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December 20, 2021
👋 Good morning! Unbelievably, I won a Pixel 5a from the team's work Christmas event on Zoom on Friday. Shout out to everyone involved, it was great fun despite being YAZC: yet-another-Zoom-call
Android Authority's pick for best phone of 2021
Sony Xperia 1 III side by side with cherry red Google Pixel 6
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The annual winner of smartphone of the year is one of the big moments of the year, a chance to look back and decide. It is a crowning moment of course, but it’s also a handy guide for people looking to buy a new phone. 

  • That burden sharpens the mind. We only want to give you the best we can.

In 2021, the Android Authority editorial team, and especially the reviewers, made a list and checked it twice to decide the pick for best phone of 2021: Editor’s Choice.

The criteria is tweaked each year to sort the wheat from the chaff. Here’s how it went in 2021:

  • “First, we create a shortlist based on the most important and well-rated phones we’ve tested throughout the year. Then we ensure our list has devices from all major brands and price points. We include devices sold in the US only as well as globally. Finally, we submit the list to a vote. Our most experienced reviewers assign points based on their picks and the phone with the most points overall wins. Simple.”

The top five in reverse order:

Fifth place (tied): iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max

  • Once again, Apple released another solid iPhone. Nothing extraordinary over the iPhone 12, but another good iteration.
  • (I mean, you might be surprised by an Android site here. But we’re not loyalists in a cursed way. Both deserve a top 5 finish!)

Third+fourth place (tied): Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

  • “Reinforcing just how great both Samsung’s and Google’s product lines were this year, we had a tie for third place: the Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy Z Fold 3. Google’s more expensive phone and Samsung’s fancier foldable both scored highly with our team. Both devices add a telephoto lens that the base model Pixel 6 and Samsung’s other 2021 foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip 3, miss out on.”
  • “They also give us a glimpse of where Google and Samsung are placing their future bets.”

Second place: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

  • It launched with everything, a peak smartphone with the best of Samsung throughout. 
  • But at $1,200, it wasn’t exactly a value proposition.

Annnnnd the winner — Android Authority’s Editor’s Choice phone of the year: Google Pixel 6

  • “When the dust settled on voting this year it wasn’t even close. We had a very clear winner on our hands. The Pixel 6 offers a feature set almost as full as its more expensive stablemate but with a price tag that cannot be ignored.”
  • “At just $599, we called the Pixel 6 one of the easiest-to-recommend phones of the year in our review. Google is finally taking making smartphones seriously and the Pixel 6 is a breath of fresh air. It packs much of the flagship experience of the Pixel 6 Pro but shaves off just the right parts to get the price down. We think the Pixel 6 is the best phone for most people in 2021.”

Plus, now it’s your chance to cast a vote:

  • As in previous years, we want you to be involved, too!
  • You can vote on a raft of smartphones released this year in the Reader’s Choice awards.
  • There’ll be a few rounds: phones that get enough votes will make it through to further rounds before a final winner is voted on, so check back in.

👉 Galaxy S22 news: One leak says all Galaxy S22 phones will have glass backs, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra could get more detailed 108MP shots with this new mode for macro shots (Android Authority).

🔨 The Amazon Appstore is finally working on Android 12 (Android Authority).

📚 Kindle features wishlist: 6 things we want Amazon to add to its e-readers, and yup, yes please! (Android Authority).

👼 “Giving a tablet to my toddler was both genius and a disaster” (Android Authority).

🎫 Spider-Man: No Way Home has grabbed $600 million worldwide, and the second biggest movie opening of all time in the US (Bloomberg).

🚐 FedEx receives its first electric BrightDrop delivery vans: coming to LA in 2022 (Ars Technica).

🎮 Heh: Some Halo Infinite players have to use Xbox dev kits at the first major tournament: not even Microsoft has enough Xbox consoles (The Verge).

🌜 NASA’s Juno spacecraft has captured sounds from Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and NASA has put up a 50-second clip of spectrum shifted sound so we can hear it (NASA).

🌑 This is cool: some lunar samples have never been opened to give the next generation of scientists, tools, and technology, new insights. Now, finally, a vacuum-sealed container from the 1972 moon landing will finally be opened (Gizmodo).

🪁 A giant kite will pull a ship across the ocean next month (Gizmodo).

🌄 Tomorrow is the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere. What is it exactly? (Wired).

🕵️‍♀️ “What historical mystery is unlikely to ever be solved?” (r/askreddit).

Monday Meme

A nice simple meme for this quieter time:

good meme

Cheers, Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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