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Best phones in Australia 2022: top 10 smartphones tested and ranked

Best Phones in Australia
Apple, Samsung and Google all feature prominently in our list of the best phones in Australia (Image credit: TechRadar)

Here at TechRadar, we're always on the search for the best phones out there, checking out almost every phone under the sun, and putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews

However, with so many to choose from, we've spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account power, specs, design and value for money. And we'll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn't get any updates in a year's time, right?

So whether it's one of the best Android phones, or the latest iPhone, we've extensively tested them all so you don't have to! Here are our rankings for the best phones that are currently available in Australia in 2022. Simply click on the phone you read more about.

Best phones at a glance:

1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
2. iPhone 13 Pro / iPhone 13 Pro Max
3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
4. Google Pixel 6 Pro
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 / Note 20 Ultra
6. Samsung Galaxy S21 / S21 Plus
7. Google Pixel 6
8. iPhone 12 / iPhone 12 mini
9. iPhone 12 Pro / iPhone 12 Pro Max
10. Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
A top tier smartphone, and it takes our best crown

Specifications

Release date: February 2022
Weight: 228g
Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3088
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible cameras and zoom
+
Excellent little S Pen
+
Stunning Note-style design

Reasons to avoid

-
No microSD slot
-
Battery life could be better

We've previously gone on record as stating that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn't have a standout feature, however, we'd also like to reiterate that it doesn't necessarily need one – the S22 Ultra is a phone that does everything a little better than its predecessor, leaving very little room for improvement in the process. 

Of course, it's very likely that next year's model will surpass this one in every way, but for now, the S22 Ultra is just about as good as a Samsung phone gets.

Bringing over features and design aesthetics from its (now dead) Note series, Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra builds on everything great about the Galaxy S21 Ultra, combining its beastly cameras and power with the Note's built-in S Pen stylus functionality and more refined design. 

Screen: Once again, Samsung has delivered an unrivalled smartphone display, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra boasting a 6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED screen with an adaptive refresh rate that reaches up to 120Hz for ultra-smooth scrolling and gaming, along with an insane brightness capacity of 1750 nits. Right now, there's no better phone display in the world.

Performance / battery life: Usually, Samsung's flagships arrive in Australia equipped with the company's in-house Exynos CPUs, and while they're generally quite good, they also deliver slightly inferior performance when compared to the Snapdragon chipsets featured in US models. 

Thankfully, that isn't the case this year, with Aussies finally receiving the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 version that came out in the States. It's an exceptionally powerful chipset, outperforming all non-iPhone handsets in our Geekbench 5 benchmark test, achieving an impressive single-core score of 1,240 and a multi-core score of 3,430. 

The chipset is said to provide far better energy efficiency than last year's model, but in reality we've only seen very slight gains in battery life in our tests, with the S22 Ultra giving out after around 10 hours of heavy usage. 

With regular usage however, the S22 Ultra's 5,000mAh battery can last well into a second day before you need to charge. Luckily, the flagship handset is capable of super-fast 45W charging, though you will need to purchase a special power brick in order to achieve that charge rate.

Camera: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a similar camera setup to the impressive Galaxy S21 Ultra, with a fantastic quad camera array that's led by a 108MP main sensor, but it's worth pointing out that key improvements have been made behind the scenes. 

For one, it has a larger 2.4um pixel sensor, which allows for additional light and data to be captured, meaning richer, more detailed images all round – especially when using the S22 Ultra's enhanced night mode. It also brings improved image processing, resulting in sharper photos when using the S22 Ultra's 10x optical or 100x digital zoom capabilities.

Mini verdict: Whether you're a fan of Samsung's S-series or Note-series phones, the S22 Ultra merges the best of both worlds to provide users with the ultimate Samsung flagship.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
See the best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra outright deals

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An iPhone 13 Pro in blue, against a white background

The iPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: Apple)
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An iPhone 13 Pro Max in gold, against a white background

The iPhone 13 Pro Max (Image credit: Apple)
The best iPhones

Specifications

Release date: September 2021
Weight: 204g / 240g
Dimensions: 146.7mm x 71.5mm x 7.7mm / 160.8mm x 78.1mm x 7.7mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 6.1-inch / 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532 / 1284 x 2778
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 3,095mAh / 4,352mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Great performance
+
Strong battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited design changes
-
Notch still too large

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are the best iPhones available at the time of writing, offering more power than ever before, improved cameras, 120Hz refresh rates and surprisingly good battery life.

Why they're ranked 2nd: While the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are the best iPhones, they’re slightly topped by the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, which has a better design and a more versatile camera, but these phones come very close, and are the obvious choice for iPhone fans. With a higher refresh rate than the iPhone 12 range, a new macro mode and a smaller notch, they aren’t the biggest upgrades but they’re undeniably great.

Screen: Whether you choose the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro or 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max you’re getting a sharp OLED screen with a 120Hz variable refresh rate. The continued presence of the notch is annoying, but it’s slightly smaller this time and easy to ignore, especially once you see the overall quality of the display.

Performance: Apple has outdone itself with the battery life on the iPhone 13 Pro Max, which is genuinely great, rather than just being great for an iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro’s isn’t quite as good, but it’s still decent and an upgrade on the iPhone 12 Pro’s life.

Camera: The iPhone 13 Pro range includes the same lens types as last year, but with larger pixels and new modes, including an impressive macro mode, and a slightly less significant Cinematic mode. Between all this and their improved low light performance, these cameras are ace.

Read more: iPhone 13 Pro review | iPhone 13 Pro Max review
Price comparison: The best iPhone 13 Pro deals
The best iPhone 13 Pro Max deals

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)
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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

A top tier smartphone, and it takes our best crown

Specifications

Release date: January 2021
Weight: 227g
Dimensions: 165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 11
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3200
CPU: Snapdragon 888 / Exynos 2100
RAM: 12GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 40MP

Reasons to buy

+
The best camera zoom
+
Mesmerizing design

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive at any level
-
No microSD card slot

We think the S21 Ultra is a fantastic choice for you with one of the best camera suites on a smartphone, phenomenal power, great battery life, a solid design and a whole host of other great features. 

Screen: The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra features a top 6.8-inch screen with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and a QHD+ resolution (and, unlike last year's models, this display can do both simultaneously). Those who like flatter screens will also be happy to know that Samsung has reduced the curve on the glass that adorns Galaxy S21 Ultra's face. 

Battery life: The Samsung S21 Ultra's 5,000mAh battery is solid, and we found it'd often see us through a whole day from a full charge. If you're playing around with the 120Hz refresh rate, battery life is likely to drain faster, especially if you're an avid gamer. That said, it's still a top choice if you're after a long lasting phone.

Please note that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra does not come with a charger in the box, so you'll have to use your existing one or buy one separately.

Camera: Samsung's 108MP camera on the Galaxy S21 Ultra is going to be the highlight for many, and the camera doesn't disappoint on this phone. Like its predecessor, you can take 100x zoom photography, but it's far improved here over the Galaxy S20 Ultra with two telephoto cameras working in tandem to do the heavy lifting. You also have a neat new feature in Director's View, which allows you to record video on the rear and front cameras simultaneously – perfect for vlogging.

Mini verdict: The Galaxy S21 Ultra isn't a cheap handset, sporting with a pricetag that's costlier than any competing Android flagship, but if you're looking for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2021 you will be hard pressed to do better than this latest from Samsung.

Read our full review: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
See the best Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra outright deals

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Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)
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Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)
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Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)
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Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)
The best photo capability

Specifications

Release date: October 2021
Weight: 207g / 210g
Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9 mm / 163.9 x 75.9 x 8.9 mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.4-inch / 6.7-inch
Resolution: 2400 x 1080 / 3120 x 1440
CPU: Google Tensor
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB (6 Pro only)
Battery: 4614mAh / 5000mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP / + 48MP (6 Pro only)
Front camera: 8MP / 11MP

Reasons to buy

+
New design looks classy
+
Cameras and software are incredible
+
Great displays

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling battery
-
Pro priced high for extras

The high end smartphone market has been saturated for years now and many vendors are looking to ultra-premium models to carry the R&D costs of developing new tech, but Google is taking a different approach by only focusing on the most popular price points and packing in as much value as possible. 

Why it's ranked 3rd: This year’s Pixels are both bigger than any other phone Google have made, but the Pixel 6 Pro is undeniably the flagship, taking centre stage as the biggest and the best offering. While it might carry the ‘Pro’ naming convention, its price makes us think of this 6.7-inch, 210g flagship as more of a ‘Plus’ model that punches above its weight. 

Screen: For starters, the Pixel 6 Pro has one of the new LTPO OLED displays with a QHD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate that was pioneered on the $1,849 Galaxy S21 Ultra. This means the Pixel 6 Pro offers a higher resolution, a faster and bigger screen than it’s Pixel 6 sibling, and it even one-upps Samsung’s now similarly priced Galaxy S21+ in resolution. 

Camera: The Pixel 6 Pro’s rear triple camera array includes an additional 48MP telephoto lens, on top of the 50MP main shooter and 12MP ultrawide lens you get on the Pixel 6. This telephoto lens definitely increases the camera bulge, but the tradeoff is that you get 4x optical zoom and up to 20 times hybrid zoom to take Full HD pictures of things that are less than a centimeter on the screen when fully zoomed out. 

The custom Tensor image processor is better than previous Pixels in low light conditions and on-phone machine learning features now include things like Magic Eraser, Face Unblur, and Motion Mode (which uses AI to allow you to pan with moving objects to blur the background). 

Performance: The Tensor chip that runs the new Pixel devices has been designed specifically by Google to include a more powerful AI processor and a new Titan M2 security core. This facilitates on-device security that rivals any other smartphone and the new machine learning processor is purpose built to push the limits of the Google Assistant. At launch, the Pixel 6 Pro offers the most accurate speech recognition for translating, on-the-fly speech-to-text, and captioning videos using just live audio, but Google’s AI applications are broad and can be rolled out on an ongoing basis.

The AI contextual core combines with the screen’s variable refresh rate to help the 5000mAh battery keep you going for over 48 hours, a pretty amazing jump if you’re upgrading from a phone that’s a couple of years old now. 

The Pixel devices are the first in Australia to offer the faster mmWave 5G technology for faster connectivity in populated places, and it has a generous 12GB RAM allocation, so it’s pretty amazing that it can launch with an RRP of AU$1,299 and still compete with flagships that are AU$500 more expensive.

Read our Google Pixel 6 Pro review