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Smartphone Specs Statistics: The State Of The Art (Q1 2021)




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Luis Silva (January 2021)

Introduction

Nowadays, every time you buy something, you have to make sure you are getting a great deal, right? Or that at least you are not overpaying. Be it a bottle of water or something you plan to keep for the rest of your life, like a house.

Smartphones are no different.

But with dozens of online retailers selling hundreds of devices at any given time, how can you be sure you are getting a great deal and not getting ripped off?

Up until now, after finding your favorite, you'd have to go one by one, checking out other phones, their specs, and prices, to make sure you weren't getting less than you deserve for the amount of money that you're spending.

Those days are over.

Not only you're about to find out what's the state-of-the-art of mobile technology, but you'll also know what specs you should be getting for any given budget.

These statistics are based on specifications from about 100 of the most popular smartphones on sale since 2018. It also includes all iPhones from the 6s up to the 12 Pro Max.


The ultimate smartphone: The state-of-the-art.

If any manufacturer were willing to make the best smartphone in the world, these are the specs that it would have to have in the first quarter of 2021:


Price $1180
OS Updates 5+ Years

It's pretty obvious who this price belongs to: The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, and it's also clear that only iPhones, in general, have that many years of software and security updates.



Performance

And this is the highest performance achieved with GeekBench 5 (tested by GsmArena):


Geekbench 5 Score 4240

And it also belongs to the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.



Display

After several years of growing larger, this trend seems to have stopped with the Xiaomi Mi Max 3, back in 2018. Refresh rates and nits, on the other hand, are still on a growing trend.


Size 6.9"
Screen Type AMOLED
Refresh Rate 120hz
Dots Per Inch 642
Always-On-Display Yes
Peak Brightness 1024 nits
HDR HDR10+
Protection Gorilla Glass Victus

In this study, the 6.9-inch display belongs to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra (and to the Note 20 Ultra), just like the 120Hz refresh rate. Those 642 DPIs came from the 4k display of the Sony Xperia 1, and the peak brightness, HDR, and glass protection came from the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Although you'll get equivalent or even better glass protection from the latest iPhone 12 lineup.



Cameras

The megapixel war looks like it's far from being over, with Samsung's 108 Megapixels sensor leading the way. Debuting in late 2018 on Xiaomi's Mi CC9 Pro Premium, it ended up featured on Samsung's own S20 Ultra.


Megapixels (Main) 108
Megapixels (Secondary) 64
Lens (mm) 129
Optical Image Stabilization Yes
Video 8K (4320p)
Picture Quality 156
Megapixels (Selfie) 40
Lens (mm) 32

Not only that, but it also is the owner of that 40 Megapixel selfie camera. But the secondary 64 Megapixel sensor belongs to its smaller sibling, the Samsung Galaxy S20.

The award for best optical zoom goes to the Oppo Find X2 Pro and its incredible 129mm telephoto lens. The 8K video recording abilities are found on (almost) every smartphone equipped with the latest Snapdragon 865.

According to DxoMark, the best camera-phone in this study is the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, although they're giving a higher score to its less popular sibling, the Mate 40 Pro+.



Body

Everyone knows what the smallest and lightest smartphone on the market is, right? The iPhone 12 Mini.

However, we're after the largest, so let's check the following table.


Size 167 x 78 mm (6.58 x 3.07 in)
Weight 8.04 oz (228 g.)
Build Front and back glass
Screen-To-Body Ratio 93.50%
Waterproof IP68
Biometrics Under Display Fingerprint

While the king of height is the Sony Xperia 1, with 167 mm (1.22 inches), the Apple iPhone 8 Plus holds the crown for the largest width at 78 mm (3.07 inches).

However, none of them is winning any heavyweight contest. The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, on the contrary, is betting big, at 228 grams (8.04 oz).

Wrapping it up, the smartphone with the smallest bezels, according to our formula, is the Huawei Mate 40 Pro.



Battery

What about the thing that can upset you the most on a smartphone? Yes, battery life.

I must admit I was expecting an extensive list of devices. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case.

The battery score is based on Gsmarena's endurance rating tests, and it's what you're left with, assuming that you fully charge the smartphone.


Capacity 6000 mAh
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 86%
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 74%
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 76%
Fast Charging 120w
Wireless Charging 50w
Reverse Wireless Charging 27w

This battery capacity and battery performance are from the Samsung Galaxy M30s, but since it is about to lose its security updates, you should check the A31 instead. While having only 5000mAh of battery capacity, it has the same behavior and should last as much in day-to-day usage.

These blazing-fast wired charging speeds are from the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra, which you can charge up to 41% in 5 minutes or fully charge in just 23 minutes (as advertised).

The wireless charging speeds are shared with the Huawei Mate 40 Pro, which also holds a record for the fastest reverse charging device.



Storage

When it comes to storage, there's no surprise here. At least for geeks like me, who's been following Samsung's flagship specs for quite a while now.


RAM 12 GB
Internal Storage 256 GB
External Expansion Yes

These specs could only come from the Note 10 Plus or its most recent sibling, the Note 20 Ultra.

Actually, other devices do come close, like the Oppo Find X2 Neo or the X2 Pro, but since they don't have a MicroSD card slot (not that you'll ever need it), it really isn't the same.



Connectivity

If you're hoping to find a smartphone with 5G, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, and a headphone jack, you'll be disappointed.


Network 5G
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC Yes
Headphone Jack Yes

You'll have to choose between having Bluetooth 5.2 (from devices like the Note 20 Ultra with the Snapdragon chipset) or Bluetooth 5.0 and a headphone jack (from devices like the Galaxy S10 5G).



The average specs that you can get.

smartphone stats infographics q1 2021

These are the specs that you can expect from the average smartphone in the first quarter of 2021.

Be sure not to overpay for them.

These prices are based on unlocked phones found on amazon.com, ebay.com, bestbuy.com, and walmart.com.


Feature/OS vs.
Price $414.83 $668.50 $253.67
Security Updates 2.03 years 5.00 years 2.97 years


Performance

Back when Apple released its iPhone 6s, iPhones weren't that smooth compared to Android flagships. But as years went by, they started to prioritize performance, and nowadays, no other device can even come close. That's why this average isn't surprising at all.


Feature/OS vs.
Geekbench 5 Score 2146.32 2849.33 703.01


Display

The average display size shouldn't also come as a surprise. Apple has always favored smaller devices. Just as a curiosity, half of the iPhones now have AMOLED displays.


Feature/OS vs.
Size 6.33" 5.63" -0.69"
AMOLED 88.73% 50.00% -38.73%
90+ Refresh Rates 30.99% 0.00% -30.99%
Dots Per Inch 444.52 400.78 -43.74
Always-On-Display 81.69% 0.00% -81.69%
Peak Brightness 654.80 nits 656.50 nits 1.70 nits
HDR 70.42% 50.00% -20.42%
Gorilla Glass 6+ 22.54% 22.22% -0.31%


Cameras

I just realized now that Apple still insists on maintaining its cameras with 12 megapixels. And this has been going on for at least six years. Android, however, has crossed the 100 Megapixel mark for a couple of years now.

I know that more pixels don't mean better picture quality, but now and then, I like to crop my photos to get more zoom.

All iPhones can now record videos in 4K, and while I know that there still are some Androids that only do Full HD, I wasn't expecting that only 80% of them would do 4K. In theory, it should be 88%, because 8% can actually do 8K already. But still, even for a two or three-year-old midrange, 1080p is just too low.


Feature/OS vs.
Megapixels (Main) 34.80 12.00 -22.80
Aperture f/1.74 f/1.78 f/0.04
Megapixels (Secondary) 13.08 11.08 -2.00
Aperture f/2.39 f/2.17 f/-0.22
Lens (mm) 51.58 40.69 -10.88
Zoom 42.25% 50.00% 7.75%
Mega Zoom 11.27% 0.00% -11.27%
Ultra-Wide-Angle 26.76% 16.67% -10.09%
Optical Image Stabilization 64.79% 94.44% 29.66%
4K Videos 80.28% 100.00% 19.72%
8K Videos 8.45% 0.00% -8.45%
Picture Quality 116.46 122.62 6.15
Megapixels (Selfie) 18.94 8.83 -10.11
Aperture f/2.06 f/2.20 f/0.14
Lens (mm) 25.22 27.73 2.51


Body

Smartphones are getting heavier. 182 grams (or 6.41 oz) is too much for the average Android. I guess that size, bigger batteries, and telephoto lenses do play their part.

Considering the following table, one would think that only two-thirds of all iPhones have a premium look, which is wrong because Apple is going back to aluminum for the back of their phones.


Feature/OS vs.
Size (mm) 157 x 73 146 x 72 -979
Size (in) 6.17 x 2.88 5.77 x 2.82 -38.58
Weight (g) 182 177 -4
Weight (oz) 6.41 6.26 -4
Full Glass Body 74.65% 66.67% -7.98%
Screen-To-Body Ratio 86.01% 77.46% -8.55%
Waterproof (IP6x) 45.07% 94.44% 49.37%


Battery

Battery life is still just too low for the average smartphone. It's even worse if you went for an iPhone. But at least, you'll most likely have wireless charging on it. I was shocked to see that only 42% of all Androids support it. What's worse, only half of that does reverse charging.


Feature/OS vs.
Capacity 3935.99 mAh 2660.44 mAh -1275.54 mAh
1h Talk + 1h Web + 1h Video 81.85% 76.83% -5.01%
1h Talk + 3h Web + 1h Video 66.00% 60.83% -5.17%
1h Talk + 1h Web + 3h Video 68.94% 60.39% -8.55%
Fast Charging 25.85w 17.33w -8.51w
Wireless Charging 42.25% 83.33% 41.08%
Wireless Charging 15.58w 7.47w -8.11w
Reverse Wireless Charging 28.17% 0.00% -28.17%
Reverse Wireless Charging 7.05w 0.00w -7.05w


Storage

6.5 GB of RAM should be more than enough for most Android users, but 3.5GB, even for iOS, is still a bit low. And the same goes for storage.

It's good to know that about 63% of all Android smartphones still allows you to add a MicroSD card, even if you'll most likely lose a SIM card slot.


Feature/OS vs.
RAM 6.51 GB 3.56 GB -2.95 GB
Internal Storage 117.18 GB 65.78 GB -51.41 GB
External Expansion 63.38% 0.00% -63.38%


Connectivity

There isn't much to say here, except that the good-old headphone jack is still somewhat popular and that your next device should be 5G if you're planning on keeping it for over two years.

While Bluetooth 5.0 is great for range and battery life, nothing beats the reliability of wired headphones.


Feature/OS vs.
5G 32.39% 22.22% -10.17%
Headphone Jack 46.48% 5.56% -40.92%
Bluetooth 5.0 81.69% 83.33% 1.64%
Bluetooth 5.1 14.08% 0.00% -14.08%
Bluetooth 5.2 1.41% 0.00% -1.41%


Now you should have an idea of what to expect from your next smartphone. If there's any feature that you particularly value, then the following top 10 lists should help you get closer to finding the best device for you.

If not, just remember that the perfect phone (still) doesn't exist, and be careful when purchasing one so you won't regret it for the next two or three years.

   











About TTT





Hello there!

I'm Luis Silva, and this is the place where I nerd out about technology. I've been a tech enthusiast for 25 years, and I have a degree in computer management.

I'm glad to have you here!

Do feel free to check out any (or all) article(s) that you may find interesting.

I've personally made sure that they are as thorough and helpful as they can be, and they're entirely free, so read as much as you want, and in the end, please leave a comment or share them as a thank you.

And when you leave, please remember to come back in a not so distant future.


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