Best smartphones 2021: The best smartphones we’ve tested this year

Samsung Galaxy S21

The Samsung Galaxy S21 isn’t what you expect


Much more affordable at launch than S20Still a great screen (and it’s flat)Snappy performance


Lack of microSD and WQHD+ resolution make it feel like an S20 downgradeDoesn’t feel as good as previous S series phonesMinimal camera upgrades

The Samsung Galaxy S21 and the larger Galaxy S21 Plus are two great options if the S21 series appeals to you but you’re hesitant about spending S21 Ultra-level money on your next phone. Samsung has also decreased the price of its most affordable flagship devices this year, making this an even more tempting offer. Both the S21 and S21 Plus pack the same fast Exynos 2100 chipset (or Snapdragon 888, depending on your region), 5G support and in-display fingerprint scanner as the Ultra, the latter being a major bonus right now with masks making face log-ins more challenging than usual. There are a few differences between the standard S21 and the Plus model. While the Plus is all glass, the cheaper S21 has a plastic back. The WQHD+ resolution has also been swapped out for a FHD+ display on the more affordable smartphone. That said, during testing we found both the 6.2-inch (S21) and 6.7-inch (S21 Plus) OLED displays bright and sharp and the addition of an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate means the displays are smooth, too. Both of these S21 models pack a triple camera made up of a 12MP wide sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide sensor and a 64MP zoom sensor. On the front, there’s a 10MP selfie camera and you can capture video up to 8K. Photos taken with the S21 are beautifully detailed and the colour is bright and punchy. The S21 may not be as advanced as the S21 Ultra, but the phone is slimmer, lighter and a lot more affordable for most people.

If you’re considering picking up the S21, you may want to hold out to learn more about the S21 FE, which is expected to launch this year at an even lower price. Reviewer: Max ParkerFull review: Samsung Galaxy S21 Review

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