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Best Samsung phones 2022: Which Galaxy model should you buy?

best samsung phones
(Image credit: Future)

If you want the best Samsung phones, don't look any further than the new Galaxy S22 models. All three introduce excellent new features — bright displays, great performance and improved cameras — while maintaining the same price range as the Galaxy S21 models introduced a year ago.

But flagship phones are expensive, even the entry-level S22, which starts at $799. If that's too much for your budget, don't despair — Samsung offers other top devices that rank among the best phones, and they can be had for less. That's especially true if you're willing to consider the phone maker's more affordable Galaxy A midrange models.

We've got a list of reasons to buy and skip the Galaxy S22 as well as why you might want to buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra, if you're trying to decide among the latest phones. Our Pixel 6a vs. Galaxy A53 comparison shows how Samsung's top budget phone measure up to the upcoming Pixel, should you be more focused on lower-cost devices.

No matter what model has caught your eye, picking the best Samsung phone for you comes down to figuring out what kind of phone you're looking for and how much you're willing to pay. No matter what the answers to those questions are, there's likely a device for your needs among the best Samsung phones. And if you do pick one up, make sure you check out what the first app you should install on your Samsung Galaxy phone is and all of other Samsung hidden features that will change the way you use your phone.

What are the best Samsung phones?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ultimate Samsung flagship, and its our pick for the best Samsung phone right now. If you don't want to pay more than $1,000 for a phone, the Galaxy S22 Plus gives you a big-screen device that's less expensive than the Ultra, and the Galaxy S22 lets you save even more, with the lowest price among Samsung flagships.

There are cheaper options than the S22. The Galaxy S21 FE gives you a way to enjoy the key features of Samsung's flagship lineup, though it draws its inspiration from last year's S21 lineup. A better choice would be the Galaxy A53, which gives you a capable 5G phone for less than $500.

As for Samsung's foldable phones, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the more impressive addition to Samsung's phone lineup, thanks to a giant screen that offers a 120Hz refresh rate. But the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is still a compelling option, thanks largely to its lower price tag. You can now order a customized version of the Z Flip 3 where you get to pick your own color combination, if you're willing to pay a little bit more.

The best Samsung phones you can buy right now

best samsung phones Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Future)
The best Samsung phone you can buy

Specifications

Screen size: 6.8 inches
Android version: 12 with One UI 4.1
Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Cameras: 108MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 2 10MP telephoto (rear); 40MP (front)
RAM/Storage: 8GB, 12GB/128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Faster S Pen built in
+
Super bright display
+
Cameras offer better low light performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
Less RAM than previous model

Looking for the best Samsung phone? Then look no further than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the crown jewel in Samsung’s new lineup of flagship phones. The S22 Ultra rises to the top of our list by drawing upon an old familiar phone to Samsung fans — the design looks like a Galaxy Note model, right down to the slot for the included S Pen.

This is more than just a rehash of the Galaxy Note, though, as the Galaxy S22 Ultra delivers the brightest display we’ve yet tested, a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, and terrific camera improvements. The larger sensor on the new Ultra’s main camera lets in more light for better low-light photography, and we also appreciate software improvements like the more advanced Portrait mode. Samsung has even begun to roll out updates for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera, including a performance upgrade to portrait mode.

We wish battery life was a little better, though we appreciate that Samsung has gone back to 45W charging for this model. All told, this is a fine phone that should appeal to any Samsung fan who wants the best possible handset.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Many of the Galaxy S features for less

Specifications

Screen size: 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
Android version: 12, OneUI 4.1
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Cameras: 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x telephoto; 10MP front
RAM / Storage: 8GB / 128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Most affordable Galaxy S22 model
+
Bright, colorful display
+
Improved zoom and low-light photos
+
Solid performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Below-average battery life

As good as the Galaxy S22 Ultra is, it also has the second-highest starting price of any new Samsung phone — only the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will cost you more out of the gate. While you certainly get what you pay for with the Ultra, you can get a lot of the same features for hundreds of dollars less with the Galaxy S22.

The Galaxy S22 boasts the same chipset found in more expensive S22 models, and it also has a brighter screen than its predecessor, even if the S22 Ultra and S22 Plus outshine it. Samsung also improved the cameras on the Galaxy S22, which takes excellent low-light photos and compelling portrait shots. Unlike other flagship phones in its price range, the Galaxy S22 even has a dedicated telephoto lens which now supports a 3x optical zoom.

You won’t get the fast wired charging found in other Galaxy S22 models, and the S22’s battery life leaves a little bit to be desired. But at $799, this model delivers the right balance of premium features and value for your money.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review.

Best Samsung Phones: Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The affordable big-screen option in the S22 lineup

Specifications

Screen size: 6.6 inches
Android version: 12 with One UI 4.1
Processor: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Cameras: 50MP wide, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP telephoto (rear); 10MP (front)
RAM/Storage: 8GB/128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful and very bright display
+
Faster 45W charging
+
Improved zoom feature

Reasons to avoid

-
Most camera improvements still can’t match Google Pixel
-
Battery life barely better than last year

It’s tempting to overlook the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, wedged as it is between the low-cost Galaxy S22 and the feature-packed Galaxy S22 Ultra. But make no mistake — the Galaxy S22 Plus is a stellar Samsung phone in its own right. Owners of last year’s S21 Plus may not notice much of a difference, but if you’ve had the same phone for more than two years, the Galaxy S22 Plus can offer you a premium experience without the Ultra’s stratospheric price tag. 

You get the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor that powers the S22 Ultra, and while the latter phone has more sophisticated camera specs, the Galaxy S22 Plus can hold its own, particularly when it comes to low-light photography. You also can enjoy the same bright display and fast 45W charging found in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but for $200 less.

The Galaxy S22 Plus is the big-screen phone to get if you can’t swing the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s proof again that Samsung really know its way around a device with welcoming display.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review.

best samsung phones: Samsung Galaxy A53

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best Samsung phone for less than $500

Specifications

Screen size: 6.5 inches
Android version: 12 with One UI 4.1
Processor: Exynos 1280
Cameras: 64MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 5MP depth (rear); 32MP (front)
RAM/Storage: 6GB / 128GB

Reasons to buy

+
Good display with 120Hz refresh rate
+
Expandable storage up to 1TB
+
Nice design and build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Pointless macro and depth sensors

Samsung continues to show that it’s serious about midrange phones with the Galaxy A53. Opt for this model and you can get a device with a screen that refreshes at 120Hz and delivers reasonable performance for hundreds less than what Samsung charges for one of its flagships.

Yes, the $449 price of the Galaxy A53 means some compromises, such as a less powerful Exynos 1280 chipset instead of the top-of-the-line Snapdragon silicon found in the Galaxy S22 series. We also wish Samsung didn’t include a superfluous macro camera with the A53’s array of lenses.

But that low price — equal to the Pixel 5a’s cost — is hard to beat, especially in a phone that comes with a solid design and a generous amount of software updates. If you’re a Samsung fan in search of bargains, the Galaxy A53 is the phone to get.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A53 review.

best Samsung phones: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Samsung’s best foldable phone

Specifications

Screen size: 7.6 inches (inner), 6.2 inches (outer)
Android version: 11 with One UI 3.1
Processor: Snapdragon 888
Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrade, 12MP telephoto (rear); 10MP (front); 4MP (under-display)
RAM/Storage: 12GB/256GB, 512GB

Reasons to buy

+
Dual 120Hz displays
+
Durable design with water resistance rating
+
More apps supported for multitasking

Reasons to avoid

-
S Pen isn't included
-
Still expensive

Samsung’s premium foldable phone remains the Galaxy Z Fold 3, especially now that the new version has added 120Hz displays both inside and out. What’s more, the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more durable than ever, thanks to an IPX8 water resistance rating, The Armor Aluminum body is stronger than before while the phone’s use of a Gorilla Glass Victus display should reduce the likelihood of scratches and other damage.

One of the best things Samsung did was to convince more app makers to optimize their software to work with the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s foldable display. You’ll see popular apps like Spotify and TikTok now take advantage of the Z Fold 3’s unique form factor. Samsung added S Pen support, too, and while the main display certainly gives you a lot of real estate for sketching and taking notes, it’s a shame the stylus is an optional accessory (meaning you’ll have to pay extra to pick up both an S Pen and a case for holding the stylus).

Battery life on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could be better, and while the debut price is lower than what it was for the Galaxy Z Fold 2, $1,799 is still a lot to pay for the phone. Nevertheless, if you want a premium device that gives you plenty of screen to work with, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best Samsung phone yet to offer a foldable display.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.

best samsung phones: Samsung galaxy s21 fe

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
The S21's top features at a lower price

Specifications

Screen Size: 6.4 inches
Android Version: 12 with One UI 4
Processor: Snapdragon 888
Cameras: 12MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 8MP telephoto (Rear); 32MP (Front)
RAM/Storage: 6GB, 8GB/128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
Snapdragon 888 processor
+
Improved Night Mode
+
Ships with Android 12

Reasons to avoid

-
120Hz refresh rate isn't adaptive
-
Hard to recommend with Galaxy S22 launch looming

You don't need to pay full price to get the big features in the Galaxy S21 lineup. For $100 less than the standard Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21 FE lets you enjoy a Snapdragon 888 processor, a fast-refreshing display and cameras that can hold their own against the top camera phones.

There are some trade-offs. Samsung puts less RAM in this device than in its other Galaxy S21 models, and the refresh rate on the 6.4-inch display is not adaptive — you have to manually adjust it. And that can adversely affect battery life.

Still, everything else you'd want in a Samsung phone is here with a larger screen than what you get with the standard S21. With the Galaxy S22 debuting at $799, there's only a $100 difference from the Galaxy S21 FE. That's not a lot to pay for a more updated phone, but if you can't go any higher than $699, at least the Galaxy S21 FE still delivers plenty of features for less than you'd expect to pay.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.

galaxy a32 5G review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
An older budget 5G option from Samsung

Specifications

Screen size: 6.5 inches
Android version: 11 with One UI 3.1
Processor: Dimensity 720
Cameras: 48MP main, 8MP ultrawide, 5MP macro, 2MP depth (Rear); 13MP (Front)
RAM/Storage: 4GB/64GB

Reasons to buy

+
Very low price
+
Four years of security patches
+
Great battery life
+
90Hz refresh rate

Reasons to avoid

-
Subpar HD+ display

The Galaxy A53 isn't Samsung's cheapest 5G phone. That would be last year's Galaxy A32 5G, a sub-$300 option that sports many things people love about Galaxy phones, but with some corners cut to keep the price down. The biggest downside is the underwhelming display. The size combined with the low resolution doesn't look great in person.

However, if you're strapped for cash and want a phone with decent cameras, the Galaxy A32 5G is one you should consider. With its big 6.5-inch screen, the A32 is not a small phone. But it packs a 5,000 mAh battery that lasts a really long time — almost 12 hours in our testing with its adaptive refresh rate enabled. You can also expect the Galaxy A32 to go for longer than many other budget options, with Samsung promising three years of Android updates and four years of security patches.

While there's a newer model around, the Galaxy A33 isn't slated to ship outside of Europe. So the Galaxy A32 might be your only choice if the A53 is still too rich for your blood.

Read our full Galaxy A32 5G review.

Best Samsung phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Making foldable phones more accessible

Specifications

Screen size: 6.7 inches (inner), 1.9 inches (outer)
Android version: 11 with One UI 3.1
Processor: Snapdragon 888
Cameras: 12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide (rear); 10MP (front)
RAM/Storage: 8GB/128GB, 256GB

Reasons to buy

+
More affordable
+
Enhanced durability
+
Bigger cover display

Reasons to avoid

-
Short battery life
-
No telephoto lens

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the first “affordable” foldable phone. Starting at $999, it offers top-end specs and the ability to fold in half horizontally. This makes for a very pocketable device that packs a serious punch. 

That said, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has notable flaws, such as its short battery life. In our testing, it lasted for just 6 hours when the display was locked at 60Hz. And the Flip 3 lacks a telephoto lens, unlike other phones at this price range. But the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a novel thing.

The phone can become even more novel if you opt for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 Bespoke Edition. This $1,099 version lets you choose the colors of the frame as well as the front and back panel — there are 49 color combinations in all. Samsung bills this option as a way to add your own unique flair to an already unique-looking device.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review.

How to choose the best Samsung phones

Picking which Samsung phone to buy is primarily driven by budget considerations. You're not going to spring for a Galaxy S22 Ultra, for example, if you're not prepared with at least $1,199 even if you opt to spread those payments out over time. But other factors need to be taken into consideration as well.

Start with how you use your smartphone. If it's primarily a productivity device, the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 3 are appealing, despite their high price tags, because they both support the S Pen. (The S22 Ultra now comes with an S Pen, in fact.) If you turn to your phone for photography, the Galaxy S series is usually first in line for Samsung's camera innovations, and all three S22 models offer impressive camera features.

Budget-minded shoppers will want to look at the Galaxy S21 FE, which costs $100 less than its fellow Samsung flagships. For a lower cost and a step down on some more features, there's the Galaxy A lineup. You can also find discounts on Samsung phones by buying directly from the phone maker and trading in your current device. Check out the best Samsung phone deals for the latest savings.

With the Galaxy S22 now shipping, our attention can turn to future Samsung phones. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 aren't due out until the summer, and they may be joined by an entirely new foldable from Samsung that features an expandable screen. There's also reports that the next versions of the Fold and Flip could see a big design update.

How we test the best Samsung phones

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 3DMark 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. (We unfortunately have to skip this test on some phones due to app compatibility issues, but we attempt this benchmark with each device we get in to review.)

Performance benchmarks
Geekbench 5 (single-core / multicore)3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (FPS)
Galaxy S22 Ultra1240 / 339257
Galaxy S221204 / 334860
Galaxy S22 Plus1214 / 336160
Galaxy A53745 / 188814
Galaxy Z Fold 31107 / 341834
Galaxy S21 FE1101 / 319934
Galaxy A32500 / 16427
Galaxy Z Flip 3737 / 298427

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.

Display benchmarks
sRGB (%)DCI-P3 (%)Delta-E
Galaxy S22 Ultra138970.25
Galaxy S22210 (Vivid) / 100 (Natural)149 (VIvid) / 78 (Natural)0.33 (Vivid) / 0.22 (Natural)
Galaxy S22 Plus212 (Vivid) / 128 (Natural)150 (Vivid) / 91 (Natural)0.35 (Vivid) / 0.23 (Natural)
Galaxy A53204 (Vivid) / 123 (Natural)145 (Vivid) / 87 (Natural)0.32 (Vivid) / 0.31 (Natural)
Galaxy Z Fold 3104760.26
Galaxy S21 FE207 (Vivid) / 120 (Natural)147 (Vivid) / 79 (Natural)0.32 (Vivid) / 0.29 (Natural)
Galaxy A3296680.35
Galaxy Z Flip 3102760.32

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 if the phone doesn't have 5G support) 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.

Battery life benchmark
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)
Galaxy S22 Ultra8:50 (Adaptive) / 8:56 (Natural)
Galaxy S227:51 (Adaptive) / 8:02 (Natural)
Galaxy S22 Plus9:27 (Adaptive) / 10:27 (60Hz)
Galaxy A539:49 (Adaptive) / 10:38 (60Hz)
Galaxy Z Fold 3Inner: 6:35 (Adaptive) / 7:53 (60Hz) | Outer: 7:57 (Adaptive) / 8:48 (60Hz)
Galaxy S21 FE7:40 (120Hz) / 9:15 (60Hz)
Galaxy A3211:36 (Adaptive) / 12:10 (60Hz)
Galaxy Z Flip 35:43 (Adaptive) / 6:00 (60Hz)

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. 

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.