If you want one of the best phones in the UK, then we present to you our list below. It's got iPhones and Android a-plenty, so whichever device type is your preference, you can see what's good right now just by scrolling down the page.
While the phones at the top of the list do things the best, they are accordingly the most expensive. But don't worry if you're on a tighter budget, because we have several cheaper phones on the list too that still provide leading performance and features for less.
If you’ve looked at our choices for the best phones overall, you'll see that some of the phones are familiar. However the UK also has more choices from companies that have entered the European market but not the U.S., making for an exciting number of possible phones to choose from.
We've just finished our full reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra, which has caused a small shift in our listing. However Samsung's still not been able to topple the almighty iPhone 13 series, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max still sitting atop the pile.
The biggest new attraction is the OnePlus 10 Pro, which matches up to the Galaxy S22 Ultra in a lot of ways while costing a lot less. We've also got the Xiaomi 12 Pro and other 12 series phones to check out, which is one of the best phones available in the U.K. thanks to features like its unbelievably fast 120W charging.
There are other interesting devices on the market for you to check out too. That includes this colour-changing Vivo phone, the Huawei P50 Pro and P50 Pocket with their strange cameras or the Redmi Note 11 series, the follow-up to one of our current favourite phones.
What are the best phones in the UK?
The best phone in the U.K. that we've tested is the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The whole iPhone 13 line is excellent (two more models can be found on this list), but the Pro Max model stands out with its larger display, enhanced cameras and the longest battery life in the lineup.
If you're after the best of Android, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra instead. The OnePlus 10 Pro, Realme GT 2 Pro and the Pixel 6 are also excellent choices, but the S22 Ultra goes the extra mile when it comes to overall camera performance and software support, plus it's got an S Pen built right in.
For budget options, your best choices are the OnePlus Nord 2, the iPhone SE (2022) or the Redmi Note 10 Pro, depending on exactly how much money you want to spend. All of these offer some premium features despite their price, so they'll still feel special to use.
The best phones in the UK you can buy today
Apple once again leads the phone world with its top-tier iPhone 13, the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Building on last year's Pro Max, this model features improved cameras (making it again top of our best camera phones list too), a larger battery and a long-awaited 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. Apple still equips it with a mighty chipset too, and the latest version of iOS so you can enjoy all of the App Store's many apps to their fullest.
We're a little annoyed that one of the phone's new signature features — ProRes high-quality video — only works if you buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max with 256GB storage or more. The other only issue to mention is charging, as once again Apple isn't including a charger in the box, and the phone maxes out at a disappointingly slow 20W wired and 15W wireless over MagSafe.
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most refined and most well-rounded of all the Android phones on this list. It features class-leading tech like a 120Hz LTPO 2.0 display and quad rear cameras, while also adding a stylus into the mix for even more versatility.
Our only complaints are that there's still no charger in the box, which is made extra annoying this time around since the S21 Ultra now supports faster 45W charging. Also, Samsung's lowered the amount of RAM available for the phone, with the default model offering less memory for the price than the S21 Ultra did. Even with those caveats though, the S22 Ultra remains top of the Android stack.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.
Due to the size difference in the display and battery capacity, the iPhone 13 Pro doesn't quite reach the same heights as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Don't be fooled though, this iPhone still crushes most of the Android competitors beneath its heel, thanks to the combination of power and ease of use that Apple works hard to perfect.
The 6.1-inch 13 Pro still offers an excellent display, fantastic cameras and an identical A15 Bionic chipset to the one inside the iPhone 13 Pro Max. That latter feature helps the iPhone 13 Pro beat any Android phone on benchmarks or real life tests.
Just watch out for the lack of charging brick in the box though, since you may need a new charger depending on your last phone. Plus Apple's new ProRes video mode only works if you buy an iPhone 13 Pro with 256GB storage or above, which seems pretty unfair to those who otherwise don't need the extra room.
Read our full iPhone 13 Pro review.
OnePlus has made several strong upgrades with the 10 Pro, but the best decision it's made is lowering the price from last year. Now you get a big, capable smartphone for the same price as an entry-level Samsung or iPhone.
Other highlights include the new design with a matte-finished back and curved camera block, a refined 120Hz QHD display and vastly improved photography, achieved with the help of Hasselblad. The battery life is excellent too, thanks to an efficient LTPO 2.0 display and a large 5,000 mAh battery that you can charge at up to 80W.
About the only issue we found in our review is the limited resolution of the telephoto camera. At 8MP, it's quite a bit smaller than rival phones' zoom cameras, and you can tell when comparing images. This aside, the OnePlus 10 Pro is our pick for the best premium phone value.
Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.
Google's made a huge stride forward with the Pixel 6 series, bringing the company's phones up to the standard of its most successful rivals. While we love the Pixel 6 Pro for its better display and additional camera, the £600 starting price of the Pixel 6 makes it a far better value purchase.
Even with that surprisingly small price tag, you still get access to Google Tensor, the company's new in-house chip which enables fancy new features like custom image processing, on-device text and audio translation and enhanced device security.
Two of the Pixel 6's limitations, the 90Hz display (rather than the smoother 120Hz) and the lack of a telephoto camera, is a little frustrating, but you can get these instead on the Pixel 6 Pro. The lacking battery life however is more of a problem, so you may want to keep a charger handy when taking the Pixel 6 out for a long day's activities.
Read our full Pixel 6 review
Realme is still a fresh face in the smartphone business, but with the GT 2 Pro it's shown it can assemble a flagship phone that's as worthy of your consideration as more established companies.
For an attractively low price, you get the display and chipset you'd expect from a much more expensive phone, plus excellent 65W charging that outpaces most other Android phones. It also comes in a rather attractive bio-polymer body that gives the phone a very unique look, and offers the rather nifty 360-degree NFC contactless functions.
The limitation you'll have to accept with the GT 2 Pro are its cameras. Its photo processing isn't up to the standard of the bigger players, as fun as its 150-degree ultrawide and microscope cameras can be. If you're not a big snapper though, you need to consider this Realme phone if you're looking for a new premium Android.
Read our Realme GT 2 Pro review.
Samsung's made some good decisions when updating the S21 to the Galaxy S22 as it's now basically as premium as its Plus and Ultra siblings without costing nearly as much.
Although the S22 stands at a surprisingly small 6.1 inches, you still get triple rear cameras (including much-improved telephoto and night modes), an Exynos 2200 chipset and one of the best quality displays in smartphones. It's the best value way to get in on the Samsung flagship action for sure.
There are some limitations though. The small size means a small battery, and that in turn means disappointing battery life. It's also the only one of the S22 handsets to not support speedy 45W charging, which is a shame. But as sacrifices go for getting a top-tier Samsung phone go, it's not that bad, and the rest of the experience far outweighs these problems
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review.
Apple's basic iPhone 13 offers many of the features that make the iPhone 13 Pro Max our top pick, but for £300 less. That includes the mighty A15 Bionic chipset with its 5G capabilities and a bright OLED display, while a small battery size increase has done wonders for the phone's battery life.
Unfortunately what the iPhone 13 doesn't receive is a 120Hz refresh rate like its Pro siblings, making it one of the only phones of 2021 without a refresh rate above 60Hz. Apple's also been stingy with the cameras again, only giving users main and ultrawide rear sensors. Fortunately they still take great shots.
Also missing is the in-box charger, part of Apple's eco-friendly initiative, which is a little inconvenient for users. This is still the right iPhone for the majority of people though, thanks to an ideal combination of size, power and price.
Read our full iPhone 13 review.
The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the ideal phone for anyone who wants to charge up as fast as possible. How does a 0 - 100% fill-up in 22 minutes sound?
Where things fall down is that it's still more costly than last year's Xiaomi Mi 11, which makes it a harder sell. Also if you're hoping to enjoy the in-built speakers, we don't particularly rate their quality.
The rest of the phone is still more than up to scratch though. Its 6.7-inch, QHD 120Hz display looks amazing, and its cameras are pretty good too. Plus even though the price has gone up, it still undercuts the competition from Samsung.
Read our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review.
Samsung's Galaxy A53 gives you a more affordable entry point to the biggest ecosystem in the Android world, and with relatively few sacrifices. We don't like the macro or depth cameras' results on the back, and the chipset is a little underpowered, but with a 120Hz AMOLED display, decent ultrawide and low-light photography and the rare ability of expandable storage, you get enough options to cover your everyday needs.
We also really like how this phone shares the Galaxy S22's lengthy four-year update promise, meaning you can get a lot of value out of this phone even when it's no longer the latest handset. It's an easy phone to choose if you're limited on funds, but one you'll still find fun to use long into the future.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy A53 review
Xiaomi's outdone everyone with the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra in terms of the amount of stuff packed into the phone. Chief among these is the Mi 11 Ultra’s 1.1-inch rear display, which you can use to check the time and notifications or as a mini-viewfinder for taking photos with one of three 48MP cameras. With the same wonderful display as the basic Mi 11 and even faster 67W wired and wireless charging speeds, the Mi 11 Ultra is a specs monster.
The Mi 11 Ultra’s price is as high as you'd expect for this much hardware, and the battery life suffers since it's an average-sized cell that has a lot more stuff to power than the usual phone. Plus, it's not an easy phone to wield, given its large size and lack of balance because of that enormous rear camera/display bump. Despite this, you can't beat the look on someone's face when you show off the Mi 11 Ultra's features.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra review.
The latest Nord handset is a mid-range champion, offering all the basics plus several premium features on top for a very reasonable price. The option of 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, along with the surprisingly powerful Dimensity 1200-AI chipset means you get performance that's close to flagship quality.
While the Nord 2 offers a 90Hz maximum refresh rate, it needs to be manually set, which essentially means a choice between extra smoothness or extra battery life, unlike more expensive phones that let you have the best of both.
The cameras on the OnePlus Nord 2 easily match up to other camera phones in its class though. However the best part is the Nord 2’s 65W wired charging, which outpaces almost every other phone on sale today.
Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 review.
With this budget handset from Redmi, you won't find yourself wanting for much. The Redmi Note 10 Pro uses a large AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, just like phones four times as expensive. It even beats some of those more expensive phones on charging speed with an included 33W charger.
The basic price of the phone only gets you 64GB of storage however, which isn't too much these days. The more long-term problem is the lack of power in the Snapdragon 732G chipset, which feels slow to use. As long as you don't use too many high-intensity apps, you'll be fine though.
The Note 10 Pro also uses the same telemacro camera found on the Xiaomi Mi 11, and it's just as good despite this being a far cheaper phone. The other cameras do a surprisingly good job too.
Read our full Redmi Note 10 Pro review.
Apple's latest iPhone SE looks a lot older than it appears. If you don't mind, or even prefer, a phone with thick bezels and a physical home button, then you can save a lot of money by going for this cheaper iPhone.
Using the same chip as the iPhone 13, you get incredible performance compared to similarly priced Android phones. It can also use that performance to take some great photos, although there's only a single camera on the back which can limit the kind of shots you can take.
Probably the worst part of the experience is the display, which has a very poor resolution since the iPhone SE's body is based on the 2017 iPhone 8. You won't be enjoying movies or games to their fullest extent on the iPhone SE 2022, but you may well appreciate how well it covers the bases of the iPhone experiences for half of a new iPhone 13.
Read our full iPhone SE (2022) review.
How to choose the best U.K. phone for you
Your first question when picking which phones to shortlist should be: Apple or Android? iPhones are excellent, but deciding against any kind of Android phone means limiting your choice significantly. Generally, if you want the latest and greatest hardware, you're better off with a recent Android phone, whereas iPhones prioritise well-optimised features that work seamlessly with user-friendly software.
It's also important to keep the size of the phones you're looking at in mind. Many phones are above 6 inches in size these days, which suits most people but if you want something more compact, you'll need to search more thoroughly for the best small phones.
As for key features, the two you'll want to focus on are cameras and battery. With phones having all but replaced the compact digital camera, it's important to have a versatile array of cameras. High megapixel (MP) counts aren't everything though, so take a look through our comparison photo sliders in our reviews to see how all the cameras on a phone perform against a rival phone.
The importance of battery and charging should be obvious: you want your phone to last as long as possible, and ideally power up again quickly. As a general rule, the more milliamp hours (mAh) in a phone's battery, the better. However it's not always accurate — iPhones have some of the smallest batteries of any modern phone, but some still place highly on our best battery life phones list. Again, it's a good idea to check our reviews where we detail how long these phones last doing everyday tasks.
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 a 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.