The newest and best phones are a hotly contested category in the smartphone market. Apple and Samsung make some of the best phones we’ve ever used, but which you choose depends on your budget and what operating system (iOS or Android) you’re already invested in. As computing becomes more personal and less work-oriented, people want their phones to be an extension of themselves.
Our Top iPhone Pick: iPhone 13
The iPhone 13 pumps up the camera game with two lenses, an adjustable depth of field that lets you alter the focus, Night Mode that makes pictures look better indoors, and a portrait-lighting feature that alters the exposure around your subject to make it pop. It’s also easier to use than previous iPhones thanks to Apple’s gesture-based interface, which replaces virtual buttons used on the iPhone SE. It includes a faster processor than the iPhone SE.
Our Pick for Smaller Screen: iPhone SE (2nd Generation)
If you like the iPhone’s sleek design and software but don’t want to spend $800 and up, we strongly recommend the iPhone SE. The iPhone SE is a great device in a compact package—but it’s not the highest-end model, and in some ways, it’s a bit older. It retains the same performance as the newest models, hits all the high points for what people look for in a modern smartphone—fast processor, small size, great camera—and it costs almost half the price of the iPhone 13.
Our Top Android Pick: Google Pixel 5a 5G
While the Pixel 5a 5G doesn’t offer the same features you’ll find in the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, such as an in-display fingerprint scanner or deep integration with Samsung’s smart assistant Bixby, it is cheaper than the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. The Pixel 5a 5G is your ticket to Google’s best software features, including free cloud storage, monthly security updates, and the Google Assistant. This phone makes the switch from Android 8 to Android 11 with minimal fuss, and its wide-angle camera lets you squeeze more into your shots.
Our Pick for A Bigger Screen: Samsung Galaxy S21
The S21 is all about power. The 6.2-inch screen offers an industry-leading 2,280 x 1,080 resolution with lively colors, deep blacks, and a great refresh rate that makes animations smoother. There are dual 12MP rear cameras with optical image stabilization, and the phone has one of the fastest processors available. Samsung’s Android software isn’t as good as Google’s version, however.