Illustrative photo.
Illustrative photo.

What are the best phones?

Based on our testing, the new iPhone 12 Pro Max remains the best phone overall, as it delivers great photos, a huge 6.7-inch display, 5G connectivity and the fastest performance of any handset. While other iPhone 12 models impress, the Pro Max gives you the most screen real estate along with the longest long battery life, according to Tomguides.

If you prefer Android, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, is the best Android phone you can buy. It boasts a dynamic 120Hz display, dual telephoto zoom lenses and optional S Pen support (a first for Galaxy S phones). The regular Galaxy S21 impresses too, thanks to its own dynamic display, camera improvements and sleeker design.

Especially price-conscious consumers are well advised to look at the Google Pixel 4a, an incredible bargain at $349, which provides twice the storage of the iPhone SE for $50 less. The Moto G Power is another good bargain buy, as it offers the best battery life we've ever tested.

It's worth keeping an eye on the OnePlus 9, which is expected to launch this month as a direct challenger to the Galaxy S21.

Top 8 Smartphones Under $1,000 and Best Deals to Buy in 2021


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is one of the best phones you can buy and is that rare phone that is practically perfect, especially for those who prefer big screens. You get an immersive 6.7-inch OLED display, class-leading A14 Bionic performance and 5G capability. But the iPhone 12 Pro Max really stands out with its long battery life, as it lasted nearly 11 hours on our web surfing test. It’s the longest-lasting iPhone 12 model by far.

5G has been added to the iPhone this year of course, which means you're future-proofed when it comes to next-gen connectivity. The A14 Bionic processor is more power than you're really going to need, while the improved dual-lens rear camera system can take spectacular photos in any kind of light.

We also really like the flatter design that Apple has introduced for the iPhones this year. Add to that the choice of cool colours – white, black, blue, green and red – and it's a really impressive overall package. Unless you have a real affinity for Android, this could well be the smartphone for you.

What you don't get in the Apple iPhone 12 is the same flexibility of camera that you get in iPhone 12 Pro – and that's because it has a dual-camera, rather than a tri-camera setup. The iPhone 12 Pro Max also offers more screen size than the iPhone 12, but we think 6.1 inches is enough for most people.

Best deal for iPhone 12: $829 - VIEW AT AMAZON


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

The OnePlus 8 Pro is a proper flagship phone. No more cutting corners. No more 'flagship killer' underdog mantra. OnePlus is now officially mixing it with the biggest names in mobile. It means the 8 Pro is also its most expensive handset to date, but there's plenty of bang for your buck to justify the cost - plus it's still a shade cheaper than rival Samsung, Apple and Huawei smartphones.


  • One of the best displays around
  • 5G and plenty of power
  • Reverse & fast wireless charging

With its new flagship Android phones inbound, OnePlus' 8 series handsets are currently down to all-time lows at Amazon. You can grab the company's first stab at an all-out premium device, the OnePlus 8 Pro, for $700. Or, if you're looking for something less pricey and don't mind the slightly smaller size, there's the OnePlus 8T for $600. That's a saving of 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with the prices are also reflected on OnePlus' own site.

Best deal for One Plus 8 Pro: $952.82 - VIEW AT AMAZON


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

This is the phone to get if you just want a new iPhone that will last you a few years, but don’t want to pay a lot for it. The iPhone SE 2020 offers ‘decent but not top-end’ performance: a good camera, enough power, a great App Store to plunder and a lighter iPhone than most recent models. Battery life and screen tech could be better, the headphone jack is a miss, but - for the price - this is one of the best iPhones Apple has ever made.


  • Lightweight frame
  • Low price for iPhone
  • Powerful chipset

Best deal for APPLE IPHONE SE (2020): CHECK AMAZON


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is not only the best phone Samsung has ever made, but it is one that makes history as it is the first S-series handset that comes with digital stylus support. Just like on the Galaxy Note series of phones, the S21 Ultra can now be used in conjunction with a digital stylus, even though the phone does not come with one and, also unlike the Note series, a stylus can't be stored in it.

The phone is also a titan in terms of photography, with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra coming with a super powerful quad rear camera system, as well as high-resolution (40MP) selfie camera. The main rear snapper on the S21 Ultra has a super advanced 108MP sensor which allows for insanely high-resolution shots.


  • The best camera zoom
  • Mesmerizing design
  • S Pen support


$999.99 - VIEW AMAZONE


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

OnePlus first made its name by offering very good phone specs at very good prices, so it's fitting that it's now back in that groove with the OnePlus Nord. While OnePlus phones have slowly got more expensive over the years, the Nord goes the other way and is a fantastic mid-ranger.

Starting at an affordable mid-range price point, you get a powerful Snapdragon 765G processor, at least 8GB of RAM, at least 128GB of storage, and 5G thrown in as well. That's not to mention the sharp, bright 6.44-inch display which zips along thanks to its 90Hz refresh rate – everything on this screen looks stunning.


  • Affordable with flagship qualities
  • Premium design
  • Plenty of camera features

Best deal for ONEPLUS NORD: Not Yet Available


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

Despite the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra getting digital stylus support, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G remains our top choice of handset if you want stylus functionality. This is primarily because, one, the phone comes with a stylus, and two because that stylus can be stored and charged within the device. The S21 Ultra offers neither of these things, requiring extra spend for a stylus, and no way to dock the stylus inside the phone.

There's also a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G, and if you can manage the cost, it's undoubtedly one of the best Android experiences going right now. It features a brilliant design, a more than capable camera, and internal specs that mean it will outpace almost every phone on the market.


  • Dynamic 6.9-inch 120Hz display
  • Smoother S Pen performance
  • Streams Xbox games
  • Powerful 50x zoom camera and laser autofocus
  • Very good battery life

Best Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra deals on Amazon: $1,299.99 -> $1,098.98

7.Google Pixel 4a

Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

The Google Pixel 4a is an unbeatable phone for $350 and the best in its class if camera performance is your primary concern. While it can’t match the iPhone SE’s power, the Pixel 4a is the better handset overall.

Google’s latest midrange offering contains a gorgeous 5.8-inch OLED screen; solid power from a Snapdragon 730G chipset; clever software features like Call Screen and Google’s handy Recorder live transcription app; and, of course, that marvel of a 12-megapixel camera, which includes perks like Night Sight and Super Res Zoom.


  • Best-in-class camera
  • Bright OLED display
  • 128GB storage
  • Attractive design
  • Low price


Top 8 Best Smartphones Under $1,000 to Buy in 2021

Every phone that OnePlus has launched over the last year has been a hit in our eyes, and the OnePlus 8T is in some ways a combination of everything that came before this year: a mix of the OnePlus 8, the OnePlus 8 Pro, and the OnePlus Nord. It combines some excellent features with a very reasonable price in the mid-range section of the market.

The headline features are perhaps the 120Hz refresh rate on the 6.55-inch AMOLED screen, and the 65W fast charging. You can juice up the phone from zero to full in the space of just half an hour or so, and that means you might not need to put your phone on charge overnight ever again.


  • Bright and smooth 120Hz display
  • Super fast charging
  • Slick and unobtrusive software
  • Solid performance
  • Premium design

Best deals for ONEPLUS 8T: $599.99- at AMAZON and $599.99 at GearBest

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