As the year comes to a close, it is time we share what we think are the best and most innovative smartphones this year. Here are our Best of 2021 Smartphones.
It has always been faster, bigger phones with better cameras, but some phone makers are bucking this trend. Here are our choices for the top 3 most innovative smartphones.
While most flagship phones are getting bigger, Asus decides to go against the norm by making its Zenfone 8 smaller with just a 5.9-inch display and weighing just 169g. But don’t underestimate it because of its size. It actually comes with some of the best specs that you can find in premium phones, like a 120Hz AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 888 chipset, Gorilla Glass Victus protection and one of the best speakers you can find in the market. Now you might ask where the innovation comes from? The innovation stems from the fact that Asus managed to put all these top-of-line hardware into a very small body. That is definitely no small feat.
None of the phones Asus made this year are normal. The Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro is another innovative phone made specifically for mobile gamers. Other than putting a customisable PMOLED display on the back and slapping in all the high-end hardware in the phone, it actually stands out because of the accessories that were made for this phone. You can add different controllers, phone clips, earphones, a cooler, protective covers and more.
This is the smallest flagship phone from Samsung but you will still get a 6.7-inch AMOLED 120Hz display. If that’s not innovation, what is? While many companies have tried to produce foldable phones, Samsung is the only successful one to launch their foldable phones worldwide and they are very much ahead in this. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is the latest iteration of its Flip series and it has managed to pack some of the best premium hardware into this small foldable phone. There were some sacrifices that needed to be made to fit everything into this small flexible body but nonetheless, it is still one of a kind and we can really see Samsung perfecting it in years to come.
Which phone has the best camera is probably one of the most asked questions when deciding on a new phone. It can be a very difficult question as most phones nowadays have pretty good photo quality, and even more difficult to tell if you don't get to compare them side by side. Well after trying many different phones, we have a pretty good idea which one performs the best. Here are our top three.
The Samsung phones have a good reputation with cameras and they continue to be heading in the right direction when it comes to colour science. Gone are the days that their software renders oversaturated and contrasty pictures. Paired with a 108MP f1.8 camera module and a 240mm periscope telephoto module, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a beast of a phone camera. It is also the only phone on our list that can record 8K 24fps video.
Although the Google Pixel 6 Pro is only launched in limited markets for now, we managed to test it out and it has managed to squeeze above the Galaxy S21 in our ranking. The Google Pixel continued with the tradition by offering the most accurate colour reproduction in their pictures. And this time, they have brought out the big guns by offering a 50MP f1.9 camera module and also an ultrawide and a 48MP telephoto module. Being a very strong AI company, Google takes it up a notch when it comes to computational photography. It provides some of the best auto colour balance and good management of over- and under-exposed pictures. Unfortunately on the video front, the strong moire effect is of concern.
The iPhone 13 Pro Max only offers 12MP for their main camera module but it is the phone that comes with the largest aperture of f1.5. This is a huge deal as it will give you the best bokeh. The colour reproduction of its pictures are also pretty accurate but that little bit of colour saturation and contrast makes the photos from the iPhone pop, in just about the right amount. And it shoots in ProRes. ProRes is a professional video codec that is commonly used in the video production industry. The codec can retain high colour information with an efficient compression rate. This means that a lot of this information can be retrieved and manipulated in post-production. Although not many consumers will activate this function, it’s always good to know that your phone with the "pro" moniker is professional grade.
We use our phones for work, entertainment, to communicate, to build relationships, to capture memories, to make purchases and so much more. We also spend an average of five to six hours a day on our phones and that equals a full week every month.
Clearly, that would justify us paying top dollar for something that we are so attached to.
So if you are looking for the best of the best, here are our top three premium phones.
When we first reviewed the Vivo X60 Pro, we were amazed by its compactness and attention to detail in its design. That strong design language continues in their latest Vivo X70 Pro+. Not only does it look good, but it also has some of the best hardware like a 120Hz QHD AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 888+ chipset and some of the best camera specifications. The 50MP f1.6 wide module will be to die for and it is probably the new king of low light phone cameras. Currently, it is the phone with the second-largest aperture. The Vivo phones also have some of the best software to complement their hardware, and one of the most comprehensive photo editing software we have tested. Currently, it is only available in selected markets like the Vivo X60 Pro+, meaning it is unlikely it will be available in Singapore.
You can’t go wrong with an iPhone, especially if it’s currently the best iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro Max, as we have mentioned earlier, has the best cameras. It is also a beast when it comes to performance. Apple’s A15 Bionic chip is one of the best, if not the best chip in the market for mobile phones and it’s backed by its benchmark scores. It also has one of the best displays out there in the market - the Super Retina OLED 120Hz screen and probably the only few mobile screens that support Dolby Vision. Watch your favourite Apple TV+ content on it and you will never be going back. It is also one of the phones we have tried that offers the longest battery life, lasting more than 2 days on some occasions.
This winner does not have the best cameras compared to the two other phones we have nominated. It probably doesn’t have the best battery life and it actually costs more. But one thing the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 brings to the table is its large foldable display, the largest display you will ever get in a mobile phone. With the phone being foldable, there are just so many ways you can experience it. It also comes with some of the best hardware that you can find in the current crop of premium smartphones so you can be assured that it will also perform brilliantly.