My top 5 phones of 2021 – Sagar


Yet one more yr handed by amongst all of the chaos and uncertainty that prevailed in lots of components of the globe as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, which continued to have an effect on the provision chains leading to delayed or canceled launches of smartphones. Nonetheless, that did not cease the manufacturers from launching new telephones, and we remained busy testing them all year long as we printed greater than two critiques every week on common.

Whereas I did not get my arms on new devices as a lot as my colleagues at our HQ did this yr, as GSMArena.com’s India-based Editor, I obtained fairly a number of smartphones launched domestically, a few of which did not make it to our workplace, together with the iQOO 7 Legend, iQOO Z3, iQOO Z5, and Oppo Reno6 Professional 5G (Dimensity). And, as an alternative of selecting my favorites from the smartphones that went official this yr, I made a decision to compile the listing from those I obtained to make use of myself for prolonged intervals. So with out additional ado, these are my prime 5 telephones of 2021, in no explicit order.

Realme GT 5G

Realme’s first massive smartphone announcement of the yr was the Realme GT 5G – its flagship for 2021. The GT 5G is an nearly full bundle. And I say “nearly” for the reason that solely factor I feel it was lacking was the telephoto digicam. The final time we noticed Realme launch a correct flagship was the X2 Professional in 2019. It had a top-tier chip, HRR display screen, versatile digicam setup, glass-metal construct, 50W charging, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The X50 Professional 5G that arrived in 2020 got here with related flagship-level specs however ditched the headphone jack. With the GT 5G, Realme introduced again the three.5mm headphone jack however eliminated the telephoto digicam. Not simply that, we now needed to make do with a 2MP unit for macro pictures, not like the X2 Professional and X50 Professional, which sported 8MP ultrawide cameras for macro images.

Realme GT 5G Dashing Blue color model
Realme GT 5G Dashing Blue colour mannequin

Moreover, the Realme GT 5G would not have an IP ranking, and whereas that is one thing I can ignore for its value, what I am unable to is the truth that most video games have been capped at 60FPS, that means the HRR panel remained unutilized when gaming.

That stated, the Realme GT 5G has loads going for it that earned it a spot on this listing. The smartphone is powered by the Snapdragon 888 SoC, which throttled at peak masses at instances however supplied an total clean expertise.

The smartphone is constructed round a pleasant 120Hz FullHD+ Tremendous AMOLED show, options stereo audio system, helps 65W quick charging, and takes good images from the first digicam. It additionally felt very compact in my arms, making it comfy to carry for prolonged intervals.

Realme GT 5G's Dashing Silver color model with the Racing Yellow Leather Edition

Realme GT 5G’s Dashing Silver colour mannequin with the Racing Yellow Leather-based Version

The Realme GT 5G has three colour choices – Dashing Blue, Dashing Silver, and Racing Yellow. The primary two flaunt a glass again with a comet-like design paying homage to Realme 6‘s, whereas the third one sports activities a vegan leather-based panel, which feels premium and is a pleasure to make use of. You’ll be able to learn our Realme GT 5G Racing Yellow Leather-based Version hands-on right here to study extra about it.

Realme GT Neo2

The GT Neo2 is yet one more spectacular smartphone Realme launched in 2021, and it’s a simple suggestion, particularly when you do not need to purchase the pricier GT 5G. In any case, it is powered by the succesful Snapdragon 870 chip – which is not the scorching mess that the Snapdragon 888 is however offers a lag-free expertise – and has related specs on provide.

You get a 120Hz AMOLED display screen, 64MP digicam system (once more with no telephoto), stereo audio system, NFC, 65W charging, and a 5,000 mAh battery, which is 500 mAh bigger than the GT 5G’s cell. It has a pleasant construct and its haptic suggestions is without doubt one of the greatest I’ve seen on a Realme smartphone but, making typing an pleasing expertise, one thing maybe extra manufacturers ought to give attention to.

Realme GT Neo2 in the attractive Neo Green color
Realme GT Neo2 within the engaging Neo Inexperienced colour

Nonetheless, the Realme GT Neo2 is heavier and wider than the GT 5G, making it much less comfy than the latter to make use of. It additionally would not have the three.5mm headphone jack onboard, and video games do not transfer north of the 60FPS mark. The smartphone additionally has no IP ranking and microSD card slot, however there’s solely a lot you possibly can ask for at this value. Extra so when you think about the INR4,000 ($55/€45) low cost by Realme India on pay as you go orders, which brings down its beginning value to INR27,999 ($375/€330), making it much more interesting.

iQOO 7 Legend

vivo sub-brand iQOO introduced the iQOO 7 sequence in India in April, consisting of the iQOO 7 and the iQOO 7 Legend. Nonetheless, the Indian iQOO 7 is a rebranded Chinese language iQOO Neo5, whereas the iQOO 7 Legend is a rebadged Chinese language iQOO 7 with slower charging.

The iQOO 7 Legend is a gaming smartphone and comes with a function known as In-Show Monster Contact – a flowery identify for the pressure-sensitive areas on the display screen that mimic the press of a {hardware} button to enhance your gaming expertise. And in my expertise, they really do.

The way in which this function works is it permits you to map on-screen recreation controls for a faster response time, which turns out to be useful in fast-paced video games as a result of all you must do is press the display screen tougher to execute an motion with out having to maneuver your finger. One other benefit of the In-Show Monster Contact controls is which you could have extra space on the display screen for additional controls, or perhaps simply take away them by mapping to the Monster Contact.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

The In-Show Monster Contact function labored very well for me and obtained me fairly hooked on Name of Obligation: Cellular. A lot so, that I prefered the iQOO 7 Legend over different telephones when it got here to enjoying COD. The iQOO 7 Legend’s In-Show Monster Contact can be the explanation I now refuse to think about one thing a “gaming smartphone” simply because the processor inside it could possibly run video games easily. There must be a function just like the In-Show Monster Contact which elevates the gaming expertise on that cellphone for me to think about it a gaming smartphone.

That stated, the In-Show Monster Contact at present solely helps two video games – the opposite is Free Fire. Apart from, there have been hardly any video games that ran past 60FPS, that means the 120Hz refresh fee on the AMOLED panel was solely utilized by apps. Nonetheless, the iQOO 7 Legend ran all of the video games I performed easily – because of the Snapdragon 888 SoC, which, on my unit, was paired with 12GB RAM. Though there’s additionally an 8GB model priced decrease.

Whereas the iQOO 7 Legend was marketed as a gaming smartphone, it is fairly an interesting choice for the non-gamers as nicely because it comes with stereo audio system, NFC, Hello-Res Audio, and versatile digicam setup on the rear comprising 48MP main (with OIS), 13MP ultrawide, and 13MP telephoto items.

The smartphone additionally helps 66W charging, which, in our exams, stuffed up the comparatively small 4,000 mAh battery in 32 minutes. Apart from, the iQOO 7 Legend feels premium to carry and has a sturdy construct. After which there’s the paint job on its AG Glass again panel, which is not as flashy as those we see on different gaming smartphones – but another excuse for non-gamers to think about the iQOO 7 Legend.

vivo X70 Professional+

At INR79,990 ($1,075/€945), the vivo X70 Professional+ is the most costly smartphone from the BBK group you should buy in India proper now. Nonetheless, that is simply justifiable because it affords you a really premium expertise – proper from opening the equally premium-feeling retail bundle to the second you maintain the cellphone in hand. I imply, you possibly can inform the X70 Professional+ is an costly, premium smartphone the second you maintain it.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

The vivo X70 Professional+ has a sturdy construct, and the again panel made with the brand new Fluorite AG expertise and having a satin end feels good to the touch. In fact, it additionally makes the smartphone slippery at instances, however that is simply mounted if you snap on the bundled protecting case to it.

This protecting case has a leather-like end and vivo included it into the bundle of worldwide fashions for the reason that leatherback variations are unique to China, not like the X60 Professional+.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

That stated, there’s extra to the X70 Professional+ than simply the design and construct. The smartphone is packed to the brims because it comes with the Snapdragon 888+ SoC, 12GB RAM, 256GB storage, 120Hz QHD+ AMOLED panel with a fingerprint reader beneath, stereo audio system, 4,500 mAh battery, 55W wired charging, and 50W wi-fi charging. It additionally helps reverse wi-fi charging, permitting you to cost different gadgets wirelessly.

The X70 Professional+ can be IP68 rated, encompasses a 32MP selfie digicam, and sports activities an intriguing digicam system on the rear, consisting of 50MP main, 48MP ultrawide (with gimbal), 12MP telephoto (2x optical), and 8MP periscope (5x optical) items. All 4 of those include OIS. The one factor lacking within the specs division is the three.5mm headphone jack, however vivo features a headphone jack adapter and USB-C earphones with the retail bundle to make up for it.

My total expertise with the vivo X70 Professional+ was fairly good, however I did not discover it to be preferrred for one-handed utilization.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

Apart from, the battery life might’ve been higher, and the default Digicam app might have been made extra pleasant for one-handed utilization. The software program on the X70 Professional+ was additionally half-baked, and the software program points I confronted with the X70 Professional+ have been one thing I encountered on the vivo X70 Professional and iQOO Z5 as nicely, which isn’t surprising since all these telephones run Android 11-based Funtouch OS 12 out of the field.

To conclude, in case you are keen to shell out INR80k, you will not actually go incorrect with the vivo X70 Professional+. That value is justified for what you’re getting – a premium design with beefy {hardware} and an total good expertise, which compelled me to incorporate it in my listing of prime 5 telephones of 2021.

Tie: Motorola Edge 20 Professional and Oppo Reno6 Professional 5G

It is a tie for the fifth smartphone within the listing between the Motorola Edge 20 Professional and Oppo Reno6 Professional 5G. Let’s examine why.

Motorola Edge 20 Professional

The Motorola Edge 20 Professional is obtainable for INR36,999 ($500/€440) in India on the time of penning this, and that a lot cash will get you Snapdragon 870 SoC, 6.7″ FullHD+ 144Hz OLED display screen (with correct HRR implementation), clear Android, water-repellent design, and a 4,500 mAh battery with stellar endurance.

For images, you will have a 32MP selfie shooter contained in the punch gap, and the versatile digicam system on the rear consists of 108MP main, 16MP ultrawide, and 8MP periscope telephoto items, which take good daylight images.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

So the place’s the issue? Properly, for starters, it prices at 30W, which may very well be quick sufficient for a lot of, however is a deal-breaker for me. At this level, if I am shopping for a smartphone, I would like it to go as much as at the least 50W. That is the naked minimal for me.

Apart from, the Motorola Edge 20 Professional encompasses a side-mounted fingerprint reader as an alternative of an in-display resolution and would not include stereo audio system. The smartphone would not have a 3.5mm headphone jack both, however that is one thing I can ignore.

So in case you are wonderful with the Edge 20 Professional’s specs sheet, it’s one smartphone that is price contemplating.

Oppo Reno6 Professional 5G

Oppo launched two Reno6 Professional 5G telephones in 2021 – one with MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200 SoC and the opposite with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 870 chip. I’ve included the Dimensity 1200 variant within the listing that was launched in India. And, actually talking, I added it to this listing primarily due to its design and aesthetics and the AMOLED display screen.

The Aurora colour model I obtained appears beautiful. It is fairly premium, has a pleasant construct, and the again panel made with the Reno Glow course of having a soft-touch matte end affords an important in-hand really feel.

Just look at this beautiful Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G Aurora color version
Simply have a look at this stunning Oppo Reno6 Professional 5G Aurora colour model

The 65W bundled adapter stuffed the 4,500 mAh battery from flat to 100% in about 37 minutes in our exams, and the Dimensity 1200 chip proved reliable – whether or not it was gaming or searching the online. Nonetheless, the efficiency wasn’t as clean because the Realme X7 Max 5G‘s, powered by the identical chipset.

In truth, if I had to decide on between the Reno6 Professional 5G and the extra inexpensive X7 Max 5G, I would go along with the latter just because I discover it to be a greater total bundle for the worth. There’s additionally the OnePlus Nord 2 5G, and this precisely is the explanation why I stated the Reno6 Professional 5G made it to the listing for its design and aesthetics.

My top 5 phones of 2021 - Sagar

The Reno6 Professional 5G itself is not a nasty cellphone per se. I loved utilizing it, and the cellphone’s underlying {hardware} is succesful too, however the price ticket (at the least in India) makes the Reno6 Professional 5G a much less thrilling choice than the Realme and OnePlus telephones I discussed. I truly have not added the Realme X7 Max 5G right here as a result of the X Sequence is discontinued, and I am not vouching for the Nord 2 5G since I haven’t got any private expertise with that cellphone.

That stated, the Reno6 Professional 5G is available in a single 12GB/256GB configuration in India. Maybe Oppo might’ve launched a model with lesser RAM/storage to decrease the entry barrier, however that hasn’t occurred to this point and sure will not. I hope Oppo can have extra aggressive pricing for the Reno7 sequence in India. However till that arrives, the Reno6 Professional 5G stays among the best smartphones to purchase in India in case you are somebody in search of a beautiful cellphone with total respectable efficiency and do not thoughts paying additional.

And that is just about it, people. These are my prime telephones of 2021. Thanks for studying by way of! If you happen to, too, obtained an opportunity to make use of any of the smartphones talked about above, let me know the way your expertise was within the feedback part under and what different would you go for. The vacation season is already over, and 2022 has begun, so Comfortable New 12 months, get vaccinated when you possibly can, put on a masks, hold sanitizing, and keep secure! There’s positively mild on the finish of the tunnel.

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