Top Pick for
Best 5G handset
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
Finder's team of experts have tested and reviewed every single phone featured in this guide to come up with our list of the best smartphones. For each phone, we assess and test the design, cameras, performance, battery life and overall value for money.
Our editorial team selected the phones on this list based on their overall quality and value compared to other phones on the market.
The Pixel 6 Pro is a 5G phone that's genuinely like no other in Australia. That's partly due to Google's use of its own Tensor processor, but also because it's the first handset you can buy that's compatible with 5G mmWave technology, which on the Optus network is referred to as "5G Max". That's an apt marketing name, because 5G network speeds on mmWave networks are considerably faster than on conventional sub-6Ghz 5G.
It's not just a story of network speed that makes the Pixel 6 Pro top our list of the best Optus handsets right now. Where earlier Pixel phones used just Google's camera AI and single lenses to weave their photographic magic, the Pixel 6 Pro gives you a swathe of quality sensors to play with. Combine that with Pixel-specific modes like Google's very smart magic eraser and you've got a phone that can really push what's possible in smartphone photography.
Battery life is likewise very good, but you'd expect that out of a larger handset. In the Android space it stands above the rest, although it is slightly slower in a straight benchmark speed race against the iPhone 13 handsets if that matters to you. The big benefit of the Pixel 6 Pro is that it's a flagship phone priced at the very bottom of flagship pricing, which means your monthly repayments are considerably lower than for just about any other flagship phone.
While the Pixel 6 Pro takes top spot, it's mostly on price grounds because if they were closer in price, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro would rather easily jaunt into that top space for the best Optus smartphone.
It's essentially the iPhone 13 Pro Max but smaller, and usually that would mean less quality in terms of display and cameras. That's not what Apple opted for, so you get the same Pro-grade cameras that appeal to both the serious shooters and those who want an easy photo life to play with.
Combine that with the unrivalled power of the Apple A15 Bionic and you're talking a high quality, high speed smartphone for less than the Pro Max costs – which of course means it's cheaper on an Optus contract on a monthly basis. You also get the benefit of a 120Hz "ProMotion" display that doesn't sap the battery life as much as you might expect.
If you're after a flagship phone with an exceptional zoom lens on the Optus network then the choice is very clear. The phone you should opt for right now is Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G. It offers up to 100x zoom – dubbed "Space Zoom" by Samsung's marketing department – thanks to the inclusion of a 108MP primary sensor that it can downsample from and mix in with the dual 10MP zoom lenses on the rear. While 100x zoom results aren't great, it's capable of unparalleled zoom quality at around 20-30x zoom, a feature you just won't find on any other flagship phone in 2021.
It's not just a good pick for those who like getting up close and personal with their photographic subjects. It's also compatible with the Samsung S-Pen, which was typically a feature reserved for Galaxy Note phones. You don't get one in the box, and you'll need a separate case for it if you want to travel in an S-Pen ready state, but once that's sorted it's also a very capable productivity device, or a fun one for scribbling notes or annotating photos in creative ways.
The downside of being an early 2021 flagship is that the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G's days as the S series flagship are seriously numbered, with most signs pointing to a February 2022 release for the Galaxy S22 series. Still, it's a sign of just how great a phone it is that it's remained at or near the top of our best phone rankings for the entire year.
If you want an Android phone with guaranteed updates on the Optus network, you're not awash with choices. Optus doesn't stock the cheaper Pixel 4a series and Google doesn't seem inclined to bring the Pixel 5a Down Under for any carrier at all.
However, it's not all bad news because the pricing on the Pixel 6 is really sharp, which means your monthly repayments are still quite low for a phone that beats pretty much everything in its price range. That's not just because, like other Pixel phones you get years of guaranteed Android OS upgrades, but also because the Pixel 6 is a good phone in its own right. There's some compromises compared to the Pixel 6 Pro, like a dip to a 90Hz display and sub-6Ghz 5G only, but those are fairly light limitations in return for a lower price. You also don't get a proper telephoto lens, although Google's AI cropping can smartly give you a near equivalent experience.
Foldable phones are a category that sits apart from the rest of the smartphone pack, and we're still really in their infancy. Prior Galaxy Fold handsets had neat technology but a lot of limitations, especially around durability. For the third generation Galaxy Fold handset, Samsung's put serious work into overcoming those issues.
What you end up with is the Galaxy Z Fold 3, a water-resistant phone that folds out into a much more capable tablet-style device, perfect for productivity. That's especially true because it's compatible with the Galaxy S-Pen, although only specific Fold-compatible models. Whether you're sketching out a design or annotating a plan, it's pretty easy to do on the Galaxy Z Fold 3's 120Hz-capable interior display. That's especially true as it's also the first phone to omit any kind of notch, holepunch or other camera intrusion on the screen. Instead, the tablet side camera sits underneath the display. It's not a great selfie camera, honestly, but you're not limited to just its camera prowess.
Apple knows full well that while the Pro models of its iPhone range have their fans, most of us everyday folk don't want to spend that much on a phone contract each month. That leads to the "regular" model of the iPhone being the one that most people buy if you're in the iPhone camp.
The good news here is that the Apple iPhone 13 is a quality unit across the board, even if it's not quite as fancy as the iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max. You can save money each month on your Optus contract while still enjoying the best-in-class performance of the Apple A15 Bionic processor and the ease of use of iOS.
You also get 5G compatibility for sub-6Ghz Optus 5G, and likely iOS upgrades for some years to come along with the iPhone 13. It is rather more limited than many other comparable phones when it comes to camera selection, with a diagonally placed dual lens array at the rear. Still, Apple makes it very easy to take nice basic shots with just 2 lenses. Clearly the Pro phones are the ones you should opt for if camera quality in iPhones is your passion.
There's a decent argument to be had that if you're going to spend up on an iPhone, it makes sense to get the very best iPhone money can buy. Right now on the Optus network, that's the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. It has the largest ProMotion capable display, the largest battery, the most RAM and the equal best camera array on any iPhone to date.
So why isn't it higher up our list? It's the function of balancing that feature set against the asking price and especially the existence of the slightly smaller and cheaper Apple iPhone 13 Pro especially. For most folks, even those who need higher end displays and camera features, it's more than enough.
Still, if you do prefer an even larger display and battery life that bests everything else Apple offers, there's a whole lot to like about the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max.
You get the same Apple A15 Bionic processor as the rest of the iPhone range, but more RAM than on the non-Pro models, which gives it a performance edge for more intensive applications.
The Galaxy S20 FE is Samsung's take on a more "affordable" flagship phone, and while it's a little long in the tooth now, it's a sign of just how much Samsung got right that it's still a very worthy option for Optus contract buyers. That's also true given that its older status means that contract pricing is particularly sharp for this handset.
What Samsung did with the Galaxy S20 FE was grab the essential features of the Galaxy S20 range and drop them into a slightly cheaper plastic casing… and that's about all. You still get a good smartphone experience on the 5G model with 2020's best Android processor on board, 120Hz capable display, cameras with good zoom and low light capabilities and a range of colour choices to boot.
The one area where the S20 FE does lag behind the regular Galaxy phones is in battery life, which tends more towards the average than the exceptional. It's also worth knowing that the 4G-only model sold in Australia has a slightly lesser processor on board – the 5G S20 FE is the one that hits the sweet performance spot for its price.
If you've been around mobile phones long enough, you probably remember the heyday of flip phones, exemplified by Motorola's classic RAZR lines. If so, you can get excited all over again by the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. It's a foldable phone that goes the exact opposite way of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Instead of folding out into a larger tablet device, it instead starts out as a regular phone that folds down into a compact size for easy travel. You don't get a full screen on the outside to distract you either. Instead there's a small notification panel that can also be used to control music playback or take limited selfies.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 is best suited to those who want a hefty dose of style in their smartphones, because it 100% is an eye-catching device. The price you pay in terms of that folding lies around the cameras – even the S20 FE has better options – and battery life, because a small phone that becomes even smaller can only accommodate a small quantity of batteries. Carry a charger or battery pack with you if you're a heavy social media user, because the Galaxy Z Flip3 does have issues lasting an entire day on a heavy load.
The classic iPhones all shipped with smaller displays, which was fine for its time. For many, the jump up to larger and larger displays wasn't an upgrade. Sure, you get bigger video panels, but also devices that don't fit comfortably in the hand, pocket or purse. There are smaller phones out there, but many are compromised with lower processing power or dodgy cameras.
That's not an accusation that you can readily fling at the Apple iPhone 13 Mini. It features the exact same A15 Bionic processor as the much larger Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, giving the best performance in a tiny handset by a massive margin. Apple's iOS scales down quite nicely to this size – it's almost certainly because this is the screen size that old iPhones used to offer – and while it's only packing a dual lens camera array at the rear, it's the same set as on the pricier and larger Apple iPhone 13. You even get 5G on board, although only for sub-6Ghz frequencies.
So what's the downside? In a word, battery. In more words, the battery life kind of sucks, because all that processing power and a tiny frame doesn't give Apple much scope to pack in lots of electrons into the iPhone 13 Mini. It's a bit of a cliché to call out iPhones for having poor battery life, and it's not even true for the rest of the iPhone 13 family… except the iPhone 13 Mini.
The Sixers and Thunder clash in the biggest Sydney Derby in the history of the Big Bash League.
Who will be declared House Cup Champion?
Will Mickey Donovan finally die in this wrap-up movie?
Don't fall for the scam artists when you're trying to protect your health - here's what to check.
Here's where you can book COVID-19 at-home tests approved for travel and how they work.
We've rounded up everything you need to nail the 'date-worthy' makeup look, including some affordable dupes.
Designed for big companies, this Amex charge card offers a mix of management tools and perks – including a 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards offer.
Rapid antigen tests are proving extremely hard to find, but there are options if you can be patient trying to find a RAT.
We tried the viral Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer and spoiler alert, it's the bee's knees.
Drac and the Pack are back, like you’ve never seen them before.
finder.com.au is one of Australia's leading comparison websites. We compare from a wide set of banks, insurers and product issuers. We value our editorial independence and follow editorial guidelines.
finder.com.au has access to track details from the product issuers listed on our sites. Although we provide information on the products offered by a wide range of issuers, we don't cover every available product or service.
Please note that the information published on our site should not be construed as personal advice and does not consider your personal needs and circumstances. While our site will provide you with factual information and general advice to help you make better decisions, it isn't a substitute for professional advice. You should consider whether the products or services featured on our site are appropriate for your needs. If you're unsure about anything, seek professional advice before you apply for any product or commit to any plan.
Products marked as 'Promoted' or 'Advertisement' are prominently displayed either as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular product, provider or feature. Finder may receive remuneration from the Provider if you click on the related link, purchase or enquire about the product. Finder's decision to show a 'promoted' product is neither a recommendation that the product is appropriate for you nor an indication that the product is the best in its category. We encourage you to use the tools and information we provide to compare your options.
Where our site links to particular products or displays 'Go to site' buttons, we may receive a commission, referral fee or payment when you click on those buttons or apply for a product. You can learn more about how we make money here.
When products are grouped in a table or list, the order in which they are initially sorted may be influenced by a range of factors including price, fees and discounts; commercial partnerships; product features; and brand popularity. We provide tools so you can sort and filter these lists to highlight features that matter to you.
We try to take an open and transparent approach and provide a broad-based comparison service. However, you should be aware that while we are an independently owned service, our comparison service does not include all providers or all products available in the market.
Some product issuers may provide products or offer services through multiple brands, associated companies or different labelling arrangements. This can make it difficult for consumers to compare alternatives or identify the companies behind the products. However, we aim to provide information to enable consumers to understand these issues.
Providing or obtaining an estimated insurance quote through us does not guarantee you can get the insurance. Acceptance by insurance companies is based on things like occupation, health and lifestyle. By providing you with the ability to apply for a credit card or loan, we are not guaranteeing that your application will be approved. Your application for credit products is subject to the Provider's terms and conditions as well as their application and lending criteria.