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Best Phones: Best Smartphones of 2021 so far in India

We’ve got some standout performers across price segments

Last year, the pandemic forced many smartphone makers to delay their product launches, and even after launch, availability was an issue for some smartphones.

This year, despite the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, some excellent smartphones have been launched in the Indian market in 2021 so far. Rather than do a single list at the end of the year, we thought why not put together a collection of what we feel are some really standout smartphones that have already launched in 2021, and deserve your attention.

How we picked the best phones of 2021 so far

In order for a smartphone to qualify, it should have been reviewed by us. Secondly, we only picked those phones that have scored at least an ‘8’ in the overall rating and the sub-scores, with the value-for-money sub-section being one exception due to fluctuating prices.

Thirdly, we looked for what unique features/performance the smartphone offered compared to its peers in the same segment. Lastly, these smartphones had to have a unanimous vote from everyone in the reviews team at Gadgets 360 – these are the ones that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone.

OnePlus Nord CE 5G

The OnePlus Nord CE expands the OnePlus Nord lineup to target an even lower price, but not without some minor compromises. Starting at just Rs. 22,999, you get a good-looking phone with great software, powerful enough hardware, and decent cameras for casual use. What sets the Nord CE 5G apart from other similarly spec’d phones in its price range is OnePlus’ software, which continues to to be a class act.

Some of the compromises include the lack of the signature alert slider, a missing ultra-wide selfie camera, and a more mainstream look and feel. On the plus side, it’s relatively affordable, battery life is good, and it charges quickly.

Mi 11 Ultra

You can think of the Mi 11 Ultra from Xiaomi as a bargain Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but rather than simply being a cheaper knock-off, the Mi 11 Ultra actually one-ups the Galaxy S21 Ultra in pretty much every possible area. If you can wrap your head around paying nearly Rs. 70,000 for a Xiaomi phone, then you’ll find that there’s a lot to like. Everything is top-of-the-line, from the build quality, display panel, cameras, and battery, to the excellent performance. All mandatory premium features are included, such as an IP68 rating and 8K video recording. Not only does this phone support wireless charging, but you can do so quickly at up to 67W.

Some of the downsides include its unwieldy size and weight, inconsistent in-display fingerprint scanner, and a few software bugs that we encountered when reviewing it. Overall though, if you have your eye on the Galaxy S21 Ultra but don’t have the budget, this is the next best thing.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Speaking of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, this in our opinion is the best Android smartphone in the market today, full stop. It commands a very high price but if you can afford it, you get the best of everything in a single package, which is still very hard to beat. It features everything you’d expect from Samsung’s top-end S line such as a great design, excellent display, blazing fast performance, and solid battery life.

Samsung has really upped its camera game with this generation too, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra arguably has one of the best sets of cameras out there. The telephoto cameras especially are in a league of their own. Apart from being expensive, this phone is also a bit heavy and bulky, and it tends to run hot when stressed.

Vivo X60 Pro

Vivo really delivered a solid product in the form of the X60 Pro which has the best stabilisation system for video recording in its class. Vivo’s second-generation gimbal system delivers butter-smooth videos when recording even during intense activities, thanks to a sensor that is physically stabilised along five axes.

The ‘Plus’ model of this phone also offers the same benefits, but not a whole lot else in order to justify its steep premium. The X60 Pro is slim and looks great, delivers solid gaming performance and features a crisp 120Hz AMOLED display. If you use your phone to create a lot of video content, then you should give the X60 Pro a second look.