Australia’s best mobile phones: Our picks of the best smartphones 2021 including Samsung Galaxy, Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, OPPO, TCL and Xiaomi
Looking for a new mobile phone can be a confusing process with the number of devices available.
Depending on your budget there are a number of choices and sometimes it really pays to shop around for the best deal.
You can also find the best phone deal at each telco thanks to our friends at WhistleOut.
Best flagship mobile phone
1. Apple iPhone 13 Pro
Apple again this year released four different models in the iPhone 13 lineup, and out of those four, the Pro model is our pick of the bunch. If you’re ready to replace your old iPhone with Apple’s latest and greatest, this is the model that has the best balance of new tech, features, and a fantastic camera for everyday use.
Apple also has a great track record when it comes to updates, and you might not need to upgrade your phone again for five or six years with ongoing software support to keep your iPhone nice and secure.
While we’re excited to see what Apple comes up with in 2022, the company smashed it out of the park in 2021.
2. Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google has finally created a seamless experience between both hardware and software, with everything working in sync. Add in a new chip that was designed and developed in-house by Google, the useful software smarts within the devices, an intriguing, interesting design and the Pixel 6 series put every other phone manufacturer on notice.
Our pick of the two models is the Pro due to the slightly better front-facing selfie camera and additional telephoto lens on the back. This gives you some more flexibility when taking photos. The Pro also has a slightly better (curved) display.
And when you factor in the price at $1,299 it’s very competitive for what you’re getting. While there have been some reports of fingerprint performance issues, I haven’t really seen too much of a problem. Regardless, Google is aware and says they are working on improvements.
It may be hard to find one due to the massive demand for the devices, but you can use our WhistleOut widget below to try and track a Pixel down for yourself.
3. OPPO Find X3 Pro
The OPPO Find X3 Pro is almost the perfect phone. The design is easily one of the better ones that I have seen in terms of aesthetics and ergonomics. There is a really nice balance, and it’s clear that the company put a lot of thought into this. It feels like a premium phone with a futuristic appeal.
In terms of the display, operation and battery life – it’s a beast! And while we initially had some reservations on the camera, especially against the likes of Samsung and Apple, OPPO has rolled out some promised updates during the past few months to fix these quirks.
As a total package, the OPPO Find X3 Pro is a fantastic device and one that begins to stand out from the crowd.
4. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung’s 2021 flagship phone is one of the best Android devices that you can buy right now as it gets most things right.
With a slightly refreshed design, upgraded cameras, beautiful screen and all-day battery life – the Galaxy S21 Ultra ticks a lot of boxes for what you might be looking for in a new phone. However, starting from $1,849 it’s not cheap by any means.
And it’s the only phone in our top ten with smartpen support which was previously reserved for the Galaxy Note series.
Samsung will unveil the Galaxy S22 series in a few weeks, so you may want to hold off on buying right now as you may be able to snap one up for a little bit cheaper soon.
5. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
Not many people outside those who have an avid interest in smartphone tech know about Xiaomi. The Chinese brand is the third biggest phone brand in the world and produces some of the most premium and cost-positive devices, and the Mi 11 series is a testament to that.
The Mi 11 Ultra comes with a massive camera bump around the back that houses some ‘ultra’ specced camera lenses, as well as a mini-display that can show the time, notifications, or what is in the camera. This is great for using the back cameras for very high-quality selfies.
Outside of the camera, this phone has a fantastic display, great battery life and the build quality is extremely good. While the initial stock sold out within days on the Mi Store in Australia, you can still snap one up from Kogan, Amazon or eBay.
But if you’re with Telstra or Boost Mobile, and you rely on VoLTE or VoWiFi you might need to look elsewhere. There is currently a bug in the software that breaks support of this technology. Xiaomi, please fix it!
6. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
There’s a reason why another iPhone model makes its way into the list.
The iPhone 13 Pro may be our pick of the best iPhone that you can get right now in terms of the balance of sheer power and features, the Max gives you an unrivalled battery life of two days without charging (in our testing) and that display is a stunner.
However, it is a big phone which may be enough to turn focus to the Pro instead. But if you can handle the size, this iPhone is a keeper.
7. TCL 20 Pro 5G
Blurring the lines between a flagship and a budget phone, TCL’s 20 Pro 5G cuts the right corners to keep that cost down.
The design of the phone tops the 10 Pro, and in my review, I loved the way that the camera array sits flush with the back of the photo (no bumps or lumps here) and the camera quality is great for everyday use. The screen is up there with the best that you can get on a smartphone, and that is to TCL’s absolute credit.
Since my review, there have been improvements in the battery life department through two software updates – which is great to see. The flagship phone has also been selected as an Honouree at the CES 2022 Innovation Awards. That speaks volumes about what this smartphone offers.
It’s also one of the cheapest options on our list too, coming in under $800.
8. Vivo X60 Pro 5G
Vivo has improved on a lot of what made last year’s X50 Pro an interesting and notable choice.
While there are compromises such as lack of wireless charging, IP rating and a single speaker, they are things that some people may not really miss in a smartphone – outside of those who are really into the latest tech.
The X60 Pro has a great design, looks and feels every bit like a premium and more expensive flagship phone and is really strong in the camera department – especially in terms of video. In fact, it gives the iPhone a run for its money in that department. It’s quite possibly the best Android phone for capturing video content.
You can also pick one up for close to $1,000 if you shop around.
9. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
While not your traditional mobile phone, Samsung is lightyears ahead of any competitor with its Fold series.
The Galaxy Z Fold3 is a well-polished foldable, and the best foldable on the market right now. Nothing comes close to what Samsung has here.
Yes, it’s an investment, but the Galaxy Z Fold3 raises the bar by correcting any issues that were found to plague the Fold2. And that’s great news. While the first Fold felt very unusual to use, the Fold3 now feels normal. And has some rather handy features.
Overall, the Fold3 is the coming of age device within the series for Samsung and if you’ve been eyeing off a foldable – this is the one to get.
10. ASUS Zenfone 8
While the ASUS Zenfone 8 is a little bit generic to look at, it’s quite capable of holding its own against the competition. The processor, display, battery and audio all receive top marks.
The cameras won’t match the iPhone 13, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel series, but that’s ok. It’s good enough for how most people are likely to use their devices.
But there were a few potential issues we found in our testing such as the unreliability of the fingerprint sensor.
Our views and reviews remain independent of manufacturers.
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