Welcome to our guide to the best Samsung phones in 2021. From the exceptionally good Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra to Samsung's amazingly affordable budget Androids, the best Samsung phone for you is right here.
Samsung is famous for its flagship phones, which are among the very best phones made by anybody: the brand new Samsung Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Ultra are stunning smartphones packed with cutting edge tech. But while more modest handsets don't attract quite so many headlines, there are lots of mid-range models that are just as likely to excite and delight you for a lot less cash. No matter what kind of smartphone you need, there's almost certainly a Samsung that fits the bill perfectly – even when you don't want to spend a lot of cash. Samsung doesn't just make some of the best high-end phones. It also makes some of the best Android phones at every price point.
In this guide we'll show you Samsung's best phones and focus on the specifications and features that really matter – so if you're looking for state of the art features or a phone to cover the everyday essentials, you'll find both kinds of phone here. And of course you'll also find the best Samsung deals.
Price isn't the only consideration, though. The best Samsung smartphone is the one that does everything you want it to do not just today, but for months and years to come. It's wise to think about what you need now and what you're likely to want in the future and to choose your Samsung phone accordingly.
And of course, Samsung isn't the only firm making great phones. We've put together lots of guides for particular kinds of phones, so for example our best small phones guide is perfect for those with small hands and our best gaming phones feature is perfect for gamers who need serious horsepower in their hardware.
Let's discover the Samsungs we think you'll love, and the deals we think you'll love even more.
These are the best Samsung phones
The headline news about the Samsung Galaxy S21 is the price: Samsung has dropped the price of the entire S21 range so they’re $200 cheaper than last year’s S20s, with the S21 coming in at the same price as Apple’s iPhone 12. But there’s more to the S21 than its price tag. Its new processors deliver significantly improved CPU and graphics performance as well as better battery life, and its 120Hz display is designed to deliver super-smooth motion in video, games and apps.
The S21 is a stylish phone with serious horsepower inside, and while the cameras are largely unchanged from the S20 the camera software delivers some clever new features including better low-light photography.
This isn’t the most powerful Samsung smartphone – you can find out all about that one in the next entry in our list – but it is still a very powerful device. We think it’s the best all-rounder for most people.
To see how this phone differs from our number one premium Samsung phone choice, then check out our Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra comparison feature.
Like the new Samsung Galaxy S21, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is cheaper than last year’s model. It boasts a significantly improved CPU and GPU for much faster performance, a large 6.8” screen delivering 1,440 x 3,200 at refresh rates from a battery-saving 10Hz to a silky smooth 120Hz, a large 5,000mAh battery and support for Samsung’s much-loved S Pen (which is available separately).
But the real draw here is the camera assembly, which has four cameras compared to the three in the rest of the S21 range. And what an assembly it is: there’s a 108MP wide camera, a 21MP ultra wide camera, two 10MP telephoto cameras with 3x and 10x optical zoom, and a maximum zoom of 100x. The front camera is 40MP.
In terms of software the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is also on point, coming with the very latest version of Android, which is Android 11. All said, the S21 Ultra is the best phone Samsung has ever made and, if you can afford it, it will definitely not disappoint.
We're massively impressed with what the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G has to offer: plenty of power, a fantastic screen (running at a 120Hz refresh rate), some really nice design choices (including several colours), and all at a price that's very reasonable considering what you get back in return.
You could think of the phone as offering the best bits of the Galaxy S20 series at a more attractive price point: it has one of the most eye-catching displays out there, it has a rear camera that offers a whopping 30x hybrid zoom, and the battery life holds up rather well too. On top of that, the Snapdragon 865 processor is going to be able to handle just about everything you throw at it.
5G is on board too of course, which means you're future-proofed for when the next-gen connectivity finally finds its way to your part of the world. Other Samsung phones might beat this one in terms of raw specs, but we think that it's out in front of most in the way it balances performance, features and price.
If you want an affordable handset with a few high-end features, the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G will be worth considering. Not only does it have a large 6.5inch Super AMOLED display that is stunning to look at, but it also has a 120Hz refresh rate which makes for silky smooth scrolling.
For point-and-shoot photography, you can't get much better for this price. it takes great shots of people and landscapes on the default settings and the 32MP front camera follows suit with super clear social-media worthy selfies. So what's the catch? Well, it doesn't quite match up against its flagship counterparts when it comes to performance and the design is thicker too.
Overall though, it'll be well suited to those on a budget who want a large display, excellent camera and long-lasting battery.
There's a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, and if you can manage the cost, it's undoubtedly one of the best Samsung experiences you're going to get this year. It features a brilliant design, a more than capable camera, and internal specs that mean it will outpace almost every phone on the market.
The biggest reason for buying the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, though, is of course that S Pen – scribble on the lock screen, control the camera remotely, unleash your creative side, and more. If you need a phone with a stylus for serious work on the go, this phone has you covered.
5G is on board, as the name of the phone suggests, which means you're covered for years when it comes to next-gen connectivity – and considering you've got the Exynos 990 or Snapdragon 865 Plus chipset (depending on region) running everything, this isn't a phone that'll be slowing down anytime soon.
As we've said, the price is a little on the eye-watering side, but for something you're going to use every day for years to come, you might consider it worthwhile. The triple-lens rear camera with 5x optical zoom deserves a mention too, as it's capable of capturing some fantastic snaps in any kind of lighting.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus might be the lowest placed of the S21 handsets in our list, but we're still very much fans of the handset, which is a great pick if you're looking for polished, big-screen phone experience.
If you just take the Galaxy S21 Plus on its own, without any context at all, there's a lot to like – it takes fantastic photos, the screen and design look superb, and you'll struggle to find many better-specced Android phones full stop.
The 6.7-inch screen is a hefty one, so make sure you really want a display this big before parting with your cash, though. This handset very much operates like a standard size S21 though in every other aspect.
Yes, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra delivers even more impressive tech than the S21 Plus, but truth be told that phone is only for enthusiasts and those with the deepest of pockets. For most phone users this is a better buy, as it delivers 95 per cent of the experience for markedly less money.
As with the Galaxy S20, we’re seeing sharp drops in the price of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus now that the S21 version is out – and the similarities don’t end there. Like the non-Plus version the specs of the S20 Plus are almost identical to its predecessor and it has an absolutely fantastic camera.
There are some key differences, though. The S20 Plus has more curved edges on its display, and while it lacks the variable refresh rate of the S21 Plus its 6.7” dynamic AMOLED has a 120Hz refresh and a higher resolution, 3,200 x 1,440 (although that 120Hz is only available at 1080p resolution).
The other key difference here is the chipset, which is a Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 compared to the Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 in the S21 Plus. You’re unlikely to notice much difference in performance but the newer chipsets are more energy efficient and come with a slightly larger battery, so they’ll last longer between charges.
None of these things are deal-breakers to us: until the S21 range launched the S20 Plus was one of the best smartphones around, especially if you take a lot of photos. As prices fall it’s becoming quite the bargain.
If you want the very best in cutting edge smartphone technology, then you want a phone that folds, and that's exactly what you get with the Galaxy Z Fold 2, which is a proud member of T3's best foldable phones buying guide.
With this second handset in the series, Samsung has managed to iron out some of the reliability problems of the original, producing a phone that's both innovative and reliable.
After so many years, Samsung knows how to make a good screen, and here you get two of them: the 7.6-inch screen that opens up when the phone is unfolded, and the 6.23-inch display that sits on the outside when the handset is closed shut (so you can fit it in your pocket and use it more like a regular smartphone).
On top of the one feature that sets the Galaxy Z Fold 2 apart from most of the other handsets on the market, it's packed with top-tier internal components and is seriously powerful. Very much one of the best Samsung phones of 2021.
The new S21 range is here, and that means the S20 is starting to attract some serious discounts. It's only a year old and it still outperforms many rival devices: in fact, the differences between the S20 and the S21 are quite minor. The S20 has the same cameras and a larger, higher resolution display.
This is also the phone to go for if you're after the smallest Samsung Galaxy S20 phone – even though the screen is still a substantial 6.4 inches in size. Under the hood, like the other S20 models, you've got the very capable Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 CPU (depending on your region) running the show.
Okay, the phone's main camera isn't quite up to the level of the S20 Plus or the S20 Ultra, but we don't think you're going to notice too much, and the Galaxy S20 is still capable of taking some tremendous shots (and recording in 8K video, like the other models). Absolutely worth a spot on our best Samsung phone list.
The Galaxy Z Flip is going to really appeal to some people, and really put other people off – it all depends what you think of that foldable hinge in the middle, which makes the Galaxy Z Flip an innovative phone in 2021 at the very least. It's still early days for the handset, so we're hoping that it stands the test of time and that the hinge is truly durable.
Samsung hasn't skimped too much on specs here either – the Galaxy Z Flip comes with the Snapdragon 855 Plus chipset and 8GB of RAM, which should really be plenty for all the mobile phone tasks you want to do. It also has a few software tricks up its sleeve, with the ability to split the screen in half, top to bottom, if needed.
The foldable Galaxy Z Flip is undoubtedly a cool piece of technology, but is it worth the admittedly high asking price? That all depends on whether you want something that's practical or attention-grabbing. Still, we have to give Samsung high marks for persisting in trying to make the foldable phone market a viable proposition.
The Samsung A90 5G is the cheapest way to get 5G connectivity on a Samsung phone, and one of the cheapest ways to get 5G connectivity full stop... sure, it makes some compromises to get to a lower price point (no waterproofing, no wireless charging), but you might well consider the trade-offs to be worth it.
It's not exactly a budget phone either, but you do get that 5G and a top-of-the-range Snapdragon 855 processor here for your money. The 6.7-inch screen looks the part too, and the triple-lens camera on the back is not to be sneezed at either. One of the best mid-range Samsung phones.
With 5G now appearing in more parts of the country, it might be wise to make your next smartphone purchase one that's futureproofed – the coverage is only going to get better over time, and those download and upload speeds really have to be seen to be believed.
Samsung's mid-range phones continue to get better and better, with the Galaxy A80 a case in point – you get some very decent specs, a decent camera, and all for significantly less than you would have to shell out for something like the Galaxy S20 or the Galaxy Note 10.
The most eye-catching feature on the Galaxy A80 is the rotating camera: you slide up the back of the phone, and the rear camera spins around to become the front-facing one. It's a neat party trick if nothing else, and means your selfies are going to look as good as your other snaps.
Elsewhere the screen is as good as we've come to expect from Samsung, and the 3,700mAh of battery power should be enough to get you through the whole day and then some. Definitely worth considering as one of the best Samsung Galaxy phones of 2021 if you're limited in how much you can spend.
If you're shopping down at the budget end of the market and are still interested in a smartphone, then we reckon the Galaxy A51 is one of the best options you can go for right now: shop around, and you should be able to pick this phone up for not very much at all (see the link above for the best deals currently on the web).
Of course you can't expect flagship-level specs at these lower price points, but the phone won't let you down in the performance, camera or battery departments, and it's also a really nicely designed phone – that 6.5-inch screen is one of the standouts, for example.
The phone comes rocking Android 10 and the latest One UI updates from Samsung, so in terms of software, it can do just about everything that the more expensive, flagship Galaxy phones can do as well. What you don't get are some of the extras like wireless charging and full waterproofing.
- Best Samsung Galaxy S21 deals
- Samsung Galaxy S21: Everything you need to know
- Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S20: Key differences explained
How to choose the best Samsung phone for you
When it comes to smartphones, everyone's needs are different of course – some people want the best Samsung phone camera (something Samsung excels at, by the way), some people want the best Samsung phone on a budget, and so on. We've tried to cater for all those different needs below.
Samsung's One UI layer that it puts on top of Android continues to go from strength to strength as well. The bloat has been trimmed down, the interface is now much more intuitive, and it even has a few features that Google would do well to copy for its own Pixel phones.
Almost 1 in 5 phones sold worldwide is a Samsung one – that's almost as good as Apple's figures and way ahead of anyone else in the market besides the big two. And considering Samsung's phones are well built, powerful and stylish, it's no surprise either. Let's dive in and find the best Samsung phone for you.