Find the best phone for you


What is the best smartphone you can buy?

There are so many good phones to choose from right now but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? In truth, there’s no one perfect choice for everyone, so bear in mind that the best phone for you might not be number one in our chart.

Phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Here, we have ranked and reviewed the ten best phones money can buy.

While you’re going to find established brands like Apple and Samsung in this list, you might not be familiar with every phone-maker we’ve recommended. With that said, trust us – these phones are all top-notch and if you want to know more, you can simply hop into each phone’s full review.

Best smartphone 2021

1. iPhone 12 – Best all-rounder

2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra – Best performance

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

3. Oppo Find X3 Pro – Superb camera

Oppo Find X3 Pro

4. Samsung Galaxy S21 – Best for ease of use

Samsung Galaxy S21

5. Xiaomi Mi 11 – Great performance

Xiaomi Mi 11

6. OnePlus 8 Pro – Best user experience

OnePlus 8 Pro

7. Google Pixel 5 – Most compact

Google Pixel 5

8. iPhone 12 Pro Max – Best for multimedia

iPhone 12 Pro Max

9. ZTE Axon 30 Ultra – Best value flagship

ZTE Axon 30 Ultra

10. Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro – Most affordable

Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro

Your buying guide for the best phones in 2021

When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance, and value. 

Generally speaking, a flagship phone in 2021 will start at around £700 but can cost over £1,000 in some cases. On contract, you’re looking at between £30 and £50-per-month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile data.

We also have charts for mid-range and budget phones if you’re looking for something still excellent, but also more affordable.

Buying a phone outright will usually give you the best value, but we appreciate finances in the real world don’t always accommodate such big one-off purchases. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan, as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.

Should you buy an iPhone or Android phone?

There’s more than one mobile operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS.

The vast majority of phones today run Android; 11 being the latest publicly-released version. Apple’s iOS platform, meanwhile, may have a lower market share but developers almost always release their apps on iOS first. As a result of this approach, it has one of the best app stores you can find.

If you have an Android phone or an iPhone and want to move to a phone running the other OS (operating system), it’s fairly easy to transfer your contacts and other select data from one to the other. What you can’t move are paid-for apps and certain app data (like WhatsApp backups), so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform – and research any specific concerns you may have about the process.

Why you should buy an unlocked phone

An unlocked phone is one which is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying ‘unlocked’ usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM card or contract attached.

The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract – if you can afford it.

The only real exception to this is Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.

Generally speaking, if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.

More importantly, you are not locked into a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of said contract or commit to another two years. 

Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.

The right SIM

One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.

For the record, every phone in our top ten takes a nano-SIM.

If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.

But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.

More important is to make sure that if you want 5G you get a 5G-enabled phone and SIM.

Related: How we test smartphones

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