The best 2020 phones still worth buying in 2021


Who says you absolutely have to buy the latest and greatest smartphone? Certainly not us. Sure, it’s always fun to have the latest and greatest tech, but you can save plenty of cash by going for last year’s devices as well.

Now that we’re halfway through the year, we thought it would be a good time to look back and choose the best 2020 phones that are still highly recommended in 2021.

Best 2020 phones worth buying in 2021:


1. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 series earlier this year, and it seems like a solid upgrade on paper over the S20 FE at first glance. For $100 extra, you get a better processor, more RAM, and 8K recording capabilities. But the S20 FE is actually better in some ways, and it’s definitely one of the best 2020 phones still worth getting today.

Aside from being cheaper at $600 right now (or $700 at launch), the S20 FE also brings a proper telephoto camera, microSD storage (missing on the S21), an in-box charger (missing on the newer phone), and a bigger battery. Samsung has also since ditched the underperforming Exynos 990 chipset in the 4G version in favor of the Snapdragon 865. 

This phone will also receive three years of Android version updates and four years of security patches, making it well worth getting if you want to hold on to the device for a long time. 


Samsung Galaxy S20 FE specs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 8MP
  • Front cameras: 32MP
  • Battery: 4,500mAh
  • Software: Android 11

2. LG V60

LG V60 rear cover

Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

LG is no longer in the smartphone game, as it chose to exit the market earlier this year. It’s truly the end of an era, but you can still find some great LG phones out there. And last year’s V60 might be the best deal of the bunch.

The 2020 flagship is equipped with some great core specs, including a Snapdragon 865 chipset, 8GB of RAM, 128GB to 256GB of expandable storage, a 6.8-inch OLED panel, and a 5,000mAh battery that lasts for a while. It also comes with a few features you might not expect, such as IP68 water/dust resistance, a 3.5mm headphone jack, wireless charging, and quad DAC audio hardware.

More reading: The 5 best LG phones you can buy right now

LG’s phone isn’t perfect though, as it lacks a high refresh rate panel, charging is slow compared to rival devices, and it’s awkwardly large. Camera quality is also still a step behind leading brands, although LG has narrowed the gap. Nevertheless, the device can be had for well under $500 these days, making it a steal.


LG V60 specs:

  • Display: 6.8-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 64 and 13MP
  • Front cameras: 10MP
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

3. Sony Xperia 5 II

Sony Xperia 5 II face

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Sony launched the Xperia 1 III and 5 III a few months ago, and they both look like pretty handy flagship phones for the Japanese manufacturer. But the Xperia 5 II is still a great flagship device, and it’s gotten cheaper as well.

Sony’s late 2020 release packs a pretty impressive spec sheet overall, including a Snapdragon 865 SoC, a 6.1-inch 120Hz OLED screen, a flexible triple rear camera setup (three 12MP cameras), and a 4,000mAh battery that actually lasts for a while.

Toss in a 3.5mm port, microSD support, and IP65/68 water and dust resistance and you’ve got a good package in general. It does lack a few features like wireless charging and faster wired charging, but it’s easier to excuse these omissions at the current ~$710 price tag on Amazon.


Sony Xperia 5 II specs:

  • Display: 6.1-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 12, 12, and 12MP
  • Front cameras: 8MP
  • Battery: 4,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

4. OnePlus 8 Pro

OnePlus 8 Pro camera macro 1

The OnePlus 8 Pro represented a new height for OnePlus, as it was the first proper premium flagship released by the manufacturer. It wasn’t cheap at a launch price of $899, but it still packed a host of premium extras. This included 30W wireless charging, an IP68 rating, and a QHD+ 120Hz OLED screen.

More OnePlus coverage: How the price of OnePlus phones changed over the years

Other features worth talking about include a 4,510mAh battery and a generally well-rounded quad-camera system (including a 48MP IMX689 main sensor and a 48MP IMX586 ultra-wide camera). We were really happy with image quality here and it’s perhaps the first OnePlus device that genuinely took it to leading brands like Samsung, Apple, and Google.

The OnePlus 8 Pro isn’t perfect though, as the 5MP color filter camera was definitely a gimmick. But the phone is certainly worth considering at its current $699 price for the 12GB/256GB variant. It’s also cheaper than the OnePlus 9 in some markets as a result, losing out on faster charging and the Snapdragon 888 SoC but gaining water resistance, a QHD+ screen, and a zoom-focused camera.


OnePlus 8 Pro specs:

  • Display: 6.78-inch, QHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 8/12GB
  • Storage: 128/256GB
  • Cameras: 48, 48, 8, and 5MP
  • Front cameras: 16MP
  • Battery: 4,510mAh
  • Software: Android 11

5. Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4a screen in hand 3

David Imel / Android Authority

The Pixel 4a hasn’t seen a successor yet, but Google confirmed a Pixel 5a was in the works a few months ago. Unfortunately, the upcoming phone could potentially be limited to Japan and the US. It’s also worth considering if you simply want a cheap Pixel in general, as it’s one of the best cheap phones of 2020.

Google’s mid-ranger doesn’t offer a ton of specs for the price, but you are getting a Snapdragon 730 chipset, 128GB of storage, a 12MP single rear camera with great image quality, and three years of Android version updates. We’re also happy to see a clean take on Android here, Google’s Pixel-specific inclusions (e.g. Google Camera app, call screening), and a rear fingerprint scanner. 

There are a couple of downsides though, namely the 3,080mAh battery and the lack of a multi-camera setup on the back. In the case of the former, we thought endurance was good enough, but we do have our reservations about battery life down the line. Still, it’s a pretty good deal for most people at $349.


Google Pixel 4a specs:

  • Display: 5.81-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 730
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 12MP
  • Front cameras: 8MP
  • Battery: 3,080mAh
  • Software: Android 11

Asus Zenfone 7

Asus Zenfone 7 Pro laying on a table at an angle

Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority

Asus launched two drastically different Zenfones in 2021, namely the Zenfone 8 and the Zenfone 8 Flip. The former is a compact flagship with a traditional form factor while the latter retains the flipping camera setup seen on previous Zenfone models. But we think last year’s Zenfone 7 is a better buy than the Zenfone 8 Flip.

Related: Zenfone 8 Q&A — Asus talks compact challenges, possibility of future small phones

You only miss out on a new chipset and a slightly more durable camera motor by opting for the old phone over the new phone. Otherwise, the two devices share a ton of features, including a 5,000mAh battery with 30W charging, a full-display 90Hz OLED screen, and a flipping camera system containing the same flexible triple sensor setup (64MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 8MP 3X telephoto).

The best part is that the Zenfone 7 retails for around $650 these days, compared to the Zenfone 8 Flip’s €800 (~$973) price tag. So you’re basically paying ~$300 extra for the chipset. 


Asus Zenfone 7 specs:

  • Display: 6.67-inch, FHD+
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 865
  • RAM: 6/8GB
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Cameras: 64, 12, and 8MP
  • Front cameras: Same as rear cameras
  • Battery: 5,000mAh
  • Software: Android 11

That’s it for our guide to the best 2020 phones still worth buying in 2021. Are there any other devices you’d recommend? Let us know below!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*