Smartphones have become a staple in every person’s purse or pocket. Every year, brands try to top each other with new tech, gimmicks, and apps that will have buyers clawing for the latest model. In 2021, cameras, speed, and battery life have been massive factors when choosing your Smartphone. This year, well-known brands like iPhone, Samsung, Google, and OnePlus hit it out of the park.
Here are CGMs nominees for Best Smartphone 2021/22:
Writer: Chris de Hoog
The iPhone 13 Pro has a slightly larger screen than the XS (6.1” vs. 5.8”) and I’m frankly surprised by the difference it makes, lending a verticality that makes browsing and other applications much more pleasing. Of course, the display itself has had a major boost over the last two generations. This year’s model took the 12 Pro’s 6.1″ Super Retina XDR OLED display and added ProMotion tech to achieve a 120Hz refresh rate. I sometimes struggle to notice the difference in refresh rates and FPS, but the improvement here is night and day, especially over the XS’ outdated Super Retina HD tech. Gamers and artists are certain to love this new refresh rate.
All told, the iPhone 13 Pro is a workhorse phone that should serve heavy smartphone users very well. Much like the latest core iPad model, it finds that sweet spot between design, power, features, and price point. Power users could go to the Max tier, but honestly, there isn’t much that this model can’t do by comparison. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a beefy 6.7” display and even more battery life, but the same chip.
The iPhone 13 Pro is a worthy upgrade from previous models. On the Venn diagram of power, features, and price, it nearly scores a bullseye.
Writer: Brendan Frye
Looking at the design, the Galaxy Z Flip3 offers a 6.7-inch foldable FHD+ dynamic AMOLED 2X display, delivering a resolution of 2640 x 1080 with a 120Hz refresh rate. You would think the fact that it folds could take away some vibrancy of the screen, but during testing I found the screen clear and bright. There is still the tell-tale crease in the middle of the display, but Samsung has done a great job at mitigating that while using the device, with it rarely noticeable in day-to-day use.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 is kept as minimal as possible. It features only the buttons you need to enjoy the device, while keeping the experience as streamlined as possible. On the right side, you will find a volume rocker, a dual-purpose power button and a fingerprint sensor. On the left side, you will find the sim tray, with the USB Type-C port and speaker grill sitting at the bottom of the phone.
With the Galaxy Z Flip3, Samsung has finally shown the potential of a folding phone, and it is one of the most interesting and fun new devices on the market this year.
Writer: Brendan Frye
OnePlus is no longer the “budget choice” and now feels much more in line with the major flagships, delivering everything a new phone buyer could want. With the blazing fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, to the 6.7-inch QHD 120Hz display, the OnePlus 9 Pro feels very much like the premium smartphone you have always wanted.
The main rear shooter on the OnePlus 9 Pro is a 48MP Sony IMX789 sensor that feels fantastic overall. They also have a 50MP ultra-wide camera that uses a Sony IMX766 sensor, along with an 8MP telephoto shooter that can shoot at up to 3x optical zoom. The final 2MP monochrome camera is present to allow any black and white photographers to capture much more detailed monochrome images.
OnePlus has shown they know how to build a stunning, modern Smartphone, and with the OnePlus 9 Pro they have proven they can go head-to-head with the competition and still come out on top.
Writer: Brendan Frye
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra feels the right balance of size and usability, like it was crafted to do exactly what it needs to be, while eliminating anything that does not fit the design and style the company was going for. The 6.8 inches (17.27 cm) display with a curved edge-to-edge screen makes the phone feel like it has almost no bezel, with the 40MP front facing hole punch camera seeming as minimal as possible to reduce sacrificed screen real estate while using the device.
The Samsung Galaxy S range of devices are known to be the best of what Android has to offer, so it is no wonder they have opted for the top end Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 SoC (US) and the 12 GB Ram—Exynos 2100 when outside North America—for the core of this flagship offering. The specs give the phone a smooth and fluid overall experience, with no notable stuttering, slowdown or really anything that could hamper using the device. I have used many of the new Flagship ranges hitting this year, and it is good to see that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra feels as fast as the other competitors in the space.
Samsung has improved on the Samsung Galaxy formula in almost every way with the S21 Ultra, delivering an uncompromising Android experience.
Google Pixel 6 Pro (Winner, Best Smartphone 2021)
Writer: Brendan Frye
At first glance, the Pixel 6 Pro continues with the Google design aesthetic we have seen over the last few iterations of the Pixel line. The Pixel 6 features a 6.7″ curved LTPO OLED display with 3,120×1,440-pixel resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate that looks absolutely stunning when powered up. The front glass is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus and features a punch hole in the centre for the 11.1MP selfie camera. As with most recent Pixel and other Android powered smartphones, the Pixel 6 Pro also features an in-screen fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking.
The fantastic software, combined with good sensors, means the Google Pixel 6 Pro feels like a photography studio in your pocket, able to deliver stunning results even in the worst conditions. From skin tones and nature, to urban decay and industrial shots, the Pixel 6 Pro is now your best tool to capture the world around you in staggering detail.
The Google Pixel 6 Pro is the perfect blend of software and hardware that makes the Pixel range of phones a must-have for anyone looking for a camera-centric upgrade.