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Best phone 2022: the top smartphones you can buy in the US right now

The best phone of 2022 - the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - on a teal background
(Image credit: TechRadar / Samsung)
Editor's note: June, 2022

We're now into June, and the smartphone market is getting ready for two big additions: the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in August, and the iPhone 14 in September. As a result, some phones in our best phones guide have been getting cheaper, and we've moved the iPhone SE 2022 into second place as TechRadar seeks to promote options for the more budget-conscious among us - if that's not for you, then the Galaxy A53, 8th on this list, is a brilliant budget Android buy.

Gareth Beavis, Global Editor in Chief

What's the best phone in 2022? It's the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - but we get that this is also one of the more expensive options out there.

That's why TechRadar's phone experts have spent the last 15 years pushing hundreds of smartphones to their limit to find which truly live up to the manufacturers' claims... meaning we can bring you this list, full of the best phones for every price point and desire.

Each of the phones on this list, whether they're the best iPhone or the best Android phone in their class, has been subjected to a multi-day test, with battery run-downs, extreme camera analysis and - most importantly - being carried as a main device in both cellular and Wi-Fi environments. 

Combining this with analysis of the shifting prices leads us to this list, where we give you three options at the top of this list to consider first: the best phone out there, the best budget phone and the perfect luxury buy. 

Your particular cell phone plan may sway your preference as well, especially since certain carriers often provide great cell phone deals while others don't.

While this list will alter each month, as we reconsider which models represent the best value for money as prices shift, it's still going to be dominated by models from Samsung, Apple and OnePlus - these are the brands we've got the most confidence in giving great options for price, performance and dependability in use.

The best phone 2022 – chosen by our experts

A Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the best phone overall, against a white background

(Image credit: Samsung)
The best phone overall

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 is perhaps the best-performing and most powerful smartphone in the world right now. However, its value ratio goes down because of the price. Also, most people won't be able to take advantage of all its pro features.

Why it's the best phone overall: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra builds on everything great about the Galaxy S21 Ultra – such as its superb cameras and power – while adding an S Pen stylus as standard (and a slot to house it). This is the ultimate smartphone if you've got the money and ideal for fans of either the Galaxy S or Galaxy Note range. 

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 a similar camera setup to the impressive Galaxy S21 Ultra, but key improvements have been made, making this the best zoom snapper around. It’s capable of 10x optical or 100x digital zoom, and it has three other lenses too, including a great 108MP main one.

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

The iPhone SE (2022), the best budget phone overall, against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
The best budget phone

Specifications

Release date: March 2022
Weight: 144g
Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
OS: iOS 15
Screen size: 4.7-inch
Resolution: 1334 x 750
CPU: A15 Bionic
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64/128/256GB
Battery: 2,018mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 7MP

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful for the cost
+
A 5G iPhone that's still affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Starts at only 64GB storage
-
Screen is cramped

The iPhone SE 2022 is yet another successful upgrade to Apple's cheapest iPhone, boasting better performance and connectivity. It also champions the thin and light form factor. iPhones tend to be expensive, but this gives fans of the smartphone a cheaper entry into the family.

Why it's ranked 2nd: This isn't Apple's most powerful iPhone, but it's the best value for people who want to stick with iOS 15 without paying through the nose. Its screen technology won't wow you like an iPhone 13 Pro, and there's just one camera on the back, but the relatively low price means this is hard to beat if you're on a budget and don't want to switch to Android. 

Screen: This new iPhone SE has a 4.7-inch screen borrowed from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, so it's bigger than the original iPhone SE, but remains one-hand-friendly. That's become important for people who have been demanding a smaller phone. This is the one to get, even if the resolution and bezel won't wow anyone.

Battery life: As long as you aren't a power user (who would likely opt for the iPhone 11 series anyway), then you'll be OK with what Apple offers in terms of battery life. It's not going to last you any longer than a day, but even with 5G running all day and non-stop use, you'll be able to squeeze up to 12 hours of battery life.

Camera: For the money, the iPhone SE 2022 takes perfectly fine photos in good light. You won't notice much of a difference outside of it occasionally failing to nail perfect exposure levels and depth of field outdoors during the daytime. Dim the lights, however, and you'll notice one glaring omission: the night mode that's on the more powerful iPhones. That requires an upgrade to at least the iPhone 11.

Read more: iPhone SE 2022 review
Price comparison: The best iPhone SE 2022 deals

The best performing phone around

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 better performance than ever before, improved cameras, 120Hz refresh rates and surprisingly good battery life. However, not all iPhone fans need all the features and power that come with it. 

Why they're ranked 3rd: While the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max are the best iPhones and excellent for creative pros, 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.

Battery life: 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