The MKBHD smartphone of the year 2021 is that

The MKBHD smartphone of the year 2021 is that

Tech Highlights:

  • That’s not to say that Apple’s iPhone 13 line couldn’t hold its own this year, as the devices garnered five different mentions throughout MKBHD’s 2021 smartphone awards. This year, Apple’s iPhone 13 line and Samsung’s latest devices were basically trading blows in all categories except the “Value Award” and “Bust of the Year.” Samsung won the first award, with the best big smartphone award going to its Galaxy Z Fold 3. The large foldable offers a 7.4-inch internal display, almost a full inch larger than Apple’s largest device, the iPhone 13 Pro Max’s 6.68-inch display. Apple was left off from the honorable mentions, but Samsung received another mention. The Galaxy S21 Ultra and Asus’ ROG Phone 5 earned honorable mentions in the category.

  • MKBHD is back for the smartphone awards in 2021. After last week’s blind camera test, in which the $399 Pixel 5a topped the iPhone 13 Pro, he’s back to determine the finest phone in nine separate categories, culminating in the overall ‘Phone of the Year.’ There are a lot of different Android phones on this list, as you might anticipate. With so many diverse manufacturers to pick from, there is a lot more potential for experimentation. While iPhones maintain a largely consistent experience from model to model and year to year – albeit with incremental improvements – Android phones can provide radically diverse experiences at completely different price ranges, ranging from flagship foldables to ultra-budget.

While Samsung may have earned the best large phone, Apple won the category for the best small phone, with the iPhone 13 Mini. Apple’s smallest current handheld is powered by the same processor as its largest, and as MKBHD notes in the video, the iPhone 13 Mini addressed the battery life weakness of the 12 Mini. Despite the stronger contender this year, it seems that Apple will not offer an iPhone 14 Mini come next year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the 5.4-inch form factor will be abandoned by Apple, with next year’s lineup to consist of four iPhones with screen sizes of 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches.

While Google’s Pixel 5a may have won the blind camera test, there is a lot more that goes into a phone’s camera than a few photographs. In terms of best overall camera phone experience, video included, MKBHD awarded the iPhone 13 Pro. This shouldn’t be too much of a shock. The video capabilities of the iPhone have long been applauded, and the inclusion of ProRes video recording, for those who can make proper use of it, is a big deal. He also notes the photographic styles available on the iPhone 13 line. They make it easy to customize the look of your photos before you take them. While the iPhone earned the top spot here, Google’s own devices got their first mention, with the Pixel 6 Pro as the runner-up, and the Pixel 5a as an honorable mention alongside the vivo X70 Pro Plus.

Samsung earned another mention here as a runner-up, with its Z Flip 3. The Flip 3 folds out into a more conventional 6.7-inch display but more importantly folds in half to take up less space in your pocket. The video also gave honorable mentions to the Asus Zenfone 8 and the Oppo Find N. Our colleagues over at 9to5Google said the Find N “addresses a lot of the [Galaxy Z] Fold’s pain points while still showing there’s no ‘right’ way to make a foldable.” Perhaps a next-generation device (and one more optimized for the US) would be able to earn an even higher spot on this list.

The best battery award is another category that was an easy win. The iPhone 13 Pro Max earned the award for best battery thanks to its highly efficient custom silicon and software integration. Of course, the battery life is also helped by the ProMotion variable refresh rate, which in addition to providing smoother 120Hz scrolling can decrease the refresh rate to save battery when nothing on the screen is moving. The gaming-focused Asus ROG Phone 5 was the runner-up in the category, with its massive 6,000mAH battery. The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 4,352mAH battery for comparison, but it makes up for the smaller battery with its heavy optimization.

When last year’s Galaxy S20 Ultra came out, I came to the conclusion that very few people should buy it. It was overpriced and fell on its face in the camera department. A year later, the story has been flipped entirely. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is a truly excellent offering that actually manages to hit a reasonable price thanks to a $200 cut. This actually is the best option in Samsung’s lineup this year, not just on paper. If the $1,199 price tag is within your budget, it’s worth considering. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has continued to be a good option as its price has fallen throughout the year.

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