Thereís no doubt 2021 has been a crazy year, and a variety of factors have sent the newest models of smartphones skyrocketing. The ongoing pandemic, global chip shortage and rising cost of labor have pushed the cost of some premium top-of-the-line phones to over $1,000. But just because youíre on a budget doesnít mean you canít get a good deal and finish off the year with the latest and greatest technology right in your pocket.
What to look for:
A great smartphone can be hard to find. With so much technology packed into a single tiny device, it can be difficult to find the perfect balance of affordability and features. Some key components you should look for in a new device are speed, battery life, a great camera and enough power to handle all your day-to-day activities and work. It's also important to find a phone that can last for several years. With constant software updates slowing down your device, and newer, bigger programs coming out each year, youíll need a phone that can stay up to date and relevant. While we canít predict the future, we can look at previous smartphone trends and find a phone that is likely to stand the test of time. At least for the next few years.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro
Apple makes some of the worldís best smartphones and improves upon its flagship iPhone each year. However, the differences between the iPhone 13 and 12 arenít that noticeable. In fact, the iPhone 13 looks almost identical to the 12 ó it's just a bit thicker. They both have the same 6.1-inch OLED display and 12-megapixel camera. They even use the same MagSafe charging and have a water and dust resistance rating of IP68. Best of all, they both run on the same 5G networks, so either way youíll get a lightning-fast phone with the best performance around. The Apple iPhone Pro also comes with an A14 Bionic chip installed for advanced processing and an amazing battery life. This phone might not be as powerful as the iPhone 13, but it's a lot cheaper for a small difference in power and features. If you don't need the absolute latest and greatest model and can settle for something simply outstanding instead of mind-blowing, then the iPhone 12 Pro is what you need. Get amazing cutting-edge technology and speed without the unbelievable price tag to match.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is one of the best top-of-the-line phones on the market. It shows off its gigantic 6.9-inch OLED display with crystal-clear 2k resolution, making it one of the best smartphone screens in terms of size and display. This smartphone runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and can power through even the bulkiest programs with its 12GB of RAM, meaning this device has enough processing power to remain relevant in the years to come and won't be quick to turn obsolete as technology advances. One of the key defining features of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the ergonomic S Pen, a stylus with silky-smooth interactions that make drawing on the screen a breeze. If you prefer to use a stylus over your finger, then this is the ideal phone for you.
Samsung Galaxy S21
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is an overall great phone that performs phenomenally in every category. It has some similar specs to the Note 20 Ultra, but the key difference is that overall the Galaxy S21 is a bit bigger, allowing Samsung to pack more great features into this phone. It has a slightly smaller screen than the Note 20 Ultra at 6.8 inches, but it boasts a larger battery and 40MP camera and comes in more RAM and CPU options. Both phones are 5G compatible, with the key performance differences being that the Galaxy 21 is not microSD compatible and runs on the Snapdragon 888 CPU. Both phones are amazing choices; however, the Samsung Galaxy 21 has a more powerful camera and better storage options than the Note 20. It also does not have anywhere to attach the S Pen stylus. Between the two phones, my preference would be the Note 20 due to its slightly more powerful processor, but no matter which Samsung smartphone you pick, youíll be getting an amazing device.
Apple iPhone 12 Mini
The Apple iPhone 12 Mini has all the processing power and features of the regular iPhone 12, but in a smaller compact size. Standing at only 5.18 inches high by 2.53 inches wide, this tiny phone will leave you believing that good things do come in small packages. This smartphone carries the same A14 Bionic chip as the full-size version and is 5G compatible. The main drawback to this phone over the Apple iPhone 12 Pro is its smaller battery, which means a shorter battery life. The Li-Ion 2227 mAh battery only has a roughly 7 Ĺ-hour battery life under intense use compared to the long-lasting 11-hour battery life of the Pro. However, if you're the type who has a phone charger on you at all times, or you donít use your smartphone constantly, then the smaller size and smaller price might be exactly what you are looking for.
Google Pixel 4a
If you are looking for a phone with the best value for the money, then you canít go wrong with the Google Pixel 4a. This the cheapest phone on this list, but it can still hold its own compared to other phones. The Google Pixel 4a has enough processing power from its Snapdragon 730G chipset to run most programs without a problem, and unless you are really into the latest mobile games, this should not be a problem when it comes to most day-to-day tasks. With its 128GB of storage and a 12.2-megapixel camera, the Pixel 4a might not stack up to the latest models, but it comes pretty close. When it comes to affordable phones, the Google Pixel 4a is king.