Update Flagship Phone Comparison Review – In our series of best product guides, this is the latest update to our list of recommended Android phones. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect prices at the time of writing (November 19th).
As we near the end of the year and the holiday season and all relevant 2021 devices have been released, we are entering a quiet period before the industry sees any updates.
Update Flagship Phone Comparison Review
The biggest shock of the past few weeks has been Google’s release of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. While the phones are sturdy and shine in some respects, their real strength lies in the price, which Google offers very attractive value for money, especially for US readers. This pretty much changed our picks at the top for this month:
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In the ultra-premium segment, the Galaxy S21 Ultra still maintains its position as the best all-in-one device on the current market. US readers have seen the price come back down to $999 at the time of writing. The S21 Ultra has had competition from the Pixel 6 Pro, Google’s new phone certainly competes very hard in terms of camera performance, but suffers in terms of battery life and screen quality compared to the S21 Ultra, and also offers inferior performance than the Snapdragon variants of the S21.
On the higher end, the Pixel 6’s insanely attractive price of $599 or €649 makes this new phone from Google an extremely easy phone for North American users, as it pips a lot of the competition. It’s certainly not a full-fledged phone, but the potential value here is huge. For global users, availability remains an issue on Pixel phones. If you can get your hands on one that’s a consideration, but other than that the Galaxy S21 series are still sturdier phones, albeit a bit more expensive.
All in all, this segment is currently at the end of the annual product cycle, and with prices not much lower than new devices in the spring, I advise users to wait for the next-gen devices in a few months, because you will get one You can buy a newer generation phone for a similar price and your investment will keep its value longer.
The global mid-range is still dominated by the Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G for only €319, which is a great phone for this price.
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In the US mid-range, the Pixel 5a with 5G is still the top pick and has dropped in price from $50 to $399. The Samsung A52 5G went from $325 to $399 in our last tutorial iteration. I generally recommend the Pixel instead, and there are some other good options here.
In the low-end segment in most markets, the new Redmi Note 10 Pro will be an option worth considering, if at all. The highlight here is an OLED display that is new even in this price segment, and which improves the user experience enormously. US users will have to resort to the Motorola G Power 2020 for lack of alternatives.
The S21 Ultra features an industry-leading 1440p 120Hz OLED display: it features a next-generation OLED emitter, backplane and software, and a hardware variable refresh rate. It literally checks every feature list a screen can have these days and it turns out to be super bright and super energy efficient, resulting in great battery life.
Samsung’s new camera setup this year is a repeat of the previous generation. While Samsung’s unorthodox modular setup still has quirks, it’s also one of the biggest strengths on the market right now. In our review, we weren’t entirely happy with the camera’s handling, but Samsung has a track record of iterating and improving things through firmware updates throughout the year.
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The S21 Ultra is still one of the best phones of the year. In the US, the price has dropped to around $999, which is a competitive price. European prices are €1062, which is still fair, but people might want to consider waiting a few months for the S22 series.
The Pixel 6 Pro is a very strong competitor to the S21 Ultra, but in my opinion it’s just a good all-round choice – although it still deserves a good one.
Google’s first truly solid flagship in years has been a success due to its cheaper prices. While the Pixel 6 Pro offers a premium camera experience, what doesn’t make it like the S21 Ultra is its premium display, battery life, and chip performance, which is inferior to the S21 with Snapdragon 888 Extreme. However, at an MSRP of $899, these are still reasonable trade-offs and it depends on who you’re using the phone you want.
As we slowly learn more about the flagships of 2022 and the SoCs that will power them, we have to keep in mind that the new generation is near.
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While the Pixel 6 Pro does make some compromises and doesn’t have a clear win over the S21 Ultra, the Pixel 6 and its $599 price tag is certainly a device of undeniable value and as such, our top pick for this segment.
The phone doesn’t have the best display, both in terms of resolution and refresh rate, and thicker bezels, but other than that, there’s little in the way of compromises for the phone. Overall battery life should actually be better than the Pixel 6 Pro due to the more efficient display, and despite the lack of a telephoto module, the camera quality and experience of the other two modules are identical to the other two Pixel 6 Pros.
For US readers in particular, it’s a breath of fresh air on the value proposition and really puts other competitors like OnePlus into consideration. Google’s biggest problem is usability. Officially only available in a few countries, without an official channel to purchase the device you’re stuck and the Pixel isn’t an option.
The S21 and S21+ will remain the mainstays later this year. In the US, prices range from $819 for the S21 to $899 for the S21+. In Europe it was around €719 and €849, up from a few months ago, so the price has gone up.
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The S21 isn’t as big an improvement as the S21 Ultra, but it does use a newer SoC – while it’s not a huge upgrade from the Snapdragon variant, it gives the Exynos model a big boost, making the phone that much better should be a lot more doable . these regions of the world. The phone shares the same camera setup as the base S20 series, and it cuts some corners in terms of screen quality when downgraded from 1440p to 1080p – this time, however, it has a software-altered refresh rate that improves the quality of the display quite a bit a lot if you use the 120Hz refresh rate mode.
I wouldn’t say the S21 does anything special, but it’s an incredibly solid phone that delivers plenty of power and is incredibly well-rounded.
The big shock in this segment was the launch of the Snapdragon 780G and 778. Qualcomm’s new SoCs offer significantly better performance than their predecessors, but are still quite efficient, which means: chip-powered devices in this segment will be significantly cheaper. and user experience compared to previous generation phones.
The first of these devices is the new Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G. Alongside the Snapdragon 780, the phone also boasts an extremely thin and light form factor, although it still packs a 4250mAh battery. The 6.55-inch 1080p 90Hz OLED display is excellent for this price point and it also has a reasonably capable 64MP main camera.
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Starting today from €319, the device will be extremely attractively priced for what it offers. Keep an eye out for alternative devices that compete with the Snapdragon 780 chip at this price point.
The alternative devices are the OnePlus Nord 2 – but again, the problem is that the company doesn’t seem to have any plans to make the phone available in US markets.
Unfortunately, the US market will lag behind the mid-range segment as most of the more exciting new devices will not launch. It makes sense to look elsewhere here, especially given the often higher prices and limited selection.
What remains here in the rather barren mid-range scene is the Google Pixel 5a with 5G, which now replaces our Pixel 4a recommendation. It’s a slightly more expensive phone but offers better value for money.
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The Pixel 5a 5G is essentially a slightly upgraded Pixel 4a 5G, but with a slightly different body and larger battery. With the Pixel 5’s older brother (Snapdragon 765), the phone essentially lacks nothing but the Pixel 5’s 90Hz display, but it comes at a much lower price point of $399. With a huge 4680mAh battery, it’s also said to last a lot longer than other Pixel phones.
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