Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

The Wrap – The best phones of 2021

This week on The Wrap, we’re ending the year by talking about the best phones of 2021. We’ll be joined by two of Australia’s most accomplished phone reviewers and technology journalists, and we’ll work out which phones are the best of 2021, all in five minutes.

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It’s the end of 2021 and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and with the end of another year in sight, it’s time to think about what we’ve seen in phones.

Much of the year has been spent inside, but that hasn’t stopped phones, even if it felt as though they were smaller in number this year.

There was one less phone company this year as LG bowed out in April, leaving phones internationally, while others stepped up locally. TCL started becoming more aggressive in mobiles, as did Realme and Vivo, at least in Australia, and Oppo even has a foldable on the way.

But there have been standouts in smartphones in 2021, and so we’ve assembled two of Australia’s best technology journalists and phone reviewers to talk about them, starting with the best flagship phone.

Alex Kidman, Freelance Technology Journalist & Reviewer

My picks for the best premium phone would go to Google’s Pixel 6 Pro, which delivered a lot of pro features. Some really, really nice performance, good cameras, a good all round phone, but a phone that critically it was a bit cheaper than we were paying for other flagship phones, which means it’s just better value if you’re after an Android, especially that is the phone to buy.

That’s Alex Kidman, one of Australia’s best reviewers, and someone we’re in total agreement with. When it came to Android, the Pixel 6 Pro really nailed the feature set. Great cameras, a high quality design, and it’s the first phone in Australia to support both types of 5G, sub-6 and millimetre wave. It just stands out in all the right ways, and delivers the best in class everything.

On the other side of the fence, there’s the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and that phone was pretty much agreed with, as well.

Alex Choros, Managing Editor of WhistleOut

The best flagship of 2021 is easily the iPhone 13 Pro Max. It’s expensive, but you get the best camera out of any phone this year. And more importantly, it’s the best battery. In a year when many flagship phones struggled to last a day, the extremely reliable battery has led me to keeping the iPhone 13 Pro Max as my daily driver.

That’s Alex Choros from WhistleOut, another of Australia’s best reviewers, and one we agree with entirely. The biggest iPhone of the bunch this year, Apple’s 13 Pro Max sports three great cameras, the fast and lovely Pro Motion screen, excellent performance and design; it really just gets the whole package.

There’s a smaller model, mind you, and for a nice change this year, it actually was very much the same.

Alex Kidman, Freelance Technology Journalist & Reviewer

I particularly like the iPhone 13 Pro: excellent camera, and the fact that it has the same cameras as the Pro Max, it’s cheaper. It’s easier to hold it ahead. I actually find it easier to shoot photos with the 13 pro than with the Pro Max. You still get that Pro Motion display, it all works rather well.

There were also foldables, but not too many. Even though we keep expecting this area to take off, it hasn’t really evolved.

That said, there was one that stood out for all of us: Samsung’s Galaxy Fold 3. It’s a 6.2 inch phone that unfolds into a 7.6 inch tablet, and features a fast chip, 5G, water resistance, and just feels like it’s the year’s evolved foldable.

Alex Kidman, Freelance Technology Journalist & Reviewer

The last flagship phone I would highlight would be the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and this I think is an important phone because it shows how foldables are evolving. And I really do think foldables are something that are going to be the future or those flagship premium phones. They’ve sort of pushed that basic slab phone concept about as far as you can, there’s a lot you can do with a foldable and the Z Fold 3 delivered a lot with S pen support and water resistance, it’s a much, much better phone. It’s the first of their foldables that I could really recommend if you could afford it. Not everyone can.

The price is a problem, because while the $2500 price puts it around other flagship phones, it’s not necessarily cheap.

That’s not a deal breaker, though, because Australia got a lot of cheap phones this year. We’ve seen cheap 4G phones, cheap 5G phones, and even some phones that nailed value.

Sadly, that didn’t include a Google Pixel this year, because the Pixel 5a missed Australia, and the 4a was pulled from market. But we did get something else, and it’s one we all agreed on.

Alex Choros, Managing Editor of WhistleOut

In a year where Australia didn’t get the Pixel 5 a Motorola ended up surprising me with the Edge. 20 Fusion. The battery is reliable. The screen is lovely and the camera represents a big improvement of Motorola’s past budget efforts. Better yet you’ll pay less than $500.

Alex Kidman, Freelance Technology Journalist & Reviewer

Motorola also really impressed me in the budget space. The Motorola Edge 20 Fusion, really, really good phone. Great cameras, works well.

It’s a phone both Alex’s agreed was good value, and we do, too, providing a 6.7 inch phone with 5G and a 108 megapixel camera for the $500 mark, something that beats so much of what’s out there.

All that leaves is what’s coming. 2022 won’t take long to see new mobiles, and we’ll be here to talk about them all.

Thanks to both Alex’s for coming on the show, but for now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap. Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode appears every week on LiSTNR, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Stay safe, stay sane and take care.

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