Buying Guide

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024

We’ve almost seen the best device of 2023. Apple has already announced its iPhone 15-series, and Google’s Pixel 8-series was revealed a few hours ago. I know a few other OEMs, especially those from China, like Vivo and Xiaomi, may still launch their series of flagships before the year runs out. But we may have seen the best for 2023 already.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Best of 2021 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023 2024

Now, seeing all the fire-breathing flagship smartphones that have been announced so far in 2023, could there be any model from 2021 that is still worth considering, and is there any valid reason to buy a 2021 flagship smartphone in 2023 or 2024? Well, these are the questions this article aims to answer.

What We Did: We sat down, itemized all flagship devices from 2023, and compared them to all the flagship models that made waves back in 2021.

What We Got: We came up with 10 smartphones that you can still buy in 2023 and even 2024. Unsurprisingly, all smartphones on the list are powered by the Snapdragon 888 5G CPU from Qualcomm, which was almost the best CPU in 2021.

But why would anyone want a 2021 flagship smartphone over the 2023 / 2024 models: Here are two quick reasons;

  • Cost and budgets: Most 2023 flagship smartphones are in the ‘thousand dollar’ price range. The 2021 models mentioned on the list below, though started around a similar price range, but are now cheaply sold for under $700.
  • Value for Money: 2021 flagships, although not the latest, offer excellent value for money. They come with powerful processors, high-quality displays, and capable cameras that meet the needs of the average user. These features remain relevant for everyday tasks and usage, and some of these devices will still offer you the latest OS, even in the future. So why buy a newer model that may be twice or twice the price?

Best of 2021 Flagship Smartphones Worth Buying in 2023/2024

So which are the best 2021 flagship smartphones that are worth buying in 2023 or even 2024? Here are our Ten (10) hand-picked models.

1. Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

The iPhone 13 Pro Max was Apple’s powerhouse and most premium device back in 2021. The model came with Apple’s formidable A15 Bionic chip for blazing-fast performance. It has a Super Retina XDR screen with ProMotion display tech that delivers stunning visuals.

One standout feature of the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the camera system, which offers ProRAW and ProRes capabilities, making it a photographer’s dream. Apple officially said the main camera on the iPhone 13 Pro Max can capture up to 2.2x more light for both photos and videos over the iPhone 12 Pro Max.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max Full specs

So if you are a photographer, or you want to add more crisps to your YouTube videos, you can’t be wrong with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The device has premium build quality and still has access to the iOS ecosystem.

Current Pricing of Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max:

As for pricing, while the latest iPhone 15 Pro Max begins from $1200 for the base model, the older 13 Pro Max can be gotten under $700 on Amazon or eBay making it a good option for the budget-minded folks.

Key Features of Apple iPhone 13 Pro:

  • Apple’s own A15 Bionic chip.
  • 6.7-inches Super Retina XDR display with ProMotion.
  • Enhanced camera system with three 12 megapixels sensors
  • Can record video up to 4K res, @24/30/60fps
  • iOS ecosystem.
  • Impressive battery life with 4352mAh battery

2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The next flagship smartphone of 2021 to consider in 2023, is the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It is impossible to talk about the trendy smartphones of 2021 without mentioning the S21 Ultra. This smartphone boasts a massive 6.8-inches screen with a 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, perfect for media consumption.

It also offers the best camera performance of its time, stacking a versatile 108MP sensor, along with 2x dedicated 10-megapixel periscope and telephoto camera sensors. The model also has S Pen support for enhancing productivity and creativity. It is powered by either Samsung’s Exynos 2100 or the flagship Snapdragon 888 processors.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G Exynos 3

Current Pricing of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

As for pricing, the S23 Ultra is currently retailing for a thousand dollars. Whereas $300 to $400 can give you an S21 Ultra on eBay and even Amazon.com

Key Features of Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

  • 6.8″ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X display.
  • Versatile camera setup with 108MP main, 10MP Periscope, 10MP Telephoto and 12MP Ultrawide
  • Powerful Exynos 2100 or Snapdragon 888 processors
  • Under display fingerprint scanner
  • Reliable 5000mAh battery with fast charging
  • Upgradable Android 11 OS up to Android 14 or more

3. Google Pixel 6 Pro

Looking to enjoy the best of Android? Look nowhere other than Google Pixels, and as far as 2021 flagships were concerned, the Pixel 6 Pro was the best from Google. It runs on Google’s clean Android 12 OS and will offer quick updates up to Android 15.

Also, the camera system on the Pixel 6 Pro is impressive, with improvements in computational photography. The numbers include a 50MP main, a 48MP telephoto, and a 12MP Ultrawide. The 120Hz OLED display is also visually stunning, and it’s powered by Google’s custom Tensor chipset.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Google Pixel 6 Pro with Tenso Chip

Current Pricing of Google Pixel 6 Pro:

You’ll need to pay a thousand Dollars for the Pixel 8 Pro, while a 6 Pro can become your own under $400 on Amazon or eBay.

Key Features of Google Pixel 6 Pro:

  • Clean Android experience, always.
  • Impressive camera system pioneered by a 50-megapixel main sensor
  • 6.7-inches LTPO AMOLED scren with 120Hz refresh.
  • Custom Google Tensor chipset.
  • Under display fingerprint scanner
  • 5003mA battery with fast charger

4. Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

Back in 2021, the Mi 11 Ultra was the best from Xiaomi, and one of the most-talked-about Android flagship smartphones for two reasons; ultra hardware specifications and a secondary rear display. The device stands out with its stunning AMOLED display boasting a 120Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of 1700 nits.

The camera setup, led by a massive 1/1.12″ 50MP main sensor, is exceptional, touching a video recording capability of 8K@24fps. The device also offers fast charging 5000mAh battery and has one of the best audio outputs of its time.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra 2 1

Current pricing of Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra

The Mi 11 Ultra is still a little more expensive than most smartphones on this list. But $500 can still get you a model with 12GB RAM and 256GB ROM from platforms like Amazon or eBay. Note that the latest Xiaomi 13 Ultra is sold for around $900.

Key Features Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra:

  • 6.81″ 120Hz AMOLED display.
  • Impressive camera system with 50MP main and a dual 48MP UW and periscope lens.
  • Snapdragon 888 CPU
  • Upgradable Android 11 OS
  • 5000mAh battery with 67W Fast charging.
  • Under-display optical fingerprint scanner.

5. Sony Xperia 1 III

The Sony Xperia 1 (mark) III is yet another 2021 flagship Android device that can’t be easily forgotten. It has the best display resolution on the list, featuring a 4K OLED screen with a max of 1644 x 3840 pixels. And with the compact 6.5-inches screen, the Xperia 1 III can output pixels per inch of above 640.

The triple camera setup was among the best during its time. The camera system is also backed by Zeiss optics, offering top-notch photography capabilities. The phone also excels in audio quality with a front-facing stereo that supports dynamic vibration feedback.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Sony Xperia 1 III

Current pricing of Sony Xperia 1 III

The replacement for the Xperia 1 Mark III in 2023, is the Xperia 1 Mark V. The starting price for the 1 V is a thousand and 60 Dollars. The Sony Xperia 1 III on the other hand can still be yours for under $600

Key Features of Sony Xperia 1 III:

  • 6.5-inch 4K OLED display.
  • Snapdragon 888 powered CPU
  • Triple 12-megapixel camera sensors with Zeiss camera optics.
  • Can record 4K videos @24, 25, 30, 60, and 120 frames per second.
  • Exceptional audio quality with Dynamic Vibrators
  • Premium build quality with a sided fingerprint scanner
  • 4500mAh battery with 30W charger

6. OPPO Find X3 Pro

The OPPO Find X3 Pro features a vibrant 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED display and a versatile camera system that includes a 50MP main shooter, another 50MP Ultrawide, a 13MP Telephoto, and a fourth 3MP microscopic lens.

Like all the other models mentioned above, the Find X3 Pro is powered by the Snapdragon 888 processor. It comes with stereo speakers, has an under-display fingerprint scanner, and is powered by a 4500mAh battery with 65W fast charger.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 OPPO Find X3 Pro full specs

Current Pricing of OPPO Find X3 Pro:

In 2023, the Find X3 Pro got replaced by the Find X6 Pro following the X5 Pro of 2022. As for pricing, while the newer X6 Pro is on sale from $900, you can own the older Find X3 Pro for as low as $500

Key Features of OPPO Find X3 Pro:

  • 6.7-inch 120Hz AMOLED display.
  • Versatile camera system with dual 50MP, a 13MP telephoto and a 3MP microscope sensor
  • Snapdragon 888 processor.
  • 4500mAh battery 65W SuperVOOC 2.0 charging.
  • Under-display fingerprint scanner

7. OnePlus 9 Pro

The OnePlus 9 Pro features a fluid 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display and offers fast charging, ensuring excellent battery life.

Its camera system, developed in partnership with Hasselblad, competes strongly with other flagships of its time. The OxygenOS software experience is smooth and responsive.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 OnePlus 9 Pro full specifications and price

Current Pricing of OnePlus 9 Pro

The 2023 flagship phone from OnePlus is the OnePlus 11. This device currently retails under $800. The 9 Pro on the other hand is available for under $400, and you can get it on most online platforms including Amazon, eBay, and even Aliexpress.

Key Features of OnePlus 9 Pro:

  • 6.7-inches 120Hz Fluid AMOLED display.
  • Snapdragon 888 CPU
  • Hasselblad-tuned camera system pioneered by a 48-megapixels
  • Android 11 based upgradeable OxygenOS
  • 4500mAh battery with 65W Fast charging.
  • Under-display fingerprint scanner

8. Vivo X70 Pro Plus

The Vivo X70 Pro Plus is another impressive old flagship smartphone on the list. The model comes in a 6.78-inch AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh and up to 1500 nits of peak brightness, while Snapdragon 888+ runs in the helm.

The X70 Pro Plus also offers incredible camera prowess that is stacked in a quad matrix camera system with Zeiss backup. It also comes with a stereo speaker system, and a 4500mAh battery with 55W and 50W wired and wireless charger, while offering upgradable Android 11 out of the box.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Vivo X70 Pro Plus complete specifications

Current price of Vivo X70 Pro Plus

Vivo announced the X90 Pro Plus in 2023, replacing the X80 and X70 series. This X90 Pro Plus is currently priced at around $900. The X70 Pro+ on the other hand can be yours under $600.

Key Features Vivo X70 Pro Plus:

  • 6.78-inch AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh
  • Snapdragon 888+ CPU
  • Upgradeable Android 11 OS
  • Excellent camera system with 50MP main lens
  • Up to 8K video recording capability.
  • Under-display fingerprint scanner
  • 4500mAh battery with 55W fast charger

9. Asus ROG Phone 5

The Asus ROG Phone 5 takes a slightly different approach from the other models mentioned above. The model is designed primarily for gamers. Even though it has most of the conventional hardware specs like those of the models above, the ROG Phone 5 still has its distinct features.

To aid a fast and responsive screen, the ROG Phone 5 comes with a 144Hz AMOLED screen with a 6.78-inches panel. It also comes with pressure-sensitive gaming triggers and a rear-mounted RGB light panel. So, if you looking for a capable gaming device from 2021, the Asus ROG Phone 5 might be worth considering.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 Asust Rog phone 5 full specifications

Current pricing of Asus ROG Phone 5

The ROG Phone 7 is the latest on the market, and it is priced from $649. However, you can own a ROG Phone 5 under $400.

Key Features Asus ROG Phone 5:

  • Large 6.78-inches AMOLED screen with 144Hz refresh
  • Snapdragon 888 processor.
  • Dual rear camera setup with 64-megapixel main sensor
  • Gaming-specific features.
  • Impressive stereo speakers.
  • 6000mAh battery with 65W fast charger

10. Lenovo Legion 2 Pro

The Legion 2 Pro targets the same gaming market as the ROG Phone 5 smartphone mentioned above. It is designed to appeal to gamers with features that are not available on conventional flagship smartphones. Aside from having a rear RGB light panel, the Legion 2 Pro also comes with four ultrasonic gaming triggers, along with two built-in cooling fans.

This mini gaming handheld smartphone is powered by the Snapdragon 888 mobile processor, a super large 6.92-inches AMOLED display with 144Hz refresh, a dual camera system pioneered by a 64-megapixel main lens with 8K video recording capabilities, upgradable Android 11 OS, and a 5500mAh battery with 90W dual USB fast charging.

The Best of 2021 Snapdragon 888 Flagship Smartphones Still Worth Buying in 2023/2024 lenovo legion 2 pro black

Current price of Lenovo Legion 2 Pro:

As of October 2023 when this article was written, Lenovo had not released a successor to the Legion 2 Pro gaming smartphone yet. The device was initially launched with a starting price of $900 but is currently available at half the price ($450) via Aliexpress.

Key Features of Lenovo Legion 2 Pro:

  • Super large 6.92-inches AMOLED Display with 144Hz refresh
  • Impressive camera system with dual 64MP sensor that can capture 8K video
  • Snapdragon 888 5G CPU
  • Upgradable Google Android 11
  • Under-display fingerprint scanner
  • 5500mAh battery with 90W dual USB-C charger

Conclusion

These 2021 flagship smartphones have cemented their positions in the tech world with their impressive features and capabilities. Whether you’re looking for top-tier photography, gaming performance, or a clean software experience, these devices offer diverse options to cater to your specific needs in 2023 and beyond. We hope you found what you are looking for. Do let us know.

Stephen Ekpa

Stephen is the Editor-in-Chief @DroidAfrica. He has been in the tech space for over 6 years helping mobile technology users to understand more about their very own devices. His work on DroidAfrica is born out of a pure passion for tech, especially as it relates to smartphones.

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