Greatest Smartphone Shopping for Information: Welcome to What Hello-Fi?’s round-up of the very best telephones you should buy in 2021.
A smartphone has many makes use of however, for us, it is about nice music and video. So, proper listed below are the easiest telephones with with unbelievable screens and superb audio circuitry. HDR-compatibility, super-high pixel counts and subsequent technology panel applied sciences could make for a kick-ass show that can have you ever having fun with your commute a lot that you will be taking an extended route on goal.
Simply as crucially, some telephones merely sound higher than others and it is necessary to know which they’re so that you could spend your hard-earned on a cell that is going to make your transportable music life the very best it could possibly probably be.
We all know you are able to do an entire heap of issues with even the very best low-cost telephones these days, however for our evaluations we focus firstly on sound high quality and movie efficiency. So, whereas we completely take a look at a telephone’s battery, digital camera, usability, design and options, we are going to give additional weight to handsets that ship nice audio and video.
Irrespective of when you’re Android or iOS loyal, whether or not you are eyeing up a flagship telephone such because the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy S21, Sony Xperia 1 III, Google Pixel 5 or OnePlus 9 Pro, or extra inexpensive choices just like the iPhone 12 Mini or iPhone SE, we have got you lined with the easiest smartphones available on the market.
How we select the very best smartphones
Right here at What Hello-Fi? we overview lots of of merchandise yearly, a handful of that are smartphones from the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, OnePlus and Huawei. So how can we come to our overview verdicts? And why are you able to belief them?
We’ve state-of-the-art testing services in London and Bathtub, the place our staff of knowledgeable reviewers do all our in-house testing. This offers us full management over the overview course of, guaranteeing consistency.
We spend time with the telephones; we reside with them, testing each function and spec exhaustively, from screens to cameras, sound high quality to battery life. We focus significantly on audio and video efficiency, so when you spend plenty of time listening to music or watching movies, you must learn on earlier than making that all-important shopping for determination.
All merchandise are examined as compared with rival merchandise in the identical class, and all overview verdicts are agreed upon by the staff as an entire slightly than a single reviewer, once more serving to to make sure consistency and keep away from particular person subjectivity.
The What Hello-Fi? staff has greater than 100 years expertise of reviewing, testing and writing about client electronics.
From all of our evaluations, we select the merchandise to function in our Greatest Buys, corresponding to this one. That is why when you make the leap and purchase one of many merchandise beneficial beneath, or on any other Best Buy pages, you possibly can relaxation assured you are getting a What Hello-Fi?-accredited product.
How do you enhance on a What Hello-Fi? Award-winning flagship smartphone? By not messing with it an excessive amount of. That is very a lot the method for Sony’s newest and greatest digital Swiss Military Knife.
The design has had a tiny, glass-toughening tweak, the battery boosted, the 4K show now has a 120Hz refresh charge, and there’s an upgraded chipset and GPU. Pictures followers can be happy by the inclusion of a periscope lens too.
However crucially for us, Sony has eked out but extra efficiency from the Xperia 1 III display screen and three.5mm headphone jack which provides us much more purpose to advocate it.
The sonic efficiency manages to ship a bit of extra punch and a bit of extra element in comparison with its predecessor. Bass notes sound a bit of tighter, which means extra management and agility, plus there’s the sort of dynamics to rival any telephone available on the market and loads of devoted hi-res gamers too.
Learn the complete Sony Xperia III review
One other iPhone, one other five-star overview, there’s nothing too shocking in that.
The iPhone 13 seems and feels similar to its predecessor. Construct high quality is, in fact, very good and the one noticeable outer variations are a reshuffle of the buttons and a special digital camera format on the rear.
Inside is a brand new SoC, the A15 Bionic. It is made up of a brand new six-core CPU with a GPU that’s reportedly 30 per cent quicker than rivals. They assist energy new iOS 15 options corresponding to Stay Textual content in Digital camera and a brand new 3D Maps navigation function in addition to present a usually slick and speedy consumer expertise.
Apple claims that it has hiked up the utmost brightness of the 6.1 OLED show by 28 p.c to a claimed 800 nits for SDR and 1200 nits for HDR content material. That brings a bit of extra punch with out sacrificing element in whiter components of the image. OLED’s inherent strengths assist right here too, clearly, with deep, wealthy blacks and superb readability that simply attracts you in.
On the audio aspect, you gained’t be stunned to study that it sounds simply nearly as good as its predecessor. Throw any style its manner and the iPhone simply makes it attention-grabbing to hearken to. It sounds thrilling and dynamic, whereas sustaining a superb deal with on timing, sticking to the rhythm of a monitor. Bolstered by a terrific sense of weight, drive and energy, it stays a power to be reckoned with.
Learn the complete Apple iPhone 13 review
The iPhone SE is again and the thought is just about the identical – give the consumer an genuine iPhone expertise with out the massive value tags of the upper-tier handsets. And it is simply as a lot of a hit as the unique SE mannequin Apple launched in 2016.
With a punchy, vibrant display screen, musical sound and a strong point-and-shoot 12MP snapper, the Apple iPhone SE (2020) does what it units out to realize. It is not good – we would like higher barely battery life and nighttime images outcomes – however it’ll attraction to these on the lookout for their first inexpensive iPhone, in addition to those that is perhaps a couple of iPhone generations behind however don’t wish to lay our a fortune on a brand new smartphone.
Protected to say it is among the many greatest price range smartphones available on the market in the intervening time.
Learn the complete iPhone SE (2020) review
Whereas the Xperia 1 collection (in prime spot on this web page) delivers a degree of video and audio efficiency above that of different flagship Android telephones, the Sony Xperia 5 vary is smaller, cheaper and has related specs, so what’s to not like?
Certainly, when you worth music and video efficiency extremely, you actually ought to think about certainly one of these newest Sony telephones. It backs up its spectacular AV efficiency with respectable options elsewhere, too – 3.5mm headphone jack, 4000mAh battery, Android 10, and the mix of 12MP f/1.7 vast lens, 12MP f/2.Four telephoto lens and 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide digital camera lenses.
Whereas the pricier sibling nonetheless edges this Xperia 5 II for 4K video efficiency and supreme sound high quality, the extra compact and inexpensive Sony Xperia 5 II stays a terrific selection.
2020’s Galaxy S20 line-up marked an intensive overhaul, bringing in 5G help and 120Hz refresh charge shows for the primary time, plus vital digital camera upgrades. However for the S21 vary, the positive aspects are extra marginal – the digital camera software program has been enhanced, the design is arguably higher and it packs the corporate’s most superior processor but.
Of the three-strong, 5G-supporting Galaxy S21 vary, you’ll wish to think about the 2 extra premium fashions, the S21+ S21 Extremely, when you’re after a big display screen or a top-spec digital camera (supplied by the S21 Extremely). However the usual S21 variant right here is strong for the cash and affords a superb stability between efficiency and worth. It has an incredible digital camera, very good display screen and is as speedy and dependable to make use of as you’d anticipate.
Both of the Sony Xperias are higher bets for many who place higher significance on music listening, in order that’s one space we’d hope Samsung advances for the following technology of Galaxy S telephone. For now, although, the road’s status as one of many market’s greatest all-rounders stays intact.
Learn the complete Samsung Galaxy S21 review.
With an excellent 4K decision display screen, Sony’s sonic experience and cutting-edge audio options, plus an incredible digital camera full with loads of professional options, the Xperia 1 II is a superb smartphone for music and film lovers.
Our focus has at all times been on audio and video efficiency, so we’re thrilled to discover a smartphone that does the identical. The Sony delivers a brand new degree of efficiency for smartphone video and audio, and the remainder of the telephone completes the duty, delivering a superb digital camera, quick efficiency and respectable battery life. If you happen to’re critical about having fun with your cell leisure, that is the telephone for you.
Learn the complete Sony Xperia 1 II review
The iPhone 12 is one other mannequin we will add to a profitable line of telephones from Apple. Though some new Apple merchandise are undoubtedly extra evolution than revolution, the present iPhone 12 sports activities a brand-new design, a brand new display screen, is powered by a brand new processor, and is able to performing some new get together methods over its predecessor (beneath) – together with, for the primary time, 5G help.
The addition of a superb 6.1in OLED Tremendous Retina XDR show (full with HDR10, Dolby Imaginative and prescient and HLG help) has elevated image efficiency to a different degree and helps justify the slight value hike over its predecessor. As a daytime snapper, there isn’t a lot to grouse about, with the dual-camera producing properly balanced photos with even colors and a positive sense of realism. Sound high quality is nearly as good because it’s ever been, too. All these positives mixed make for a extremely tempting and usually Apple package deal.
Learn the complete iPhone 12 review.
In case you have large palms, large pockets and a ‘greater is best’ outlook on life, then the iPhone 12 Mini in all probability isn’t for you. This can be a smartphone for many who choose a extra refined and discreet design, the place pocket area is at a premium and also you’d slightly not pull a thumb muscle each time you try to jot down and ship a textual content one-handed. And it is an excellent one certainly for Apple followers.
It will get the identical flat-edged design as its greater siblings, which means it feels premium within the hand; its 12MP dual-lens set-up on the again is ideal for many who wish to level and shoot excessive good high quality photos with minimal fuss in each respectable and sub-optimal lighting circumstances; and it affords completely listenable sound high quality by smartphone requirements.
Primarily, it affords all the highest options of the iPhone 12, however in a smaller, extra pocket-friendly package deal. It’s easy and speedy to make use of, digital camera high quality is nice and movie and sound efficiency are each glorious for the cash. The battery life takes a small hit – there is a drop in each video playback (15 hours versus 17 hours) and audio playback (50 hours versus 65 hours) in contrast with the iPhone 12 – however that doesn’t actually detract from this vastly gifted tiny iPhone.
Learn the complete iPhone 12 Mini review.
The iPhone 12 Professional Max is the very best telephone that Apple has ever made, with the most important display screen, the very best audio system, the very best digital camera and the most important battery. Need the cream of the crop? That is it.
That mentioned, when you’re on the lookout for the very best worth iPhone package deal, know that lots of its upgrades over the iPhone 12 are minimal, and the truth that the usual iPhone now has an OLED show is another excuse to not spend the additional. The usual iPhone 12 is indubitably the performance-per-pound choose of the present vary, however the iPhone 12 Professional Max is nicely value stretching to when you’re a eager photographer or videographer, or just somebody who likes an enormous display screen.
Learn the complete Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max review.
Samsung’s 2020 S20 collection is right here, and the Korean large has saved the improve easy to make sure it is one other success.
It seems acquainted, feels acquainted and has a largely predictable record of specs and options. However we’re within the enterprise of marginal positive aspects, and one other 12 months has introduced simply sufficient of these to make sure the Galaxy S20 stays an incredible smartphone for most individuals, significantly when you’re available in the market for a premium telephone (and positively if you need an Android handset).
An outstanding display screen in a manageable measurement, good smartphone audio, neat new options corresponding to 5G and a 120Hz refresh charge, a easy, quick interface and a great battery. Generally you simply have to beat the competitors, not blow them away, and the Galaxy S20 has actually completed that for now.
Learn the complete Samsung Galaxy S20 review
The 10th anniversary of the Samsung Galaxy vary was marked with the launch of not one, however three, new Samsung Galaxy S10 telephones.
The Galaxy S10+ is the most important, strongest and the most costly. It comes full with a 6.4in display screen, a brand new “Infinity-O” OLED show, HDR10+ video help, Dolby Atmos audio, an Ultrasonic Fingerprint sensor beneath the entrance of the display screen, a triple rear digital camera lens, a hefty 4100 mAh battery, the choice of a 1TB reminiscence, a microSD card slot – and even a trusty 3.5mm headphone jack.
It’s not good – the biometric sensor, edge design and that Bixby button all want some fine-tuning – however when you’re available in the market for a flagship Android telephone with a slim however big-screen design, and worth audio and video high quality, this actually must be on the prime of your wishlist. Except, that’s, you possibly can afford the successors to the S10 collection, the Samsung S20 and Samsung S21 telephones.
Learn our full Samsung Galaxy S10+ review.
The Google Pixel 5 launched with a less expensive asking value in comparison with earlier flagship Pixel telephones, so how does it fare in its much less premium pastures?
Unsurprisingly, Google’s repositioning of its Pixel line comes with some compromises. The Pixel 5 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765G processor, (slightly than the extra superior Snapdragon 865 chip); its OLED display screen ‘solely’ has a 1080 x 2340 decision and 90Hz refresh charge; and, maybe most disappointingly for some, the dual-camera system for the Pixel 5 comes with no telephoto lens.
However it is a cheaper telephone, and regardless of some losses, there are additionally positive aspects. There’s now 5G community help and the Pixel 4’s 2800mAh battery has been changed by a way more acceptable 4080mAh juice pack for the Pixel 5. It is Qi-certified for wi-fi charging, too. In the end although, whereas the Pixel 5 is a slightly completely different proposition from Google, its strengths and weaknesses are in the identical areas as its predecessors – its very good display screen high quality and so-so sound efficiency respectively.
Learn our full Google Pixel 5 review.
The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely is, doubtless, Samsung’s headline-grabber for 2020. So, must you be grabbing one? And might you even get your palms round it?
The Galaxy Observe 20 Extremely delivers on the Extremely promise. It’s large and slightly costly, however in return, you possibly can get pleasure from an incredible 6.9in 3088 x 1440 120Hz display screen, a feature-packed triple-camera and respectable, Dolby Atmos-supporting sound.
In an ultra-competitive market, with an enormous selection of telephones (merely from Samsung alone), it may be arduous for each handset to face aside. However due to the S Pen and ‘energy consumer’ specs, to not point out that loopy zoom on the digital camera, it’s clear to see that Samsung has managed that with the Observe 20 Extremely.
That mentioned, when you’re ready to pay for best-in-class audio and video efficiency, it’s overwhelmed by the Sony Xperia 1 II (on the prime of this record), making it a four-star telephone in our e book.
Learn our full Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review
A considerably improved digital camera and small upgrades throughout the board all add as much as a greater telephone than Google has produced in earlier years, albeit it one that will not essentially trigger Pixel Three homeowners to hurry out and improve.
A really glorious, market-competitive digital camera carries it by way of, strengthening Google’s status for producing a number of the greatest digital camera telephones on the market. And for some, the brand new air-based gestures will solely improve what’s at all times been a seamless, Android expertise. Certainly, that is the telephone for Android purists. Simply beware that it is not vastly aggressive within the audio or battery departments.
Learn our full Google Pixel 4 review
Learn our full Google Pixel 4 XL review
A premium-build Android smartphone with the very best know-how and no trade-offs, all at a cheaper price than different flagship mobiles – that’s the promise of the OnePlus 9 Professional. It actually seems to be the half: it is a 5G telephone fitted with an enormous, daring 6.7in AMOLED show able to whip up HDR video on the go. And its cameras had been designed with assist from Swedish photographic large Hasselblad.
The display screen has a excessive refresh charge (120Hz), which works a deal with for video games and sports activities. Like a TV, it additionally has preset modes like Vivid and Pure, however you may also tweak its settings to your individual spec when you choose.
You’ll battle to discover a cell phone at this value, with this measurement display screen, that may do HDR higher. It does nicely with SDR content material, too.
On the audio entrance, there’s no wanting for file format help, however its efficiency is not as thrilling as we had hoped. It is a affordable pay attention, however in comparison with the very best gadgets on this area, it is a way behind sonically.
Nonetheless, as a package deal, it is much less dear than most flagships, but boasts most of the identical specs and a really related efficiency. Positively one of many telephones of the 12 months.
Learn the complete OnePlus 9 Pro review.
The OnePlus Eight Professional is an enormous second for OnePlus. Because it started in 2013, the Chinese language telephone model has embraced its ‘flagship killer’ ambition with lower-priced handsets (such because the 7T above) than these supplied by premium telephone producers corresponding to Samsung and Apple.
The Eight Professional is its most costly handset thus far – and likewise its greatest. It’s a 5G telephone and has essentially the most superior digital camera system, the most important battery and the most important display screen of any OnePlus telephone earlier than it.
Its display screen is gorgeous, and new wi-fi charging help rounds off a formidable, flagship-worthy spec sheet. Its sound high quality isn’t fairly nearly as good as a few of its rivals, although, and it’s a contact beneath Samsung requirements in digital camera and display screen efficiency too.
Learn the complete OnePlus 8 Pro review.