These are the best AT&T phones you can buy in April 2021: Samsung, Google, Apple, and more!
There’s no getting around the fact carrier compatibility can make your choice of a phone harder if you’re in the U.S. Often, you’re forced to buy your phone directly through a carrier or jump through hoops to activate it on your carrier, which can introduce several complicated variants. If you import a phone from overseas, it can be quite crippled in the U.S, and AT&T is arguably one of the biggest carriers in the U.S, but also one of the most annoying ones when it comes to getting their phones to work. Luckily though, if you’re an AT&T customer, the company has a lot of options available for you to check out. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best AT&T phones you can get today.
From high-end devices trickling all the way down to budget phones, you can rest assured that there’s an option for you. To ensure carrier compatibility issues out of the gate, we’ve focused our list on smartphones you can get directly from AT&T themselves, rather than devices you can bring into AT&T, as compatibility for those devices can get a bit hit-or-miss. Most of these will also have support for AT&T’s 5G network. If you are on Verizon, you can check out our list of best Verizon phones.
Navigate this guide:
- Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
- Best for Most People: Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
- Best Compact: Apple iPhone 12 Mini
- Best Bleeding Edge: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Best Mid-Range (with 5G): Google Pixel 4a 5G
- Best Mid-Range: Apple iPhone SE (2020)
- Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy A12
- Best Unique: Microsoft Surface Duo
- Honorable Mention: Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is an amazing phone that fixes most, if not all, of the flaws that plagued the Galaxy S20 Ultra–Samsung’s first attempt at bringing an “ultra” experience to the S series. The Galaxy S21 Ultra keeps the 108 MP camera but does everything around it much better. The display is worthy of praise, and while it does away with things such as the SD card slot, the end result is a smartphone that brings together the best of the S series with the best of the Note series. Heck, you can even get an S Pen with your Galaxy S21 Ultra if you really want to.
It’s one of the best Android phones of the year period, and it’s evidently one of the best AT&T phones you can get right now.
Runner-Up: Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
Just like how the Galaxy S21 Ultra is Samsung’s best so far, the iPhone 12 Pro Max shows why Apple has the stronghold they currently have in the U.S, even as Android manufacturers actively try to gain a footing there. It’s an amazing device in every sense, refining on the iPhone 11 lineup and improving on things such as the camera, the overall build quality, and premium feel, and of course, everything that makes an iPhone an iPhone. A big 6.7-inch display is in tow as well as a triple rear camera with a LiDAR sensor and an amazing Apple A14 SoC based on a 5nm process.
Everything about this device screams expensive and premium, which is why it’s a very close runner-up to the best AT&T phone out there. Oh, and it’s also one of the first iPhones with support for 5G, in case that’s something you’re interested in.
Best for Most People: Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
This category was a close one for me, but I eventually settled on giving it to the Galaxy S21 5G. Why’s that, I might hear you say? Well, it’s because the Galaxy S21 smartphones are really great, and this is no exception, packing the latest Snapdragon 888 CPU, amazing cameras, an amazing display, and much more. I won’t bore you with the specs, you already know most of them. The thing that makes this phone in particular a great buy is the fact that, just like its bigger brothers, the Galaxy S21 got a price cut across the board compared to the Galaxy S20. While the Galaxy S20 would set you back $999 at launch, the Galaxy S21 is available for $799 right now.
At $1,000 it was a passable flagship. At $800? It becomes pretty good. It’s the same kind of strategy that worked in the S20 FE’s favor, and I’m glad to see it here too. It’s one of the best AT&T phones currently available.
Best Compact: Apple iPhone 12 Mini
Compact devices have been uncharted territory for a lot of Android manufacturers in the past few years, but Apple pulled a new trick out of their hat this year. While Android phones keep getting bigger, Apple took a U-turn on that trend and launched the iPhone 12 Mini, which is probably the smallest phone I’ve seen in a solid amount of years. It has a 5.4-inch display and considering that the display is still the typical 19.5:9 Apple has been doing since 2017, this means that we have a phone that is absolutely tiny. It’s smaller than the new iPhone SE, and it’s actually just slightly bigger than the iPhone 5/5S – and that had a 4-inch display. Despite this, it still manages to retain the high-end features in the other iPhones, including the A14 processor and the camera.
It really can’t be understated how small this phone is, and if you’ve been waiting for something like that, then go ahead and grab it from AT&T, as it’s sure one of the best AT&T phones currently available.
- The iPhone 12 Mini is Apple's smallest phones to date, but don't let that tiny size fool you: it's just as powerful as the other phones in the iPhone 12 series. It comes with the same Apple A14 processor and the same cameras, despite only having a tiny 5.4-inch display.
Best Bleeding Edge: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the definition of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, smartphone edition. The original Galaxy Fold was a demonstration of this, as it was Samsung’s first foldable smartphone and a peek at what they called the “future” of smartphones. That phone though had several issues and rougher edges that are common with a first-generation product. The Galaxy Z Fold 2? Not so much. It’s much more refined, with the same “ultra-thin” glass featured in the Galaxy Z Flip, and improving on things such as the hinge, the displays, the battery, the camera, and much more. It’s still not perfect, but it’s clearly getting there.
If you’ve been sitting on a foldable smartphone and have been waiting for them to become better, then the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is one of the best AT&T phones you should be checking out today.
- The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is the second generation of foldable smartphones from Samsung and serves as a more closer look on how foldable phones might look like in the future. While the Galaxy Fold functioned more like a first-gen product, the Z Fold 2 comes much closer to realizing Samsung's foldable aspirations.
Best Mid-Range (with 5G): Google Pixel 4a 5G
The Google Pixel 4a 5G might be worth an even bigger look than the Google Pixel 5 if you don’t really care about things such as having a high refresh rate display. This is because the Pixel 4a 5G actually shares a lot more DNA with the Pixel 5 than with its smaller cousin, the Google Pixel 4a. The Pixel 4a 5G brings 90% of what the Pixel 5 is to a cheaper package: it has the same Snapdragon 765G SoC, the same cameras, and a lot of stuff remains the same too. It’s also bigger than both the Pixel 5 and the Pixel 4a, which is also good news if you’re a fan of bigger phones. Of course, it also has full support for AT&T’s up-and-coming 5G network.
If you’re in the market for the best AT&T phone that doesn’t break the bank and comes with 5G support, the Pixel 4a 5G might just be the option for you.
Best Mid-Range: Apple iPhone SE (2020)
The iPhone SE is a rare incursion of Apple into the mid-range market. But it’s a weird one at that. In many ways it feels more of a “flagship killer” as it was pioneered by OnePlus back in the day. The iPhone SE comes with the very same SoC that powers the iPhone 11 lineup, the Apple A13. That means you’re getting the same performance as Apple’s last-gen flagship. But it also has the same form factor as the iPhone 8, which can probably feel very dated to this day, with thick bezels and an HD display. Don’t get me wrong though. It’s an iPhone 8 with the internals of an iPhone 11, which is awesome. It’s sure one of the best, if not the best, options within its price point.
It’s one of the best AT&T phones even though it’s hardly the best in Apple’s lineup, and the few sacrifices it makes are really hard to scoff at.
Best Budget: Galaxy A12
Samsung makes amazing phones both in the high end and the low end of the market, and the Galaxy A12 is a testament to what they can do in the low end. The Galaxy A12 follows the trail that last year’s Galaxy A11 left, and while the MediaTek Helio P35 that powers it is not the most performing CPU out of the bunch, or maybe even out of its price point, it makes up for it by providing the same Samsung experience and One UI software that comes with the high-end devices and brings it to the low end of the spectrum.. The result is a device with understated looks but a decent feature set, including a 48MP quad rear camera and a ginormous 5,000 mAh battery.
If you’re looking for something that will do the job on a tight budget, this is one of the best AT&T phones you should be considering.
Best Unique: Microsoft Surface Duo
Microsoft’s previous ventures in phones have ranged from somewhat successful to complete flops. Before HMD, Microsoft owned the Nokia brand and released several Windows Phone-powered phones under the Lumia branding, in an attempt to position this platform against the rising ecosystems of iOS and Android. Before this, Microsoft had previous flops, including the Microsoft Kin, a phone so bad that Verizon apparently only managed to sell 503 of them. The Microsoft Surface Duo, though? I won’t say it’ll be a success, but it’s Microsoft’s first venture into phones since they made their last phone running Windows 10 Mobile. It’s their first Android phone and the first Android phone to feature a unique dual display form factor.
Dual screens pose an interesting alternative to foldable phones: the Surface Duo unfolds to reveal two identical displays. It features Android 10, a Snapdragon 855 processor, and more. While it suffers from the typical first-gen product quirks (and there’s a lot of them), this is one of the best AT&T phones to get if you’re into getting a phone that doesn’t look like anything you’ve seen before.
Honorable Mention: Galaxy A52 5G
The Galaxy A51 5G was one of the best mid-range smartphones Samsung put out throughout the year, and the Galaxy A52 5G follows in its footsteps by improving on pretty much everything that made its predecessor great. The Galaxy A52 5G comes with the Snapdragon 750G SoC, a decently-performing mid-range processor that beats out the Exynos 980 in the A51 5G, and comes in with up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, so it should be able to shred most tasks you throw at it. It also features a 64MP camera and a 120Hz display, the latter being notable for being one of the first high refresh rate panels for a non-flagship Samsung phone.
It’s one of the best AT&T phones available out there if you’re looking into midrange options. Oh, and it’s also $1/mo through AT&T right now, so it’s an amazing bargain you should look at if you’re tied to AT&T.
Concluding Note: Can’t go wrong with these options
This pretty much sums up our list of the best AT&T phones currently available. At the top of the line, we have options from Samsung and Apple that are worth considering if you’re looking into phones that look and feel premium and high-end. Then we have options trickling down to everything from compact phones all the way to ruthlessly cheap devices. All of these phones can be acquired directly through AT&T and can be paid for in monthly installments, trade-ins, and more. Check out the respective listings for more specific terms and conditions. If I had to recommend, I’d say that most users are going to do just fine with an option like the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy A52 5G, or the Pixel 4a 5G.