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  • Cheryl Tan

Mid-Year Round Up: Our Favourite Phones Of 2021 So Far!

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

So your current phone is dying and you can’t wait till the end of the year for an upgrade? Fret not, we have got you covered. Here are our recommendations for 2021 so far.

The most well-designed phone so far has got to be the Vivo X60 Pro. It pays so much attention to the choice of material as well as its texture and it’s probably one of the slimmest phones you can get this year. The back of the phone is protected by matte Gorilla Glass 6 with a nice gradient brushed metal look, and it does stand out from many of the flagship phones that comes with a glossy reflective finish. 

Another phone that we should mention is the Oppo Find X3 Pro. The Gorilla Glass 5 back curves up to meet the camera bump, which make it look like the camera is part of the phone instead of like an island. This engineering feat also helps to minimise the accumulation of dust and getting caught when you are pulling out from your pants or bags.

When it comes to bold innovation, it has to be Asus. At a time when most flagship phones are getting bigger and bulkier, Asus decides to buck the trend by going the opposite direction – making their phones smaller. The Asus Zenfone 8 has all the flagship specs like the Snapdragon 888 processor, a 120hz screen, a really kick-ass audio system and more in a tiny body that is almost the same size as the Pixel 4a. 

Another bold innovation is their continued pursuit to be the best gaming phone. The ROG series of gaming phones continued this year with the ROG Phone 5. Like every year, the ROG phones are probably the best gaming phone you can get, as not many phone makers are targeting this market. Other than being really fast, it has geeky features like a customisable LED screen on the back cover and also tons of accessories to improve your gaming experience on a phone. 

None of the phones that Asus made this year are normal. They have brought the flip camera back this year with the Zenfone 8 Flip. The flip camera makes sense as it brings your best main camera to your selfie game, but it didn’t become a mainstay due to its fragility and the extra cost to produce the motorised moving parts. Traditionally, most flip cameras have only two angles, front and back, but Asus has decided to allow use within the whole 180-degree flip radius for creativity. So you basically can choose any angle to shoot. This will be helpful for content creators who are constantly looking at new ways to create content.

It has always been neck to neck when it comes to camera performance between 2 companies – Samsung and iPhone – and it still is. Although we would have preferred the colour science and the truer to life pictures from the iPhone, unfortunately, the new iPhone won’t usually be in until somewhere in September. But that being said, Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra does take some awesome pictures that are very sharp and crisp. It shoots really well at night with its low f1.8 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization on the main camera. Its focusing is also very accurate and fast due to the adoption of both Phase Detection Auto-Focus and Laser Auto-Focus. 

We have yet to review the new Xperia phones by Sony but we think it may be worthy of a mention. We usually like the pictures produced by the Sony sensors and we hope the lens on the Xperia matches it. The Asus Zenfone 8 is one of the few phones using Sony’s sensor which captures true-to-life colours. 

To be honest, cameras on most flagship devices perform very well these days. Most of us won’t be able to differentiate the pictures or videos taken between flagship phone cameras but if you are the few that can, you will probably be better off getting a full-frame mirrorless camera.

Here you have it, the standout phones for 2021 so far. We can’t wait for the new phones that will be announced in the second half of this year.


Content by Lawrence Ng

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