The best phones in 2022 tested and rated

iPhone 14 Pro Max
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Finding the best phone for you can be tricky. But we make it easier by spending a ton of time in our labs and in the real world testing all of the top handsets and comparing them side by side. 

The very best phones available offer great cameras, the kind of performance power you need to multitask and enough battery life to last the whole day. And we have our own web surfing battery test to put company's claims to the test. 

To help you pick the best smartphone for your needs and budget, we also compare the best camera phones side by side to see which devices offer the best image quality in all sorts of conditions. 

With strong options available at all price levels, you don't have to spend a lot to get something great. You can get a solid mid-range phone that delivers all the features you need for under $500. 

Our best phones list has something for everyone, including great bargains and amazing flagships for those willing to pay a premium. We've ranked all the top phones below based on our testing. Here are the top smartphones right now.

The best phones you can buy today

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The best phone overall

Specifications

Display size: 6.7-inch OLED (2796 x 1290)
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8) main with 2x optical zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 3x optical zoom
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 14:42

Reasons to buy

+
Superb 48MP camera
+
Very smart Dynamic Island
+
Best-in-class battery life
+
Impressive Action mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Still 20W charging

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best phone we’ve tested, and that’s because it has everything you could want in a flagship. You get a stunning 6.7-inch display with new always-on capability, which lets you check the time, battery status, widgets and notifications without turning the phone on. And the new Dynamic Island is even better, a replacement for the notch that delivers everything from music playback status and timers to your next Maps direction towards the top of the screen. 

Other highlights of the iPhone 14 Pro Max include a powerful A16 Bionic processor that smokes all Android phones and a powerful new 48MP camera that gives you the choice of brighter images or sharper resolution in ProRAW. And the new Action Mode for video is super smooth and compelling. The best part is the battery life, as we saw close to 15 hours in our testing, making this a total beast and worth the premium. 

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review.

Samsung's best phone

Specifications

Display: 6.8-inch OLED (3200x1400; 1-120Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8GB, 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear camera: 108MP wide (f/2.2), 12MP ultra wide (ƒ/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, f/2.4), 10MP telephoto (10x zoom, f/2.4), laser AF sensor
Front camera: 40MP (ƒ/2.2)
Weight: 8.1 oz
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:13

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class display
+
Built-in S Pen 
+
Improved cameras with better Night mode
+
Faster 45W charging

Reasons to avoid

-
Shorter battery life than S21 Ultra
-
Very expensive
-
Less RAM than previous model to start

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ultimate Android phone for power users. It delivers a built-in S Pen just like a Galaxy Note, and you get 70% less latency for smoother performance. The 6.8-inch display is simply the best we've tested, offering class-leading brightness and color saturation, making this panel easy to read outdoors in direct sunlight and fantastic for watching shows and movies.

The other big reason to buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the camera improvements. There's a larger main 108MP sensor that lets in more light, which means brighter pictures without having to use Night mode. And when you do engage Night mode, you'll get even better pics in some scenarios than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Add in faster 45W charging and a sleek design and you have a winner. We just wish the battery life were a bit longer

See our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

The best smaller phone ever

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2556 x 1179)
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8) main with 2x optical zoom, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 12MP (f/2.8) telephoto with 3x optical zoom
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:13

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class cameras
+
A16 Bionic blows away Android phones
+
Brighter display
+
Cool Action mode

Reasons to avoid

-
Charging could be faster

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro is the best phone under $1,000, and that includes Android and iOS. That’s because you get best-in-class performance from the A16 Bionic chip and the best camera performance in a design you can use with one hand. The 48MP camera delivers sharper and brighter photos, and you’ll get excellent low-light results, especially outdoors from the iPhone 14 Pro’s Photoonic Engine. 

Video is another strong point for the iPhone 14 Pro, as you get a super smooth Action mode along with a sharper 4K Cinematic Mode. Add in a very clever replacement for the notch with Dynamic Island and an always-on display and you have one of the best phones you can buy. We just wish Apple offered faster charging. 

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review.

The best phone under $500

Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2400 x 1080; 60Hz)
CPU: Tensor
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear camera: 12.2MP wide (f/1.7), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Weight: 6.3 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 6:29

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent cameras
+
Bright display
+
Tensor-powered features for a low price

Reasons to avoid

-
Subpar battery life
-
Noticeably cheap materials

The Google Pixel 6a runs on the same Tensor processor that powers the Pixel 6. That means the same AI-driven features on that more premium phone are available on this sub-$500 model. And Google even ups the ante by introducing new capabilities to its stellar Magic Erase photo editing feature.

Speaking of photos, the Pixel 6a carries on the tradition of Google’s budget phones offering superior photo-taking skills. The camera hardware on the Pixel 6a doesn’t necessarily impress, but Google’s flair for computational photography means the photos you take with this phone will top images by similarly priced camera phones. You may even get photos that rival what a more premium handset can produce.

We wish the battery life on the Pixel 6a was better, but sometimes for a cheaper price, you make trade-offs. The great thing about the Pixel 6a is that those sacrifices are few and far between.

Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.

The best Android cameras

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED (3120 x 1440; 10-120Hz)
CPU: Tensor G2
RAM: 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.85) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 48MP (f/3.5) with 5x optical zoom
Front camera: 10.8MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 6:31

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible cameras
+
Brighter display
+
More powerful chipset
+
Awesome Tensor features

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 3 years of Android updates
-
Slightly dull colors on telephoto camera
-
Bad battery life

The Pixel 7 Pro is Google’s best phone yet, and certainly the most iconic. It features a refined design, brighter display, more powerful Tensor G2 chipset and stronger cameras. We just wish it had better battery life, though it has improved this year.

Tensor G2 offers some nice upgrades across the board, such as Photo Unblur, Cinematic Blur, and Active Stabilization. Google Assistant has also gotten a lot smarter, offering improvements to Direct My Call, transcription for voice texts, and better contextual understanding for voice typing.

With 5x optical zoom, the Pixel 6 Pro can pull off some fancy zoom tricks in combination with the enhanced Super Res Zoom. But we think the colors are a bit dull on the telephoto shots, certainly less vibrant than the iPhone 14 Pro in our testing. Regardless, the Pixel 7 Pro is the Android phone to get if you want the best cameras.

Read our full Pixel 7 Pro review.

The best phone for the money

Specifications

Display size: 6.1-inch OLED (2532 x 1170)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP (f/1.5) main, 12MP (f/2.4) ultrawide
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 6 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:41

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent cameras
+
Vibrant display
+
Fast A15 Bionic performance
+
Impressive Action mode video

Reasons to avoid

-
Still just 60Hz refresh rate

The iPhone 14 is the best new iPhone for those looking for an affordable option. For $799, you get improved cameras across the board with better low-light performance (thanks to Photonic Engine), and the new Action mode for video delivers super stable video when you’re in motion — no gimbal required. 

The iPhone 14’s A15 Bionic is stolen from the iPhone 13 Pro, which results in stronger graphics performance. This phone could even save your life when its new safety features come online, including Emergency SOS via Satellite and crash detection. We’re not a fan of the same old design, and we wish Apple offered a 120Hz display at this price, but overall the iPhone 14 is a winner. 

Read our full iPhone 14 review.

Apple’s cheapest big-screen phone

Specifications

Display size: 6.7-inch OLED (2778 x 1284)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP main (f/1.5), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/1.9)
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:57

Reasons to buy

+
Big screen for a good price
+
Long battery life
+
Great cameras with Action mode video

Reasons to avoid

-
No 120Hz display
-
No telephoto lens

The iPhone 14 Plus is what happens when Apple listens to its customers. This new model replaces the iPhone mini with a large 6.7-inch OLED display, which is great for watching movies, playing games and more. And at $899 you don’t have to pay the iPhone Pro Max premium. Plus, you get the same great camera upgrades as the regular iPhone 14, including a larger main sensor and Photonic Engine for better low-light performance.

The other big reason to go for the iPhone 14 Plus is the battery life. This handset lasted nearly 12 hours on our testing, which is about 2.5 hours longer than the regular iPhone 14. Add in strong A15 Bionic performance and you have a winner. But we do wish Apple offered a 120Hz display and telephoto lens at this price. 

Read our full iPhone 14 Plus review.

The most affordable iPhone

Specifications

Display: 4.7-inch LCD (1344 x 750)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage / Expandable: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 12MP (f/1.8)
Front camera: 7MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 5 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:05

Reasons to buy

+
Fastest performance for the money
+
Very good photo quality
+
More durable design

Reasons to avoid

-
No Night mode for camera
-
No mmWave 5G support

When it comes to the iPhone SE (2022), you really are getting a lot for your money. At $429, the newest budget iPhone outperforms anything else in the price category and even puts the highest-end Android phones on their toes. With the same A15 Bionic that powers the iPhone 13, the SE is a little beast.

But like its predecessor, it recycles the iPhone 8 body. That means huge bezels, but you get a Touch ID home button. This tired design won’t be to everyone’s liking, nor will the lack of Night mode. This glaring omission is one reason why the new iPhone SE doesn’t rank higher. And you also lose out on Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network.

The iPhone SE (2022) offers a lot and is one of the best phones under $500. It trades blows with the Pixel 5a, meaning that iPhone buyers on a budget have two great options to look at. (The other being the $499 LTE-only iPhone 11.)

Read our full iPhone SE (2022) review.

Another great Android value

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch AMOLED (3216 x 1440)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8GB, 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear cameras: 48MP (f/1.8) main, 50MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 8MP (f/2.4) 3.3x telephoto
Front camera: 32MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:52 (120Hz), 12:39 (60Hz)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent battery life
+
Beautiful new design
+
Best OnePlus cameras to date
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Telephoto is just 8MP

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a powerful Android handset with a gorgeous design, beautiful display, and the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a OnePlus device. The Chinese phone maker has come a long way in the last year or two with photography power that can sometimes keep up with the likes of the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.

With stellar battery life and peak performance, the OnePlus 10 Pro handles any task you could want. Thanks to the new cooling system, the phone is also a powerful gaming device. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor doesn’t get as hot, so it doesn’t need to throttle as much as some other Android phones.

In our battery life testing, the OnePlus 10 Pro went for nearly 12 hours in its adaptive 120Hz refresh rate mode. That easily beats the Galaxy S22 Ultra and comes close to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. And with 65W charging, you can nearly recharge the phone from empty to 100% in 30 minutes. The best part is that you get all of this for $899.

Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.

The new low-cost Galaxy flagship

Specifications

Display: 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto
Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 5.89 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:51 (adaptive), 8:02 (60Hz)

Reasons to buy

+
Most affordable Galaxy S22 model
+
Improved zoom and low-light photos
+
Solid performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Below-average battery life
-
Cameras still trail Pixel 6, iPhone 13

It may not have the S Pen support or the other maxed out features found on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the Galaxy S22 does have something more important for people who want ones of the best phones but don’t want to break their budget getting one — a low price tag. At $799, the Galaxy S22 matches the price of the iPhone 13 while letting you save the couple hundred bucks that a more expensive S22 model commands.

You don’t have to make a lot of trade-offs for that lower price. The same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset that powers other S22 phones in the U.S. ships in this model. Samsung also includes the same camera improvements — a more powerful main lens, a bigger sensor for better low-light shots and a 3x optical zoom — added to the Galaxy S22 Plus. In short, this is the Samsung phone to get if you want all the great Galaxy S22 features without having to swallow a four-figure price tag.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review.

The best phone with a foldable screen

Specifications

Display: Interior: 7.6 inch OLED (2208 x 1768; 120Hz); Exterior: 6.2 inches (2268 x 832; 120Hz)
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM: 12GB
Storage : 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Rear camera: 50MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 10MP telephoto (f/2.4)
Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2), 4MP under-display (f/1.8)
Weight: 9.28 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:28 (60Hz); 8:19 (adaptive)

Reasons to buy

+
Better multitasking with task bar
+
Improved cameras
+
Brighter display
+
Slimmer hinge

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive
-
Still heavy and bulky

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes the best foldable phone and makes it better in multiple ways. For one, Samsung and Google made it much easier to multitask by adding a taskbar, and you can now drag and drop content between more apps when you're running them side by side.

We also really like the improved camera system on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, headed up by the same 50MP main sensor as the Galaxy S22 series. In our testing, the Fold 4 held its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max and beat it in a few shots. 

Other highlights of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 include a slimmer hinge and narrower bezels, as well as a brighter main display. The battery lasted longer, too, in our testing. 

However, $1,799 is still a lot to spend on a phone — even one that doubles as a tablet — and this is still one thick and heavy device. But if you want a foldable phone that can do it all, this is it. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.

How to choose the best smartphone for you

  • Android or iPhone? Android phones give you more choice in terms of price, size and innovative designs. However, iPhones offer speedier software updates, better games and apps and better security and privacy. See our iPhone vs Android face-off.
  • Unlocked or carrier? Most shoppers in the U.S. buy new phones through their wireless carrier. But an unlocked phone gives you the freedom to buy the device without any sort of contract and then bring it to the provider you want to use.
  • Screen size: If you're looking for a big phone, 6 inches and up is a good place to start. The biggest phones are 6.5 to 6.8 inches. If you want something you can easily use with one hand, go with one of the best small phones with a screen under 6 inches.
  • Cameras: Don't pay attention to the megapixel count. Instead, look at camera face-offs between phones to see the photo quality and look for special features like Night Mode to get better quality in low light. Also see our best camera phone roundup.
  • Battery life: Generally, phones with larger batteries (measured in mAh) offer the longest battery life, but that's not always the case. That's why we run our own battery test.

How we test smartphones

In order for a smartphone to make our best phone list, it needs to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.

When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.

To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.

One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.

Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.

For more information, check out our how we test (opens in new tab) page for Tom's Guide.