Some of the best smartphones of 2021.

Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest flagship device or a more modest model for basic talking and texting, there’s no shortage of well-made smartphones on our ratings list (available to CR members).

Consumer Reports tests dozens of models each year, checking the basics like how long the batteries last and how bright the displays are, along with premium features such as multi-camera setups and the hinges on “foldable” phones.

But even the most lackluster of smartphones represents an epic leap in technology from a decade ago. And that means you don't have to buy the No.1-rated phone to get a great product.

All but 10 of the 55 models currently in CR’s ratings have earned our recommendation. The top 20 are separated by just five points.

So the best phone for you? Well, that depends. Are you willing to spend a little or a lot? Is day-long battery life your first priority or a cutting-edge camera setup?

To help you out, here's a range of smart options, according to our testers.

Best iPhone
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

    Apple’s latest super-sized flagship phone features a faster processor, a super-sharp OLED display, top-notch cameras, and, for the first time, 5G connectivity.

     

    That last factor eliminates a once-prominent shortfall for Apple, allowing the 12 Pro Max to go toe-to-toe with high-end as well as certain moderately priced Android phones with 5G hardware.

     

    And it gives iPhone users an incentive, after a few years of largely incremental improvements, to upgrade their phones.

     

    While the 12 Pro Max will cost you $100 more than its smaller sibling, the 12 Pro, it packs in several more hours of battery life, a slightly larger display, and a 2.5x zoom camera that gets you just a hair closer to the action than the 12 Pro's 2x camera.

     

    On the flip side, the Max version is significantly heavier and can be tough to use one-handed, even for people with long fingers. If you're wary of bulky phones, you might be happier with the 12 Pro.

     

    For more info on the phones with the best cameras, click here.

    Best Android Phone
    Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G

      Samsung has long reigned as king of the Android smartphone market, but its phones have started to blend together a bit.

       

      The Korean tech giant was one of the first companies to add 5G connectivity to its devices, but there haven't been many big changes since then. 

       

      While this year’s Galaxy S21 phones did great in our testing, the most mind-blowing thing about them is that they cost $200 less than last year’s comparable models. And the Galaxy Note20 Ultra remains the top-scoring Android phone in CR’s ratings.

       

      Yes, size-wise it’s a monster, but its stylus helps make all that real estate more manageable (and I’ve always enjoyed the ability to doodle little notes on the lock screen).

       

      And, of course, you get those premium big-phone perks we’ve all come to expect: great battery life, a fancy zoom camera (in this case a 5x), and a Netflix-worthy display.

       

      For more info on other great Android options, click here.

      Best Budget Phone
      OnePlus Nord N10 5G

        Never heard of OnePlus? You’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean the company's phones aren’t worth your consideration. At $300, the Nord N10 is the cheapest option out there for people who want 5G connectivity.

         

        The phone received an Excellent rating for performance, and its battery lasted a very impressive 41.5 hours in our testing.

         

        The downsides? This is one of the few current models not designed to be water-resistant. The cameras received ratings of just Good from our testers, which puts them far behind the pack, even when solely compared with moderately priced models.

         

        And while it's 5G capable, the N10 supports only the slower, though arguably more reliable, low- and midband frequencies, and doesn’t include the hardware needed for the faster millimeter wave technology.

         

        For more info on great low-priced smartphones, click here.

        Best Phone for All-Day Battery Life
        OnePlus Nord N100

          As you’d expect, with a price of just over $200, the Nord N100 isn’t very fancy. But it does pack in an epic amount of battery life.

           

          The N100 lasted a whopping 48.5 hours in our testing. That’s slightly more than two days and easily the best stretch in our ratings.

           

          But beyond that, you largely get what you pay for. While it did get Very Good ratings for display quality and performance, the phone has some of the lowest-rated cameras we’ve tested.

           

          Other battery-life champs that rate higher overall include the moderately priced Samsung Galaxy A71 (43 hours) and iPhone 12 Pro Max (41 hours).

           

          For more info on phones with great battery life, click here.