(Pocket-lint) - Samsung is one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, and, as such, offers a huge number of devices to suit a range of budgets and lifestyles. Whether it's the ultra-premium Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the affordable Galaxy A52 5G, Samsung has an option for everyone.
Samsung's phones are split into four distinct categories. Here's what each category includes:
The Samsung Galaxy Z series represents the company's folding smartphones, sitting at the top of the portfolio in terms of price and featuring its latest design innovations.
The Samsung Galaxy S range is the company's main flagship smartphone range. All of its models have a premium waterproof design, lots of power and the best cameras.
The Samsung Galaxy Note series is often more expensive than the S range, but it adds S Pen functionality with the stylus built into a metal and glass design. The overall look has similar traits to the Galaxy S range.
The Samsung Galaxy A is the sub-flagship range, sitting below the S range in terms of price, but borrowing several of its design features including full displays and under-screen fingerprint sensors in some models.
With such a variety of devices on offer, it can be tricky to narrow down the best Samsung smartphone for you. With this in mind, we've put together a list of our favourites to help you decide.
What is the best Samsung smartphone? Currently, our top recommendation is the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. However, we also think it's worth considering the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G.
Our Top Pick: Best Samsung Phone
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Powerful hardware
- Superb cameras
- Support for S Pen stylus
- No expandable storage
- Pretty expensive
The S21 Ultra is Samsung's flagship smartphone in the S series. If you want the best Samsung has to offer, and aren't attracted to the foldable designs of the Z series, then we think this is the one to go for.
The S21 Ultra has a beautiful display, fantastic cameras and tonnes of horsepower. It's got pretty much everything you could ask for from a smartphone.
The S21 Ultra also offers S Pen support, which is the first time this has been present on an S series phone. This puts it more in line with the Note series, although no stylus is included in the box.
Samsung phones we also recommend
While the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is at the peak of our list, we know it won't be the right phone for everyone. That's why we also recommend checking out the four devices below, which suit a range of styles and budgets.
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Big bright screen
- Smooth operation
- Integrated S Pen stylus
- Zoom camera could be better
- Needs a bigger battery
If you love to scribble down notes, then the Note 20 Ultra is an easy choice. This phone offers all the usual flagship features but adds the integration of a built-in S Pen stylus for all your doodling needs.
While the Note series has typically featured larger and more powerful devices, the Note 20 Ultra is only very slightly larger than the S21 Ultra, in fact, it's so close that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference in the hand.
Performance-wise, the S21 Ultra beats the Note 20 Ultra in almost every regard, but, since the Note 20 Ultra has been out for so long, there are some serious bargains to be found. We'd recommend the Note 20 Ultra for those looking for a high-performance but more affordable flagship device.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
- Giant foldable screen
- Great software experience
- S Pen support
- Visible screen crease and reflections
- The under-panel camera isn't great
The Samsung Z Fold 3 is a phone with real wow-factor and it's certain to turn heads wherever it is used. Like its predecessor, the idea is that it's a phone when you need it to be, but folds out to a tablet when you need a larger screen.
Aside from its folding party trick, the phone packs top-notch hardware and decent battery life. The camera array is solid, but not groundbreaking, though we dare say that the picture quality is good enough for most people.
There's unavoidable niggles with folding screen tech at the moment, most prominently the visible crease and weird reflections caused by the coating - but if you can get past these, the Z Fold 3 is an exciting device and one of the best foldable phones money can buy.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
- AMOLED front touchscreen
- Well designed
- Powerful with solid software
- Usual foldable screen crease issues
- Compromises made to hit the price point
The Z Flip 3 is a more nostalgic take on the foldable-screen smartphone. Remember when all you had to do to lock your phone was snap it shut? Well, that's back thanks to folding screen flip devices like the Z Fold 3.
Instead of folding out to become a larger screen device, the Z Flip 3 is a traditionally sized smartphone that folds down into a more pocketable device.
This is our favourite folding-screen flip phone to date and has tonnes of great design choices as well as powerful specs under the hood. It comes at a more affordable price, too.
Unfortunately, that brings a few compromises along with it, such as less than stellar battery life and fairly rudimentary cameras.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
- Lovely display
- IP67 dust and waterproofing
- Headphone socket and expandable storage
- No HDR support for the display
- No wireless charging
Samsung's Galaxy A52 gives you an astonishing amount for your money. Many of the great features from the S series have trickled down and are now present here, including 5G connectivity and IP67 dust and waterproofing.
What's more, the A52 retains its headphone socket and microSD card slot, both things we'd really like to see a return to the flagship models.
If you're on a tighter budget, or, if you just really want a headphone socket, the A52 is a fantastic choice at a very attractive price point.
Other products we considered
When trying to decide what we believe are the best Samsung phones currently available, we spent hours testing and researching. We consider a number of factors when it comes to recommending smartphones, including display clarity, camera quality, battery life and gaming performance, applying the same basic tests when a new device is being considered for inclusion. It's not all judged on our testing, either, as we also try to factor in consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
More about this story
Every Samsung phone in this list has been tested extensively in real-world scenarios, just as you would use one in everyday life.
As part of our dedicated phone reviews - and also for these buyer's guides - we weigh up exactly how the current crop of devices stack up against each other and have done so for more than a decade.
As we've hinted at already, there are myriad considerations when ranking different Samsung smartphones. Design, features, battery life, camera performance and value are all incredibly important, and things we rate in each individual device.
Ultimately, it's impossible to deliver a list that works for every type of user, but we use these 'measurements' and the opinions of the experts on the Pocket-lint team in order to determine a select crop of phones to recommend.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are in-depth spec comparisons and marketing jargon; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each phone is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity. Rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.