Best Samsung Phones Android Central 2021
Samsung is one of the biggest phone manufacturers in the world, and with good reason — it makes some pretty incredible phones, combining outstanding hardware design with long lists of handy features that differentiate its phones from the competition. The Galaxy S20 FE is the best Samsung phone you can buy right now, but there are plenty of other devices that hit different sizes and price points.
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
- Best Compact: Samsung Galaxy S20
- Best for Productivity: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Best for Less: Samsung Galaxy A71
- Best Mid-range Option: Samsung Galaxy A51
- Best on a Tight Budget: Samsung Galaxy A21
1. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Best Overall
The Galaxy S20 FE fundamentally changes the value equation for Samsung, and is one of the best Android phones you can buy right now. The phone offers most of the same features as the regular Galaxy S20, but the fact that it is available unlocked for just $700 makes it a standout value.
The Galaxy S20 FE is powered by the same Snapdragon 865 chipset that's in the Galaxy S20 series, and you also get 5G connectivity. It offers the same excellent AMOLED screen as the S20 and has 120Hz refresh rate, making everyday interactions buttery smooth. The best part, however, is that it has the same 12MP primary sensor as the regular S20, ensuring you get the same great caliber of photos in any lighting condition.
Samsung hasn't removed any of the extras either. The Galaxy S20 FE has IP68 dust and water resistance, 15W wireless charging, and even 5W reverse wireless charging. The 4,500mAh battery lasts all day without any issues, and there's 25W wired charging as well.
The Galaxy S20 FE comes with One UI 2.5 based on Android 10 out of the box, and like the regular Galaxy S20 series, it will get three Android version updates. The only downside with the phone (if you can call it that) is that it has a polycarbonate back instead of glass, but the matte texture masks the fact that it has a plastic build. And the value you're getting here is incredible.
- Incredible 120Hz display
- Top-end specs
- Incredible cameras
- 5G connectivity
- 4,500mAh battery with 25W fast charging
- No headphone jack
- Polycarbonate build
The best value yet from Samsung
The S20 FE has outstanding internal hardware, amazing cameras, and costs several hundred dollars less than the S20 series.
2. Samsung Galaxy S20: Best Compact
The regular Galaxy S20 is a great choice if you want a smaller device. The phone has a 120Hz AMOLED panel, is powered by the Snapdragon 865 chipset, and has that outstanding 12MP camera at the back. But the standout feature is that it is available in a size that actually fits in your hands (and pockets).
The screen is smaller than other flagships at 6.2 inches, but it's still wonderful with the same 120Hz refresh rate. The 4,000mAh battery should still be plenty for most people (when you consider the reduced power draw of the smaller panel), and you'll be able to zoom all the way up to 30x with the telephoto camera. It also still has 5G, although only sub-6 and not mmWave 5G. Otherwise, this truly is a Galaxy S20 experience through and through, with a much much manageable size and more accessible pricing.
- Core GS20 experience for less
- Compact size fits most hands
- Reasonable price for all it offers
- Smaller battery
- No mmWave 5G support (sub-6 only)
- Screen may actually be too small for some
The surprisingly pocketable member of the S20 family
The S20 excels at the basics while retaining a compact form factor that makes it ideal for one-handed use.
3. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: Best for Productivity
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is Samsung's gigantic flagship. The phone has a massive 6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED panel and it is powered by the latest Snapdragon 865+ chipset. You also get 12GB of RAM as standard, with storage options from 128GB to 512GB.
The Note 20 Ultra is the phone you get if you want the largest device in the market today. The large screen is ideally suited for games and consuming videos, and the 120Hz AMOLED panel has outstanding colors, delivers HDR10 content in Netflix and other streaming services, and you get stereo sound.
Then there's the stylus. If you're used to a stylus on earlier Note devices, there's plenty to like on the Note 20 Ultra. Samsung made it easier to take notes thanks to lower latency, and there are better handwriting recognition features that make the device an ultimate tool for productivity.
You also get a 108MP camera at the back along with a 12MP zoom lens that goes up to 50x hybrid zoom, 12MP wide-angle lens, and a 10MP camera at the front. There's the ability to shoot 8K video, Wi-Fi 6 and global 5G connectivity, IP68 water resistance, wireless charging, and that bold new design looks outstanding.
Look, there's nothing really missing here, and if you're looking at the best Samsung phone for productivity, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the device to get.
- Best stylus experience on any phone
- Outstanding performance
- Large AMOLED screen
- Excellent battery life and fast charging
- Expandable storage
- No headphone jack
- Might be too big for some
Best for Productivity
The ultimate phone for stylus fans
If you want a large phone with a stylus and the latest hardware with 5G, the Note 20 Ultra is the obvious option.
4. Samsung Galaxy A71: Best for Less
The Galaxy A71 is one of Samsung's best phones yet — and not just in the mid-range segment. There really isn't anything missing on the device. You get a massive 6.7-inch AMOLED screen (second only to the S20 Ultra) backed by robust internal hardware, versatile quad cameras at the back with a 64MP primary sensor, and incredible battery life with 25W fast charging.
Combine that with a gorgeous design and it's easy to see why the Galaxy A71 is one of the best devices around. The phone also comes with great hardware that should hold its own for several years, and the U.S. model that's highlighted below has 5G connectivity on all U.S. carriers, which is a big deal.
Oh, and Samsung will deliver three guaranteed Android updates, and the A71 will get the update to Android 13 down the line. If you're looking for a reliable option without spending too much money, the Galaxy A71 should be at the top of your list.
- Outstanding battery life
- Gorgeous design
- Massive AMOLED screen
- Robust internal hardware with 5G
- Great 64MP camera
- Slow fingerprint sensor
Best for Less
The best mid-ranger from Samsung yet
The Galaxy A71 has it all: a massive AMOLED screen, great internal hardware, versatile cameras, and outstanding battery life.
5. Samsung Galaxy A51: Best Mid-range Option
The Galaxy A51 continues the heritage of last year's A50 by bringing the best features that Samsung has to offer to a more attractive price point. The phone has a large 6.5-inch Super AMOLED display with vibrant colors and excellent contrast levels, and you also get a 48MP camera at the back along with a 12MP wide-angle lens, a 5MP macro lens, and a 2MP portrait module.
The design itself has also been refreshed, with the Galaxy A51 looking just as modern as the Galaxy S20 series. There's a hole-punch cutout for the front camera, and the thanks to thin bezels, the phone isn't too unwieldy to use. The A51 has a generous 4,000mAh battery with 15W fast charging, and while it isn't the fastest phone in the world, it gets all the basics right.
The best part about the Galaxy A51 is that it comes with 5G connectivity in the U.S., with the particular model featuring better internal hardware than the global version. The fact that you get to access 5G alone makes the Galaxy A51 a more enticing option, and when you consider that Samsung will deliver three Android updates to the phone, it becomes a fantastic mid-range choice.
- Premium design
- Three guaranteed Android updates
- Vibrant AMOLED screen
- Great battery life
- Decent cameras
- Unlocked model limited to Sub-6 5G
Best Mid-range Option
Gorgeous design meets great cameras
With a modern design and stunning AMOLED panel and quad cameras at the back, the Galaxy A51 has a lot going for it.
6. Samsung Galaxy A21: Best on a Tight Budget
Need a good Samsung phone without spending too much money? The Galaxy A21 may just be the ideal device. The phone has a modern design that's in line with the Galaxy A51 and A71, and you get a large 6.5-inch screen — albeit one that's limited to 720p.
The phone delivers decent performance in day-to-day use, has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a decent 16MP lens at the back, and the best part is that the 4,000mAh battery lasts two days with ease. The Galaxy A21 may not have the same exciting hardware as some of Samsung's other offerings, but it holds up great in everyday use and you're getting a great value all things considered.
- Outstanding battery life
- Modern design
- 3.5mm jack
- Great value
- Screen limited to 720p
- Dated hardware
Best on a Tight Budget
A great budget option in 2020
The Galaxy A21 combines a modern design with reliable performance, outstanding battery, and feature-rich software.
The Galaxy S20 FE is the best Samsung phone of 2020
The Galaxy S20 FE is Samsung's best phone in 2020, and the default choice for people who want the best value while still getting the latest hardware. The 12MP camera takes gorgeous photos, the 120Hz AMOLED screen is sublime, it has wireless charging and IP68 water resistance, and a large 4,500mAh battery.
The Galaxy S20 FE absolutely destroys its rivals when it comes to value, and it is great to see Samsung offer such an attractive option for considerably less than its regular Galaxy S20 series. If you want a high-end phone that doesn't cost over $1,000, the Galaxy S20 FE is the default option.
On the lower end, Samsung offers the Galaxy A51, with hints of the flagship Galaxy S models trickled down to a mid-range price that can be incredibly appealing if you can't push your budget as high as the S20 FE. The Galaxy A51 has 5G connectivity and great hardware that's designed to last a few years, and it will get three guaranteed Android updates.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Harish Jonnalagadda is the Asia Editor of Android Central. A reformed hardware modder, he now spends his time writing about India's burgeoning phone market. Previously, he used to ponder the meaning of life at IBM. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.
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