The best phone 2022: top smartphones in the US right now

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Best Phones logo
(Image credit: Future)

The best phone can be different for everyone, If we have to choose one phone to be the best, it needs to be the phone we enjoy using the most, that also gets the basics and the advanced stuff just right. 

This year, we can't ignore the high price of a new smartphone. Our top pick is the iPhone 14 Pro, a phone that is polished, reliable, and expensive. We think the price is justified by Apple's service and support, as well as the high trade-in value this phone retains after a year or two. 

Our previous top pick, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, is simply too expensive, with too many features that most users won't need. We can't keep it at the top, but you can find much of Samsung's innovation and technology in the Galaxy A53, a phone that is such a tremendous bargain that we are pushing it near the top of our best phones list. 

We've spent the last 15 years pushing hundreds of smartphones to their limit to find which truly live up to the manufacturers' claims. We've subjected them to multi-day testing. We run down the battery, we examine the camera, and most importantly, we live with the phones exactly the way you live with yours.

So, whether you're looking for the best iPhone, the best Android phone, or the best budget phone, we're just the phone experts to find you the right match. Our phones guide below should help narrow down your choices as well.

It's dominated by models from Apple and Samsung. We have confidence in these brands, not only because they make great phones, but because they support devices well with software updates and easy hardware repairs. Google is also a familiar face on this list, and you'll even find OnePlus phones make an appearance. 

Of course, your particular cell phone plan may sway your preference, especially since certain carriers often provide great cell phone deals while others don't. Part of choosing the best phone is picking a phone that you can trade later and retrieve much of its value. 

We've had a strong phone launch season and we don't expect to shake up this best phone list again before the end of the year. Early next year we'll start to see launches from Samsung, OnePlus, and others, so be sure to check back when you're looking for something new. 

Top Cyber Monday phone deals

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Google Pixel 6a (128GB, Charcoal): was  (opens in new tab)

Google Pixel 6a (128GB, Charcoal): was $449 now $299 at Best Buy (opens in new tab) - This $150 discount on the Pixel 6a from Best Buy is a hefty reduction, making the phone extra affordable. That's for an unlocked 128GB version in Charcoal. Its software is superb and it's ideal if you're after a compact handset - just be aware that the battery life isn't special.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series: instant rebate, plus up to $600 off with trade-in at Samsung (opens in new tab)

Samsung Galaxy S22 series: instant rebate, plus up to $600 off with trade-in at Samsung (opens in new tab)
Trade in an old device and you can get up to $400 off the Galaxy S22, up to $500 off the S22 Plus, or up to $600 off the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Plus, all three models also come with an instant rebate of between $75 and $225, meaning you can get a Galaxy S22 Ultra for as little as $374.99.
Galaxy S22: was $799.99 now $324.99 (opens in new tab)
Galaxy S22 Plus: was $999.99 now $349.99 (opens in new tab)
Galaxy S22 Ultra:
was $1,199.99 now $374.99 (opens in new tab)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro & 14 Pro Max: BOGO, up to $1,000 off w/ trade-in and unlimited plan at Verizon (opens in new tab)

Apple iPhone 14 Pro & 14 Pro Max: BOGO, up to $1,000 off w/ trade-in and unlimited plan at Verizon (opens in new tab)
Grab an iPhone 14 Pro or Pro Max from Verizon and you can get up to $1,000 off with a trade in. Or you can take advantage of a buy-one get-$800-off promotion if you're after multiple phones, and you can get a $200 gift card if you're a new customer. See this same deal on the iPhone 14 Pro Max (opens in new tab). (opens in new tab)

The best phone 2022

Apple iPhone 14 Pro home screen

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

1. iPhone 14 Pro / Pro Max

Apple's top iPhones for 2022

Specifications

Release date: September 2022
Weight: 206g / 240g
Dimensions: 147.5 x 71.5 x 7.9mm / 160.7 x 77.6 x 7.9mm
OS: iOS 16
Screen size: 6.1-inch / 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1170 x 2532 / 1284 x 2778
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 3,200mAh / 4,323mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Familiar design
+
Improved cameras over last year

Reasons to avoid

-
No USB-C
-
Limited zoom photography

Why it's ranked 1st: Apple's iPhone 14 Pro is the most intuitive, well-designed smartphone, packed with every feature we'd want. Apple's continued service and support, with high trade-in value, make this our top pick. 

Screen: The iPhone 14 Pro has the brightest screen of any smartphone, capable of an outdoor boost to 2000 nits. It's super sharp and very fast, with a 120Hz refresh rate. Instead of the familiar 'notch,' Apple now uses a punch-hole for cameras it calls the Dynamic Island.

Battery life: The iPhone 14 Pro has a larger battery than its predecessor, but we can't say that battery life has been significantly improved, and we wonder if Apple's iOS is to blame. We're hoping to see improvements in future OS updates.

Camera: The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max has the highest-resolution camera in any iPhone, as well as a 3x optical zoom camera and ultra-wide camera that can handle macro photography. Shooting is very easy and automated. 

Read more: iPhone 14 Pro review | iPhone 14 Pro Max review

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

(Image credit: Carlos Pedrós)
The best budget Samsung phone

Specifications

Release date: March 2022
Weight: 189g
Dimensions: 159.6 x 74.8 x 8.1mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 6.5-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Exynos 1280
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB + support for a microSD card up to 1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 12MP + 5MP + 5MP
Front camera: 32MP

Reasons to buy

+
Good cameras for price
+
Good-looking screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow to charge
-
Slow to navigate

Samsung's Galaxy S phones represent the cutting edge best phones around, but today we need a phone that gives us the most features for the least money, and the Galaxy A53 is best bargain phone you can buy. Between the advanced cameras, the great screen, and the premium design, the Galaxy A53 is an easy phone to recommend.

Why it’s ranked 2nd: We are prioritizing our budget, and the Galaxy A53 has all of it's priorities straight. It has a huge camera array, with four different lenses, giving you tons of options. It has a great screen, solid battery life, and it's water resistant. For the price, what you get is truly remarkable.

Screen: The A53 comes with an attractive screen that has the same resolution and refresh rate as the S22. In fact, apart from the size, most people aren't likely to see that big of a difference between this budget phone's display and that of the S22. If you're particular about the specs, you're getting a 6.5-inch panel with an FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 800 nits max brightness.

Battery life: The Samsung Galaxy A53 has a 5,000mAh battery that comes in handy, seeing as it has 5G connectivity and a bright screen. We found the phone to last roughly a day between charges, slightly less with more usage. The only downside here is it takes over two hours to get a full charge. 

Camera: The A53 boasts some pretty impressive photo-taking prowess. It has a 64MP f/1.8 main camera, joined by a 12MP f/2.2 ultrawide lens, a 5MP f/2.4 macro, and a 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor. There are far more expensive phones with fewer camera options.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy A53 review
Price comparison: The best Samsung Galaxy A53 deals

Google Pixel 7 Pro phone

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
The best Pixel phone

Specifications

Release date: October 2022
Weight: 212g
Dimensions: 162.9 x 76.6 x 8.9mm
OS: Android 13
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1440 x 3120
CPU: Google Tensor G2
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 5000mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 48MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10.8MP

Reasons to buy

+
Intuitive and easy to use
+
Photo Unblur truly fixes older photos
+
Snappy and responsive interface

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks the deep feature set of best competition
-
Battery and charging time could be better
-
Macro Focus didn’t blow us away

The Google Pixel 7 Pro isn't just the best Pixel, it's one of the best phones you can buy all around. Google improves on many of the basics, with promise of more to come. Android finally feels like a mature, thoughtful system that is easy to use, and the Pixel 7 Pro does much of the work for you in every task. 

Why it’s ranked 3rd: We think the Google Pixel 7 Pro is the best Android phone you can buy right now, but it is still expensive, even though Pixel phones are priced less than the competition. It has amazing cameras and some advanced software features you won't find on any other phones, making it a top choice. 

Screen: The Google Pixel 7 Pro uses a fantastic 6.7-inch display. Like the iPhone 14 Pro, it uses LTPO OLED technology, so it can remain always-on without draining much battery. It has a 1440 x 3120 resolution, with a 512ppi that is even sharper than the iPhone or Galaxy S22 Ultra. It can reach 1500 nits peak brightness. 

Battery life: The Pixel 7 Pro uses a 5000 mAh battery, as large as any of our best phones, and it can last a full day in our tests, but not more than that. It charges at 30W, which is slower than we'd like. You can charge it wirelessly up to 23W, and it can even reverse power to wirelessly charge other devices. 

Camera: There are three cameras on the back of the Google Pixel 7 Pro: a 50MP f/1.9 main camera, a 48MP f/3.5 telephoto with 5X zoom, and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide lens with larger sensor pixels, capable of macro photography. The real photo magic happens in software, as the Pixel 7 Pro can use Google Photos to unblur your old images, even photos the Pixel did not take.  

Read our full Google Pixel 7 Pro review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Screen

(Image credit: Future)
The most versatile phone

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

Reasons to avoid

-
No microSD slot
-
Battery life could be better

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was our number one phone, but with a starting price far above every other phone on our list, we need to wonder if it does too much. It's packed with powerful features, and the design is superlative. Still, we don't have the spare cash to spring for a phone that is better than the best, if it's so much more than we need.

Why it's ranked 4th: There is nothing the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra can't do. It has a built-in stylus, even though it's water resistant. It has a 108MP main camera as well as a 100X Space Zoom camera that really works. It can act as a full desktop computer. If you need everything, and you're willing to pay for it, you can find everything on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Screen: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate and a super-high peak brightness of 1750 nits. In every sense this is one of the best screens you’ll find on a smartphone.

Battery life: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a large 5,000mAh battery, and we found that in general it would last for a full day no matter how you used the phone. It also supports speedy 45W charging – though note that there’s no charger in the box.

Camera: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has the most robust camera setup you'll find on this list. It has a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultra wide, a 10MP 2X zoom, and a 10MP 10X zoom with real optical zoom. It also manages some amazing digital wizardry to steady long zoom images and improve the quality, so even 100X zoom photos are worth sharing. 

Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Price comparison: 
The best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra deals

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review Bora Purple cover display

(Image credit: Future / Alex Walker-Todd)
The best clamshell foldable

Specifications

Release date: August 2022
Weight: 187g
Dimensions: 165.2 x 71.9 x 6.9mm / 84.9 x 71.9 x 15.9-17.1mm
OS: Android 12
Screen size: 1.9-inch / 6.7-inch
Resolution: 260 x 512 / 1080 x 2640
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
Battery: 3,700mAh
Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP

Reasons to buy

+
Larger battery & faster charging
+
Excellent performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Occasional camera inconsistencies
-
Minor year-on-year upgrades

If we only cared about style, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 would top this list of best phones. It's totally capable, with a huge display and great performance, but it simply oozes style. Folding it closed and snapping it open feels like nothing else in the smartphone world, and that experience is worth a top spot on this list.

Why it's ranked 5th: It may not score as high all around as some of our other best phones, but it makes up for so much in style and usability that we had to give extra credit to Samsung. The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is simply fun to use, it's a thrill to show off to spectators, and it truly changes the way we use and feel about our phone. 

Screen: You won't believe this compact foldable is hiding a huge 6.7-inch display inside. The screen is bright enough, at 1200 nits peak, with 1080 x 2640 resolution. The tiny cover screen is a 1.9-inch, 260 x 512 bit of OLED window to show off notifications and give you a camera viewfinder for selfies with the main camera. 

Battery life: The battery life on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 was a bit underwhelming, as the foldable shape and thin design preclude a huge battery inside. You get a 3700 mAh cell, and it only charges at 25W. We get a full day of use from it, but cut things close late in the evening. 

Camera: The cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 4 are disappointingly simple, with only two 12MP shooters around back, but it has a secret weapon. The main lens uses very large pixels on the sensor, so shots are better than you'd expect. You can also aim that main camera directly at your face, using the cover screen as a viewfinder. So instead of the 10MP selfie cam, you can use the full fledged main cameras for selfies. 

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review

Google Pixel 7 on display at Williamsburg Google Store

(Image credit: Future / Philip Berne)
The best Pixel for less

Specifications

Release date: October 2022
Weight: 197g
Dimensions: 155.6 x 73.2 x 8.7mm
OS: Android 13
Screen size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2400
CPU: Google Tensor G2
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB
Battery: 4355mAh
Rear camera: 50MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10.8MP