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Best phones in 2022: The top smartphones rated

best phones: galaxy s22 ultra and iphone 13 pro max lying side by side
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We test and rate the best phones because you deserve a handset that has it all. 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. Put simply, these phones should be a pleasure to use.

To help you pick the best smartphone for your needs and budget, we test dozens of handsets in the lab and in the real world to bring you in-depth reviews and make recommendations you can trust. We also compare the best camera phones side by side to see which devices offer the best image quality. 

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 based on our testing. Here are the top smartphones right now.

What are the best phones?

Based on our testing, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best phone you can buy right now. It delivers a 120Hz ProMotion display along with the best cameras in a phone. This includes a new macro mode, Cinematic mode for video and brighter images in low light. Plus, you get over 12 hours of battery life in our testing. The iPhone 13 Pro is great as well if you prefer a smaller 6.1-inch display, as it has all the same features.

If you're unwilling to spend upward of $1,000 on a phone, though, Apple has you covered with the $799 iPhone 13. It's the best value among flagship phones at the moment with a brighter display than the iPhone 12 and improved wide and ultra-wide cameras that are a step ahead of Android phones, plus blistering performance from the A15 Bionic processor and long battery life. 

If you prefer Android, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the top premium option, as it delivers the brightest and more colorful display we've tested, a built-in S Pen that's 70% faster than before and much improved cameras. A cheaper version, the Galaxy S22 lets you enjoy many of the great features included in the Galaxy S lineup, but for less than both the Ultra and the Galaxy S22 Plus.

Android fans shouldn't overlook the OnePlus 10 Pro, a great update from OnePlus that continues the camera improvements that began with the OnePlus 9 series. But the better choice for camera buffs would be one of Google's flagships — either the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. 

We're still a month away from the Pixel 6a's official arrival, which leaves our best budget pick up in the air. As good as the Pixel 5a has been, it's hard to recommend that phone with the 6a coming soon. You can also consider the $449 Samsung Galaxy A52 and the $429 iPhone SE if you don't want to spend big bucks, but still demand a very good phone.

The best phones you can buy today

The best phone overall

Specifications

Display: 6.7-inch OLED (2778 x 1284)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear camera: 12MP main (f/1.5), 12MP ultrawide (f/1.8), 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) with 3x
Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 12:16

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class cameras
+
120Hz ProMotion display
+
Superior performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Charging could be faster
-
No Touch ID

The iPhone 13 Pro Max earns the title of best phone thanks to a number of key upgrades. This includes a new 6.7-inch ProMotion display that scales up to 120Hz for silky smooth animations, awesome performance from the A15 Bionic chip and epic battery life of over 12 hours in our web surfing test.

The cameras on the iPhone 13 Pro Max are simply best in class, thanks to improved sensors that capture more light and a new Photographic styles feature that lets you tweak the look of your pics. But the coolest camera features are a new macro mode that helps you shoot awesome close-ups and a Cinematic mode for video that delivers a compelling bokeh effect along with automatic focusing between subjects.

The charging could be faster. But, overall, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is second to none among smartphones. 

Read our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review (opens in new tab).

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 phone for the money

Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2532 x 1170)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP main (f/1.6), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.4)
Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 6.1 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 10:33

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class cameras
+
A15 Bionic blows away Android phones
+
Brighter display
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Charging could be faster
-
No telephoto zoom or 120Hz screen

The best phone for the money, the iPhone 13 delivers a fantastic camera experience in a compact design. The main camera gathers more light now and the ultra-wide camera captures more of the scene. And the Cinematic mode for video gives you Hollywood-like depth of focus in your footage, thanks to the powerful new A15 Bionic processor. 

Other highlights include a brighter 6.1-inch display and a smaller notch up top so you get more screen real estate. The biggest improvement is battery life, as we saw about 10.5 hours of endurance, which is an improvement of over 1.5 hours from the iPhone 12. Add in a base 128GB of storage for your $799 and you can’t go wrong with this iPhone. 

Read our full iPhone 13 review.

The best Android experience for a great price

Specifications

Display: 6.4-inch OLED (2400x1080)
CPU: Google Tensor
RAM: 8GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB / No
Rear camera: 50MP main (f/1.85), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2)
Front camera: 8MP (f/2.0)
Weight: 7.3 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 8:13

Reasons to buy

+
Tensor chip adds smarts to the phone
+
Excellent photo-editing features
+
Android 12 is a welcome update

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life can be short over 5G
-
Lacks telephoto lens and 120Hz display of Pixel 6 Pro

The Google Pixel 6 is the best smartphone to get if you want the ultimate Android experience, especially now that Google has started using its own Tensor chipset to power the phone. Tensor keeps pace with the Snapdragon 888 inside most of the other top Android phones, but more importantly, it powers the kind of machine learning-driven experiences that make Google's phones unique.

The cameras feature a 50MP main lens, but the real story remains the software, where Tensor helps power features like Magic Eraser for easily removing people from the background of your shots and Motion Mode for making action shots look more dynamic. If you want a telephoto lens and a bigger display, you can always upgrade to the Pixel 6 Pro for $899.

That's $300 more than the starting price for the Pixel 6, and that cost happens to be one of the better features of the phone. It's hard to find a better starting price for such a premium device.

Read our full Google Pixel 6 review.

The best budget camera phone — for now

Specifications

Display: 6.43 -inch OLED (2400 x 1800)
CPU: Snapdragon 765G
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / No
Rear camera: 12.2MP (f/1.7), 16MP (f/2.2) ultrawide
Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0)
Weight: 6.5 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:45

Reasons to buy

+
Spectacular cameras
+
Big, bright display
+
IP67 water resistance

Reasons to avoid

-
Same chipset as Pixel 4a 5G
-
Limited to U.S. and Japan

The Google Pixel 5a has been the best sub-$500 phone you can buy, but we imagine that's about to change. The Pixel 6a arrives in July, and it features Google's own Tensor processor plus a more eye-catching design. If you can wait until the summer, the Pixel 6a may be the more compelling buy.

Until that phone arrives, you'll appreciate the dual rear lenses on the Pixel 5a, as a 16MP ultrawide shooter complements the 12.2MP main camera. That expands the Pixel 5a's flexibility over previous models, while the phone continues to benefit from Google's prowess with computational photography. The Pixel 5a's display is big and bright, and this phone offers IP67 water resistance, something missing from past A series models.

The Tensor ship in the Pixel 6 delivers a better overall experience, and it's only $150 more than the Pixel 5a, but Google's least expensive new phone remains an outstanding option for bargain hunters, pending the Pixel 6a's release.

Read our full Google Pixel 5a review.

The best midrange phone for Android fans

Specifications

Display: 6.5-inch OLED (2400x1080; 120Hz)
CPU: Exynos 1280
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB / Yes
Rear camera: 64MP wide (f/1.82), 12MP ultra wide (ƒ/2.2), 5MP macro (f/2.4), 5MP depth (f/2.4)
Front camera: 32MP (ƒ/2.2)
Weight: 6.7 oz
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:49

Reasons to buy

+
Good display with 120Hz refresh rate
+
Excellent software support
+
Expandable storage up to 1TB

Reasons to avoid

-
Pointless macro and depth cameras
-
Ho-hum battery life

The Galaxy A53 is one of the best phones you can buy for less than $500, at least until Google's Pixel 6a arrives and we can test that phone's cameras. But even then, you'll appreciate the fast refreshing display and expandable storage that the Galaxy A53 has to offer. Many phones in the A53's price range don't offer a fast refresh rate, and a lot of phone makers are sacrificing microSD expansion slots.

The Galaxy A53 kept pace with the Pixel 5a in our camera testing, even if it couldn't quite match the output of the Google phone. Battery life is average at best, though the Exynos 1280 chipset powering the A53 can keep pace with other midrange Android devices. All told, you get a lot of value for your $449, with the Galaxy A53 requiring minimal trade-offs for its low price tag.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A53 review.

A powerhouse flagship with great battery life

Specifications

Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2532 x 1170)
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB / No
Rear cameras: 12MP main (f/1.5), 12MP ultrawide (f/1.8), 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) with 3x
Front camera: 12MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 11:42

Reasons to buy

+
Fast A15 Bionic performance
+
Stellar cameras
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively slow charging
-
No Touch ID

If you want the power of the iPhone 13 Pro Max in something more compact, the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro is the best phone for you. This flagship packs all of the same great features and performance as its bigger brother, including a new 3x telephoto zoom camera, 120Hz ProMotion display and support for ProRes video.

The iPhone 13 Pro also benefits from longer battery life, as this iPhone lasted over 11 hours on our web surfing battery test. We just wish the charging was faster. Add in a brighter display, a slick Cinematic mode for video and impressive new macro photography and you have a superb all-around phone. 

Read our full iPhone 13 Pro review (opens in new tab)

A great Samsung alternative

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
+
Lower price than last year

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.

A very good flagship value

Specifications

Display: 6.71-inch OLED (3120 x 1440)
CPU: Tensor
RAM: 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear cameras: 50MP (f/1.85) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 48MP (f/3.5) 4x telephoto
Front camera: 11MP (f/2.2)
Weight: 7.4 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:49 (Adaptive) / 7:55 (60Hz)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible cameras
+
Tensor performs well
+
Cheaper than other flagships
+
Attractive new design

Reasons to avoid

-
Disappointing battery life

While the Galaxy S22 Ultra may be the most premium Android phone around, the true flagship handset for the OS is the Google Pixel 6 Pro. Google turned a page last year with the Pixel 6 series, introducing a wholly new design and an in-house chipset. The Tensor system-on-chip specializes in AI and machine learning applications.

You also get the trademark class-leading Pixel camera experience. The Pixel 6 Pro packs in three rear cameras, including a telephoto with 4x optical zoom. The front-facing camera can zoom out for ultrawide selfies. But the Pixel 6 Pro’s biggest failing is its disappointing battery life. It’s possible that an older 5G modem is to blame.

Plus, the Pixel 6 Pro is at the front of the line for the latest Android updates (and will be eligible for the Android 13 betas later this year). 

Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro 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.

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 888
RAM: 12GB
Storage / Expandable: 256GB, 512GB / No
Rear camera: 12MP wide (f/1.8), 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2), 12MP telephoto (f/2.4)
Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2), 4MP under-display (f/1.8)
Weight: 9.55 ounces
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 7:52 (60Hz), 6:35 (120Hz)

Reasons to buy

+
More durable, water resistant design
+
Dual 120Hz displays
+
Improved mutitasking

Reasons to avoid

-
S Pen isn't included
-
Still pricey

Samsung continues trying to make foldable phones more appealing to mainstream shoppers, and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a big step forward in that regard. While the $1,799 price is still a lot to pay for a phone, it’s $200 lower than the Galaxy Z Fold 2’s debut cost. And the phone is more durable than ever with an IPX8 water-resistance rating, Armor Aluminum Frame and Gorilla Glass Victus display.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 also introduces new features such as displays with 120Hz refresh rates (both inside and out), an under-display camera on that interior screen and S Pen support. That latter feature is optional, though, meaning you’ll need to pay extra for the stylus. 

More apps than ever before support the Galaxy Z Fold, so chances are, the apps you use on a daily basis will benefit from the phone’s support for multitasking. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 isn’t for everyone, but it’s the best foldable phone Samsung’s released yet — at least until the Galaxy Z Fold 4's expected arrival later this year.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 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.

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

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