Foldable smartphones got better, lowlight photography improved in a year where chip shortages and COVID-induced supply disruptions dominated the smartphone industry headlines rather than cutting edge innovation. In many respects, Apple’s iPhone 13 quartet summarised the year that was – a year of incremental upgrades where design enhancements also impacted cheaper phones. Our top five for this year (arranged by price) doesn’t have too many surprises: 

Apple iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max: are both propelled by the  A15 Bionic chip that boast of a new 6-core CPU with two new high-performance cores and four new high-efficiency cores. The Notch that houses the selfie cam is narrower, giving you extra screen real estate. But the feature we’re most excited about is the new pro-motion display with an adaptive frame rate that goes all the way up to 120Hz adding extra fluidity to the iOS experience. The adaptive frame rate also optimises battery life, both the 13 and 13 Pro promise an improved battery life over its predecessors. These devices also become the first iPhones with a 1TB internal storage variant. (Rs 1,19,900 onwards)


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: probably the Android flagship of the year. It’s the stellar display with a variable refresh rate (up to 120Hz) that will grab your attention first. Colours and details are incredible on the 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x display (1440 x 3200 pixels / 20:9 aspect ratio / 515 PPI).  The rear cam is one of the device’s headline features. There’s a 108MP primary lens but it’s the dual telephoto lenses –with 3X and 10X optical zoom that combine to create a whole new set of possibilities. The S21 Ultra is  powered by Samsung’s Exynos 2100 processor and comes in a choice of hardware  variants (12GB / 256GB and 16GB/512GB) while the 5000 mAh battery keeps it chugging along. (Rs 1,05,999 onwards)

S21 ultra samsung

Vivo X70 Pro+: makes a big impression with its lowlight video capture capabilities and sharp zoom images in dim lighting conditions. Vivo co-engineered  the imaging system for its quad rear cam with Zeiss. All four cameras – 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with 2X optical zoom, and another 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 5X optical zoom, come with auto focus and OIS (Optical image stabilisation). All rear lenses have certified compliance to Zeiss’ T* coating that reduces stray lights and ghosting effects when you’re shooting in the night. (Rs 69,990)


OnePlus 9 Pro: OnePlus worked closely with the iconic Swedish brand Hasselblad to improve the colour science of its newest flagship devices. The 9 Pro is the finest and most expensive OnePlus device ever. The rear cam integrates a 48MP Sony IMX789 primary sensor (with OIS and EIS support) that features an f/1.8 lens, a 50MP Sony IMX766 lens with an ultra-wide angle lens, a 2MP monochrome sensor and an 8MP telephoto lens. The other differentiator is the 6.7-inch QHD+ (1440 x 3216 pixels) Fluid 2.0 AMOLED display. Speed is a given with OnePlus, this one’s powered by the best of breed Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor (Rs 64,999) 

OnePlus 9 pro

Realme GT 5G: is powered by the best of breed Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G processor. It comes in a bunch of funky colours including a Racing Yellow finished in a unique dual tone vegan leather finish. It’s designed to feel good in your hand, weighing under 190gm. The rear cam includes a 64MP primary lens and a new multi-frame algorithm that delivers better ‘noise’ control especially in low light.  Other highlights include a 120Hz Super AMOLED display and a massive 4500 mAh battery backed by a 65W fast charger with Realme’s SuperDart technology (Rs 37,999) 

realme GT 5G- Yellow 7