Last year, we had a plethora of flagship smartphones from multiple manufacturers. However, most of these phones come with 7nm chips. This year, there is a major leap to the 5nm process and the performance is better. We have seen chips like Snapdragon 888, Exynos 2100, and Exynos 1080 all of which use Samsung’s 5nm process. Interestingly, there are smartphones with these new chips already even though we are just in the second month of the year. This article looks at the top 10 flagships that hit the market in January 2021. If you are looking to buy a 2021 flagship smartphone, you may need this list.
Xiaomi Mi 11
The Xiaomi Mi 11 is the first flagship smartphone to come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC. This device comes with a 6.81-inch (3200×1440 pixels) Quad HD+ AMOLED display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. In the camera department, it has a 108MP main camera as well as a 13MP 123° ultra-wide angle lens. This phone also uses a 5MP telemacro camera to complete the triple camera setup. In terms of videos, it supports up to 8K at 30fps videos. On the front, there is a 20MP sensor. On the software end, the Xiaomi Mi 11 runs on MIUI 12 on top of Android 11.
Supporting the SD888 SoC (Samsung’s 5nm chip) is 8GB / 12GB of LPPDDR5 RAM and 128GB / 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage storage. Under the hood, we also have a 4600 mAh battery that supports 55W wired fast charging, 50W wireless fast charging, and 10w wireless reverse charging. Other features include Dual SIM (nano + nano), an on-screen fingerprint sensor with heart rate monitoring, 5G SA/NSA, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, etc.
- Launch Date: December 28th, 2020
- Starting Price: 3999 yuan (~$612)
The iQOO 7 is only the second smartphone to launch with the Snapdragon 888 SoC. The main selling point of this device is its 120W ultra-fast flash charging. This is one of the few flagship smartphones in the industry to use such high-power charging capacity. This charging power completely fills its 4,000 mAh battery in less than 15 minutes. This device comes with a 6.62-inch (2400×1080 pixels) Full HD+ AMOLED display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. It also uses Android 11 but on Vivo’s new OriginOS.
Supporting the processor is 8GB / 12GB LPDDR5 RAM and 128GB / 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. On the front, it has a 16MP (f/2.0) selfie shooter while the rear has a triple camera setup. Specifically, it uses a 48MP main camera as well as a 13MP 120° ultra-wide sensor and a 13MP portrait camera. Other features include Dual SIM (nano + nano), an on-screen fingerprint sensor, 5G SA/NSA, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, etc.
The iQOO 7 uses marine aluminum as the middle frame material, which has better corrosion resistance and toughness. It also comes with a glass back cover using the new AG technology and has a thickness of 0.6mm.
On the front, the iQOO 7 uses a 120Hz full-sensing screen, with a 1000Hz instant touch sampling rate and a 300Hz touch reporting rate. It also supports four refresh rate application scenarios. The maximum brightness can reach 1300 nits and it supports 4096 levels of brightness adjustment. Furthermore, this phone comes with SGS low blue light and HDR10+ high dynamic range certifications.
Another selling point of this handset is its full-sensing control system. The full-sensing control system includes an under-screen dual-control pressure sensing, dual-line motor, as well as a dual speaker. Among them, the dual-control pressure sensitivity under the screen can map the two operating areas of the screen to any position in the game according to the user’s preferences. In addition, the dual-line motor supports two vibration units to build a sense of orientation and layering of vibration; the loudness of dual speakers is as high as 71.5dB.
- Launch Date: January 11th, 2021
- Starting Price: 3,798 yuan ($588)
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is one of the top flagship smartphones that we had in January 2021. The major selling point of this phone is probably its display. The Galaxy S21 Ultra does not use the regular AMOLED display. It uses a special display that significantly reduces power consumption. The display has UL certification for its excellent “Sunlight Visibility”.
The new OLED display uses a new type of organic material that achieves a brightness of 1500 nits or higher. This further enhances outdoor visibility.
This new display completely eliminates the darkening effect of smartphone displays when outdoors. It is completely free from issues of outdoor visibility. Samsung explains that this is possible because the display depicts colors through a proprietary light-emitting process that embraces a wide color gamut. The result of this is a high degree of chroma as well as a high-intensity colour. With this feature, OLED displays can now output clear image quality even in bright light environments.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra uses both Snapdragon 888 SoC and Exynos 2100 depending on the market. However, both chips are 5nm processors. This device comes with a 6.8-inch (3200×1440 pixels) Quad HD+ Infinity-O-Edge Dynamic AMOLED Display that supports a 120Hz refresh rate. In the camera department, it uses a 108MP sensor + 12MP 120° Ultra Wide sensor + 10MP Telephoto lens + 10MP Periscope lens. On the front, there is a 40MP shooter.
This phone comes with 12GB / 16GB of RAM and 128GB/256GB/512GB of internal storage. Under the hood, we also have a 5000 mAh battery that supports 25W wired fast charging, 15W wireless fast charging, and 4.5w wireless reverse charging. Other features include IP68 waterproof/dustproof, Dual SIM (nano + nano), an on-screen fingerprint sensor with heart rate monitoring, 5G SA/NSA, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, etc.
- Launch Date: January 14th, 2021
- Starting Price: $1,199.99
Vivo X60 Pro+
This smartphone comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, LPDDR5 memory with a theoretical speed of 6400Mbps, and UFS 3.1 storage with a random write speed that is increased by 14%. On the front, the phone hosts a 6.5-inch 3D AMOLED flexible screen that supports 1300nit brightness, HDR10+, 120Hz refresh rate, and a 240Hz touch response rate. The AMOLED hole-punch curved screen has an aperture of 3.96mm, a resolution of 2376×1080, a screen-to-body ratio of 92.7%. The screen contrast is as high as 6000000:1.
The handset is powered by a 4200 mAh battery, which supports a 55W fast charge. This is a lot better than the previous 33W. The rear camera of the phone includes two main sensors. One of them has a 50MP resolution, while the second main lens is a 48MP ultra-wide-angle micro-cloud platform sensor. Also on the rear is a 32-megapixel 2X portrait sensor and an 8-megapixel 5X periscope lens. On the front, we have a 32MP sensor for selfies.
The main camera is the Samsung GN1 CMOS, and the second camera is the Sony IMX598 sensor with an area of 1/1.3 inch and a unit pixel area of 1.2μm. The Vivo X60 Pro+ upgrades the image stabilization function, bringing a four-axis stabilization effect. At the same time, the X60 series also uses the VIS five-axis video stabilization technology. This smartphone comes with 8GB / 12GB of RAM and 128GB / 256GB of internal storage. The likes of Vivo X60 and Vivo X60 Pro are other flagship smartphones but they use the 5nm Exynos 1080 SoC. If this was a “top 10” list, they would have made the cut.
- Launch Date: January 21st, 2021
- Starting Price: 4998 yuan ($773)
iPhone 12 Pro Max
This is the only Apple phone on this list of flagship smartphones for January 2021. It is also the only device that does not use the Snapdragon 888 SoC. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is Apple’s latest flagship iPhone and it comes with an A14 Bionic 5nm chip. This chip uses TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing process. This device comes with a 6.7-inch (2778×1284 pixels) OLED 458ppi Super Retina XDR display that supports a 60Hz refresh rate. In the camera department, it uses a triple rear camera setup. Specifically, it has a 12MP wide-angle + 12MP 120° Ultra-Wide + 12MP Telephoto camera. On the front, there is a 12MP TrueDepth sensor. On the software end, the iPhone 12 Pro Max runs on iOS 14.
In terms of memory, the iPhone 12 Pro Max comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB /256GB / 512GB of internal storage. Under the hood, we also have a 3687 mAh battery that supports 20W wired fast charging, and 15W wireless fast charging. Other features include Dual SIM (nano + eSIM), Face ID, 5G (sub‑6 GHz), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, etc.
- Launch Date: October 12th, 2020
- Starting Price: $1,099
From our list of flagship smartphones for January 2021, it appears that users need between $650 and $1200 to own a flagship smartphone. Which of these devices are worth their price tag? Let us know your thought in the comment section below.