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The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is our Readers' Choice best phone of 2021

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has defeated the Google Pixel 6 Pro to be awarded our Readers' Choice best phone of 2021 award.
By
December 24, 2021
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Android Authority Readers Choice badge
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

What a ride. After tens of thousands of votes were tallied, the mighty Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra has nabbed the title of Android Authority Readers’ Choice best phone of 2021. The S21 Ultra beat out the Google Pixel 6 Pro by a handy margin of 55.11% to 44.89% of the grand final vote. Congratulations to Samsung mobile on the epic win! So how did it all play out?

Don’t miss: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung's best-ever camera system on one of its best-ever phones.
If you want the most powerful phone in Samsung's Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is for you. It comes with the largest display at 6.8-inches, the biggest battery at 5,000mAh, and the best camera setup with a primary 108MP sensor. It also comes with as much as 16GB of RAM. However, it's also the most expensive with a starting price of $1,199.

Round 1: The qualifiers

Best Smartphones 2 End of Year 2021 1
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The S21 Ultra got off to a great start, decimating our monster list of 33 contenders to score an even 17% of the vote. 17% may not sound like much but the S21 scored almost 25% more votes than the device in second place. That second-place phone was our Editor’s Choice pick, the regular Google Pixel 6 (13.7%). In third, the Google Pixel 6 Pro (13%), and in fourth, the iPhone 13 Pro Max (10%). These four phones were the only ones to break the double-digit barrier for vote share.

The first round gave a good idea of who was likely to end up in the final two

The first round gave a good idea of who was likely to end up in the final two — the Galaxy S21 Ultra and one of the Pixels. The Pixel 6 only narrowly beat out the Pro version with less than a percent of the overall vote share separating them. The iPhone 13 Pro Max was comfortably behind but still miles ahead of the phone in fifth place, the OnePlus 9 Pro (4.2%). Here’s the top ten from that first round of voting, for reference.

DeviceVote share
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
17%
Google Pixel 6
13.7%
Google Pixel 6 Pro
13%
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
10%
OnePlus 9 Pro
4.2%
Apple iPhone 13
3.9%
Sony Xperia 1 III
3.5%
Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
3.2%
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
2.8%
Samsung Galaxy S21
2.7%

Round two: The semi-final

Best Smartphones 3 End of Year 2021
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Once we narrowed the voting in the next round down to just those four phones, we saw some movement in the placings. The S21 Ultra once again came out on top with 35.98% of the total vote. This time though the Pixel 6 Pro came in second overall (26.66%) and the regular Pixel 6 dropped to fourth place (16.7%), with the iPhone 13 Pro Max nabbing third place (20.66%).

This time, however, we had polls on the site as well as on Twitter and YouTube, so were they all in agreement? As you probably could’ve guessed, not really. The S21 Ultra was first and the Pixel 6 Pro second in each of the polls individually. But there was a slight difference in who took third and fourth spots. On the website, voters preferred the Pixel 6 over the iPhone 13 Pro Max, while on Twitter and YouTube the iPhone ousted the regular Pixel 6. Here’s how the total vote in our semi-final went.

DeviceSite voteTwitter voteYouTube voteOverall vote
Device
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Site vote
15.4%
Twitter vote
22.90%
YouTube vote
21.00%
Overall vote
20.66%
Device
Google Pixel 6
Site vote
19.1%
Twitter vote
16.50%
YouTube vote
16.00%
Overall vote
16.70%
Device
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Site vote
22.1%
Twitter vote
25.50%
YouTube vote
29.00%
Overall vote
26.66%
Device
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Site vote
43.4%
Twitter vote
35.10%
YouTube vote
34.00%
Overall vote
35.98%

Round three: The final

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Google Pixel 6 Pro backs
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

With our new second-place winner, the final showdown was set for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Google Pixel 6 Pro. At this stage of the game, it looked pretty clear that the S21 Ultra had the numbers. But as I mentioned in our last voting post, previous surveys on Android Authority had shown more support for the Pixel 6 Pro over the S21 Ultra. Could we have an upset on our hands?

Umm, no.

In our grand final, the S21 Ultra once again continued its domination of the competition, taking the final with 55.11% of the vote to the Pixel 6 Pro’s 44.89%. The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is, without a doubt, the Readers’ Choice pick for Android Authority‘s best phone of 2021.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra continued its domination of the competition.

Interestingly, if you take a look at the Pixel 6 Pro vs the S21 Ultra throughout the competition (i.e. discarding all the other phones in each round), this vote split was basically the same the entire time. Here’s how the vote split between only these two phones worked out in each round of the competition as well as overall. Now that, my friends, is what you call consistent. Again, congrats to Samsung on the win and to all of you lucky enough to own an S21 Ultra!

DeviceRound 1Round 2Round 3 (final)Total (combined)
Device
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Round 1
43.41%
Round 2
42.56%
Round 3 (final)
44.89%
Total (combined)
43.81%
Device
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Round 1
56.59%
Round 2
57.44%
Round 3 (final)
55.11%
Total (combined)
56.19%

And that’s a wrap on our Readers’ Choice award for 2021! I wanted to say a special thank you to each and every one of you who voted on the site and social and to those that let us know their favorite phone in the comments. We still have plenty of great end-of-year content coming up in the week ahead. Enjoy the holidays, stay safe, be good to one another, and we’ll see you all again soon.