as you’ll see below). With that in mind, we’ve picked the new OnePlus 9 Pro as the best overall Android phone.
The OnePlus 9 range rivals many of the more popular household names in specs and features. With functionality and style at the heart of their designs, OnePlus could be your new favourite phone manufacturer.
Release date: April 2021
Features that make it the best Android
- Has a large 6.7 inch AMOLED screen and powerful pixel resolutions at 3216 x 1440 for a colourful display
- Made with Corning Gorilla Glass for extra strength and protection
- Quad rear cameras: 48MP Main, 50MP Ultra Wide, 8MP Telephoto, and 2MP Monochrome, with a 16MP front camera for detailed selfies
- Also has 8K video recording for super-clear footage
- Runs Android’s newest operating system, Android 11, which means it’s up-to-date with all the latest bug fixes and special features
- Has a big battery capacity of 4,500mAh, which supports 50W wireless charging
- Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor for speed and fluidity
- The user can choose between having 128GB or 256GB internal storage for all of their apps, videos, games, photos, and files
- NFC-enabled for contactless payments at shops, restaurants, and more
- Bluetooth 5.2 for strong and clear wireless connectivity
- Is compatible with 5G
Best for photography - Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
As one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers worldwide, Samsung have a huge portfolio of amazing phones boasting tablet-size screens, impressive quad cameras, and big batteries to last you all day. Take a look at what the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G can do for the budding photographer.
Release date: January 2021
Price: £1,144.99 - £1,194.99
Features that make it the best for photography
- Quad rear cameras: huge and powerful 108MP Wide lens, 12MP Ultra Wide, 10MP Telephoto (with 3x zoom), and 10MP Telephoto (with 10x zoom) for capturing diverse photos
- The sensor on the main rear camera can naturally adjust lighting to achieve a perfectly well-lit image
- The front camera is a whopping 40MP, which is one of the highest megapixels in the industry for a selfie lens
- You can also record in 8K for the sharpest, clearest video footage (like for vlogging)
- Large 6.8 inch screen with 3200 x 1440 HD+ resolution so your photos will show up detailed and colourful
- Has a long-lasting 5,000mAh battery so you can take photos and videos all day without running out of charge
- You can pick from three storage options, all large enough to save thousands of your photos: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
- Comes with S Pen support so you can opt to use a stylus instead of your hand to navigate the display, which might come in handy for detailed photo editing
- Compatible with 5G
Best for battery life - Samsung Galaxy M51
Finding a phone with a long-lasting battery life to sustain you all day can be tough. You can extend your phone’s battery by making a few changes to the way you use it, but if you’re on the lookout for a reliable smartphone with a huge battery capacity, Samsung once again has you covered.
Release date: September 2020
Price: £400 - £500
Features that make it the best for battery life
- Has a huge 7,000mAh battery capacity that can last several days, which is quite unprecedented as many smartphones don’t exceed 5,000mAh
- Its battery offers up to 182 hours of audio playback time, 64 hours of talk time, and 34 hours of video playback
- The phone also comes with a 25W charger and supports wireless charging
- The battery is non-removable, which ultimately makes it more secure if your phone is stolen
- Has a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can plug in headphones instead of draining the battery faster with Bluetooth connectivity
- Additional bonuses include a large 6.7 inch screen, powerful quad rear cameras (64MP, 12MP, 5MP, and 5MP), a strong 32MP front camera, 4K video recording, and 4G
Best for music - LG G8S ThinQ
There are a bunch of features you should consider if you’re buying a phone specifically for its audio quality. From DAC to Hi-Fi playback, there’s a lot to consider. Luckily, we’ve already dedicated an entire article to the best music playing phones on the market! From this, we’ve chosen the LG G8S ThinQ as the number one smartphone for music - see why below.
Release date: July 2019
Features that make it the best for music
- Benefits from a 32-bit HiFi Quad DAC, which provides high quality audio playback through headphones
- Also has a 3D sound system so that the music feels all-encompassing and immersive
- Comes with a 1W speaker, headphone port and Bluetooth 5.0 so you can opt to play music aloud, through wired headphones, or wirelessly
- This LG model also includes a handy feature called ‘Air Motion’ which allows you to control the volume with hand movements rather than having to touch the 6.21 inch screen
- The phone comes with an internal memory of 128GB, but you also have the option of expanding this storage up to a whopping 2TB with a microSD card - plenty of space for all of your music downloads and music apps like YouTube and Spotify
- Has a 3,350mAh battery which can sustain your music playing all day, so you don’t have to worry about charging on commutes or road trips. It’s also compatible with wireless charging
- Has a waterproof rating of IP68 so if you listen to music while working out, your phone is sweatproof in your hand or pocket
- Additional features include triple rear cameras (12MP, 13MP, and 12MP) and dual front cameras at 8MP each
Best for gaming - Asus ROG Phone 3
If you like to use your smartphone for playing games or watching live streams, you might be interested in investing in a phone designed specifically for these uses. The Asus ROG Phone 3 was created with gamers in mind, so it comes built with all the features you’ll need to turn your phone into a fully-functioning gaming device.
Release date: 2020
Features that make it the best for gaming
- The large 6.56 inch AMOLED display is packed with light technology that automatically reduces the brightness of the screen throughout the day to best protect your eyes, helpful for those long gaming sessions
- It also has an impressive audio setup to amplify a gamer’s experience in play: dual front-facing Dirac HD speakers, a seven-magnet stereo speaker, and Hi-Res audio
- You can place the phone in ‘Game Mode’ to activate in-game sound amplification for a more immersive experience
- The phone also has quad microphones (for talking during gaming or live-streaming) that are installed with noise reduction technology
- The Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor is fast and powerful to reduce chances of glitching or buffering
- You can benefit from storage up to 512GB for saving all of your games and apps
- With a long-lasting 6,000mAh battery capacity, you won’t need to rush for your charger every hour of gameplay
- 5G ready for quicker download speeds
If you’re interested in a big screen, high-class audio, and speedy processors, we have even more recommendations for the best phones for gamers and film fanatics.
Best for digital drawing - Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
If you like to use your phone for drawing or graphic design, you’ll need a large screen, clear pixels, and huge storage capabilities to keep your creations safe. Luckily, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G is exactly what you need for the job.
Release date: August 2020
Features that make it the best for digital drawing
- Almost tablet-size dynamic AMOLED display screen at 6.9 inches with vivid 3088 x 1440 pixel resolution makes artistic creations easier to see
- The display also has a refresh rate of 120Hz, which means it will appear clearer and smoother than phones with a lower refresh rate. It’s also less harsh on your eyes, so you can spend longer drawing
- Comes with a stylus, also known as an S Pen, for all of your drawing, painting, and writing needs
- Has triple rear cameras with a powerful 108MP Wide, 12MP Ultra Wide, and 12MP Telephoto lens so you can take stunning pictures of anything to recreate in your art. A front 10MP selfie and 8K recording are additional bonuses
- Has a 4,500mAh battery so you don’t need to constantly charge it
- Comes with either 256GB or 512GB of storage for all of your artwork and drawing apps
- Compatible with 5G
- The phone also comes protected with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, which is currently the strongest glass you can get in a smartphone
Best for budget - Motorola Moto E7
If you’re on the lookout for an affordable phone that doesn’t skimp on all the great specs of more expensive phones, look no further than the Motorola Moto E7, from one of the longest-standing manufacturers.
Release date: December 2020
Features that make it the best for its price
- Large 6.5 inch screen proves price has nothing on quality, as this is the same display size as many of the other high-end phones
- Dual rear camera - 48MP main and 2MP micro - with a 5MP selfie camera and HD 1080p video recording capability, so you’re not left out on capturing any of those portrait or landscape shots
- Big 4,000mAh battery life with 10W charging cable
- 64GB built-in storage with up to 512GB possible using a microSD card
- Bluetooth 5.0 or 3.5mm headphone jack for wired and wireless headphones
- Water-repellent design to protect from water damage
- Includes AI Google Assistant to make hands-free, verbal commands
For more budget-friendly options, we have a list of the best phones for under £100 and under £200 so you can find the best smartphone for you.
You might be interested in reading more of our ‘best of brand’ masterlists:
- Which Huawei phone is right for you?
- Which Oppo phone is right for you?
- Which Hammer phone is right for you?
- Which Google phone is right for you?
- Which Nokia phone is right for you?
Or maybe phone recommendations that are more specific:
- Best 5G-enabled-phones
- Best phones for the visually impaired
- Best phones for the hard of hearing
- Best phones for seniors
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