Best of 2021: Our favorite smartphones (Philippines)

In many ways, 2020 just felt like 2020 Part II. The same is true with the smartphones we got this year. There weren’t many eye-popping, jaw-dropping releases. Rather, what we got are steady iterations of smartphones we already know and love.

Here’s a list of what we think are the best ones that are available in the Philippines.

iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max [Best Flagship]

 

In this year’s edition of the newest iPhones, there’s a clearer delineation between the Pro and non-pro versions. The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are equipped with more features suitable for PROfessionals and PROsumers. Most of it has to do with mobile videography. Anyone who enjoys shooting videos on their iPhone will be pleased that there’s a bunch of new features as well as codec fit for professional editing software.

Naturally, there are also major strides in performance as well as iOS. Apple just knows which buttons to press to keep their users in their ecosystem while also being inviting to those thinking of switching.

Honorable Mentions: Samsung Galaxy S21/ Galaxy S21 Ultra, OPPO Find X3 Pro, vivo X70 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G [Best Foldables] 

Samsung is the far and away leader in making actual, functioning foldables. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 address all the more glaring missteps from previous generations of each model.

Making a big stride this year is the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Not only is it more usable, but the biggest change is in pricing. In 2021, it’s price tag is more on par with usual thousand-dollar flagship smartphones making it a more palatable choice for many.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes improvements across the board. But perhaps most importantly, Samsung has tweaked ONE UI to be able to take advantage of this device’s unique form factor.

ASUS Zenfone 8 [Best Small Phone]

In a world filled with massive phones, ASUS swam against the current to give us the Zenfone 8. It stands alone as a feature-packed flagship in a tiny body. That’s a huge engineering feat for ASUS. It’s great for people who still want a smaller phone but without compromising performance. What ASUS has here is a pint-sized powerhouse and we’re hoping other manufacturers take note.

Honorable mention: iPhone 13 mini 

OPPO Reno6 5G [Best Upper Midrange]

Reno6

OPPO’s 2021 releases are all pretty darn solid. In the Philippines, the OPPO Reno6 5G is easily their best smartphone. Yes, it kind of resembles the iPhone when you look at it from the side, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a beautiful phone to look at and hold.

Naturally, it performs well too — just about as good as any upper midrange phone out there. OPPO has nailed down a certain look and quality on the photos their smartphones take and it’s a little underrated at this point.

If you’re someone who cares about looks just as much as performance, the OPPO Reno6 5G is about as good as it gets without entering flagship-cost territory.

Honorable mention: OnePlus Nord 2 

ROG Phone 5 Ultimate [Best Gaming]

At this point, it’s gonna take a lot for ROG to be toppled over. Although the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2 comes ridiculously close, the general consensus within the team is that the ROG Phone is still the undisputed leader in this space. The smartphone-for-gaming category is nearly synonymous with the ROG Phone. The company just knows which buttons to press at this point. There seems to be some promising competition in the future. But until then, the ROG Phone reigns supreme.

Honorable mention: Lenovo Legion Phone Duel 2

realme 8 5G [Best Value]

It was really hard picking a phone for this category. The lower midrange segment is a treasure trove of really serviceable to good phones. But the realme 8 5G stands out for its features-to-cost ratio. Other than having 5G at just PhP 11,990, it’s also pretty solid all-around. It’s not the type that will make jaws drop, but it certainly will check off most people’s needs for a smartphone.

Honorable mentions: Redmi Note 10 Pro, Infinix Zero X Pro

Infinix Note 11S [Best Budget]

We honestly don’t expect much from budget smartphones. It’s a segment where we know there will be compromises. And while that is also the case with the Infinix Note 11S, a lot of its compromises can be addressed via software updates. Peel all of that back and what you have is a serviceable smartphone that’s made for gaming and media consumption.

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Best of 2021: Our favorite smartphones (Philippines) Best of 2021: Our favorite smartphones (Philippines) Reviewed by Telenor Editorial on December 10, 2021 Rating: 5

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