The five best smartphones of 2021, a so-so year

In a year of evolutionary upgrades, we picked five smartphone models that stood out in a market saturated with disturbingly similar designs and overlapping feature sets.

As 2021 is drawing to a close, we've selected what we believe are the five best smartphones of the year. It's worth explaining that by “best” we don't necessarily mean that they have the best specs in absolute terms. While you can rest assured that all devices in our selection pack a lot of value for their price, our intention is rather to highlight their relevance in the market.

Either because they're still undefeated in a specific category, like photo and video features, or because they represent the best expression of their brand's strategy in terms of design and market placement. In other words, these are not the 2021 smartphones everyone should buy, but they're certainly the ones we will remember from a year of quiet incremental upgrades.

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