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The best iPhone 13 alternatives: 7 phones to consider before you buy
It feels like just the other day that Apple revealed the iPhone 12 range, expanding its flagship range to four models for the first time. At launch, there was no shortage of options, from the tiny iPhone 12 Mini to the top-end iPhone 12 Pro Max. Now, we have the iPhone 13 series, and they all look like pretty solid smartphones. What if you wanted something a little different, though? We’ve got you covered with our rundown of the best iPhone 13 alternatives.
The best iPhone 13 alternatives
1. Samsung Galaxy S22 series
Samsung’s phones have always gone toe-to-toe with Apple’s devices when it comes to flagship wares. So is it any surprise that the Galaxy S22 family is easily one of the best iPhone 13 alternatives on the market?
One of the most significant selling points is that Samsung promises four years of OS updates and five years of security patches for the S22 series (among other device lines). This isn’t as good as Apple’s devices, but it’s miles better than most Android OEMs.
All three phones offer 120Hz OLED panels, 5G connectivity, 12MP ultrawide cameras, and 8K video recording. The Galaxy S22 is the cheapest and smallest model, packing a downgraded 3,700mAh battery, a relatively solid triple camera system, and the return of Gorilla Glass all around. Meanwhile, the S22 Ultra is the largest and most expensive Galaxy Note 20 replacement, featuring a 5,000mAh battery, two telephoto cameras (3X and 10X), a glass design, and a QHD+ panel.
2. Apple iPhone SE 2022
Like the idea of getting an iPhone but want something much cheaper than the flagship devices? That’s where the iPhone SE 2022 comes in, serving as the newest iPhone on the market.
The wallet-conscious iPhone SE now comes in at $429 in the US, making it the cheapest new iPhone you can get by a large margin. And you’re getting some solid specs for the price, such as a 5G-ready A15 Bionic processor, IP67 water/dust resistance, and wireless charging.
Learn more: Apple iPhone SE 2022 review
That being said, you do miss out on iPhone 13 features like multiple rear cameras, higher resolution screens, and newer designs. The iPhone SE 2022 doesn’t carry an updated refresh rate, either, though that’s still reserved for the iPhone 13 Pro lineup. Still, it’s one of the cheapest ways to hop aboard the Apple train.
3. OnePlus 10 Pro
The OnePlus 10 Pro doesn’t bring quite the same set of upgrades as its predecessor did, but it’s still an impressive device. It carries 65W wired charging in the US, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, a 48MP primary camera, and a 50MP ultrawide snapper.
While we usually see a standard OnePlus device launched alongside the Pro model, that’s not the case this year. Instead, there’s only the OnePlus 10 Pro, which features a QHD+ OLED screen, 50W wireless charging, and an 8MP 3.3x telephoto camera. As usual, only the T-Mobile version ships with a durable IP68 rating against water and dust.
More reading: OnePlus 10 Pro review
OnePlus has also confirmed that the flagship will be getting three years of OS updates and four years of security patches. This is welcome news for anyone looking at Apple’s devices purely for the long-standing commitment to updates.
4. Asus Zenfone 8
The Zenfone 8 was one of the more pleasant surprises of 2021, and it’s certainly worth considering if you were looking for an alternative to smaller iPhones. Yes, the Asus device is one of the few compact Android flagship phones this year.
Our thoughts: Asus Zenfone 8 review — Just short of perfection
It’s a pretty solid device otherwise, as you’re getting a 5.9-inch 120Hz OLED panel, Snapdragon 888 SoC, a dual rear camera system (64MP main and 12MP ultrawide), and a 4,000mAh battery with 30W charging. Two more notable features are an IP68 rating and the return of the 3.5mm port.
The Zenfone 8 starts at just $630, another massive point in its favor. So those looking for a compact flagship on a budget can do a lot worse than this.
5. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The foldable phone segment is heating up in a big way, but Apple doesn’t have a foldable iPhone just yet. Samsung is leading the pack in this regard, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is arguably the one to get.
Samsung’s cheapest foldable in 2021 adopts a clamshell design akin to classic feature phones like the Motorola Razr V3. Open the phone, and a folding main display will greet you while closing the device protects this main screen and reveals a tiny external display. The smaller screen is used for everything from notifications and the date/time to viewing messages and taking selfies.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 also sports flagship silicon, a water-resistant design, and dual 12MP rear cameras (main, ultrawide). The only real downsides to the device are that the $1,000 price tag is still pretty expensive (although it’s cheap for a foldable), the cameras aren’t amazing, and the 3,300mAh battery is tiny for an Android phone.
6. Sony Xperia 1 III
Sony has quietly been producing flagship phones for years now, but 2021’s phones might be the best devices the brand has ever made. The Xperia 1 III leads the charge, delivering a Snapdragon 888 SoC, a 4,500mAh battery, 30W wired charging, and wireless charging. But it also packs a few extraordinary innovations.
For one, the Sony device packs a 6.5-inch 4K OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate — so you don’t have to choose between a pixel-dense screen and a high refresh rate. Sony’s phone also sports a variable telephoto camera for the first time in the industry, delivering the ability to take shots at native 3x or 4.4x zoom. A 12MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide shooter, IP68 rating, and a headphone port round out the package.
Like the idea of the Xperia 1 III but want something smaller? That’s where the Xperia 5 III comes in. You lose out on a 4K display resolution but gain a 6.1-inch FHD+ screen instead. Sony’s smaller flagship also ditches wireless charging, but you’ve still got everything else here (including that variable telephoto camera and 3.5mm port).
7. Google Pixel 6 series
The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro arrived in October 2021, and they certainly delivered. After a year in the mid-range market with the Pixel 5, Google is back on flagship terms with its latest series. You get a powerful Tensor chip on both the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, as well as a completely revamped design.
Google equipped both models with crisp OLED panels, though the Pixel 6 Pro offers the larger 6.7-inch 120Hz unit. You still get a 90Hz, 6.4-inch option on the Pixel 6, which is more than enough for most people. Google’s revamped camera bar packs the largest improvement in years, with a 50MP wide lens and a 12MP ultrawide option to boot. Of course, the Pixel 6 Pro adds a 48MP telephoto lens to the mix for up to 4x optical zoom.
iPhone 13 alternatives: Honorable mentions
- Google Pixel 6a ($449): Can’t afford the Pixel 6 series but want a pure Android experience with plenty of updates? That’s where the Pixel 6a comes in. It’s well equipped like its Pixel 6 siblings, and you get 5G connectivity, IP67 water/dust resistance, and good cameras. You’re also getting Pixel features like Call Screening, astrophotography, and astrophotography timelapse.
- Xiaomi 12 Pro (€875): If you’re intrigued by Apple’s Pro devices but want to know what else is out there, then the Xiaomi 12 Pro is a good starting point. Xiaomi’s premium flagship is expensive, but you get high-end silicon, a hefty 4,600mAh battery, 120W wired/50W wireless charging for super-fast charging, and a 120Hz QHD+ screen. The phone also packs an impressive camera system (50MP main, 50MP ultrawide, 50MP telephoto), and a Gorilla Glass Victus display.
- Samsung Galaxy S21 FE ($699): Samsung’s Galaxy S21 FE may not have blown us away quite like its predecessor, but it’s still one of the best iPhone 13 alternatives out there. The phone will cost you $699, but it still ticks plenty of boxes, with a 4,500mAh battery, wireless charging, an IP67 rating, a flexible triple rear camera system (12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto), and a 120Hz OLED screen. Toss in three years of OS updates and four years of security patches, and you’ve got a very enticing proposition.
These have been our best iPhone 13 alternatives. Are there any devices you’d recommend? Then let us know via the comments section below.