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Best Samsung phone in 2021: from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the Z Fold 2

Best Samsung phone
(Image credit: toma areno on Unsplash)

There are lots of strong contenders for the best Samsung phone crown – and, ultimately, the best handset for you will depend on what you're looking for. No matter whether you want all the best flagship features, a futuristic folding phone or a budget-friendly handset, we've rounded up all the best Samsung phone models for you right here.

So, which one should you go for? Well, the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra gave us lots to be excited about, with all the premium features that you would look for in a flagship phone. However, perhaps you're looking for something a little more budget-friendly, but that still counts as one of the best camera phones on the market? In that case, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE might be right up your alley, with a powerful camera and processor, but a price that's a little easier on the wallet.

Alternatively, you might want to dip your toes into the cool, inviting waters of one of the best fold phones. Samsung is currently leading the folding phone market, offering both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G. 

No matter which handset tickles your fancy, we've scoured the internet to find the best Samsung phone deals – so you can rest assured that you're getting the very best price. Read on for more…

Best Samsung phone in 2021

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

If you're looking for the best Samsung phone, look no further

Specifications
Release date: January 2021
Rear cameras: 108MP f/1.8, 10MP f/2.4, 10MP f/4.9, 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide
Front camera: 40MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 227 g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
Storage: 128/256/512GB
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic camera zoom+Beautiful display
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey-No microSD card slot

If you're looking for the best Samsung phone to feature an excellent camera, whip-fast chipset and great gaming abilities, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra could be exactly what you're looking for. This camera phone features four rear cameras, including a 108MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras – one with an f/2.4 aperture and 3x optical zoom and one with an f/4.9 aperture and a huge 10x optical zoom. It's worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is pretty big, offering a 6.8" screen size that users with smaller hands might struggle to maneuver. The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display features a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and gaming experiences, HDR10+ support, 1500-nit peak brightness and a 1440 x 3200 resolution. 

In full: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

With a high-end chip, this is one of the best Samsung phones

Specifications
Release date: August 2020
Rear cameras: 108MP, 12MP, 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 208 g
Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
Storage: 128/256/512GB
Reasons to buy
+Comes with the S Pen+Excellent camera for stills and video
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty expensive-Inconsistent battery results

If you're looking for one of the best camera phones for telephoto capabilities, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra might be right up your alley. Featuring a triple rear camera, the Note 20 Ultra has a 108MP f/1.8 main camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera and – the pièce de résistance – a 12MP f/3 camera with 5x optical zoom and 50x digital zoom. The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra comes in three colors, including Mystic Bronze, Mystic White or Mystic Black. While the Note 20 Ultra is a little pricey, we've definitely seen the handset begin to fall since it first appeared on the market back in April 2020. 

In full: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra review

(Image credit: Andrew Williams/Digital Camera World)

A tech spec behemoth with 108MP, 100x zoom and 8K video

Specifications
Release date: March 2020
Rear cameras: 108MP (primary f/1.8, 26mm, OIS), 12MP (ultra wide angle f/2.2, 13mm), 48MP (telephoto f/3.5, 103mm), ToF depth-sensing camera
Front camera: 40MP (f/2.2, 26mm)
OIS: Yes
Weight: 222 g
Dimensions: 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm
Storage: 128 / 256 / 512 GB
Reasons to buy
+108MP primary camera+Up to 100x zoom+8K video+5G future-proofing
Reasons to avoid
-100x zoom of limited use-8K video comes with caveats-Battery life is an issue

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G might not be the latest in its lineup, but it's still one of the best Samsung phones. Its 108MP camera proves to be more than a numbers play. And while the 100x zoom may not deliver at the extreme end, it's more than capable of giving you great-looking telephoto images. This, however, is a phone with foibles – namely the inconsistent image processing and battery life – but these will surely be fixed with firmware. The 8K is more limited you might hope, the 120Hz mode is best avoided for most, and the cost is restrictively high for many. However, the hardware is a league above that of the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus. And judged on its picture performance, when everything clicks, it is almost certainly the best Android camera phone ever – and the best 5G camera phone, to boot.

In full: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra review

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best Samsung phone to balance specs and affordability

Specifications
Release date: October 2020
Rear cameras: 12MP (Wide Angle Lens, f/1.5, OIS), 12MP (Ultra Wide Angle Lens, f/2.2), 12MP (Telephoto, f/2.4, OIS), 8MP
Front camera: 32MP
OIS: Yes
Weight: 190 g
Dimensions: 159.8 x 74.5 x 8.4mm
Storage: 128/256 GB
Reasons to buy
+Great camera+Good processor
Reasons to avoid
-Still not the cheapest

If you love the high-end capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy S20 family, but you can't quite justify the price, then the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is still one of the best Samsung phones. Retaining many of the features that made the Galaxy S20 so popular, the Galaxy S20 FE features a 6.5" 1080 x 2400 Super AMOLED display with a buttery smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Meanwhile, the camera setup is equally impressive, boasting a 12MP main camera, a 12MP ultra wide camera and an 8PM telephoto camera. Inside the handset, you'll find either the Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 chipsets (the Snapdragon handsets will feature 5G). If you're looking for one of the best Samsung phones at a great price, you'll struggle to do better than the S20 FE.

In full: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE review

(Image credit: Samsung)

The best fold phone with the biggest screen of any phone

Specifications
Release date: September 2020
Screen size: 7.6-inch 2208x1768 pixels (main) + 4.6-inch 720x1680 (case)
Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5/2.3/2.4 (triple), 16MP mm
Front (selfie) cameras: 10MP f/2.2
Cover (selfie) camera: 10MP f/2.2
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 18 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 282 g
Dimensions: 62.8 x 160.9 x 17.1 mm (folded) 1174.9 x 160.9 x 7.6 mm (open)
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Real ‘wow’ factor+Fantastic screen+Run up to 3 apps side-by-side
Reasons to avoid
-Ludicrously expensive-Durability open to doubt

On paper, the 7.6-inch screen-size might not sound much bigger than a 6.7-inch phablet, but it feels like a whole new product category (it is). By folding, rather than flipping, this is smaller than some, but encloses a screen 1.4 times bigger than the giant Galaxy Note 10 Plus. The crease down the centre of the screen can be used to side-by-side some apps, making this live up to ‘small tablet’ more than any other phone. Full-screening an app makes for amazing photo editing and you’d be churlish to notice the slight bend; similarly gaming doesn’t only get a lot of real estate but also 120MHz for fluid visuals. A smaller outer screen means you don’t even need to open the device for most uses – checking messages and framing photos are easily achieved while the phone is still closed. 

In full: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 review

(Image credit: Samsung)

6. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G

A fully-featured smartphone that folds to a square

Specifications
Release date: Feb 2020
Screen size: 6.7-inch and 1080 x 2636 pixels (main) + 1.1-inch 112 x 300 pixel (outer)
Rear cameras: 12MP 27mm f/1.8 + 12MP 12mm f/2.2
Front camera: 10MP f/ 2.4
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 14 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 183 g
Dimensions: 87.4 x 73.7 x 18.3 mm (closed) 167.9 x 73.6 x 7.2mm (open)
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-friendly size+Wow-factor finish+2nd generation hinge
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Screen fold visible-Average battery life

While it’s certainly a nostalgic form factor, the Galaxy flip – now with added 5G – hasn’t been on the line up long and benefits from all the lessons Samsung learned after their first Fold. The flip does pose problems for a lot of phone features, such as notifications, so hidden under the shell is a tiny 1.1-inch Super AMOLED display, just opposite the main cameras, which can muster a couple of lines of text. It also allows square selfies to be caught with the main cameras without opening the camera. It is a bit of a shame there is no telephoto camera, as the same money would get you more optical oomph with a Samsung Galaxy 21 Ultra but ultimately it’s the design, not the megapixels, which will impress your entourage, as will the ‘mystic’ bronze or gray casings that also pack a decent 3,300mAh battery – enough that 5G will speed you up, not slow you down. 

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Louise Carey

With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine and  Digital Photographer. Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.