The fact that we haven’t seen a stable Android 12 release means that at least Samsung has the opportunity to catch up to Google with their One UI 4.0 Beta 2 update.
Although it’s quite unlikely, we could have a situation where the first stable Android 12 update comes to a non-Pixel device. That would be a real shock, but given that Samsung is only pushing the second One UI 4.0 beta based upon Android 12, we’d be very surprised, to say the least.
Here’s everything notable in the latest Android 12-based update for Samsung Galaxy devices:
A huge component of Android 12 on Pixel phones is now available as part of One UI 4.0 Beta 2 but with a few Samsung-ish tweaks in tow. “Color theme,” as Samsung has renamed it, is the Korean firm’s take on Dynamic Color and the “Monet” theming system seen on Pixel hardware.
From your homescreen, long-press in an empty space or pinch to zoom outwards and head to Wallpapers > Color theme. From this new panel you’ll be able to choose a three-color theme based upon your on-device wallpaper. You can leave it as the preset blue, white, and black setup or select one of up to four patterns determined by your device.
You’ll see a nice preview pane above showing just what colors will be adopted across your device too. The effect isn’t nearly as obvious as it is on Pixels, but it does work across almost all core One UI 4.0 system areas — including notification toggles and the lockscreen.
It’s worth noting that the change is very noticeable but not quite as extensive as you might expect. Instead, it’s more of an accent addition that tweaks some UI elements but doesn’t appear to work with any of Google’s recently updated and tuned first-party applications including Messages, Gmail and many more.
You’ll still see the Material You tweaks on those apps, but for now at least, most will just adhere to the stock or standard colors applied. Some apps are fully themed but will depend heavily upon which version you have installed or have updated. A fine example is the Google Podcasts app, which will adjust based upon your wallpaper-based “Color theme” accenting.
Because of the inherent changes to apps as a result of your system accent color, “Color theme” changes just how you’ll experience Android 12 on your Samsung Galaxy device. Google is pushing it hard for Pixel, and it was initially expected to be limited to Made by Google devices but the arrival here in One UI 4.0 Beta 2 is far earlier than expected.
To explain, “RAM Plus” is a feature that uses a portion of your on-device storage to create “virtual RAM” that ups the limit on your Galaxy smartphone. For higher-end Samsung Galaxy smartphones in excess of 8-12GB of RAM, this probably isn’t even an issue, but for the low-end devices with hardware limits, this could be a real way to expand or improve general performance levels.
In One UI 4.0 Beta 2 you can’t actually disable “RAM Plus” as it’s simply enabled by default. You can see just how much space is being used by heading to Settings > Device care > Memory. Here you’ll be able to clear or free up RAM as well as see just how much “virtual memory” is being adopted where the system deems necessary.
We’re not sure if this will decrease or automatically disable if you lack the available space, but it appears to be capped at 4GB. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the same as physically adding 4GB of RAM to your device, but it might help if heavy apps are taking up system resources or you want to play more demanding games and are happy to sacrifice other app performance levels. It’s worth noting that this has already been released to some mid-rangers from Samsung, including the Galaxy A52 and even the brand-new Z Fold 3, but joining the main One UI 4.0 build could expand it to all devices.
Enhanced video calling options and effects
When initiating a video call, you have more options at your fingertips as part of the “Video call effects” floating panel after updating to One UI 4.0 Beta 2. These include the ability to adjust background blur effects or add a color/image. Effectively, this simply mimics the kind of things you can already do in the various calling apps like Zoom, Google Meet, and others, but this works on any app that your Galaxy device detects as a video calling app.
Enhancing those controls is a new “Mic mode” option that lets you choose just what audio is picked up when making video calls. There’s a “Standard” mode that works just as you expect, a “Voice focus” option that attempts to cut out any annoying background noise but a neat option for group or family calls is an option labeled “All sound.” When making large group calls — something fairly normal since the start of the pandemic — this might help as it boosts the audio picked up in the vicinity of your phone.
Gallery metadata editing
It’s almost as if Samsung lifted the ability to edit and adjust the time and date metadata from images in the Gallery app right from Google Photos — although it’s simply a highly requested feature. Tapping the overflow menu and then selecting details opens up the metadata menu for any image within the Samsung Gallery app.
From here you’re able to edit everything from the photo name, the location it was taken, and even the time and date — complete with Dynamic Color supporting time and date picker. Not having to upload to Google Photos or use another third-party app is likely a massive added feature for many that use the default gallery app on their Galaxy devices.
Android 12 easter egg with Dynamic Color
Not necessarily a massive update but provided you are using “Color theme” on your device, the Android 12 easter egg will adhere to your preset theme — just like it does on Pixel smartphones running the Android 12 Beta. Is this is an important change? No, but it’s nice all the same.
Should I install One UI 4.0 Beta 2 on my Galaxy S21?
If you want to try this modest set of additional features alongside the previous — and more extensive add-ons — then you’ll need to sign up the One UI 4.0 Beta via the Samsung Members app. At this stage it has only rolled out in the US and UK, but more regions will get access to this Android 12 preview over the coming days.
However, at this stage, we’d suggest holding on a little longer. Although this update includes a number of bug fixes, performance can be quite unstable at times with texture pop-in and lag in certain apps when scrolling. Beta 3 will hopefully add a bit more stability.
It’s the year 2021, and we already had the S21 trio of Samsung high-end phones over for review. On the opposite end of the Galaxy spectrum is the Galaxy A12 (12, not 21) – an entry-level handset designed to offer the Samsung experience, on a budget.
Announced late last year and available since January, the Galaxy A12 is not the absolute most affordable phone Samsung sells – the Galaxy M02 gets that title. Samsung’s naming is a bit iffy in the lower tier and it can get confusing what’s what between the A and M series but the A12 sits just below the M12, and above the M02s. Not all of these models are available globally so you may or may not be able to snatch the most affordable Samsung in your particular neck of the woods.
The Galaxy A12 we have here is equipped with a 6.5-inch display and the consequences of the budget constraints are easy to spot. It’s one of few LCDs in the OLED-dominated Galaxy lineup, and the 720p resolution is also on the low side of average for the diagonal. It’s a fairly standard combo of size, technology and resolution for the segment, so the A12 isn’t ill-equipped, in fact.
The Mediatek Helio P35 is doing the math inside the A12 and that too isn’t a particularly exciting bit of hardware on its own. Again, however, it’s perfectly adequate for the price point – you’re getting an octa-core CPU and the chip is built on a 12nm fabrication process, so it should be decently powerful and frugal at the same time.
The quad camera setup on the back actually makes a strong case for the Galaxy A12 in its market context. While the usefulness of the two 2MP modules is debatable (one for depth data, the other for ‘macro’), the 48MP main camera and a 5MP ultrawide make for nice tandem that’s hard to find. An 8MP selfie camera completes the picture in the imaging department.
Video capture:Rear camera: 1080p@30fps; Front camera: 1080p@30fps.
Battery: 5000mAh; Fast charging 15W.
Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); FM radio; 3.5mm jack.
One last important bit – the Galaxy A12 is powered by a 5,000mAh battery and that’s a lot of battery for a 12nm entry-level chipset and a 720p display, 6.5-inch as it may be. We’re expecting solid numbers for battery life.
Samsung Galaxy A12 unboxing
The Galaxy A12 arrives in a simple package that has the plain cardboard box inside a sleeve, a likeness of the phone printed on top. You get a couple of essentials – a 15W adaptor and USB-C cable and that’s it.
Taking out the phone reveals a nicely textured back
Xiaomi Redmi Note 9 • Xiaomi Poco M3 • Realme 7 (Global) • Motorola Moto G9 Power
Samsung often struggles to compete with the value-oriented brands in the lower market segments, and that’s the case with the Galaxy A12 we have here. It’s not a bad phone, and it excels in endurance, it takes decent pictures, and it looks good in the process. It’s also a Samsung, and the brand itself could make it more appealing than its actual merits.
But if you’re on a limited budget, is it really all that important what badge is on the back of your phone? Opting for one of the competitors will likely get you a superior overall package, and you might even save a little. If, however, you must absolutely get a Galaxy, the A12 is a reasonable compromise. It wouldn’t be our top choice for the money, though.
Standout textured back, nice-feeling plastics.
Excellent battery life.
Relatively capable camera setup, ultra-wide is not all that common in the price range.
Samsung‘s Galaxy A family has been a major success for the Korean giant in recent years. In fact, it now represents the largest portion of the company’s sales. That’s no coincidence either. There is only one way to pull off that level of success – and it’s by offering competitive features under high-profile branding for a reasonable amount. A daunting task that Samsung has been tackling like a true smartphone champ in nifty incremental steps throughout the last few Galaxy A generations.
The A family seems to constantly be growing as well. The lineup is sprawling, with new models seemingly popping up every few weeks. There is so much choice now, ranging from budget to nearly flagship-grade models, that Samsung could have easily spun it off into a sub-brand of its own. Not that we are suggesting they should.
the Galaxy A72 represents the highest-end model in the family. It is actually quite similar to the Galaxy A52, we recently reviewed. The vanilla version, that is, not the 5G one. Compared to the A52, the A72 offers a slightly bigger 6.7-inch, 90Hz display, an extra 8MP telephoto camera and a slightly bigger 5,000 mAh battery. Other than that, the vanilla A52 and the A72 are pretty much identical, including physically rocking a particular modern Samsung design.
Samsung Galaxy A72 specs at a glance:
Body: 165.0×77.4×8.4mm, 203g; Glass front, plastic back; IP67 dust/water resistant (up to 1m for 30 mins).
At the time of writing, the A52 starts at €350 for a 4GB/128GB unit, while the A72 costs €450 for its base 6GB/128GB tier. So the upgrades in the higher-tier model will set you back around €100 on top of the A52. Arguably, not quite as competitive on the value scale, but not bad either. Especially with features like the IP67 rating under its belt. Also, actual retail prices on both models have already come down a bit since their release, and the price difference should eventually shrink even further. Samsung is all too familiar with the kind of stiff mid-ranger competition it is facing in the space.
One more thing worth noting is that currently, there is no 5G variant of the A72 on offer. It is likely in the works, though, and has already been popping up in leaks. We can probably expect it to offer a 120Hz display, like the 5G variant of the A52 does. Potentially with a chipset swap from the Snapdragon 720G to the 750G 5G as well. That would make for yet another exciting model in the Galaxy A family. For now, however, we have a regular Galaxy A72 in for review in Awesome Blue, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage. Let’s dive in.
The Samsung Galaxy A72 ships in a fairly plain two-piece box. Nothing too fancy, no plastic, just paper. Thick and rigid, it gets the job done. You don’t get much in the way of accessories either – just a wall charger and a few leaflets, and that’s about it.
That being said, unlike the Galaxy A52, which ships with a simple 15W charger, the A72 comes with a proper 25W PD one, including a white USB Type-C to Type-C cable. This is great news since the phone can, in fact, charge at up to 25W, and you don’t need to go out and buy a compatible charger to make use of the higher speed charging with the A72 like with the A52.
Depending on how you look at this, a proper charger in the box can be deducted from the total price of owning the A72, or rather added to the potential math of getting the A52 instead and have you adjust the value calculation a bit.
Samsung really upped its value game with the latest batch of Galaxy A family devices. The new “Awesome is for everyone” slogan definitely goes beyond vague PR talk.
The Galaxy A52 is first on our list of alternatives to the Galaxy A72. If you can live without the telephoto camera and settle for a slightly smaller, but otherwise just as excellent, 6.5-inch AMOLED display and a slightly smaller 4,500 battery, then you can save up to EUR 100 and get the A52 instead of its bigger A72 sibling. You’d also be getting a faster 25W PD charger in the A72 box, whereas the A52 ships with a 15W unit. And with that, the differences between the pair are effectively exhausted, simplifying the decision-making.
Tnen there is the Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro. It comes with an even faster 120Hz AMOLED display, certified for HDR10 video. You get stereo speakers as well and a 3.5mm jack for a complete multimedia experience. The battery is a hefty 5,020 unit with 33W fast charging support and a comparable 118 hours of endurance rating, as per our review. You might be losing the telephoto, but the main 108MP snapper on the Redmi Note 10 Pro is plenty impressive. There is even an IP53 rating, which is something.
Speaking of trendy 108MP cameras, the Realme 8 Pro has been blowing up in popularity for a reason. Going for it would save you quite a few bucks, but also skips on certain niceties like high refresh rate, stereo speakers and IP rating and a telephoto cam, to name a few.
Naturally, we can’t ignore the allure of recent Poco phones either. Mainly the Poco F3, which also has a glorious 120Hz, HDR10+ AMOLED display, stereo speakers and a slightly smaller 4,500 mAh battery, though one with comparable endurance to the A72 in our testing.
Last, but not least, the shiny new Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite shouldn’t be ignored. Specifically, the 5G variant, if it is available where you live and you find yourself drawn to the trendy allure of 5G connectivity. You will, again, be missing out on a telephoto camera, compared to the Galaxy A72, though.
Samsung has made the new Galaxy A-series phones hard to ignore. The A72 packs a feature set that brings it closer than ever to flagship territory.
The Galaxy A72 rocks an eye-catching and trendy design. It’s got a solid build with IP67 ingress protection. It might not be made of premium materials but still feels great to touch.
The 6.7-inch display has gorgeous colors and great brightness output thanks to modern AMOLED tech.
The impressive hybrid stereo speaker system with Dolby Atmos shapes the Galaxy A72 into a solid multimedia device. So does the inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack.
The quad main camera setup is versatile, with both an ultrawide and a surprisingly good 3x telephoto camera.
You can get plenty of use out of the 5,000 mAh battery, and the inclusion of a fast 25W charger in the box is much appreciated.
Last but definitely not least, there is a reason why One UI has persistently been drawing in and retaining users for years now and the A72 not only comes with the latest One UI 3.1 and Android 11 combo but also a newfound promise for long term software support – 3 major OS updates and 4 years of security patches.
Now for some downsides, or at least deficiencies on the Galaxy A72: A display with a faster refresh rate and HDR video capabilities would have been great to see. Speaking of high display refresh rates, we can’t help but think of high fps gaming – a challenge for the Snapdragon 720G chipset. While it is not holding back the current feature set of the A72 in any way, faster silicon is now readily available in the mid-range space. A higher-grade chipset would have meant some trendy extras like Wi-Fi 6 or 6e and perhaps Bluetooth 5.1 but there are now missing.
So bottom line then – just like the Galaxy A52, the A72 is a truly unique package, even on the current over-saturated mid-ranger scene. That being said, its value relies on a very particular mix of features. If it just happens to be something that resonates with you, there really is no reason to look elsewhere.
2021 No Non-sense Fix – Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Screen Replacement | Sydney CBD Repair Centre
[Music] hello guys this is glenn from sydney cbd repair center and today we’re going to fix a samsung galaxy s21 ultra with a crack on the screen and the name tag is back [Music]
this samsung galaxy s21 ultra has a broken display
and we’re gonna fix it and replace it with a new one and as you can see on the initial visual assessment there’s no cracks at the back
so we can reuse the back plate and we’re gonna cover up the name tag that we have mentioned at the start to protect the name of whoever owns this smartphone so we’re gonna remove it by slowly prying off the back plate because the adhesives are very strong
and as you can as you know the espanol ultra is waterproof and the adhesives that connects these two components the back plate and the main housing is responsible for keeping your internal components dry when you drop or submerge your smartphone underwater
so we’re going to remove all the screws and as you can see the flagship Samsung smartphone has a lot of premium components you can you will know that if you open a lot of smartphones just like what we do for a living and right here it’s easy to remove them with just a few screws
but the complexity is still there so you’re paying for a premium smartphone and you get some very very robust components and as you can see the camera array and the motherboard are integrated into one design into one piece the battery at the middle and a daughter board for the charging and speakers we’re gonna remove this
and as you can see you have an option to you don’t have the option to remove the screen itself
because the screen and housing is one piece so that’s making it very integrated and very robust
and you can we will replace it with the black one as you can see here so once you break the screen of your galaxy s21 ultra
you will also have to replace the housing since the client is not really keen on preserving the gray color of the housing
it’s okay that we replace it with a different color so it’s mostly aesthetic the components will still remain the same the files will still be there and as we transfer all the components that we have removed from the previous housing uh
we can guarantee that it will still function the same just in a different color
as you can see it surprisingly well we can disassemble and reassemble the s21 ultra pretty easily since the components are screwed in and less adhesives aside from except on the back plate as you can see here we’re almost done and this is the first time that we’ll test it if it turns on
yes it successfully turns on and will proceed with the testing with a fingerprint and the buttons the charging cameras
and this is a slow process guys if you want to diy um your own screen replacement that will be risky because the value of an galaxy s21 ultra is not that easy to reconcile with the risk of you breaking it while doing your diy repair
so we suggest that you take it to us and minimize that risk and ensure that you have a fully functional s21 ultra that you can use during the lockdown so we’re still open even in this time of lockdown in Sydney
you can go to our shop or you can message us first on facebook
and don’t worry guys we’re still um tested negative and all of our personnel are fully vaccinated so we also do iphone repairs smart watches and other samsung galaxy oppo and vivo smartphones so we have done all our testing we can put back the back plate as you can see here you can just put on the cover on this one a case maybe and it will be fine so i hope you like this video guys if you need help call us you can message us [Music] and thanks for joining till next time cheers [Music] [Music] [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Music] you
In this video, I’m going to show you how to replace the screen on your Samsung Galaxy with genuine Samsung parts. If you’re tired of getting ripped off by shady stores that sell fake parts, this is the video for you.
We will show you how to replace your galaxy screen replacement with genuine samsung parts on the spot.
Do you want to save time and money and get a quality repair? We can replace your galaxy screen for you on the spot with genuine samsung parts.
First, you will need to remove the back panel of your broken Samsung device.
The first step to repairing a broken Samsung device is to remove the back panel. Here are the steps:
Next, use a screwdriver to take off the screws holding in the battery and then pop out the old battery.
This guide is for those who have a dead battery and are having difficulty putting in a new one. First, take off the screws on the back of the device using a screwdriver. Next, pop out the old battery and put in a new one. If you have any questions or need more help, feel free to contact customer service for more advice.
Then, replace it with a new battery that is compatible with your device’s model number.
A battery is an important and essential component of any device. Without it, the device can’t function. One of the most important things to know when shopping for a new battery is the model number of your device. If you are not sure what your model number is, you can look on the back or bottom of your phone or laptop.
Finally, put all of the screws back in and place the back panel over top of them.
Welcome to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE update hub. Here you’ll find the latest information on updates to Samsung’s flagship foldable phone. We’ll detail the current software versions for the device and alert you if there’s a new update rolling out. Samsung usually pushes out One UI updates regularly, but availability may be affected by variant, carrier, and region.
Current stable version: Android 11
When will the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE get Android 12? 2022 (Estimated)
Latest Samsung Galaxy S20 FE updates
July 30, 2021: Samsung has rolled out a new update to the Galaxy S20 FE, bringing the July 2021 Android security patch with it. Firmware version G780FXXU4CUG5 weighs in at just over 330MB and is available on the Exynos LTE version of the device, per SamMobile. Beyond the security patch, the update also packs unspecified fixes and improvements to the device.
Several Samsung devices are currently receiving the August 2021 Android security patch. So don’t be too surprised if the Galaxy S20 FE gains another update shortly.
To check if an update is available, head to Settings > Software updates on your device.
Previous Samsung Galaxy S20 FE updates
July 8, 2021: Firmware version G780FXXU4CUG1 arrived (h/t SamMobile) with several security patches in tow.
April 12, 2021: Firmware version G781BXXU2CUD1 rolled out to the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. According to SamMobile, the update included no notable change bar the April 2021 Android security patch.
March 24, 2021: A host of camera updates arrived with firmware G781BXXU2CUC6 including new portrait mode effects and the ability to use the ultra-wide camera in Pro mode.
February 19, 2021: One UI 3.1 rolled out to devices after the initial update was pulled. The patch included firmware version G781BXXU2CUB5 and came in at a weighty 1.7GB.
December 25, 2020: One UI 3.0 arrived in the form of firmware version G780FXXU1BTL1 and G781BXXU1BTL4 for the 4G and 5G models, respectively. This came after reports that devices in Russia received the update a week prior.
For the first time ever, Chinese company Xiaomi has taken the second place from Apple in the global smartphone shipments ranking during the second quarter of 2021. As shown by a Canalys research, smartphone shipments grew 12% last quarter as a result of the COVID-19 vaccination around the world.
While Samsung remains in first place, Apple lost the second place ranking in smartphone shipments to Xiaomi during Q2 2021. The Chinese company also had the most significant growth in the last quarter with an 83% increase in sales, while Samsung recorded a 15% increase and Apple only 1%.
In terms of market share, Samsung accounted for 19% of global smartphone sales in Q2 2021, while Xiaomi took 17% and Apple 14%. Oppo and Vivo vie for fourth and fifth place with 10% market share each.
According to the research, one of the main reasons for Xiaomi’s growth is the more than 300% increase in sales in Latin America, coupled with a 150% growth in Africa. Compared to Samsung and Apple devices, Xiaomi offers products that cost 40% and 75% cheaper, so they become more popular in emerging countries.
And as it grows, it evolves. It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent, with initiatives such as channel partner consolidation and more careful management of older stock in the open market. It is still largely skewed toward the mass market, however, and compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40% and 75% cheaper respectively.
Even so, Apple is still in a good position. Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan recently raised their price targets for AAPL as they believe that the iPhone 13, which is expected to be introduced this fall, will keep up the strong sales of the iPhone 12. A recent research by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that the iPhone 12 line accounted for 63% of US iPhone sales in the third quarter of 2021.
Bottom line: Samsung’s Galaxy S21 is a great overall package, delivering 5G, the latest hardware, and all the extras you could ask for in a 2021 flagship.
6.2-inch AMOLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
128 or 256GB
12MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide, 64MP telephoto
25W wired, 15W wireless
151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm
Compact and lightweight design
Snapdragon 888 is a performance beast
120Hz AMOLED display
Very capable cameras
All-day battery life
Doesn’t have expandable storage
No MST for Samsung Pay
In 2021, Samsung has released a smaller and more affordable smartphone in the regular Galaxy S21. For shoppers that want a fully-fledged smartphone experience without completely breaking the bank, it’s well worth your consideration.
One of the best things the Galaxy S21 has going for it is the display. It’s a Full HD+ AMOLED panel, and when paired with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate, it is nothing short of excellent. It’s not quite as sharp as the Quad HD+ resolution found on the S21 Ultra, but the picture still looks really crisp thanks to a smaller 6.2-inch display size. Combine that smaller display with plastic construction, and the S21 ends up being a really comfortable phone to use thanks to its small size and lightweight design.
Another highlight is performance; the Galaxy S21 features the Snapdragon 888 and 8GB of RAM. No matter what tasks you throw at the phone, it’ll handle them with ease. There’s also a 4,000 mAh battery for all-day endurance, an IP68 dust/water resistance rating, and your choice of 128GB or 256GB of storage. The camera experience isn’t as jaw-dropping as what you’ll find with the S21 Ultra, though it is a bit better than the S20 FE. Once again, it’s a nice middle-ground between the two.
You get three guaranteed Android updates and four years of security patches on the software front, making the Galaxy S21 one of the best phones for long-term use. That said, the Galaxy S21 shares the same cons as the S21 Ultra, meaning there’s no expandable storage or MST for Samsung Pay. Those are two features you do get with the S20 FE, but the S21 still manages to stand out thanks to its improved cameras, faster performance, nicer design, and more pocketable form factor.
Bottom line: The S21 Ultra stands out as the phone to get if you don’t want to spare any expense. Everything from the display, performance, cameras, and more are among the very best you can get — just be prepared for it to cost you a pretty penny.
What Samsung achieved with the Galaxy S20 FE is nothing short of amazing, and for the vast majority of you reading this, it’s the phone you should probably buy. But if you’re itching for a device that has even more to offer and you’re OK spending more to get that kind of experience, you’ll want to turn your attention towards the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
This is Samsung’s top-of-the-line flagship for 2021, and in virtually every regard, the premium nature of the S21 Ultra is easy to see. Starting first with the display, you’re treated to a massive 6.8-inch panel that’s capable of running a Quad HD+ resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate at the same time — something very few smartphones are capable of doing. This means you get razor-sharp text, buttery smooth animations, and the stunning colors of Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED screen technology.
Powering the S21 Ultra is the Snapdragon 888 chipset, paired with either 12 or 16GB of RAM. In real-world use, that means the Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the fastest phones money can buy. Keeping with the theme of high-end specs, other niceties include a 5,000 mAh battery, up to 512GB of storage, an IP68 water/dust resistance rating, and a larger in-screen fingerprint sensor that’s much faster and easier to use than the one found on the S20 FE.
As if that wasn’t enough, the tour de force of the Galaxy S21 Ultra is its camera system. The primary camera is a 108MP sensor that captures extremely detailed and colorful shots. The 8MP ultra-wide lens is a strong performer. The two telephoto cameras — featuring 3x and 10x zoom distances — allow for some of the very best zoom pictures we’ve ever seen.
There’s no denying the impressiveness of the S21 Ultra, but that’s not to say it’s without its faults. Samsung got rid of expandable storage and MST for Samsung Pay, two hallmark features of Galaxy phones before it. If you’re alright with losing out on those features, the Galaxy S21 Ultra experience is well well worth the price of admission.
Bottom line: The OnePlus 9 Pro delivers a gorgeous new design combined with top-notch internal hardware, cameras tuned by Hasselblad, and clean software. OnePlus finally has a phone that measures up to Android’s best, and the OnePlus 9 Pro is an affordable alternative to the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is gunning straight for the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The phone features the latest hardware you’ll find today, including the Snapdragon 888 chipset, along with LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage modules, and a marquee addition this year is the cameras.
OnePlus always nailed the hardware, but it just couldn’t deliver cameras that held up to Samsung, Google, and Xiaomi. That has changed with the OnePlus 9 Pro. The device comes with an upgraded 48MP camera at the back that takes fantastic photos. OnePlus also partnered with German camera giant Hasselblad to deliver outstanding photos to capture every moment. The result: the OnePlus 9 Pro takes amazing shots in just about any lighting condition. There’s also a 50MP wide-angle lens that may just be the best on any phone today, and you get an 8MP module that offers 3x digital zoom.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is one of the fastest phones you can buy today, and a new 120Hz AMOLED display joins the top-notch hardware. The phone uses an LTPO display to dynamically change the refresh all the way from 1Hz to 120Hz, allowing it to conserve battery life while delivering a smooth and fluid user experience in daily use.
You’ll also find clean software without any bloatware at all in the Android 11-based OxygenOS 11. The interface has plenty of customizability, and unlike Samsung’s One UI, you will not find any errant ads anywhere. The clean UI combined with a focus on performance and customization make OxygenOS the default choice for enthusiasts.
The phone doesn’t miss out in other areas either — you get IP68 dust and water resistance, 5G connectivity over both Sub-6 and mmWave, and dual-band GPS along with NFC. But a key highlight is around battery tech — the OnePlus 9 Pro offers 65W wired charging along with 50W wireless charging, with the phone taking just 29 minutes to fully charge using the bundled charger. OnePlus also recently announced that its flagship phones would begin receiving three major Android updates — up from the two promised previously.
While it’s exciting to see the gains in this area, the one downside is that battery life itself isn’t on par with other Android flagships. For example, the OnePlus 9 Pro barely manages to last a day with heavy use, so you may want to take the charger along if you’re heading out.
That said, the OnePlus 9 Pro is a great overall package that nails the fundamentals. So if you’re not sure about the Galaxy S21 Ultra and are looking for an alternative, you will love what the OnePlus 9 Pro has to offer.
Bottom line: There are many good smartphone deals out there, but none of them are as amazing as the Pixel 4a. From its flagship-grade cameras, reliable performance, all-day battery life, and long-term software support, no other phone gives you this much for so little.
5.81-inch OLED, 2340×1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G
144 x 69.4 x 8.2mm
Flagship camera on a budget phone
Easy to use in one hand
AMOLED display looks great
Three years of software support
The Pixel 4a is the best phone value available today, period. Google’s packed most of what makes the Pixel 4/5 series good into a smartphone that costs over 50% less. You also get a compact device that, despite its size, excels in the battery life department. Seriously, this phone lasts all day and then some.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the 4a is its camera, which is nearly on par with the Pixel 4 that preceded it. The main camera shoots exceptional photos in all lighting conditions, with Night Sight really showing its strength in poor lighting. Google even added Astrophotography mode this time around and improved the already impressive Portrait Mode. The front-facing camera is also tack-sharp and focuses more quickly than on the Pixel 3a from 2019. Both front and back, you’re getting flagship-level camera quality out of a phone that’s a fraction of the price. Google’s also improved the video quality on the 4a, thanks to an improved Snapdragon 730 chipset and 6GB of RAM standard.
So what do you lose by spending a third of the price of a more traditional flagship? Well, the Pixel 4a is made of plastic and lacks both water resistance and wireless charging, features you can take for granted at a higher price point. It also only comes in one size, a 5.8-inch variant, and one color, black. There are no storage size options, either: you get 128GB of internal memory, which should be plenty for most people, but a lack of microSD expansion may be a problem for the content collectors out there. Also, there’s no 5G support here.
All of these limitations shouldn’t impede your desire to buy the Pixel 4a, which proved to be one of the best smartphone surprises of 2020 — even if it did launch a few months late. Google’s latest budget phone is a winner, from the size to the performance to the battery life and camera quality.
Bottom line: They say that the best camera you have is the one you have with you, so make sure it’s the best it can be. Google’s Pixel 5 takes incredible photos in virtually any setting, and thanks to the company’s top-notch image processing, you don’t even have to be a pro photographer to get impressive shots.
6.0-inch OLED, 2340×1080, 90Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G
12.2MP primary, 16MP ultra-wide
18W wired, 15W wireless, 5W reverse wireless
144.7 x 70.4 x 8.0mm
Among the best cameras on the market
Compact and comfortable to hold
90Hz AMOLED display
Great battery life
Three years of software updates
Might be too small for some users
The Pixel 5 is Google’s latest flagship smartphone that you can buy. Compared to past releases, it’s a huge departure. Rather than trying to have the absolute best specs possible, the Pixel 5 focuses on offering a great all-around user experience at a competitive price. And, in just about every regard, it succeeds.
First thing’s first, we have to talk about the Pixel 5’s camera performance. Simply put, if camera quality is a key priority for you, the Pixel 5 should be at the very top of your shopping list. The 12.2MP primary and 16MP ultra-wide cameras may not look all that impressive on paper, but combined with Google’s unmatched image processing, they kick out truly incredible results. The detail is sharp, colors are true-to-life, and the Pixel 5 handles low-light environments without a hitch. The best part? The Pixel 5 does all of this more reliably than any other smartphone.
Outside of killer cameras, the Pixel 5 has a bunch more to offer. We’re in love with its design, which is refreshingly compact and is made entirely out of aluminum. The paint job gives it an exceptional in-hand feel, and if you ask us. The Sorta Sage color is one of the best we’ve ever seen on a phone. Period.
Rounding out the Pixel 5 experience is a 90Hz AMOLED display, fast performance thanks to the Snapdragon 765G processor, and long-lasting battery life. For considerably less money than a lot of other flagships, the Pixel 5 is well worth your consideration.
Bottom line: Samsung’s Galaxy S20 FE is a solid, affordable 5G phone that offers most of what makes Samsung flagships so good in a cheaper, colorful package.
6.5-inch OLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865
12MP primary, 8MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide
15W wired, Qi wireless charging
161.6 x 71.1 x 9.3mm
Flat 120Hz display is terrific
All-day battery life
Promised three years of software updates
Impressive cameras with 3x optical zoom
Sturdy design with fun color options
Not every color option is available everywhere
Camera can be slow to load
Samsung clearly understands that this is a time for people to pare back their expenses because the Galaxy S20 FE is a value flagship that really doesn’t skimp. It’s based on the successful foundation of the Galaxy S20+, featuring a spacious 6.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display with a luxurious 120Hz refresh rate, a Snapdragon 865, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and an all-day 4,500mAh battery.
Of course, to hit its affordable price point, Samsung needed to make some sacrifices, so it traded the Galaxy S20 series’ back glass for colorful plastic — the FE is available in six delicious colors — and cut back on the quality of the triple-camera setup ever-so-slightly.
Still, the S20 FE has everything you’d expect in a high-end phone and performs just as well. We especially love the IP68 water resistance and wireless charging, two features rare in this price bracket. Plus, it shares the same primary camera sensor as the Galaxy S20 and S20+, ensuring beautiful results in good light and bad.
Samsung’s One UI 3.0 is also on-board, and the company’s promising three years of platform and security updates, ensuring that you’ll be getting the latest Android features well into the next decade.
Finally, Samsung includes sub-6Ghz 5G in all variants of the Galaxy S20 FE, and we found performance to be excellent on both AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s 5G networks. If you want a Verizon version that supports mmWave, it’s also available for purchase.
Bottom line: The Moto G Power 2020 has reliable hardware combined with outstanding battery life and clean software. There are a few downsides — it’s limited to 10W charging and will only get one Android update, but you are getting a great entry-level package overall.
6.4-inch LCD, 2300×1080, 60Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 665
16MP primary, 8MP wide-angle, 2MP macro
159.9 x 75.8 x 9.6mm
At least two-day battery life
Large 1080p display
Will get only one Android update
Charging limited to 10W
If you’re in the market for an entry-level phone, the Moto G Power 2020 is still a great choice in 2021. Motorola has nailed the basics here, delivering a robust phone with all the features you’re looking for in a budget option.
The standout feature on the Moto G Power 2020 is the battery: featuring a large 5000mAh battery, the phone manages to last over two days without fail. The charging situation isn’t ideal, though; the Moto G Power 2020 has 10W wired charging, so you will want to plug in the device overnight.
The phone holds up pretty well in other areas too. You get a 6.4-inch 1080p LCD that’s decent enough in its own right, and the Snapdragon 665 is a reliable performer in normal use. The phone has stereo sound, a 3.5mm jack, a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, and a microSD card slot. And as the phone is officially sold in the U.S., it works on all the major carriers.
In fact, it’s a better option than the Moto G Power 2021 in key areas — the 2021 model has fewer LTE bands, a lower-resolution 720p display, and a less powerful chipset. You’ll find positives on the software side as well, with Motorola offering a clean interface without any bloatware. The downside here is that the phone will get just one Android update — to Android 11 — and if you’re okay with that, the Moto G Power 2020 has plenty to offer in 2021.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for a value flagship and want a phone with a gorgeous design, the latest hardware, stellar cameras, fast charging, and clean software, the OnePlus 9 is the obvious choice.
6.5-inch AMOLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
48MP primary, 50MP wide-angle, 2MP portrait
65W wired, 15W wireless
160 x 74.2 x 8.7 mm
Sublime 120Hz AMOLED display
Clean software with no bloat
65W wired / 15W wireless charging
Three years of Android updates
Single-SIM in the U.S.
With the OnePlus 9, OnePlus sets its sights on the Galaxy S20 FE. The phone delivers on the same fundamentals as Samsung’s value flagship, offering the latest internal hardware, a 120Hz AMOLED display, reliable cameras, and many extras from the OnePlus 9 Pro.
The 120Hz AMOLED display on the OnePlus 9 is one of the best you’ll find in this particular category, and thanks to the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the phone handles anything you throw at it without breaking a sweat. You also get 5G connectivity over Sub-6, Wi-Fi 6, NFC, AptX HD audio codecs, and an excellent vibration motor.
The phone has the same 4500mAh battery as the OnePlus 9 Pro, and you get 65W wired charging. What’s new this generation is the addition of 15W Qi wireless charging. It may not be quite the same as the insane 50W wireless charging on the 9 Pro, but the upside is that the OnePlus 9 works with any Qi-enabled wireless charger available today. This particular feature is missing on the Indian and Chinese models, but you’ll find it on the OnePlus 9 variants sold in North America and Europe.
Coming to the software, OxygenOS 11 continues to set the standard in terms of customizability. The bloatware-free UI is a delight to use, and recently OnePlus announced that it would begin supporting its flagship phones with three years of Android platform updates.
Overall, the OnePlus 9 is a solid contender to the Galaxy S20 FE. It has the latest hardware, great cameras, clean software, and fast charging, and for what it costs, you are getting a great overall value.
Bottom line: The ASUS ZenFone 8 is a bit of a departure from its predecessors, but it is the best smallest Android flagship you can buy right now. It has an excellent build, clean software, great cameras, 5G, and the powerful Snapdragon 888 SOC.
5.9-inch OLED, 2400×1080, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
64MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide
148 x 68.5 x 8.9 mm
Easy to use one-handed
Gorgeous screen with 120Hz refresh rate
3.5mm headphone jack
No wireless charging
No telephoto camera
If you’re one of those people who still pines for a smaller, flagship-level phone, then we have some good news for you. The ASUS ZenFone 8 delivers one of the best Android experiences that you can get in mid-2021 for much less than the competition. Plus, it’s one of the smallest Android flagships around.
Unlike the ZenFone 6 and 7 series and the ZenFone 8 Flip, the ZenFone 8 has done away with the flipping camera module in favor of a more traditional design. While this new (older) form factor makes the device more pocketable, ASUS was able to retain an excellent camera setup nonetheless. It also means that it is now IP68 water-resistant. The ZenFone 8 features a gorgeous AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, and it even retains an old-school fan favorite with its 3.5mm headphone jack.
The ZenFone 8 has top-notch internal specs, too, including the powerful Snapdragon 888 processor, fast 20W wired charging, and one of the cleanest builds of Android we’ve seen this year. However, you miss out on wireless charging, and ASUS’s track record for updates has left us wanting in the past.
This is the perfect phone for someone who admires the size and capabilities of something like the Google Pixel 4a but who also wants a more premium and performant Android phone.
Bottom line: Folding phones are here, and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best one we’ve seen yet. It’s basically a smartphone and tablet in one device, and while it is costly, it’s also the best attempt yet we’ve seen for this form factor.
6.23-inch AMOLED, 2260×816, 60Hz refresh rate
7.6-inch AMOLED, 2280×1768, 120Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
12MP primary, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultra-wide
25W wired and 11W wireless
159.2 x 128.2 x 6.9mm (unfolded) and 159.2 x 68 x 16.8mm (folded)
Puts a mini-tablet in your pocket
Great cameras and battery
App compatibility issues
Just like any piece of technology, smartphones evolve and change as time goes on. We’ve seen screens get bigger, cameras get a lot more capable, and processors rival those found in computers. The next big thing for phones is the folding form factor, and so far, the best yet in this niche is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2.
The best way to think about the device is as a phone and tablet in one. When the Z Fold 2 is closed, you’re treated to a 6.23-inch AMOLED display that you can use for anything you’d like — checking email, scrolling through Twitter, watching YouTube videos, you name it. Should you find yourself wanting a larger canvas, however, all you need to do is open up the Z Fold 2 up. There, you’re treated to a larger 7.6-inch AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s a lot like having an iPad Mini that you can fold up and take with you wherever you want, and if you ask us, that’s pretty amazing.
As you might expect for a new technology like a folding phone, the Z Fold 2 does come with some unique dilemmas. For example, the Ultra-Thin Glass for the tablet display is prone to scratches more than traditional glass. The folding design raises questions about long-term durability, and not all apps are properly optimized for that larger display size. There’s also the matter of price, with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 costing more than two OnePlus 8 Pros.
This isn’t a phone that we recommend everyone go out and buy right now, but as far as folding phones go, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the best we’ve seen to date. If you’re willing to spend the money and put up with those quirks, the Z Fold 2 has a lot to offer.
Bottom line: The Galaxy A52 5G gives you amazing hardware in the form of a 120Hz AMOLED screen and a Snapdragon 750G chipset with 5G connectivity. Although the design looks similar to the S21 series, you also get great cameras and all-day battery life, which is much more affordable.
If you want to switch to a 5G phone but don’t want to pay too much money, then the Galaxy A52 5G may just be the ideal option for you. Samsung has always delivered value packages with the Galaxy A series, and it is taking things to a whole new level in 2021.
The Galaxy A52 5G offers considerable upgrades over its predecessor; the 6.5-inch AMOLED panel now has a 120Hz refresh rate, giving you a level of immediacy during daily interactions that was missing in last year’s Galaxy A51. The internal hardware has also received a boost, and the Snapdragon 750G chipset is faster in almost every day-to-day scenario.
The camera has received some attention as well, with the A52 5G now offering a 64MP lens at the back. There’s even a MicroSD slot and a 3.5mm jack, two features you won’t find on the Galaxy S21 series. And thanks to a generous 4500mAh battery and 25W fast charging, you don’t have to worry about battery life.
Samsung added IP67 dust and water resistance to the Galaxy A52 5G, making it just that little more enticing. Oh, and there’s, of course, 5G connectivity here, so if you’re thinking of switching to a 5G plan this year and need a mid-range phone, the Galaxy A52 5G ticks all the right boxes.
Bottom line: The ASUS ROG Phone 5 is designed for gamers. It has an incredible build, a stunning 144Hz AMOLED display, and is paired with a massive 6,000mAh battery and 65W wired fast charging. There are also great accessories and extras to help you get the most out of your mobile gaming experience.
6.78-inch AMOLED, 2448×1080, 144Hz refresh rate
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
64MP primary, 13MP ultra-wide, 5MP macro
172.8 x 77.2 x 10.2mm
Huge battery (6,000mAh)
144Hz refresh rate
3.5mm headphone jack
Gaming inspired design
Fast and fluid performance
This phone is BIG
No wireless charging
No water resistance
Gaming phones are definitely a niche category, but the folks who are interested in these devices really care how they perform. ASUS knows this subset extremely well and has been cranking out heavy-duty gaming phones for several years now. Its ROG line of phones complements its gaming PCs quite well, and there is undoubtedly a lot of crossover between owners of these computers and phones.
The latest in the vaunted ROG series is the ROG Phone 5. It boasts one of the largest capacity batteries we’ve seen (6,000mAh) for extended play sessions, as well as a brilliant AMOLED display with an high 144Hz refresh rate to make your content fly. You also get a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you don’t have to worry about audio latency, and it’s all powered by the latest and greatest Snapdragon 888 chipset.
There are several great accessories that you can purchase separately to help you get even more out of the experience, such as gamepads, coolers, and cases, but the phone looks great au naturale. The biggest drawbacks of the phone are that it doesn’t have wireless charging or an official IP rating, and it is quite a big and heavy device.
Bottom line: The Redmi Note 10 Pro takes things to a whole new level in the budget segment. The phone has a 120Hz AMOLED display, robust internal hardware, a 64MP camera that takes great photos in any lighting, and a gigantic 5020mAh battery with 33W fast charging. You can’t ask for much more in a budget phone.
Xiaomi knows how to deliver a value-focused package, and with the Redmi Note 10 Pro, it is setting a new standard for budget phones. The phone has features previously only seen on flagships, including a 120Hz AMOLED display that makes an immediate difference in day-to-day use.
The Snapdragon 732G delivers decent performance for most tasks, including intensive gaming. The phone also has generous memory and storage options, and you get a 3.5mm jack, microSD slot, NFC, and even an IR blaster that lets you control your TV or other AV gear. The phone also has IP53 dust and water resistance to withstand the occasional splash of water or be submerged in a pool without any issues.
The 5,020mAh battery on the Redmi Note 10 Pro easily delivers over a day’s worth of use as for battery. When you need to charge the phone, the bundled 33W charger ensures the battery is full in just over an hour. You won’t find wireless charging here, but honestly, the battery life is good that you don’t need to plug it in during the course of a day.
The 64MP camera is also new, and it takes great photos in just about any lighting condition. This may just be one of the best cameras you’ll find for under $300, making the Redmi Note 10 Pro that much more enticing. Xiaomi has made a lot of changes on the software front as well. MIUI 12 comes with Android 11 out of the box, and the UI is cleaner than earlier iterations. You get more customization options than you’ll end up using, and there are genuinely useful features here.
Ultimately, the main drawback is that the phone isn’t available officially in the U.S. You can pick up the global version of the Redmi Note 10 Pro from Amazon, but you miss out on the warranty.
How to pick the best Android phone
Android phones have never been better than they are right now. So regardless of how much or little money you can spend, you can go out and buy a phone that you’ll be thoroughly happy with. Out of every single phone on the market in 2021, however, we have to give our top recommendation for the best Android phone to the Samsung Galaxy S21.
Samsung makes amazing phones every year, but you need to pay out the nose for the privilege of owning one more often than not. With the Galaxy S21, you get a top-tier Samsung experience for less than previous years, and that makes it a better overall value.
Compared to a more expensive Galaxy handset like the S21 Ultra, the standard S21 does an admirable job of holding its own. It has a 120Hz AMOLED screen, excellent performance, great battery life, and the same One UI software experience. Even wireless charging and an IP68 rating are here, and the only area it misses out on is the Quad HD+ display and a glass back.
There are plenty of other options on this list if something about the Galaxy S21 just isn’t clicking for you, but we think it’s easy to see why it has our highest recommendation at the end of the day.
1. What size screen should I get?
You should consider many different things when buying a new Android phone, and it all starts with the display. This is the component you interact with more than anything else, so you must get one that you’ll enjoy using. Things like the resolution and refresh rate of a screen are worth talking about, but more so is the size.
Smartphones come in different shapes and sizes, and the biggest determining factor for that is the display. A 6.8-inch screen results in a much larger phone than one with a 5.8-inch one, and because of that, you need to know how big or small you’re willing to go.
Take the Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example. It has the largest display on this list (outside of the Z Fold 2, but that’s different), and because the screen is so huge, it’s a phenomenal canvas for watching movies, playing games, and browsing the web. Basically, any kind of content consumption you do looks better on a larger display because the more room you have, the bigger and easier to see your media is. The downside to this, however, is that phones like the S21 Ultra can be rather unwieldy. Especially if you’re someone with smaller hands, managing a phone like that can be a pain in the butt.
Then there are smaller-sized phones, such as the Pixel 4a. It’s substantially easier to manage and can actually be used with one hand, but you have less room for your movies and games on the flip side. It also means you can fit less content on the screen at one time, and if you’re someone who likes to increase your font size, things are easier to read, which could result in you having to do a lot of scrolling.
And, of course, there are plenty of phones that fall somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. If you’re really concerned about whether or not a phone will be too big or small, your best bet is to honestly go hands-on with it yourself at your local carrier store or Best Buy before making your purchase.
2. Are software updates important?
It’s easy to compare displays, processors, and cameras, but something that’s just as important to talk about is software updates. Android is constantly evolving and getting better, and unfortunately, only certain phones are backed by a few years of software support.
As it currently stands, Google, Samsung, and OnePlus are the best in the business when supporting their phones with long-term updates. All of the Pixels, Galaxy devices, and OnePlus phones mentioned on this list are backed by three years of major OS updates from their initial release, which is by far the best support any Android phone maker has to offer. Google even goes a step further with three years of guaranteed monthly security patches, and while Samsung does the same for its flagships, it is now starting to follow suit for its mid-range devices.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you have a company like Motorola. Take the Motorola G Power, which is only promised to get a single update to Android 11. Security patches are even worse, with Motorola having a track record of falling multiple months behind on updates.
So, how important is it that your phone gets software updates? That ultimately depends on how much you care about new Android features. Google releases a new version of Android every year, and while these updates don’t tend to be that drastic from year to year, they give your phone important features and security settings that help keep it running in tip-top shape for a long time. It also ensures that your phone stays compatible with all the apps and games on the Play Store because as Android versions become too outdated, app developers eventually drop support.
A phone like the Motorola G Power won’t be unusable two years down the road just because it’s running Android 11 and not Android 13, but it’s also a bit disheartening to buy a product and know it’s backed by such a small window of post-purchase support. This divide in updates is something Android has been faced with for years, and while companies are gradually getting better in these regards, we still have plenty of room to grow.
3. How many cameras and megapixels do I really need?
Over the last couple of years, there’s been a trend going on with certain phone companies where they throw as many cameras onto their devices as possible. As it’s become more common for phones to ship with two, three, or even four cameras, there’s something of an expectation that phones have to have multiple camera sensors to be any good.
Spoiler alert — this isn’t true.
Let’s look at the OnePlus Nord 9, for example. It has a 48MP primary camera, 50MP ultra-wide, and a 2MP monochrome portrait camera. Compared to the single 12.2MP camera on the Pixel 4a, one would assume that the OnePlus 9 takes better photos, but that’s not always the case.
Having those extra camera sensors can be a lot of fun, but only if they’re high-quality. Far too often, we see companies throw in a bunch of extra cameras on their phones only to have these secondary lenses not be very good. The primary camera sensor is always the most important, so that’s the one you want to be concerned about the most.
On a similar note, more megapixels (referred to as MP) don’t always mean you’re getting a better camera. As mentioned above, the 48MP camera on the OnePlus 9 sometimes takes photos that aren’t as good as those taken from the 12.2MP camera found on the Pixel 4a. There are so many other factors that come into play with phone cameras, so don’t let the megapixel count be your only factor for judging them when you’re out shopping. Read reviews, look at camera samples, and you’ll have a much better understanding of what kind of camera you’re dealing with.
4. What size battery should I get?
Battery life isn’t the most fun thing to talk about with smartphones, but ultimately, it’s one of the most important components. Your phone can have the best display and processor around, but if it’s constantly dying throughout the day, what’s the point?
There are many different battery capacities for all of the phones on this list, and if you don’t regularly keep up with them, it can be difficult to know what a good size is and what isn’t. So, here’s a general rule of thumb. If you’re buying an Android phone in 2021, the ideal capacity is 4000mAh or larger. As phones move toward larger displays with faster refresh rates, more battery is needed to keep them powered throughout the day.
Of course, this can vary a bit depending on the type of phone you’re buying. The Pixel 4a, for example, only has a 3140mAh battery but can still get through a full day of use without a hitch. What gives? It has a small display by 2021 standards and only has a 60Hz refresh rate, resulting in substantially less power use.
These are factors you’ll need to consider when shopping for your phone, but generally, more mAh means more battery life.
5. What smaller features should I look out for?
Last but certainly not least, there are a few smaller features and specs that can be easy to overlook when doing your shopping — a prime example being NFC. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and it’s the chip in most phones that allows you to pay with your smartphone with Google Pay at grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Most of the phones on this list support NFC, but many cheaper Motorola phones often lack the feature. You may not care about Google Pay, but if you do, it’s worth double-checking that the phone you want to buy does, in fact, have NFC.
Another spec to check for is an IP68 rating. This is a seal of protection many phones have, and it ensures they’re protected from a certain amount of dust and water. If you happen to get caught outside in the rain or take your phone to the beach, an IP68 rating is nice peace of mind that your phone should survive just fine.
Some phones lack this IP rating yet boast water resistance or have a water-repellent coating. Those devices are also probably fine to get splashed with water here and there, but you don’t have that same guaranteed protection. The best-case scenario is to avoid getting your phone wet whenever possible, but if you happen to be around the water a lot, it’s probably worth getting something with that IP68 protection.
We should also address a trend that’s been going through the smartphone space for a few years now — the death of the headphone jack. The vast majority of new phones coming out these days no longer have the port, but few holdouts continue to offer it. It’s certainly nice to have if you’re someone that primarily uses wired headphones or earbuds, but if you’ve moved on to the wireless bandwagon, it’s not something you need to be all that concerned with.
This one’s for the fans! Or for the chemistry students with a penchant for iron alloys? It’s not ‘lite,’ that’s for sure. This is the Galaxy S20 FE 5G (or Fan Edition). The latest member of the S20 family comes with some spec changes to meet a lower price point, while still maintaining important bits to qualify for the S-series badge.
One of those is the high-end chipset, and that’s a good point to clarify that not all FEs are the same – there is a 5G-capable version and an LTE-capped one. The 4G-only model follows the usual regional differentiation with some parts of the world getting the Exynos 990 while others have their FEs equipped with the Snapdragon 865.
On the other hand, the 5G model is Snapdragon-only this time, regardless of locale. It’s this version that we’re reviewing, though we may be dropping the ‘5G’ when referring to the phone for the remainder of this review.
Placed in between the S20 and S20+ in terms of screen size, the Fan Edition packs a 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display. This one’s not HDR10+ compliant and has a FullHD resolution next to its QHD brethren, but Samsung did keep the 120Hz refresh rate.
As part of the tri-set of cameras on the FE, it gets to keep the S20s main big-sensor 12MP shooter. The ultra wide-angle cam takes 12MP shots too, but from a smaller imager than on the non-fan editions. And the telephoto is different too – fans will be shooting with an 8MP almost-3x zoom unit, as opposed to the slightly odd 64MP non-tele tele setup on the S20 and S20+. Meanwhile, the selfie camera on the FE is a 32MP Tetracell unit, which may sound like an upgrade compared to the 10MP modules of the S20 and S20+, but there’s more to that as you go deeper. We’ll be doing all sorts of camera comparisons later on, of course.
Tere are some other less apparent downgrades here and there. Like the as-yet unspecified type of glass on the front instead of Gorilla Glass 6 and the plastic back where the non-fan S20s have more Gorilla Glass 6. The Fan Edition also tops out at 8GB of RAM (6GB in the base version), while the regular S20s start at 8GB and can be had even with 12GB.
Whether it’s an upgrade, a downgrade, or simply a side-step, the Fan Edition gets an optical fingerprint reader, not the controversial ultra-sonic reader of the other phones in the Galaxy S and Note roster.
Filed strictly under downgrades, however, is the retail bundle.
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G unboxing
The S20 FE‘s box is Fan Edition too – it’s not the black packaging of the true flagships. It’s still the same thick cardboard, only white, and the S20 name is printed on the front, just like on the non-FEs. There are many emoji-looking imprints, something you don’t get on the regular S20 or Note20 boxes.
There’s special treatment on the inside too, but not the good kind. The accessories package is rather sparse, and besides the phone, you’re only getting an adapter and a cable to go with it. Even worse, it’s the plain old Adaptive Fast Charging unit that’s Qualcomm QuickCharge 2.0 compliant – 15W max, USB-A out – lame. Non-fans are treated to a 25W adapter and earphones, but the budget cuts for this one didn’t allow for such frivolous expenses.
With the Galaxy S20 FE context is really important, more important than with most other phones. It’s got a flagship chipset inside and a 120Hz Super AMOLED display with battery life that’s spectacular for the combo, plus a hugely capable camera system, all in an IP68-rated body. Okay, that’s no big deal, there are a lot of phones that can squeeze into the above description. But the key bit is that they’re either a lot more expensive, or have regional appeal. The S20 FE? You can have that everywhere, for well under the price of a true flagship.
For example, in the US, the S20 FE is only available in 5G trim, and while its MSRP is $700, it’s been going for $600 since launch, unlocked. An S20 5G, meanwhile, is $1000 (by the way, so is the S20+ 5G, because US).
In Europe, a 4G-only Fan Edition starts at around €630, with a €100 premium if you want the 5G variant. For the S20+ those numbers are €700+ and €900+ – from reputable retailers, that is. And if you have your eyes set on getting a Snapdragon in a Galaxy S20 on this continent, for one reason or another, it’s really just the Fan Edition 5G.
In India, you can’t officially get the 5G version, but the LTE flavor has a list price of INR50K. Compare that to INR78K for an S20+ and INR70K for an S20.
Yes, we meant pricing when we said context.
The closest you can get to the S20 FE’s price (and get it globally) is the OnePlus 8 – that one goes for $600/€650/INR45K. The Galaxy’s display goes up to 120Hz (90Hz on the OP) and it has a telephoto camera plus a microSD slot. The 8 has longer battery life and faster charging capability, but it’s not like the Galaxy is lacking in this respect.
If you’re in Europe and exploring the possibility for an S20 FE 5G, that puts the Asus Zenfone 7 on the table and it’ll get you wider 5G band coverage. More importantly, it’ll come with a flip up mechanism that brings unmatched main camera versatility to selfies.
A case could be made for the brand new Mi 10T Pro 5G. With a 144Hz display, 108MP main camera and a 5,000mAh battery it’s looking really promising on paper, and early impressions from the ongoing review process indicate it can deliver. This one, with 5G capability, is more affordable than the Galaxy S20 FE with no 5G.
A very smart buy if you’re in India is the iqoo 3. Starting at INR35K for a 4G variant (since there’s no 5G Fan Edition in India anyway), the iqoo 3 matches the S20 FE’s 8GB/128GB and has spectacular battery life, a headphone jack and a decent camera. The Galaxy does counter with other niceties like a microSD slot, IP68 rating, 120Hz display, and… well, overall superior camera. Hm, but you could grab the iqoo 3 5G and have next-gen connectivity, 12 gigs of RAM and 256GB of storage for 10% less than a 4G Fan Edition.
OnePlus 8 • Asus Zenfone 7 ZS670KS • Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro 5G • vivo iQOO 3 5G
Galaxy S20 FE money also buys you a Google Pixel 5, a flagship by name but a midranger at heart with an inferior chipset and a limiting camera system among other deficiencies. It does have wide 5G support, Google’s software and all that. We really wouldn’t, though. And we usually would or at least consider it.
This one is for the fans, isn’t it? But if you aren’t one already, the Galaxy S20 FE may very well convert you – a Samsung flagship at the core at a friendlier price.
A few concessions had to be made for the lighter price tag and it’s almost as if the least expensive one bugs us the most – the charger dates back to the Galaxy Note4 times. The plastic back isn’t as classy as the glass one on higher-end Galaxies, though this could be a con or pro, depending on where you stand. For whatever reason, we’re not finding the FE’s 4K recording up to the S20 standard. And lastly, the selfie camera isn’t the best Samsung can offer.
But that’s about it. The Fan Edition may not be a truly top-tier device by the book, but it’s got the key markings of one with just the right corners cut to meet a more appealing price point. It then represents amazing value – for a Galaxy in particular, but also against competing offerings. It’s got our recommendation.
IP68 rating for dust and water protection, variety of color options.
Smooth 120Hz Super AMOLED display.
Top-class battery life.
Getting the 5G version bags you a Snapdragon-powered Galaxy in Europe.
The ultra wide and tele cameras aren’t the downgrades they appear to be compared to the other S20s, the triple camera as a whole is mostly great.
Bundled with a slow 15W charger.
Plastic back looks fine but is the opposite of ‘premium’.
No AF for selfies, unreliable portrait mode on the front cam.
Galaxy S21 Ultra just won a global award for being the best smartphone
The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a great device. It has the top position in our list of best Samsung phones. It’s certainly the Android flagship to beat for all OEMs this year. The handset has now picked up a new award that further highlights its exceptional nature.
Samsung certainly knows a thing or two about making award-winning phones. Many of the company’s flagship handsets have been similarly praised in the past as well.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G has won the Best Smartphone category at the Global Mobile Awards during the Mobile World Congress 2021. The annual GLOMO awards highlight the hardware, software and services that enable innovation in the global mobile industry.
Having been named the Best Smartphone of the past year, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G was regarded by the category judges as the “best Android smartphone Samsung has ever made.” The device delivers exceptional performance backed by innovation across the board. It features a professional grade camera system, a brilliant display and a gorgeous contour cut design. The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is also the first Galaxy S series smartphone to support the S Pen.
While the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G won the coveted award, another Samsung device was also shortlisted for this category. The Galaxy S20 FE was shortlisted because of its incredible value for money. The handset offers flagship-level functionality in a more affordable package.
Samsung fans are now looking forward to the Galaxy S22 which is expected to kick things up a notch. Before it arrives, the Galaxy S21 FE is also on the horizon. Samsung is likely going to unveil the Galaxy S21 FE towards the end of this year.
Android 11 brings much-needed privacy and security features alongside exciting UI changes.
Android 11 continues to push Google’s vision of Android forward. With Android 11, Google is making a few tweaks to refine the platform instead of making wholesale changes. Privacy is a big focus with Android 11, with Google introducing one-time permissions and granular control over what sort of data you share.
There are new features to get excited about as well — the power button menu picked up a massive overhaul, the Conversations view does a great job highlighting your messages, and there are little tweaks throughout the interface that give it an added polish.
Android 11 is powering the best Android phones of 2021, and manufacturers are doing a better job rolling out the update to their 2020 phones. So here’s everything you need to know about all the new features in Android 11, and when your phone will receive the update. We also highlight what’s on the horizon with Android 12; Google just rolled out the first public beta, introducing a radical new UI and exciting new features.
Is Android 11 available for my phone?
Following months of Developer Previews and Betas, Google launched the final build of Android 11 on September 8, 2020. The update was available for Pixel phones on day one as per usual. This year, Android 11 was also available on the same day for select handsets from the likes of OnePlus, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Realme.
That’s a big step forward for Android updates as a whole, but there’s also still plenty of work that’s left to be done. Samsung is now rolling out One UI 3.0 based on Android 11 to its flagships and mid-range devices, but the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and others are yet to roll out the update.
While that’s certainly annoying, we’re making things as easy as possible for you by tracking any and all Android 11 updates as we learn more about them.
What’s going on with Android 11 on non-Pixel phones?
As noted above, this year’s Android update rollout was a bit different compared to past releases. Instead of Pixels being the only phones treated to the new software, handsets from other select manufacturers were also treated to Android 11 in some form.
Let’s first look at Samsung, which is marketing its Android 11 update as One UI 3.0/3.1. Most of the core design principles remain in place, but there is a lot that’s new to check out. Samsung’s touting things like an improved lock screen, a more customizable always-on display, new accessibility tools, and more.
Samsung has already delivered the Android 11 update to most of its 2020 phones, and is now working its way down the list to its 2019 phones. It shifted to the One UI 3.1 build in recent months that debuted on the Galaxy S21 series.
We should also mention OxygenOS 11, which is the Android 11 update for OnePlus phones. OxygenOS 11 introduced a major design shift for OnePlus, with the company moving away from its stock Android aesthetic and embracing design elements found in Samsung’s One UI interface. OnePlus rolled out the OxygenOS 11 stable build with the 8T, and the Android 11 update is now available for the OnePlus 8 series, 7 series, and set to make its way to the 6/6T. The stable build is also making its way to the Nord shortly.
Nokia has also kicked off its Android 11 update rollout, with the Nokia 8.3 5G picking up the stable update starting February 8. HMD has lagged behind in this area over previous years, but with the Nokia 8.3 now on Android 11, we should see the update rolling out to other Nokia devices in the coming months.
Then there’s Xiaomi. The stable MIUI 12 update based on Android 11 is now rolling out to the Mi 10 series and Redmi Note 9 devices and should make its way to other Xiaomi phones very soon. We’ve rounded up Xiaomi’s Android 11 rollout timeline to make it easier for you to learn when your phone will get the update.
Motorola has kicked off the Android 11 update to the foldable Razr 5G starting April 15. LG has also started to roll out the Android 11 update, with the V60 and the Velvet receiving the stable build. Although LG will no longer make phones, it has stated that it will deliver the Android 12 and Android 13 updates to its current portfolio.
Lastly, we have ColorOS — the custom Android interface used on OPPO smartphones. ColorOS 11 is rolling out now to OPPO devices, and it offers a lot of exciting improvements. In addition to the usual Android 11 goodies, some other highlights include a customizable dark mode, a power-saver mode to extend battery life, and a new feature called OPPO Relax 2.0 that aims to help you unwind and fall asleep at night.
Where can I learn more about Android 11?
We’ll dive into some of Android 11’s biggest features below, but before we do any of that, we should address the elephant in the room — is Android 11 any good? The short answer, yes — it is very, very good, as per our Android 11 review.
Understandably, some people may find Android 11 boring or not very different from Android 10, but the fact of the matter is that Android no longer needs massive overhauls every year the way it used to. The core Android experience is darn good, and Android 11 elevates it even more. All of the conversation improvements are great for streamlining notifications, more powerful permissions are always something we’re happy to see, and the new power button menu adds a ton of extra functionality.
There are a couple of changes we aren’t completely in love with (namely the new multitasking window and Suggested Apps feature for the home screen), but those things are easy to overlook. The vast majority of what Google did with Android 11 was for the better, and the result is software that’s more functional and enjoyable to use.
How do Android 11 chat bubbles work?
As mentioned above, there isn’t one single overhaul or massive change found with Android 11. Instead, it’s a mix of many small tweaks here and there. A few of them focus on improving your messaging experience, with Google offering a lot in this department.
First on the list, we have chat bubbles. Similar to what Facebook’s offered for years with its Messenger app on Android, chat bubbles in Android 11 hide your ongoing conversations in little bubbles on the side of your screen. You can move the bubbles around, and tapping on them reveals that specific conversation. The Bubbles API is available for all messaging apps, with Google encouraging developers to adopt it.
In another effort to make sure you can get to your messages as quickly as possible, Android 11 introduces a dedicated conversation section in your notification shade that offers instant access to any ongoing conversations you have. It also makes it easier for your messaging notifications to stand out from others, ensuring you never miss an important text ever again.
Speaking of messages and notifications, Android 11 makes it possible to send images directly from the notification shade when replying to a message.
What’s new with permissions in Android 11?
Looking back on Android 10, one of its highlights was its improved handling of app permissions. Android 10 gave users more control over applications and what they could access, and Android 11 keeps this train rolling with a wonderful new addition.
Now, when an app asks for permission to use sensitive features like your location, microphone, or camera, you can choose to only grant it access on a one-time basis. The app will be able to use that permission during that instance of you using the app, but the permission is revoked as soon as you leave it. The next time you use the app, and it wants to use that permission, it needs to be granted access again.
Giving apps permission to these aspects of your phone should not be taken lightly, so we’re thrilled to see Google giving users more control over their data like this.
Does Android 11 have a built-in screen recorder?
For the past few Android releases, we’ve been patiently waiting for Google to add a built-in screen recorder. It’s not something you’ll use every day (if ever for some people), but the fact that such a basic function isn’t baked into Android at its core is getting annoying.
Thankfully, Android 11 finally changes that. This Android version does include the feature, accompanied by a clean UI and toggles for recording audio and showing touches with your recording.
There’s not much else to say about this, other than the fact that we’re glad we can finally put this feature request to bed.
Is Android 11 compatible with folding phones?
If there’s been a place of notable advancement in the Android space, it’s been with displays. Companies are doing what they can to offer the best and most exciting smartphone screen possible, and as great as this is, Android needs to catch up with better support for all of these advancements.
Folding phones are proving to be quite popular so far, and especially with devices like the Galaxy Z Flip and Motorola RAZR that have the “flip phone” folding design, Android 11 adds the “hinge angle sensor API” so apps can easily detect the hinge of these folding phones. With this information, developers can adapt their apps to work around the hinge and create unique experiences because of that (like how Google Duo changes its UI when you do a half-fold on the Z Flip).
The other big upgrade displays have seen has to do with faster refresh rates. It’s no longer uncommon for phones to ship with screens that refresh at 90Hz or 120Hz, and Android 11 allows developers to take better advantage of these powerful displays. Developers can select which refresh rate their services should run at, and if the developer determines their app looks best at 90Hz or 60Hz, they can make that decision and have the phone’s display change its refresh rate accordingly when using that app.
How does Android 11 work with 5G?
5G is finally starting to make its way to people, and more and more folks have started connecting to the next generation of wireless data. To ease the transition, Android 11 adds a very important “Dynamic Meterdness API.”
That may not sound very exciting on paper, but it essentially allows phones to take full advantage of all the power 5G brings.
If the API detects that you’re connected to an unlimited 5G signal, you’ll access the highest possible quality for videos and graphics. The potential for 5G is pretty darn cool, and this API ensures you take full advantage of the speeds available to you.
What phone should I get for the best Android 11 experience?
Whether you want to be among the first to get Android 11 or experience it the way Google intended, the Pixel 5 is the phone for you. It’s the newest flagship Pixel currently available, and if you prefer metal over plastic or glass, it’s a hard phone to ignore.
The Pixel 5 is all about delivering a flagship-quality Android experience for a relatively low price, and in these regards, it succeeds tremendously. Google crammed a lot into the Pixel 5, including phenomenal cameras, an OLED display, good performance, long battery life, and more. The design is a little plain, but the phone’s also a great size for one-handed use.
Best of all, the Pixel 5 and other Pixel devices get quarterly Feature Drops from Google, bringing new features to the Android 11 experience without requiring a full-scale platform update.
When is Android 12 coming?
The Android 12 public beta is now live, and the OS is the biggest visual change in Android’s history. Google is rolling out the new Material You design aesthetic, giving you much better customizability and new privacy features.
The key highlight is that you now have a color palette that lets you change system-wide colors to your liking, including the notification shade, volume controls, lock screen, and more. The notification shade has a cleaner design, and there’s a dedicated snooze button that lets you mute notifications with ease.
Android 12 is also set to add scrolling screenshots, but the feature isn’t quite live at this moment. And while the home screen UI itself is unchanged from Android 11, there’s now an option to set a 4×5 grid. You can also easily share Wi-Fi with Nearby Share, making it easier for others to connect to your Wi-Fi network.