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The best Samsung Galaxy S21 alternatives: 6 phones to consider before you buy

There are plenty of great options!
By
July 12, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus purple 2
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Samsung launched its Galaxy S21 series in the earliest days of 2021, and they were some of the best flagships around for a while. You’ll find the powerful Snapdragon 888 chipset on all three phones, along with Samsung’s brilliant displays. Even though the Galaxy S21 series is among Samsung’s best, it isn’t a match for everyone. Here are some of the best Galaxy S21 alternatives to try instead.

More: Our favorite phones of 2021

The best Samsung Galaxy S21 alternatives

1. Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE against plant rear centered right
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Those looking for the closest Samsung Galaxy S21 alternative can’t find anything better than the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. It’s newer, so you get a bit more value in terms of future upgrades. Additionally, Samsung has kept the best features from the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, while leaving behind what matters less. The result is a device offering most of the performance and features, but at a reduced price.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE keeps the powerful Snapdragon 888 processor and has up to 8GB of RAM. Other specs include as much as 256GB of storage, a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X with a 120Hz refresh rate, a 4,500mAh battery, and a capable triple-camera setup.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review

Are there any downsides? Of course! Otherwise, the phone wouldn’t be any cheaper. The most significant changes are that the camera has been downgraded, and the build quality isn’t nearly as premium.

2. Samsung Galaxy S22 series

Samsung Galaxy S22 Family in white spread on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series was great, but Samsung has released its latest and greatest flagship series, and these are obviously some of the best Samsung Galaxy S21 alternatives. The Samsung Galaxy S22 series grabs a winning formula and improves upon it.

All devices come with impressive performance, featuring a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200 processor, as well as 8-12GB of RAM.

More: Samsung Galaxy S22 review | Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review | Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the smallest of the bunch, featuring a 6.1-inch Full HD+ screen with a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel and a 120Hz refresh rate. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus comes with the same technology, but the screen size is increased to 6.6 inches.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra sports a larger 6.8-inch display, which you can take more advantage of considering the phone comes with an S Pen. This essentially makes it a Galaxy Note replacement. Of course, this is also the most capable phone of the bunch, featuring the most cameras, largest battery, and overall better specs.

3. Xiaomi 12 series

Xiaomi 12 series on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Other phones in this list of the best Samsung Galaxy S21 alternatives can get quite pricey. The Xiaomi 12 series is for those who want a premium experience without an exorbitant price tag. Prices top off at $999 for the Xiaomi 12 Pro, and you can get a Xiaomi 12X for as low as $649 MSRP.

The pricing isn’t the only great thing about the Xiaomi 12 series. You’ll also enjoy pretty good performance. The Xiaomi 12X has a Snapdragon 870, while the Xiaomi 12 and 12 Pro come with a powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. All versions have 8-12GB of RAM, and as much as 256GB of storage.

Both the Xiaomi 12X and 12 have a triple camera setup (50MP, 13MP, and 5MP), as well as 4,500mAh batteries. The Pro version gets three 50MP shooters and a slightly larger 4,600mAh battery. The top-tier version also gets an improved 6.73 QHD+ screen, as opposed to the smaller 6.28-inch Full HD+ display on the smaller phones.

4. Apple iPhone 13 series

iPhone 13 Pro review showing back in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Much like Samsung, Apple has an iPhone 13 device for everyone. You’re also getting comparable OLED screens, 5G, wireless charging, and water resistance on top of the super-fast A15 Bionic chipset.

Our verdict: Apple iPhone 13 review | Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review

The iPhone 13 Mini offers a much smaller battery, no telephoto lens, and 128GB storage in the base model. In other words, it seems like you’re getting more bang for your buck with the S21. Those wanting plenty more bells and whistles from an iPhone should look at the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max, packing features like a triple camera setup (or quad if you include the 3D depth camera), bigger batteries, and up to 1TB of onboard storage.

It’s also worth noting that only the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max offer 120Hz refresh rates, and there’s still no fingerprint reader to be had. But it hasn’t stopped many people from buying these phones due to the slick nature of iOS and access to Apple’s ecosystem.

5. Google Pixel 6 series

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro lying on autumn leaves
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

After a year in the midrange realm, Google is back to flagships for the Pixel 6 series. Not only do they pack the biggest batteries and displays of any Pixel series, but Google has finally upgraded the camera specs in a big way. Perhaps most importantly, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro pack the first Google Tensor chip with a promise of five years of security patches.

Our verdict: Google Pixel 6 review | Google Pixel 6 Pro review

If you go for the vanilla Pixel 6, you’ll be treated to a 6.4-inch Full HD+ display with a central 8MP punch hole camera. The premium Pixel 6 Pro kicks that to 6.7-inches with a WQHD resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. As for the rear cameras, both models pack 50MP primary lenses with 12MP ultrawide options. The Pixel 6 Pro adds a 48MP telephoto lens to the mix for added flexibility.

Unlike previous Pixels, you can choose how much storage you need. The Pixel 6 comes with either 128 or 256GB, and the Pixel 6 Pro adds a 512GB option to the mix. You’ll get 8GB of RAM on the vanilla model and 12GB on the Pro.

6. OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro rear panel on painting
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

While initially launched only in China, the OnePlus 10 Pro is now widely available and ready for most of your pockets. This is a very special phone, as it was the first to come from the OnePlus/Oppo merger, a transition you can clearly notice in the device.

More: OnePlus 10 Pro review

The phone’s design has changed, and we believe its bold look is an improvement. The camera bump is very pronounced and houses a trio of capable cameras, enhanced by Hasselblad’s color and enhancements.

You’ll also enjoy a tremendous high-end experience thanks to its 6.7-inch QHD+ screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, a large 5,000mAh battery, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, and up to 12GB of RAM.


That’s it for our rundown of the best Galaxy S21 alternatives! Are you looking for something different? Maybe consider looking at our list of the best high-end Android phones. Or, if you feel like saving money, we also have a list of our favorite budget phones.