The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra deserves its place at the top of our smartphone rankings, but not everybody can afford to buy the best phone available. While the Galaxy S22 Ultra gives you a flashy design, a dazzling screen, and enviable imaging capabilities, what it really offers is the ability to show off your phone.
There are plenty of options available that will make you the envy of your crowd for one reason or another, and you can save a bit if you don’t mind [not?] being the envy of all. You might pick a phone with a slick curve, a phone with unmatched camera abilities, or even a phone with a stylus.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra offers all of that, but here are some great options that, while not doing everything, will do more than you probably need.
Moto G Stylus: a budget option with a pen
What can you do with a stylus on a phone? Well, I personally bought and sold a house while on a business trip, and all of the documents were signed on my Samsung phone. Thankfully, Samsung was never the only phone maker with a stylus, and the Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G gives you the pen, plus a nice set of mid-range specifications. If you prefer taking notes with a pen, or you often need to put your signature on things, having a pen nicely siloed into your phone makes the Moto G Stylus a great pick.
TCL 20 Pro 5G - less money but more style
If you want a premium design, the TCL 20 Pro 5G gives you a screen that wraps subtly around the edges of the phone, a move that has been a signature of Samsung flagship phones for years. You get a big display with a punch-hole camera, just like on the Samsung, and TCL image quality was surprisingly good for such a bargain phone, especially on the selfies. We like that the cameras sit flush on the back of the phone, making it comfortable to hold and pocket.
Google Pixel 6 - a cheaper way to great photos
Truthfully, I should be recommending the Google Pixel 6a right now, as that is Google’s bargain-hunter version of the Pixel 6. However, the Pixel 6a just didn’t blow us away for the current price. The Google Pixel 6 is such a great phone that at its current cost, only about $150 more than the/ Pixel 6a, I’d recommend it, especially now that Google has added the Magic Eraser feature to the Pixel 6 camera. Still, if you want to save $150 more, the Pixel 6a is a fine choice for Google fans.
OnePlus 9 - A great price on an all-around wonder
The OnePlus 9 is a great all-around phone. It may not stand out for its camera, its display, or its design, but it is no slouch in any of these departments. Additionally, you get a big battery, and specifications that don’t skimp. In other words, you won’t be able to blame the phone when you get blown to bits in Call of Duty. Also, did we mention you can charge the phone to 100% in about a half hour using the premium 65W “Warp Charge” charger? That’s a feature even the Galaxy can’t match.
Samsung Galaxy A53 - A Galaxy far less expensive
If the Galaxy S family did not exist, Samsung would hold its own as a maker of impressive mid-range phones like the Galaxy A family. The Samsung Galaxy A53 is the latest mass-market device in the family of phones that people end up buying when sticker shock on the Galaxy S22 Ultra drives them toward the exits. It’s slower than the pricier Galaxy S devices, but it still packs some of that Samsung Camera zing. So, if a big beautiful screen to take big beautiful photos is what you’re after, the Galaxy A53 is the right choice.
Apple iPhone SE
You might not think of an iPhone as a bargain alternative, but the Apple iPhone SE (2022) is a remarkably powerful device in Apple’s lineup with a budget-friendly price. It may sport a throwback TouchID button up front, but inside is the powerful Apple A15 Bionic chipset, similar to what you’d find on the faster Apple iPhone 13. If you need an entrance to the Apple ecosystem, with all of the exclusive gaming, iMessaging, and accessories that entails, the iPhone SE gives you a powerful processor to run it all.
If you want a phone that does everything, you probably want the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s fast, shoots amazing photos, looks fantastic, and even hides a stylus inside. It also costs as much as a monthly rent payment in a major American city.
If you want to save some dough without feeling like you've settled, these choices are all great options in their own right. They make excellent alternatives to a superphone like the Galaxy S but stay within your budget.