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The Best Galaxy S21 Alternatives in 2022 – The Top Phones to buy instead!

The Best Galaxy S21 Alternatives in 2022 – The Top Phones to buy instead!

Samsung kicked off 2021 with the launch of its flagship Galaxy S21 series. All three devices in the Galaxy S21 lineup were the best Android had on offer at the time, but other manufacturers have caught up with Samsung over the last few months. So if you’re currently in the market for a flagship smartphone, there are a few great Galaxy S21 alternatives that you can buy today.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the best smartphones that you can buy instead of the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus, and Galaxy S21 Ultra. We’ll also discuss why you should pick one of the following devices in place of Samsung’s offering and highlight key differences between the models across all price points.

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Which Galaxy S21 should you buy? Regular, Plus, or Ultra?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Alternatives

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is the cheapest phone in Samsung’s flagship lineup. It packs a flat 6.2-inch FHD+ AMOLED display that refreshes at 120Hz, either the Exynos 2100 or the Snapdragon 888 chip, 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB storage. The device also offers a decent triple camera setup, featuring a 12MP f/1.8 primary camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 64MP f/2.0 telephoto camera, and a 10MP f/2.2 selfie shooter.

The Galaxy S21 is powered by a decent 4,000mAh battery with 25W fast charging support, 15 wireless charging support, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging support. Additionally, the phone packs a stereo speaker setup tuned by AKG, Wi-Fi 6 support, 5G capabilities, and IP68 dust and water resistance.

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 is the starting point of the new 2021 flagship series, packing in a flagship SoC, along with a decent display and camera setup.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Deals || Galaxy S21 Best Case Roundup

At a starting price of $799, the Galaxy S21 is a great pick for those who want a small form factor flagship that offers a premium design and good overall performance at a relatively affordable price. However, here are a few other options that you may want to consider:

    Best affordable flagship

    Google really amped up their smartphone game with the Pixel 6 this year. It's one of the best smartphones that you can buy around the $700 mark. It's got a nice display, a great set of cameras, and Google's software magic supported by the new Tensor chip.

    Best compact flagship

    If you're looking for a compact phone that offers flagship-grade performance, the Apple iPhone 13 Mini is a great Galaxy S21 alternative. Despite its size, the phone trumps the vanilla Galaxy S21 on almost all fronts. It has a reliable set of cameras and improved battery life.

    Faster charging, better cameras

    For those who aren't impressed by the Galaxy S21's slow 25W fast charging capabilities, the OnePlus 9 is a great alternative. It offers 65W wired fast charging support that will get you from 0 to 100% in under 30 minutes, and it even includes a better camera system.

Why the Google Pixel 6?

If you want the pure Google Android experience, the Pixel 6 is the phone to get. This year, not only are the phones among the first to run on the newest version of Android, but it also happens to coincide with one of the biggest Android visual overhauls in years. The theme of this year’s new Android 12, at least on the Pixel, is “Material You.” Essentially, the Pixel 6 phones will look at your homescreen wallpaper and create a palette to color the system interface. Throughout the UI, there are whimsical Google touches, such as buttons of varying sizes and shapes.

Other than the excellent software, you’re getting an excellent phone too with the Pixel 6. You get a 6.4-inch, 1080 x 2400 OLED screen that refreshes at 90Hz, along with arguably the best point-and-shoot main camera around, a 50MP sensor backed by Google’s epic photo-processing algorithms. You also get a large 4,612 mAh battery and plenty of RAM to make sure the phone zips around. Add in a unique two-tone finish, and a really attractive price, and it’s hard to name anything else in this spot. It’s easily a better pick than the Galaxy S21.

Why the Apple iPhone 13 Mini?

For existing iOS users, the Apple iPhone 13 mini is hands down the best Galaxy S21 alternative. It comes at roughly the same price, offers top-of-the-line performance, packs a proven camera system, and helps you stay within the iOS ecosystem. It’s also a good pick for Android users who are curious to see what the other side has to offer. The iPhone 13 mini also heavily improves on the 12 mini’s battery life and now offers a full-day experience. However, its slow charging speeds, and 60Hz refresh rate may not appeal to power users.

Why the OnePlus 9?

The OnePlus 9 shines in these departments, and it would prove to be a much better choice than iPhone 12 mini. The phone packs a larger 4,500mAh battery that supports 65W fast wired charging and 15W fast wireless charging (North America/Europe only), and it features a 120Hz display. OnePlus’ flagship offering from 2021 trumps the Galaxy S21 on a couple of other fronts as well. The phone offers a larger 6.55-inch FHD+ AMOLED display, up to 12GB of RAM, and a better 50MP f/2.2 wide-angle camera that features a freeform lens. Unlike the Galaxy S21, it also offers a more premium glass back. Furthermore, the phone comes with the Snapdragon 888 in all regions, so users outside North America won’t have to bear with Samsung’s Exynos 2100 chip. Additionally, the OnePlus 9 runs OxygenOS 11 based on Android 11 out of the box, which some users may prefer over One UI 3.1.

More Alternatives

Along with these three devices, you can also consider getting the Xiaomi Mi 11 or the Sony Xperia 5 III over the Galaxy S21. However, you will have to make certain compromises with these phones. For instance, the Mi 11 is only available in certain markets, unlike the Galaxy S21.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Alternatives

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is a small step up from the vanilla Galaxy S21. It’s essentially the same phone, but in a larger, slightly more premium package. You get a glass back instead of a plastic one, a 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED display, a higher capacity 4,800mAh battery, and UWB support. Besides that, the phone’s hardware specifications aren’t all that different. It is powered by either the Samsung Exynos 2100 chip or the Snapdragon 888 SoC, has 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB storage, and offers the same fast charging capabilities.

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is the middle child in the new 2021 flagship series, packing in a flagship SoC and a premium build, along with a decent display and camera setup.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus Deals || Galaxy S21 Plus Best Case Roundup

The Galaxy S21 Plus also features the same camera setup as its cheaper sibling. On the whole, the Galaxy S21 Plus is exactly what its name says — a plus-size version of the regular Galaxy S21. As such, it also has a plus-size price tag. The phone starts at $999.99 for the 8GB + 128GB variant, and at that price point, there are a couple of other great alternatives that you can consider.

    Best option for existing iOS users

    The Apple iPhone 13 is the best Galaxy S21 Plus alternative for existing iOS users. It offers flagship-level performance, better camera capabilities, and impeccable software support at roughly the same price. On the downside, it features a 60Hz display.

    Better value for your money

    The Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro, just like the non-Pro variant, offers better value for your money than the Galaxy S21 Plus. It features a better display, a stronger camera setup, and faster-charging capabilities than Samsung's offerings. However, the phone isn't available in several markets at the moment.

    Best battery life

    The ROG Phone 5 is another great Galaxy S21 Plus alternative that offers better battery life, faster charging capabilities, and a host of additional gaming features. It also packs an impressive 144Hz AMOLED display that leaves the Galaxy S21 Plus' 120Hz panel in the dust.

Why the Apple iPhone 13?

As with the vanilla Galaxy S21, the Apple iPhone 13 is the best alternative to the Galaxy S21 Plus for existing iOS users. Much like the iPhone 13 Mini, the vanilla iPhone 13 offers flagship-grade performance, a great camera system, and impeccable software support. On top of that, it offers better battery backup than its mini counterpart and supports faster wireless charging. Sadly, it too has a 60Hz display, which may turn away some buyers.

Why the Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro?

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro, however, has no such shortcomings when compared with the Galaxy S21 Plus. The phone packs the same 6.81-inch QHD+ quad-curved AMOLED display as its non-Pro counterpart, which refreshes at 120Hz and offers a peak brightness of 1,700nits. It comes with Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chip, up to 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM, up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a massive 5,000mAh battery. It also includes 67W wired and wireless fast charging support, along with 10W reverse wireless charging support.

The Mi 11 Pro is better than the Galaxy S21 Plus on the camera front too, offering a capable 50MP f/1.95 ISOCELL GN2 primary camera, a 13MP f/2.4 wide-angle camera, an 8MP f/3.4 telemacro camera, and a 20MP f/2.2 selfie shooter. Furthermore, it features a dual speaker setup tuned by Harman Kardon, Wi-Fi 6E support, Bluetooth 5.2, and an IR blaster. On the downside, it runs Xiaomi MIUI 12 Android skin, which may not appeal to some buyers, and it isn’t available in North America.

Why the ASUS ROG Phone 5?

Thankfully, ASUS offers a great Galaxy S21 Plus alternative for North American buyers — the ROG Phone 5. The ROG Phone 5 is ASUS’ latest and greatest gaming smartphone that packs a 6.78-inch FHD+ AMOLED display that refreshes at an eye-watering 144Hz. It houses Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 chip, up to 16B of LPDDR5 RAM, and up to 256GB of storage. It packs an absolutely massive 6,000mAh battery with 65W wired fast charging support and two USB Type-C ports that will help you charge the phone in both portrait and landscape orientations. The device also features dual front-firing speakers, a 3.5mm headphone jack with a built-in DAC, Wi-Fi 6E support, and Bluetooth 5.2.

On top of all that, the ROG Phone 5 also features a respectable triple camera setup on the back consisting of a 64MP f/1.8 primary camera, a 13MP f/2.4 wide-angle camera, and a 5MP macro camera. Over on the front, it has a 24MP f/2.4 selfie shooter. For gamers, the ROG Phone 5 offers even more features, like ultrasonic triggers and a host of gaming accessories. In my opinion, if you can look past the ROG Phone 5’s gamer-y aesthetic, the phone is a better buy than the Galaxy S21 Plus in all respects.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Alternatives

Samsung’s top-of-the-line Galaxy S21 Ultra is inarguably one of the best Android smartphones available in the market today. It’s a big step up from the vanilla Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Plus in almost all aspects, including the display, camera hardware, battery capacity, and more. The phone features a brilliant 6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED display (display review) that offers a peak refresh rate of 120Hz and variable refresh rate support. And the display offers a peak brightness of 1,500nits, as opposed to 1,300nits on the other two models.

While the Galaxy S21 Ultra packs the same SoCs as its siblings, it’s available with up to 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 512GB storage. The phone packs a larger 5,000mAh battery and a much more impressive camera system. The phone features a 108MP f/1.8 primary camera, a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide-angle camera, a 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto camera, and a 10MP f/4.9 10x telephoto camera. Over on the front, it has a 40MP f/2.2 selfie shooter. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is also the only device in Samsung’s flagship lineup that offers Wi-Fi 6E and S Pen support.

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the ultimate overkill in the new 2021 flagship series, packing in a flagship SoC, a premium build, a great display, and an amazing camera setup, as well as all the extras expected on a premium flagship.

Galaxy S21 Ultra Deals || S21 Ultra Best Case Roundup

Even though it still is one of the best Android smartphones available in the market today, if you’re willing to spend over $1,100 on a phone, there are quite a few alternatives you can consider instead.

    Best Google flagship

    Google really amped up their smartphone game with the Pixel 6 this year. It's one of the best smartphones that you can buy around the $700 mark. It's got a nice display, a great set of cameras that click some of the best pictures, and Google's software magic supported by the new Tensor chip. It's a complete flagship device.

    Great option for iOS users

    The Apple iPhone 13 Pro is a great Galaxy S21 Ultra alternative that is a good pick for existing iOS users. The phone offers impressive camera chops, flagship-grade performance, a LiDAR sensor, and best-in-class software support. The new 120Hz display is an added bonus, and the camera setup is one of the best.

    Bigger screen, bigger battery

    The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max offers all the features that you get with the iPhone 13 Pro in a larger package. As such, it packs a bigger display and a higher capacity battery. This makes the phone a great Galaxy S21 Ultra alternative for iOS users. The new 120Hz display is also as smooth as the one on the S21 Ultra.

    Best value for money

    The Mi 11 Ultra is Xiaomi's top-of-the-line flagship for 2021 and as such, it packs the best hardware money can buy. It features a great camera system, faster-charging support, and a secondary display. Despite that, the phone is priced cheaper than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, making it a great alternative for Android users.

    Best Android alternative for those in the US

    The OnePlus 9 Pro is OnePlus' flagship offering for 2021 and it's the most premium phone from the company to date. It packs an impressive display, Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 SoC, insanely fast charging capabilities, and more.

    Ultimate gaming beast

    The ASUS ROG Phone 5 Ultimate offers everything you could ever want from a gaming smartphone -- a great 144Hz display, a massive 6,000mAh battery, top-of-the-line performance, and a host of gaming features. It even packs an eye-watering 18GB of RAM, making it a viable alternative to the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Why the Google Pixel 6 Pro?

If you want the pure Google Android experience, the Pixel 6 Pro is the phone to get. This year, not only are the phones among the first to run on the newest version of Android, but it also happens to coincide with one of the biggest Android visual overhauls in years. The theme of this year’s new Android 12, at least on the Pixel, is “Material You.” Essentially, the Pixel 6 Pro will look at your homescreen wallpaper and create a palette to color the system interface. Throughout the UI, there are whimsical Google touches, such as buttons of varying sizes and shapes.

Other than the excellent software, you’re getting an excellent phone too with the Pixel 6. You get a 6.7-inch, QHD+ OLED LTPO screen that refreshes at 1200Hz, along with arguably the best point-and-shoot main camera around, a 50MP sensor backed by Google’s epic photo-processing algorithms. There’s also an additional telephoto camera that you get with the Pixel 6 Pro, something that’s missing in the standard Pixel 6. You also get a large 5,000 mAh battery and plenty of RAM to make sure the phone zips around. Add in a unique two-tone finish, and a really attractive price, and it’s hard to name anything else in this spot.

Why the Apple iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max?

Once again, the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max are great Galaxy S21 Ultra alternatives for iOS users. The phones are pretty much the same as the other two iPhones mentioned above, but they feature larger batteries, bigger displays, and an additional 12MP f/2.2 3X telephoto camera. The phones also pack a ToF 3D LiDAR sensor, which you won’t get with the cheaper models. One of the biggest advantages of this year’s iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max is the new 120Hz ProMotion display that offers a smooth experience.

Why the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra?

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra is essentially a Mi 11 Pro on steroids, which makes it a perfect alternative to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It features the same display, SoC, battery capacity, etc. as the Pro-variant, but it comes with a better camera system and a secondary display on the back. It features a 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN2 primary camera that can capture DSLR-like bokeh and offers better low-light capabilities than the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The main camera also captures excelled dynamic range in photos and videos.

The Mi 11 Ultra features a 48MP ultra-wide camera that has a 128° FoV. It delivers photos that are closer in quality to the main camera than previous Xiaomi phones. The phone also includes a 48MP 5x periscope zoom camera that maxes out at 120x digital zoom. While on paper, this zoom lens falls short of what the Galaxy S21 Ultra has to offer, the actual results are almost as good. The second screen in the camera module is another great addition, and it lets you easily capture high-resolution selfies using the main 50MP camera.

Why the OnePlus 9 Pro?

Sadly, the Mi 11 Ultra isn’t available in the US. So if you’re looking for a Galaxy S21 Ultra alternative that runs Android, you’ll have to get either the OnePlus 9 Pro or the ASUS ROG Phone Pro/Ultimate. The OnePlus 9 Pro is a decent choice for those who want a performance-focused device. It features a brilliant 120Hz QHD+ display that is as good as, if not better, than the one on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It offers much better wired/wireless fast charging support than Samsung’s offering and it packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 chip.

Sadly, the OnePlus 9 Pro’s main camera performance isn’t better than what the Galaxy S21 Ultra has to offer. While the phone does include a better wide-angle lens, its zoom capabilities aren’t as good and its main camera is barely at par with the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 108MP primary sensor. The phone also packs a smaller 4,500mAh battery, but that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most buyers as OnePlus offers much faster 65W wired fast charging support and 50W wireless fast charging support.

Why the ASUS ROG Phone 5 Ultimate?

The ASUS ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is also a viable Galaxy S21 Ultra alternative for those in the US. The phone is more or less the same as the vanilla ROG Phone 5, but it offers a few additional features. The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate packs an eye-watering 18GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, and a monochrome secondary display on the back. The phone also features two additional touch sensors on the back panel.

The ROG Phone 5 Ultimate is a great pick for mobile gamers, as it offers a host of gaming-specific features and accessories. But if you’re not into mobile gaming, you can pick the device for its insane battery life and fast charging capabilities. On the downside, the ROG Phone 5 devices won’t offer the same camera capabilities as the Galaxy S21 Ultra and ASUS’ software support isn’t as robust as what Samsung offers with its latest flagships.


What is the absolute best Galaxy S21 alternative?

Which one of the Galaxy S21 alternatives mentioned above are you going to purchase? In my opinion, the iPhone 13 Pro is a great overall alternative to all three Galaxy S21 devices, provided you have the budget for it. If not, the vanilla iPhone 13 is also a great choice. If you want to stick to Android phones though, I would recommend getting the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Sadly, Xiaomi phones aren’t available in North America and, if you’re in the region, you’ll have to go with either a OnePlus 9 series phone or one from the ROG Phone 5 lineup. Between the two, I would personally prefer ASUS’ offering, but the OnePlus 9 Pro isn’t a bad option either. If you don’t find any of these Galaxy S21 alternatives appealing enough, you should probably stick to Samsung’s offerings since they are also pretty good phones by themselves.

About author

Pranob Mehrotra
Pranob Mehrotra

A Literature and Linguistics graduate with a keen interest in everything Android. When not writing about tech, Pranob spends most of his time either playing League of Legends or lurking on Reddit.

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