best smartphones of 2021


2021 has been a great year for smartphones, all things considered. We compiled a list of some of the best launches we’ve had in India in the middle of this year, and now it’s time for the final update as we kick off another year of great phone launches. Most of the phones in the previous list remained, with the exception of a few such as the Vivo X60 Pro, which took the place alongside the Vivo X70 Pro+. We have some new additions such as the Realme GT and of course, the iPhone 13 series. If Google had launched it in India, then perhaps the Google Pixel 6 series would also be included in this list.

How we picked the best phones of 2021

In the previous list, one of the criteria for a smartphone to qualify as one of the year’s best was that it had to earn an overall rating of at least ‘8’ in its review. However, we’re changing that qualifier a bit for this list, which helps us narrow it down to just the very best of the best. We’ve sorted all the phones that earned an overall score of ‘9’ for this final list, and then picked only those we felt worthy of a spot based on their sub-scores across a variety of criteria . We also considered any unique features and performance advantages each smartphone offers compared to its peers in the same segment. In the end, these models are the ones we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone.

With that out of the way, let’s meet the chosen ones.

best phones of 2021 Gadgets 360 Rating (out of 10) Price in India (as recommended)
iphone 13 mini 9 Rupee. 69,990
iphone 13 9 Rupee. 79,990
iphone 13 pro 9 Rupee. 1,19,900
iphone 13 pro max 9 Rupee. 1,29,900
realme gt 9 Rupee. 37,999
Mi 11 Ultra 9 Rupee. 69,999
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 9 Rupee. 1,05,999
Vivo X70 Pro+ 9 Rupee. 79,990
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G 9 Rupee. 49,999
Mi 11x Pro 9 Rupee. 36,999
oneplus 9 pro 9 Rupee. 59,999

iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini

The Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini aren’t huge updates compared to their predecessors, but we think Apple has made enough notable changes to keep things fresh and offer a better usage experience. Both the new iPhones get some big improvements like a faster SoC, sensor-shift stabilization for the main camera, and a bigger battery. They also get some camera features like the Cinematic Mode and Photographic Style on the iPhone 13 Pro model. It all adds up to a very good user experience, at the same starting prices as the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini.

The iPhone 13 Mini has everything that the iPhone 13 has, only with a smaller battery and display. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a weak iPhone. In fact, the iPhone 13 Mini offers better battery life than the iPhone 12 Mini, and as a compact flagship, is a much better deal than something like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.

iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max

Like the iPhone 13 siblings, the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max look similar to their predecessors from the outside, but there are a lot of changes on the inside that make them great. For starters, both Pro models get the long-awaited high-refresh-rate treatment for their displays, with new screens capable of scaling from 10Hz to 120Hz. There are new camera sensors and upgraded lenses that offer better picture and video performance than last year’s model.

You can now shoot ProRes video with the iPhone 13 Pro model, and if you need more storage, Apple has a brand new 1TB variant for each of them. Unlike the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max, there isn’t much difference between the new iPhone 13 Pro models, other than their display size and battery capacity. If you plan to shoot a lot of videos, the bigger battery on the Pro Max should definitely come in handy.

realme gt

It seems like the Realme GT was specifically designed to take on Xiaomi’s Mi 11X Pro, and as a result, it’s a price beast. Price approx Rs. 38,000, the Realme GT offers key specs for a bargain. The 120Hz AMOLED display is great, you get excellent performance thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, and there’s also super-fast charging and a dependable set of cameras. An IP rating for water resistance is the only thing that’s really missing, but other than that, it’s really hard to complain.

Mi 11 Ultra

It has been extremely difficult to get hold of the Mi 11 Ultra, which is one of the best high-end smartphones to be launched this year, which is a shame. Think of it as a bargain Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but instead of just being a knock-off, the Mi 11 Ultra actually singles out the Galaxy S21 Ultra in a number of ways. Everything from its build quality, display panel, camera and battery to excellent performance is top-of-the-line. All the mandatory premium features are included, such as IP68 rating and 8K video recording. Not only does this phone support wireless charging, but you can do up to 67W so quickly.

Samsung S21 Ultra

Coming to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, it is still one of the best Android smartphones in the market today in our opinion. It costs a lot, but if you can afford it, you get the best of everything in a single package, which makes it pretty hard to beat. Samsung has really upped its camera game with this generation, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra has arguably one of the best sets of cameras. Telephoto cameras in particular are in a league of their own. Apart from being expensive, this phone is also heavy and bulky, and it does get hot when stressed, but apart from these minor annoyances, there really isn’t much else in its strict feature set.

Vivo X70 Pro+

Vivo X70 Pro+ adds two important features that were sorely missing from its predecessor X60 Pro+ – wireless charging and water resistance. These additions coupled with an improved gimbal camera system and sleek overall performance make it one of the best smartphones to launch in 2021. Telephoto camera performance is the only area we think it could have done better, but everything else including gaming performance, battery life, display quality and cameras are excellent.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Ever wanted a premium Samsung smartphone without paying the “flagship” tax? Well, the Galaxy S20 FE 5G might just be what the doctor ordered. This second generation model is similar to the original Galaxy S20 FE that was launched last year, except you get 5G thanks to the upgraded SoC. It has an IP68 rating, wireless charging, telephoto camera, 120Hz AMOLED display, metal body, and very good battery life. All this is backed by a very functional Android skin and the Samsung brand name which is priced at Rs. 50,000, very good value.

Mi 11x Pro

The Mi 11X Pro offers some key features at an affordable basement price. With prices starting just under Rs. 40,000, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G SoC, a crisp 120Hz AMOLED screen, stereo speakers, and an IP53 rating for water resistance. We also found the camera to be surprisingly good. Xiaomi’s MIUI software is the only real party popper here, with annoying promotional material in some stock apps. If you can spot this one flaw, the Mi 11X Pro offers tremendous value for money.

oneplus 9 pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro has jumped in price compared to its predecessors, but considering the improvements over last year’s OnePlus 8 Pro, it’s still an excellent smartphone. The new glossy design may not appeal to everyone but it is well built and offers excellent all-around performance. Some of its new notable features include 50W wireless charging and a class-leading ultra-wide camera. The display consistently impresses, the performance is excellent, the rest of the rear cameras are very capable in low light, and the battery life is solid.


Roydon Cerejo writes about smartphones and laptops for Gadgets 360 based out of Mumbai. He is Deputy Editor (Reviews) at Gadgets 360. He has written frequently about the smartphone and PC industry and has an interest in photography as well. With over a decade of experience covering the consumer technology sector, he is also an avid film and TV show geek and is always up for good horror flicks. Roydon is available at [email protected], so please send your leads and tips. more

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