Best smartphone 2022: the top Apple and Android phones

Best smartphone 2022: the top Apple and Android phones

If you’re in the market for a mobile upgrade, this is the list you’re looking for. From big-screen Androids to the latest iPhone flagship, we’ve reviewed the best smartphone options you can buy in 2022. And to help you pick which is the right fit for your pocket, we’ve ranked our favourites below.

To test the best smartphone options, our team takes every model out into the real world. That means binge-watching on the bus to measure battery life, snapping all day to bag an album of camera samples, and maxing out the graphics on Genshin Impact to assess processing power.

After putting each contender through its paces, we highlight the winning handsets in this guide. If you’re shopping specifically for the best Android smartphone, we’ve got a separate feature covering exactly that. We’ve also rounded up the best budget blowers, the top mid-range mobiles, and our favourite smaller phones.

Our pick of the best smartphones you can buy right now

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra smartphone review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

If you’re shopping for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2022, the Samsung Galaxy Ultra S22 is top of the tree. Superlative in every respect, it exceeded all expectations in testing. Clad in Armour Aluminium and Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, it feels equal parts premium and rugged in the hand. Its sizeable 6.8in AMOLED display is sublime on the eyes, while the bundled S Pen stylus is more responsive than ever.

Performance is similarly peerless. Whether you pick up an Exynos or Snapdragon example, the Ultra whizzes through almost every app, task and game. That silicon is complemented by a neural processing unit which gives the top-spec S22 too many camera highlights to summarise: from zoom clarity to colour reproduction, it’s the class of the field. Yes, you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege of squeezing an S22 Ultra into your pocket. But if you’re willing to do so, your reward will be the best overall smartphone you can buy right now.

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max smartphone

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

At first glance, the latest iPhone doesn’t change anything. Upon closer inspection, it changes one: the notch. Now a pill-shaped cutout called Dynamic Island, the UI adapts around it to show app-specific shortcuts. Unless an app doesn’t support it, then it remains a black blob.

Otherwise, the Pro is an evolutionary iteration. You still get a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto trio of cameras, but the rear flash is brighter, macro zoom is boosted to 2x optical and the main sensor has leapt to 48MP. Stills feel detailed and alive, while low-light shots are now even better. Up front, selfies are sharper, while the vivid 6.1in display is brighter at 2000 nits. It can also be set to always-on, showing a dim version of your lock screen.

As a package, the iPhone 14 Pro is brilliant. With A16 Bionic silicon running the show, nothing fazes it. Add an industry-leading display and impressive camera revamp and you’ve got a top smartphone. But if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 13 Pro, you might want to wait another generation.

Google Pixel 7 Pro in hand homescreen

Google Pixel 7 Pro

A relatively minor upgrade from its predecessor, the Pixel 7 Pro is a worthy Google flagship. It matches the outgoing model on price, while streamlining the design, adding a speedier CPU and doubling down on camera capabilities.

Slimmed by a few millimetres, it remains a sizeable handset. Like the 6 Pro, its display is a 6.7in AMOLED number, but peak brightness has been boosted to a huge 1500 nits. That makes the viewing experience even more vibrant, even if you can’t force adaptive refresh rates to stay at 120Hz.

The 50MP main sensor is unchanged, but the telephoto now has 5x optical zoom and 30x digital, while a new autofocus setup lets the ultra wide work as a macro snapper. Image quality is superb, with wide dynamic range and satisfying detail. Night Sight is faster and sharper, too.

Tweaked for gen two, its Tensor chip isn’t the last word in mobile muscle, but it matches other flagships for seamless multi-tasking. It’s also more energy efficient, squeezing a full day of use from the 5000mAh cell.

OnePlus 10 Pro smartphone in hand

OnePlus 10 Pro

Delivering killer specs at a competitive price point, the OnePlus 10 Pro hits a home run. Set aside low-light photography limitations and it’s a top-drawer handset in every respect. Its all-screen frontage fits the modern mould, complemented by a tactile matte back. The display itself is simply brilliant, with dynamic refresh rates ranging from 1 to 120Hz.

A trademark alert slider marks it out as a OnePlus handset, while Hasselblad branding on the ceramic camera bump hints at enhanced shooting modes. Results are great in good conditions, with Pro and 12-bit RAW+ options offering useful flexibility for serious snappers.

Performance is predictably superb, while battery life proved impressively frugal throughout our testing. When the 5000mAh cell did run empty, 80W SuperVooc refuelling had it back to full in just over half an hour. If you can handle its heft, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a fantastic smartphone for the money.

Oppo Find X5 Pro smartphone review

Oppo Find X5 Pro

If you’re not fussed about shooting subjects from afar, the Oppo Find X5 Pro has the chops to challenge for that coveted spot in your pocket. From its punchy 6.7in screen to its powerful internal hardware, it does a whole lot to justify the big number on its ticket. Top-spec Snapdragon silicon delivers power in spades, matched by stupidly quick 80W wired charging speeds. And while it might be a fingerprint magnet, the way the ceramic shell curves seamlessly around the camera housing is a work of art.

In all ways but one, camera performance is similarly brilliant. The main and ultra-wide snappers capture bright, detailed and balanced results, whether you’re shooting in daylight or after dark. A MariSilicon X neural processing chip also enhances things with the aid of machine learning. Only one spec holds it back from perfection: the meagre 2x optical zoom offered by the telephoto. But if that’s not a dealbreaker, this is a five-star smartphone.

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra lead

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra

Impressive hardware and effortless style combine in the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra to earn plenty of street cred for its maker. From a premium finish to ridiculous 125W charging speeds, it has pretty much everything going for it. A streamlined design lifts it above Moto’s more affordable handsets, while 144Hz refresh rates make its punchy OLED display among the smoothest out there. It’s also a sharp shooter, courtesy of a pixel-packed 200MP main camera and 60MP selfie cam.

It’s not without limitations: the build isn’t waterproof and the storage isn’t expandable. Zoom fans might also feel restricted by the 2x optical range. But slimline software and slick multi-tasking modes do a lot to alleviate any minor grumbles. As an alternative to the usual big hitters, the Edge 30 Ultra offers almost everything you’d want from a high-end phone – only without the painfully expensive asking price.

Apple iPhone 13 Mini in hand

Apple iPhone 13 Mini

A year after its launch, the iPhone 13 Mini is the best small smartphone you can buy in 2022. A compact model with very few comprises, it’s a pocketable handset with full-fat performance. And with no successor in the iPhone 14 line-up, it looks like the last palm-friendly iPhone for a while.

Physically smaller than the iPhone SE (2022), it maximises the real estate with a frame-filling 5.4in OLED that’s rich, sharp and bright. Its 12MP main camera delivers impressive results, aided by optical image stabilisation. And while screen refresh rates are capped at 60Hz, an A15 Bionic processor – the same chip found inside the iPhone 14 – means iOS 15 runs snappily.

Battery life is one of the few trade-offs, although it still out-performed the standard iPhone 12 in testing. And at its new lower price, the iPhone 13 Mini cements its status as the top smartphone with smaller proportions.

A hand holding the Google Pixel 6a smartphone, showing the front side

Google Pixel 6a

We’ve long been fans of Google’s affordable phones, and the Pixel 6a only continues that record. Well-rounded and wallet-friendly, this is as streamlined as Android excellence gets. There’s none of the Nothing Phone 1’s snazzy lighting, but the composite shell does a stellar impression of the glass used by its premium cousins. You’re also getting pure Android 12, which the 6a’s Tensor CPU runs without a stutter.

Where the Pixel 6a really excels is in the shooting stakes. With powerful algorithms in its arsenal, almost every image it captures is balanced, noise-free and packed with detail. There’s no telephoto, but autofocus is rapid, while Night Sight pulls true-to-life stills from tricky late-night scenes.

It’s not without compromise. You don’t get luxuries like wireless charging, while 60Hz refresh rates mean similarly priced rivals top it in the display stakes. But you’ll struggle to find a better all-round Android experience for less.

Stuff Sony Xperia 1 IV review in hand front angle

Sony Xperia 1 IV

The Xperia 1 IV isn’t a mainstream mobile, and Sony’s fine with that. It’s a phenomenally capable Android handset, with exceptional performance, a cinematic 4K display and day-long battery life. And it’s packaged in the smartphone equivalent of a sharp business suit. But it has a very clear target market: photographers.

Rapid burst shooting, extensive manual options and stellar image quality make it a serious tool for skilled snappers. Daylight results had exceptional clarity in testing, while images remained sharp, balanced and largely free from noise in low light. The 1 IV also debuts a continuous optical zoom lens, getting you closer to subjects without digital trickery. Sony’s camera app is comprehensive, while object-tracking autofocus is unnaturally fast.

It’s true that rival devices do more to hold your hand, often for a smaller outlay. Heating can also be a concern when pushing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon with heavy loads, such as shooting 4K HDR video. But it still demolishes benchmarks and runs the Android interface breezily. Fans with deep pockets won’t be disappointed.

Motorola Moto G82 review in hand homescreen

Motorola G82

Not everyone wants to spend the best part of a grand on a smartphone. If your budget’s smaller by two thirds, this sub-£300 smartphone is a steal. The Motorola G82 packs an OLED display with 120Hz refresh rates, a generous 5000mAh battery and an optically stabilised 50MP camera. All features you’d expect from handsets costing a chunk more.

Sure, there are some signs of the compromises required to reach its price point. Its plastic build doesn’t break the G-series mould, while the 2MP macro camera is little more than a token addition. The Snapdragon chip inside won’t set any benchmark records, either.

But thanks to Motorola’s minimal take on Android, overall performance is far from shabby. The main sensor also impresses, producing detailed, realistic images, while the packaging is neat and no-nonsense. If you want a mid-tier mobile that nails the basics at a keen price, this is your pick.

The best foldable smartphone you can buy right now

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 lead

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

It’ll leave a bend in your bank balance, but Samsung’s top-spec foldable sets the benchmark for folding smartphones. As sturdy and stylish as you’d expect for the price, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is heftier than a normal handset when folded, but easier to handle than its predecessor.

The main display has a less noticeable crease than previous Z Fold devices, while desktop productivity features make multi-tasking a breeze. It helps that the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor is zippy in the extreme. Top-tier shooting skills are inherited from the Galaxy S22, too. The main sensor produces consistently detailed stills in almost all scenarios, while the telephoto snapper zooms with impressive clarity.

With colourful OLED tech and 120Hz adaptive refresh rates, the outer panel is as good as you’ll find on any flagship phone. Yet it’s the lesser of the two: the 7.6in screen inside is bright, smooth and vibrant, offering acres of space for scribbling with the S Pen. We just wish there was somewhere to stash the stylus. Perhaps inside that empty wallet.

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