The standard Zenfone model ditched the flipping camera mechanism of the Zenfone 8 Flip and predecessors in favor of a compact flagship design that’s perfect for one-handed use. This means you got a phone with a smaller 5.9-inch 120Hz OLED panel. Despite its size, the Zenfone 8 holds its own with a Snapdragon 888 SoC, 30W charging, and you even got water resistance and a 3.5mm headphone jack. It isn’t perfect though, as the phone lacks a telephoto lens and the larger battery of its stablemates. But it definitely deserved a lot more love than it got in 2021.
What about the devices that went under the radar though? There were plenty of releases that didn’t quite get the love they deserved, for whatever reason. While there are plenty of handsets that could’ve made this list, we’ve pulled together six of the most underrated phones of 2021. Asus had a pretty solid run in 2021, releasing the ROG Phone 5 range and Zenfone 8 duo. The ROG Phone 5 series and Zenfone 8 Flip represented more of the same for the Taiwanese brand, but it’s the vanilla Zenfone 8 that stood out as one of the best (and only) small Android phones of the year. Our thoughts: Asus Zenfone 8 review — pint-sized powerhouse falls just short of perfection
Asus typically rules the roost when it comes to gaming phones, but Lenovo also stepped up to the plate in 2020 with its Legion Duel device. It was back in 2021 with the Legion Duel 2, and this was a pretty cool take on the gaming phone. Lenovo didn’t just add better cooling and fancy colors and call it a gaming phone. The device is designed for landscape use, featuring a selfie camera that pops up from the chunky center so you can stream your reactions while playing in landscape mode. You also get four ultrasonic shoulder triggers as well.
Poco F3 GT review gaming in hand. Another gaming-focused device makes this list of underrated phones in the Poco F3 GT. But it differs from flagship gaming phones by virtue of a more affordable price tag, coming in at the equivalent of just ~$350 in India. More coverage: Poco F3 GT review — High power, low price
Verdict: Lenovo Legion Duel 2 review — Dual the fun. Other notable features include a Snapdragon 888 SoC, a 5,000mAh battery with 90W charging, two USB-C ports, and a 144Hz OLED panel. There are downsides though, such as the ho-hum cameras, lack of wireless charging, and awkward use as a normal phone, but you should still give this a peek if you want something a little different.
We do see some cutbacks as a result, such as the still-powerful Dimensity 1200 SoC instead of a Snapdragon 888 chipset, as well as a middling rear camera system. Nevertheless, the phone still delivers a 120Hz OLED screen, a 5,065mAh battery, fast 67W charging, and a splash-resistant design. Poco’s phone also brings a pair of physical shoulder triggers for use in games. But in a smart move, you can actually retract these so they sit flush with the rest of the phone’s body when not in use. It’s a shame this one isn’t available more widely.