The best phones you can buy in 2022

Shopping for a new smartphone and need some recommendations? We've roundup up the best on the market, from flagships to budget options.

So, you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade your phone. First off, congrats! It’s always exciting upgrading to something new, and nowadays, phones are generally good and well-balanced at virtually any price point, whether you’re buying a high-end flagship or want to keep your budget in check.

But of course, no matter how much you want to spend, there will always be a hefty amount of options to choose from. And that’s where I come in. My job is to sift through the madness of the smartphone industry and track down the best phones your money can buy, no matter your needs. There’s a lot of phones you can buy, but these are the ones I’d recommend.

Here are the best phones you can currently buy.

Best Phones

Best Smartphone
Apple iPhone 14 Pro

$999

Best Android Phone
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

$1,199

Best Phone Under $500
Google Pixel 6a

$449

Best Phone Under $300
OnePlus Nord N20 5G

$282

Best Camera Phone
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

$1,199

Best Phone For Battery Life
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro

$1,100

Best Small Phone
Apple iPhone 13 mini

$599

Best Folding Phone
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

$999


Best Overall: Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro
BEST SMARTPHONE
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
PRICE
$999
WHERE TO BUY

Surprise, surprise, the iPhone 14 Pro is at the top of my Best Phones list. Why? Because it has an incredibly balanced mix of features that’s, at times, hard to come by in the phone market. The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display is beautiful, makes the phone comfortable to hold, and finally supports 120Hz. The A16 Bionic processor is as fast as lightning (pun intended). The 48MP rear camera makes everything from standard shooting to professional editing with ProRAW effortless and delightful. Battery life lasts all day long no matter what you do on it. Plus, the design is *chef’s kiss.

What do I not like? There’s still a Lightning port, which kind of interrupts my collection of cables in my daily life which usually consists of nothing but USB-C. That also slows down charging, capping out at 23W while the rest of the industry goes above and beyond 45W. The Dynamic Island is a bit gimmicky, and the always-on display drains more battery than I’d like. Oh, and the selfie camera is still kinda meh.

Beyond that, this is truly one of the best phones you can buy. If you’re comfortable spend $1,000+ on a phone, you won’t be disappointed whatsoever.

Best iPhone: Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
BEST IPHONE
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
PRICE
$1,099
WHERE TO BUY

While the 14 Pro might be my favorite phone, I think the 14 Pro Max is the best iPhone you can buy, because of course it is. It has the biggest screen at 6.7-inches, the biggest battery (4,352mAh versus 3,095mAh in the 13 Pro), faster charging at 27W, and better speakers since there’s more room for them to play with. The rest of the device is virtually identical to the 14 Pro in terms of performance, cameras, display quality, and design.

If you don’t like big phones, don’t buy this one. You also still get a Lightning port and charging speed that’s pretty abysmal by today’s standards. But anyone who wants the best iPhone they can get should look no further than the 13 Pro Max.

Best Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
BEST ANDROID PHONE
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
PRICE
$1,199

In the Android world, the best phone you can get is the Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung. The company went all-in on the concept of “Ultra” by not just integrating the best of previous Galaxy S Ultra phones, but also that of the Galaxy Note line with the included S Pen.

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOELD 2X display is one of the greatest on any phone, and the design is sleek and premium. There’s a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor under the hood that offers solid performance, and you can configure it with up to 12GB of RAM for extra multitasking prowess.

The quad-camera system on the back led by a 108MP main shooter is fantastic, with excellent photos in every lighting condition and amazing zoom capabilities (up to an insane 100x). There’s a 5,000mAh battery that can last a whole day, and you get 45W fast charging. Of course, one of the biggest features is the included S Pen, which makes this phone perfect for fans of previous Galaxy Note phones.

It’s not perfect – it’s kinda big, you won’t get more than a day on the battery, and it’s quite expensive. But for those who want the best Android phone currently on the market, the S22 Ultra is it.

Best phone under $500: Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a
BEST PHONE UNDER $500
Google Pixel 6a
PRICE
$449

If you want to save a few bucks on your next upgrade, consider the $449 Pixel 6a from Google. It’s widely considered to be one of the best budget phones currently available, all thanks to Google’s incredible work in providing a flagship-level experience at as low a price they can afford.

The 6a is powered by the Google Tensor processor, the same chip that’s in the high-end Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. This alone guarantees great performance and excellent software. Speaking of which, the phone ships with Android 12 and has been updated to Android 13. The device will receive five years’ worth of updates, which is always great to see.

It has a 6.1-inch OLED display, a 12.2MP main camera and a 12MP ultra-wide, a 4,410mAh battery that can easily last all day, and a premium design with glass and aluminum. I gave it a really positive review on CNN Underscored because when you use it, it feels like a flagship phone.

Alternative: Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE 3rd generation 2022
BEST PHONE UNDER $500
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
PRICE
$499
WHERE TO BUY

For those of you in the Apple ecosystem, there’s the iPhone SE (3rd-generation). It’s definitely not as pretty look at as the Pixel 6a, and it resembles an iPhone from 2016 far more than one from 2022, but gets the job done. It has an A15 Bionic processor which will offer great performance for years on end, there’s a solid 12MP camera on the back, and – most importantly – it runs iOS.

There are lots of downsides to owning this phone. The 4.7-inch display is small and cramped, the battery doesn’t last very long, and you’ve gotta deal with looking at ugly bezels on the top and bottom. But if you can get past that, at least as far as brand-new iPhones are concerned, the SE is the best you can get for under $500.

Best phone under $300: OnePlus Nord N20 5G

OnePlus Nord N20 5G
BEST PHONE UNDER $300
OnePlus Nord N20 5G
PRICE
$282
WHERE TO BUY

Shoppers who don’t want to spend more than $300 on a new phone should look no further than the OnePlus Nord N20 5G. It’s one of OnePlus’ best budget offerings to date.

For just $282, the N20 5G gets you a Snapdragon 695 processor and 6GB of RAM that are more than enough to handle everyday tasks, 128GB of storage, a pretty solid 64MP rear camera, and a 4,500mAh battery. The best part is the 6.43-inch display which, besides being 1080p, is AMOLED, so you get the inky blacks and vibrant colors as phones that cost three times as much.

The only real downside is the fact that it comes with Android 11. It’ll receive an upgrade to Android 12, but who knows what the future entails beyond that. Still, for less than $300, this is a great pick-up.

Best camera phone: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
BEST CAMERA PHONE
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
PRICE
$1,199

Full disclosure: I’m not saying the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the best camera you can get on a phone. That’s a toss-up between it, the iPhone 14 Pro, and Pixel 7 Pro. But those who shop for phones solely based on the best camera experience possible will appreciate the advantages the S22 Ultra has over the iPhones and Pixels of the world.

Samsung includes a huge 108MP main camera on the back that captures a ton of detail and sharpness, while also balancing out colors and contrast better than any previous Galaxy phone. There’s a 10MP periscope-style telephoto lens that enables Samsung’s famous Space Zoom feature, which kicks out 100x zoom photos. There’s also a 12MP ultra-wide lens that’s great for capturing landscapes or any scene that you want to fit more of in the frame. Plus, there’s an excellent manual mode on the S22 Ultra, which is missing from the iPhone and Google Pixel.

Overall, the S22 Ultra is the most versatile, mainstream camera phone you can buy. From a quality standpoint, it’s right in line with the latest from Apple and Google, but there’s a lot more you can do with it to get the precise shot you’re looking for.

Alternative: iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max

I’m calling out the latest iPhone as an alternative to the S22 Ultra because of one factor: video quality. Samsung is still behind Apple when it comes to recording videos on your phone. There’s a lot more artifacting and artificial processing on S22 Ultra videos than there is on the 14 Pro, whereas the iPhone is closest to recording the exact scene you’re looking at with your naked eye. The Ultra might be able to record in 8K, but I think a lot of folks will be fine with 4K/60fps on the 14 Pro.

Best phone for battery life: Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro

Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
BEST PHONE FOR BATTERY LIFE
Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro
PRICE
$1,100
WHERE TO BUY

Gaming phones are usually known for their excellent performance and advanced cooling systems, and the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro is no exception. But it does one thing particularly well that it’s taken the same spot in a lot of Best Phone roundups: battery life.

The ROG Phone 6 Pro sports a massive 6,000mAh battery which translates to an easy two days of use for a lot of users. Obviously, heavier gamers might get a couple hours less than that, but general users will get excellent stamina. I’ve even heard of folks reaching two and a half days on a full charge, which is pretty nuts.

Of course, this is a gaming phone, so you’ll have to be okay with a gamer-focused design. There’s a speedy Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, a staggering 18GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, a 50MP main camera and 12MP ultra-wide, a 6.78-inch OLED 165Hz display, and Android 12. Overall, this is no slouch of a smartphone, and it’s perfect for those who want excellent battery life.

Best small phone: Apple iPhone 13 mini

Apple iPhone 13 mini
BEST SMALL PHONE
Apple iPhone 13 mini
PRICE
$599

The world of small phones continues to be just that, small. Even after Apple shipped a miniature iPhone, smartphone companies have seemingly avoided the consumer demand for phones that don’t feel like bricks in your hand. So it’s no wonder that many people, including myself, are calling the iPhone 13 mini the best small phone you can buy.

Released in 2021, the iPhone 13 mini is the last iPhone mini that Apple will ship, at least for a long while. The 5.4-inch Super Retina XDR display is the star of the show since it keeps the form factor extremely compact, so much so that it can literally be used with one hand. It’s a nice bonus that beneath that, you get flagship specs like an A15 Bionic processor. There’s an excellent set of 12MP cameras on the back with a main lens and ultra-wide, and they’re compatible with features like Cinematic mode.

The biggest downside to this phone is the battery life, which is far shorter than any larger iPhone you can buy. That’s been the case with each miniature iPhone that Apple has released, and it’s the unfortunate sacrifice you have to make if you want the best compact phone on the market. So long as you can live with recharging your phone a couple times a day, this is an excellent pick-up, especially at the lower $599 price.

Best folding phone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
BEST FOLDING PHONE
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4
PRICE
$999

In the US, competition amongst folding phones is pretty scarce. In fact, the only company actually putting in effort is Samsung, whose latest foldable smartphones are some of the best phones you can buy, let alone ones that fold.

I’m picking the Galaxy Z Flip 4 as the best foldable smartphone for one reason: it’s a lot more accessible. The Z Fold 4 is an incredible device, but it takes a larger commitment to switch to given the higher price and substantial form factor. The Flip 4 will feel instantly familiar a) to anyone who’s used a standard smartphone and b) to anyone who used to own a traditional flip phone.

The device sports a 1.9-inch AMOLED outer display which gives you a window into your phone with notifications, widgets, and more. When you open the device, you’re greeted by a beautiful 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung made the glass stronger on this year’s model to mitigate cracks and scratches, and the design is a bit nicer with glossy accents and much more striking colors.

Under the hood, there’s a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and a 3,700mAh battery that can easily last a full day on a single charge. The dual 12MP cameras on the back are solid, and the IPX8 certification will protect your Flip from water (although there continues to be no dust or dirt resistance).

At $999, the Flip 4 is priced similarly to a lot of non-folding phones, which makes it just as accessible. Plus, Samsung is king when it comes to trade-in deals, so you’ll probably get it for far less if you’ve got an old phone to trade in. All in all, if you’ve been wanting to get into the world of foldable smartphones, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a great way to do so.


Why trust this guide?

Each time I write one of these product roundups, I spend hours analyzing dozens of products from various retailers and utilize my 7+ years of technology journalism expertise. I’ll never recommend a product I wouldn’t consider purchasing myself, and I won’t promote products I’m paid to advertise without full disclosure.