These are the Best AT&T phones you can buy in October: Samsung, Apple, and more!

These are the Best AT&T phones you can buy in October: Samsung, Apple, and more!

The US phone scene is often dominated by carriers, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the carrier you choose. Fortunately, AT&T is one of the biggest ones with great nationwide coverage and plenty of phone options from which to choose from.

To ensure carrier compatibility, every phone listed here is directly available through AT&T. If you are on Verizon — or if you’re an AT&T customer looking for other options — you can check out our list of best Verizon phones.

Navigate this guide:

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

The Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is, simply put, the best a slab smartphone can get right now in the US market. It has the best screen, the most versatile camera system with the best zoom lenses, and one of the largest batteries around. With Samsung declining to release a Galaxy Note phone this year, that means the S21 Ultra could very well hold onto this title for the rest of the year. There will be other contenders, but it’s hard to see anything topping this phone, because beyond all the stuff we just mentioned — gorgeous 120Hz OLED screen, all-day battery life, 10x optical zoom camera — there’s also a bunch of little things other phones don’t offer. And of course, the phone also runs Android, our favorite mobile operating system.

For example, the Galaxy S21 Ultra supports the S-Pen stylus, so if you want to jot notes or sketch, it’s one of the only phones that can do this. It also has Samsung DeX which outputs the S21 Ultra to a larger monitor in a desktop format. Throw in IP68 water resistance, loud stereo speakers, wireless charging and excellent haptics and there’s really not much more you can ask for from a phone right now.

    Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
    The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is Samsung's current absolute best and most powerful, with a 120Hz QHD panel, a Snapdragon 888 processor, and an amazing 108 MP camera with an enhanced Space Zoom feature.

Best for Most People: Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

There are lots of good options here but we chose the standard Galaxy S21 because it offers a lot of what made the S21 Ultra so good, just minus the zoom lenses and with a smaller image sensor. In other words, unless you’re really nitpicky about your smartphone photography, you’re not really going to see a performance difference between the “Ultra” S21 and the “normal” S21.

At launch, the Galaxy S21 was priced at $999, but now it’s only $799 on AT&T, which makes it a really good option for those don’t necessarily need all the latest bells and whistles in a phone.

    Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
    The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is the S21 for the average person. It doesn't pack as much cutting-edge features as the S21 Ultra does, but it makes up for it by being a good flagship in a better-than-average price point.

Best Large Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with S Pen

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 takes the already excellent Z Fold 2 and adds a layer of polish and a bunch of new practical improvements. It’s lighter, thinner, water-resistant, and best of all, cheaper than previous generations. It also supports the S-Pen, making it even more appealing as a productivity machine.

Fold the device up, the Z Fold 3 is a compact one-hand friendly smartphone, unfold it and it’s a mini-tablet with blazing fast performance and a hi-res screen. With a Snapdragon 888, it has more than enough power to handle anything you throw at it. Those of us at XDA who have used the Z Fold 2 were hooked from day one, and the Z Fold 3 is promising to do just that.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
    The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a multi-tasking powerhouse. A tablet that fits into your pocket. With improved durability and official water resistance rating plus a lower price, it's perhaps the phone that will have foldable skeptics change their minds.

Best Small Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is arguably the most stylish foldable phone ever and inarguably the most affordable foldable phone ever. Samsung somehow managed to take the Z Flip 5G, improve durability all around, added water resistance, bumped up the processor to a Snapdragon 888, doubled the main screen refresh rate to 120Hz and increased the outside cover display’s size four times, and still shave 50% off the retail price, making it the first foldable to be sold at under the four-digit US dollar mark. Our chief content officer Nirave is absolutely in love with the Z Flip 3, and we think you will too.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
    The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a clamshell foldable with style, processing power, and a relatively affordable price.

Best Mid-Range: Apple iPhone SE (2020)

White iPhone SE

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.

    iPhone SE (2020)
    The second-generation iPhone SE comes packed with quite a lot of phone despite what the retro bezels and home button might suggest. It's essentially an iPhone 11 in an iPhone 8's body, rocking the same Apple A13 SoC. And we're here for it.

Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy A32 5G

Front of Galaxy A32

Samsung makes amazing phones both in the high end and the low end of the market, and the Galaxy A32 is a testament to what they can do in the low end. The Galaxy A32 follows the trail that last year’s Galaxy A31 left, and it features a MediaTek Dimensity 720 CPU that, while it might not be the most performing CPU out of the bunch, it’s definitely one of the best in its price category. 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. Oh, it also comes with 5G support.

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.

    Galaxy A32 5G
    The Galaxy A32 isn't a high-end phone, but it sure manages to put a fight to the biggest, baddest phones out there. If you need a phone that does the job and you're on a really tight budget, then the Galaxy A32 should fit your bill pretty well.

Honorable Mention: Galaxy A52 5G

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.

    Galaxy A52 5G
    The Galaxy A52 5G is Samsung's current middle-of-the-road offering for 2021, featuring an Snapdragon 750 SoC, up to 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 64MP camera, as well as, of course, 5G support.

This 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. But if you got some money to spend, the Z Flip 3 is shaping up to be a major hit.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.