With so many to choose from, it can be tricky to pick the best smartphones out of all the devices available today. Between Android and iOS, dozens of manufacturers, and a wealth of price points, much will depend on your preference and budget.
Large screen smartphones are more common than ever, and are dropping in price, while smaller phones remain popular for one-handed operation. Cameras on phones continue to improve, with the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Samsung offerings packing snappers that wouldn’t have been out of place in a professional shutterbug’s bag just a few years ago.
Then there’s 5G. What was once an expensive luxury is now a relatively affordable new standard, one that’s being rolled out across the globe, and can be found in much cheaper phones than it was even last year.
Whatever your preference of smartphone, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our full list of the best smartphones available in 2022.
1. iPhone 13 Pro: Best smartphone overall
Apple’s latest series of iPhones is very much centered around evolving last year’s successful iPhone 12 line rather than reinventing the wheel.
With that in mind, the iPhone 13 Pro (and Pro Max) feel more akin to “S” years from the past, rather than being worthy of a whole new number - but that’s not really a bad thing given the iPhone 12 Pro’s strong template.
The camera is better, the battery life has seen an impressive jump, and it’s now available with up to 1TB of storage if you need it. Perhaps the biggest addition in the “Pro” versions this year is the ProMotion tech that was previously found on the iPad Pro line. This tweaks the refresh rate of the display so that your content feels more fluid when scrolling or your games move as if they’re buttery smooth. Once you’ve used it, it’s hard to go back.
2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: Best Android smartphone
If you want an Android phone, this is the one to go for. Blending superb performance with a best-in-class AMOLED screen, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is the top Android pick for all but the techo-elite, who will likely already be using the Ultra version. The S21 Plus packs just the right combination of features to make it perfect for everyday people who want the classiest phone they can get, without going overboard.
The star is undoubtedly the edgeless 6.7-inch screen, which has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. This makes any footage appear super slick, and even browsing through the OS is a delight. Combine with the camera system, optimized for taking footage in 4K and even 8K and this is a great phone for personal video. Our only real complaint is that the 8K only reproduces at 24Hz, which makes it far less smooth. And who watches in 8K anyway?
If you’re considering the differences between this and the regular S21, we reckon the larger screen size, and bigger capacity battery are worth the increase in cost. There are other small differences, including the rear of the device being made in more sturdy material, but otherwise the tech inside them is largely the same. If you can stretch your budget to it, you won’t regret spending extra on the S21 Plus. For us, it’s another fab phone from Samsung, if not a good upgrade on last year’s S20 Plus. If you plumped for an S20 last year, it isn’t worth upgrading now, and we’d hold off until 2022.
3. Samsung Galaxy S21: Best mid-range Android smartphone
The Samsung Galaxy S21 took a different approach than we’re used to from Samsung’s flagship handsets, striking a balance between affordability and performance instead of going all out. As a result, it might feel like a step down to existing S20 owners, but it’s a fantastic smartphone in its own right, especially considering the price. Yup, it's one of the best smartphones out there.
You get the same impressive camera array that was found in the S20, along with a stunning 120Hz AMOLED HD display which combines together for an excellent photo taking and viewing experience. And while the cameras themselves are the same as last year’s model, there have been a ton of software improvements under the hood. Speaking of under the hood, the S21 is powered by the Snapdragon 888 and has 8GB of RAM, so it can easily handle mobile gaming too.
The addition of 5G capabilities and the high-refresh rate on the screen have dented the battery life a bit, but you still get admirable performance here, and with fast charge technology, you shouldn’t have to worry about running out of juice either.
Overall, we’re super impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S21, which seems like a phone designed for the times, rather than just to see what cool tech you can jam into a phone. It’s sleek, powerful, and much more affordable than its predecessor.
4. OnePlus 8T - Best value Android smartphone
OnePlus already wow’d us earlier this year with the fantastic OnePlus 8, but now it has come along with a mid-generation refresh with a hell of a party piece. At first glance, there isn’t much difference between the OnePlus 8T and its predecessor - it has the same internal CPU, RAM, and storage options, and the camera array is only slightly modified with the addition of a monochrome lens. So, what gives on this being among the best smartphones?
The answer comes from two key upgrades: the screen and the battery. The screen on the OnePlus 8T has been buffed up to a spritely 120Hz refresh rate, meaning that videos and games look buttery smooth in motion. As for the battery, it’s now a dual-cell which is required for the upgraded Warp Charge 65. This thing goes from 0-58% battery in 15 minutes - that’s staggering speed.
The only real blemish on the OnePlus 8T’s scorecard comes from the lack of a telephoto lens in the camera set up, which means that you’re relying on digital zoom, which is never as good as optical zoom. Despite that, this is a mighty impressive smartphone at a very reasonable price.
- Read our full OnePlus 8T review (opens in new tab).
5. iPhone 13: Best all-rounder
The iPhone 12 (opens in new tab) was no slouch in any department, but the iPhone 13 takes everything up a notch. There are no new “wow” features, but Apple’s smartphones are in such a good spot that perhaps they aren’t needed anymore.
The iPhone 13’s A15 chip offers impressive performance, while the new diagonally-aligned camera captures 47% more light in the Wide camera, and adds extra detail with the Ultra Wide lens, too. It’ll even switch focus when recording video with the new ‘Cinematic Mode’.
The OLED display is brighter than ever, and you’ll get two and a half extra hours of battery life compared to the iPhone 12.
Looking for a smaller device? The iPhone 13 Mini packs the same specs and components into a smaller, 5.4-inch display footprint.
- Read our full iPhone 13 review (opens in new tab).
6. iPhone SE: Best budget iPhone
Magic. It’s magic, or someone sold their soul to the devil. That’s the only explanation we can come up with for the iPhone SE, Apple’s latest budget smartphone. This thing is built with the same A13 Bionic chipset that powers that flagship phones like the iPhone 11, but it costs a fraction of the price.
So how has Apple managed this feat of engineering? By taking things back to an older, cheaper to build design that reminds us of earlier models of iPhone like the iPhone 8 (opens in new tab). That means the home button is back, which now doubles as the fingerprint sensor. It’s made from aluminum and glass and still has a premium feel to it, but it’s not the completely glass shelled look that the newer models have gone for.
The camera isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s a decent little shooter, especially when you consider that it’s packed into a $400 phone that makes very few other sacrifices. You get great performance, a stylish design and most of the luxuries that you’d expect from a top-end smartphone like fast charging. If you want iPhone quality, but not the price then this is one of the best smartphones and could be the phone for you.
- Read our full iPhone SE review (opens in new tab).
7. OnePlus Nord N10: best cheap Android smartphone
The OnePlus Nord N10 is OnePlus's first attempt to burst into the budget smartphone market, and it's a cracking effort. It comes with a 6.49-inch full-HD 90Hz LCD screen that offers smooth screen transitions and a great viewing experience if you're looking to watch movies and TV on your phone.
You also get a hefty 64MP main camera lens, backed up by an 8MP ultrawide lens and a 2MP macro lens which lets you take pictures of small objects up close. There is also a monochrome lens for your artsy black and white photos too.
On top of that, you get 5G connectivity and OnePlus's impressive Warp charge technology for quick battery recharges. The battery itself will easily last you a full day too. The only real downside to the OnePlus Nord N10 is the rather cheap, plasticky shell. But if that's the price to pay for a $300 smartphone with these specs, then its a price worth paying.
8. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Best Pixel Smartphone
The Pixel 6 Pro is the biggest phone Google has ever made, with its 6.7-inch display catching the eye immediately - especially alongside Android 12’s much classier, mature look.
It’s beautiful, too, with a 1440x3120 resolution OLED panel making it easy to read in all lighting conditions, and a whopping 512 pixels per inch.
Under the hood, it’s using Google’s Tensor chip, the company’s first custom CPU, alongside 12GB of RAM. That means it’s fast, and the Tensor also allows for plenty of image processing tech in conjunction with the triple camera setup on the back.
With 50Mp wide camera, 12Mp, ultrawide, and 48Mp telephoto lenses on the back, it’s fair to say that if you can do it, the Pixel 6 Pro can shoot it, with an 11.1Mp selfie camera, too.
In short, it’s Google best effort ever, and an easy pick for the best smartphones of 2022.
9. Google Pixel 6: Best mid-range Pixel phone
Google really went back to the drawing board with its Pixel range in 2021, and it’s fair to say that it worked - the Pixel 6 might be the best mid-range device from the tech giant yet.
Using the Tensor chip, Google’s first-ever internal chip in a smartphone, it runs stock Android like a dream. It’s fast, responsive, and endlessly customizable, making it well worth a look for purists.
Aside from the OS, it’s also packing a new design, a 6.4-inch OLED panel, and a 50Mp camera on the back, as well as a 12Mp ultra-wide sensor. The good news is that it lives up to the Pixel line’s legacy of excellent mobile photography, backed up by the Tensor chip’s image processing that helps in low-light situations.
Finally, the new Titan M2 security chip makes the Pixel 6 much stronger against hacks and vulnerabilities than prior devices.
10. Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus: Best for artists
We like big phones and we cannot lie, and the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus is the largest phone that we tested in our search for the best smartphones. The screen is a 6.8-inch QUAD HD+ display - if it was any bigger you could lay it flat and use it as an aircraft carrier. With the edge-to-edge screen, there are no bezels either so there’s no wasted space.
Samsung’s proprietary stylus, the S-pen also comes with the Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus to let you make full use of that enormous screen. We found that it worked great for writing and even drawing, so it’s perfect for high-tech artists or students who need to take quick notes and don’t want to carry a laptop or tablet around with them.
Thanks to the extra size of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus, there was more room for cameras. So Samsung casually threw four rear-facing lenses into the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. There’s an ultrawide lens for wide shots, a telephoto lens for zoomed in pics and a VGA depth lens that lets you do some funky stuff with Live Focus. There are also two front-facing lenses for snapping selfies making this stand out as one of the best smartphones for selfies.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus is a great choice for creative people who want to draw, take notes and snap amazing pictures on the go. It’s also the perfect choice for people who just want the biggest phone they can get their hands around.
- Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note10 Plus review (opens in new tab).
Why Trust Us
We combine thorough research with hands-on testing to compare all the features, functions, and flaws of the top smartphones so we can recommend only the best of the best.
By now, it’s pretty standard for flagship phones to boast features such as water-resistance, long battery life, great cameras, fast speeds, gorgeous displays and airtight security. We leverage our own extremely high expectations for our smartphones in our evaluations, so you can be confident in your phone purchase.
How we tested the best smartphones
Our best smartphones evaluations combine thorough research with extensive testing. We start by gathering and arranging available information about every smartphone to narrow down the top choices. We get our hands on the best smartphones on the market and then compare the items you see above, including battery capacity, screen quality, camera specs, and internal components.
After we compile our data, our team spends time with each device. We conduct a variety of benchmark tests to assess features such as battery life, CPU processing power, graphic card performance, data read and write speeds, display quality and overall performance, and we factor these results into our overall evaluation of the best smartphones.
Of course, a smartphone is more than the sum of its parts. To gauge how smoothly all the functions and features work together in day-to-day use, we take each phone for a spin for a few days. We play games, watch videos, check our social media, take photos and make phone calls to feel what it’s like to use the phone.