If you're looking to buy the best smartphone for you, there's a lot to bear in mind - since mobiles are one of the most important gadgets you can buy in this day and age, you need to make sure you're getting one that's perfect for you.
We're here to help though - we test nearly every new smartphone that's launched, from both massive brands like Apple and Samsung and small up-and-comers like Vivo and Realme, using devices across a range of prices and target audiences.
We wrote this list of the best smartphones up based on this testing, and it's our definitive rank of the handsets you should consider buying. The top three options here cover a range of prices, so there's something for you whether you've got all the money in the world or are on a budget - though our list of the best cheap phones might help if you're in that latter camp.
Included are the specs of each phone, and what we liked and didn't like about it - this is to help you if you have a certain spec or feature you're looking for, like top cameras or a great-looking display. It's worth thinking about your wants and needs before you start shopping around.
If you've got more specific tastes, we've got some other guides too: maybe you want one of the best iPhones on the market, or instead think one of the best Android phones might be more your cup of joe.
Obviously, we can't cover every single good smartphone in this list - it's just the top of the top, or the SparkNotes version of the best smartphones you should consider buying. Keep checking back though, because every time we give a smartphone a positive review, we make it a contender for this list - that meaks the ranking can change often.
Best smartphone 2022: which phone is for you?
Sure, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra costs a lot, but we'd say it's worth it.
This is a strong phone in almost all aspects - its camera are fantastic, its screen looks incredible, it's got loads of processing power, our list could go on (and does, in our full review).
While many phones have one strong element, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is an all-arounder, and that's why it's listed as our best phone. No matter if you're a passionate photographer or frequent gamer, you'll find the device great.
The camera is great for its versatility. If you want you can take great-looking ultrawide shots, or zoom all the way in with 10x optical and 100x digital limits to get close to your subject. There are also loads of useful modes, like a Portrait mode that takes wonderful pictures of people or Single Take which uses AI to pick the best picture from a selection of them.
Thanks to its wide range of cameras and modes, the Galaxy is the best camera phone right now, beating even Apple's latest iPhones, so it's great for mobile photographers.
The battery lasts for about a day - as long as you're using it normally, and not for non-stop video recording or something equally draining - which is surprising given how some top-end phones have bad battery lives.
The phone also has an S Pen stylus, which is a useful extra for note-takers and doodlers, and you won't find many mobiles on the market nowadays with styli, as well as slots to store them like the Ultra has. This is the main upgrade over the S21 Ultra, which is otherwise pretty similar.
In our benchmark tests the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra scored incredibly highly, sitting in the top few products in our lists, and so it's great for gaming or video editing, or any other intensive process like that.
There are one or two reasons that you might want to read further into this list: the Galaxy charges slowly, is very large and costs a lot, so depending on what you're looking for it might get a red 'X' mark for that. But for most people, the handset's strength across the board makes it the best smartphone to consider.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
If you're an Apple fan, then the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are the two best smartphones you should consider - we've combined these two handsets into one entry, as the only big difference between them is the screen size.
These are Apple's newest Pro phones touting three lenses - they each have a main, ultrawide and telephoto (or zoom) camera. You're getting the classic iPhone camera experience here with great night mode, video modes and selfie tricks.
The iPhone 13 Pro phones are more powerful than the iPhone 12 Pro handsets thanks to their newer A15 Bionic chipset, and we found them to be super fast to use, whether you're just swiping between menus or playing loads of games.
We found the phones to both last about a day between charges - that's about the limit of what you can expect from a powerful flagship phone. While the Pro has a smaller 6.1-inch screen and the Pro Max has a larger 6.7-inch one, the battery is also bigger on the Max, which is why battery life is comparable.
The iPhones don't quite compare to the top Android phone - the annoying notch is back, the displays are only OLED, and the design leaves a lot to be desired. But for iFans, these are the top handsets running Apple's iOS operating system.
If your budget doesn't stretch to some of the other, more premium phones on this list, then you should consider the Realme GT 2. It costs half of the amount that most of the other devices on this list do, and even less than half in some cases, yet its specs are impressive.
The phone has a 50MP main camera that's great for taking colorful pictures, and it's also great in low-light conditions. In fact, the Sony sensor at play here trounces some of the other 50MP cameras in the above phones when you're taking night pictures, and we loved taking shots in the dark with it.
The processor here is also impressive for such an affordable phone, and it'll be just as great for gaming as any of the other handsets on this list.
Plus, the charging is wonderfully quick, and it'll run rings around the Samsung or Apple devices higher on this list. In our tests, we found it powered from empty to full in less thatn 43 minutes.
This being a budget phone, there are some rough edges - we found the software rather buggy, and there's no telephoto lens for zoom photography. But given how much you're spending, this is a bargain.
Read more: Realme GT 2 review
The OnePlus 10 Pro has 'Pro' in the name, and its features rival some of the other handsets on this list that tout that suffix, but in terms of price it's actually more affordable - which is why it's found its way into this high position on our list.
This is a great Android choice if you don't want a Galaxy smartphone - it has a great-looking 6.7-inch AMOLED screen, a super-powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and incredibly fast 80W charging (unless you live in the US, where it's 65W).
There are three rear cameras, and they offer a good degree of versatility, and there are also a few camera modes created in co-operation with Hasselblad, including XPan which will be fun for people who like the classic XPan camera.
In our camera test, we found that the OnePlus 10 Pro performed a little worse than the Galaxy and iPhones above - it's still good for photography, but not enough to justify a higher spot than it has.
But that's arguably the weakest element for an otherwise great phone. Just note, there's no non-Pro OnePlus 10, so don't scroll down expecting to see another from the company in this generation.
Read more: OnePlus 10 Pro review
The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are the most exciting phones Google has launched in a long time, or arguably ever.
They both have a design that’s unlike any other phones, with a large camera visor and a three-tone color scheme, and they’re just as interesting on the inside, with a Google Tensor chipset that’s been designed and built specifically for these handsets.
Both also excel for taking photos, with a 50MP main and 12MP ultra-wide snapper – along with a 48MP telephoto camera offering 4x optical zoom in the Pixel 6 Pro’s case.
And speaking of the Pixel 6 Pro, this is a true flagship, with a 6.7-inch QHD+ 120Hz screen and 12GB of RAM. The standard Pixel 6 has slightly lesser specs, but also comes in at temptingly affordable price, and both phones run Android 12, with Google’s vision of the software intact.
So they’re a great showcase for Android, but they struggle with middling battery lives compared to the mobiles higher, which is why we can't rank them in the top three.
The phones are also a touch weaker than rivals, as Google's own chipset is good but not great - however this will only be noticeable for select users who need loads of power, so we can't mark them down too much
The iPhone 13 isn’t as big an upgrade as the iPhone 13 Pro, as it lacks a 120Hz refresh rate, but with oodles of power and good battery life it’s a strong choice if you don’t have a fortune to spend.
With its 6.1-inch 1170 x 2532 OLED display, the iPhone 13 has a bright and clear screen. It doesn’t have a 120Hz refresh rate, but it does at least have a slightly smaller notch than the iPhone 12.
In our tests the iPhone 13 reliably lasted through a day of use, but not much more. That puts it in fairly average territory, yet it’s still an improvement on many previous iPhones here.
The iPhone 13 lacks a telephoto camera, but its main and ultra-wide perform well, with the former having larger pixels than the iPhone 12’s. With improved image stabilization too, plus some new shooting modes and features, there’s a lot to play with here, and a lot to like.
The iPhone 13 Pro / Pro Max and the Samsung Galaxy S22 range have the edge over the iPhone 13 when it comes to specs and features, but this standard iPhone model comes close to matching them, especially when it comes to battery life. Plus, it has slightly more power than its Android rivals.
Read more: iPhone 13 review
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the small-form alternative to the S22 Ultra at the top of the list, and the main reason you should consider it is that it's smaller, and more affordable than the Ultra. Sure, the big model has flashier features and a bigger, better-looking screen, but that might not suit everyone.
This is a good Android phone for people who like compact, easily-holding mobiles - our tests found it to be powerful with a decent battery, and while it didn't perform as well in the camera tests as the above phones on this list, it did still take great photos.
It's also one of the more affordable mobiles that you'll find on this list, since most of the devices that belong on a 'best smartphones' list have price tags that match their specs.
If you're looking for the very best premium Android experience, you might find the design a little uncomfortable, and the Galaxy S22 doesn't quite match up to the higher-ranked alternatives in every department, but definitely consider it.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Xiaomi constantly has at least one handset in our list of the best smartphones, and the Xiaomi 12 Pro is its best handset to date - it's worth considering, if you can look past the rather high price.
This is a sparkly all-rounder with a few rough edges that make it impossible to place higher on this list.
Its 6.7-inch screen looks fantastic, and the 120Hz refresh rate and 2K resolution give you a wonderful viewing experience that puts the Galaxy S22 and iPhone 13 to shame. It's big though, so this phone might not suit small-hand users.
In our camera test we found the Xiaomi 12 Pro took good-looking photos, even though its optical zoom limit was a little low, and even at its worst it was equal to the Galaxy S22.
It's also a good-looking phone. If there was one key reason to avoid, it'd be the bloated software which might put some users off - only if you're a lover of iOS or stock Android though.
Read more: Xiaomi 12 Pro review
If you've got money to spend, Oppo's phones are worth considering, as while they cost a lot they're fashionable and often have some great camera options.
We found the Oppo Find X5 Pro to be one of the best camera phones we've used, as long as you stick to pictures on the main camera. Ultrawide was good too, but if you're a fan of zooming this isn't as useful.
The handset also had an impressively good battery life compared to some of the other mobiles on this list (like the S22 Ultra and OnePlus), lasting a day of use even if we used it loads.
It's also great for its software, with lots of customization options so you can make the home page design 'yours'. The software was a little buggy though.
Read more: Oppo Find X5 Pro review
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra was a fantastic smartphone choice, with one of the best cameras, phenomenal power, great battery life, a solid design and a whole host of other great features. Sure, it's getting a little long in the tooth now, but it's still an option worth considering, especially after a year of price cuts.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra isn't a cheap handset, the price is high for this one, but if you're looking for the ultimate smartphone experience in 2022 you''ll be hard-pressed to do much better than this.
It features a top 6.8-inch screen with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate and a Quad HD resolution. This is one of the best smartphone displays on the market.
The battery life is also solid, and we found it'd often see us through a whole day from a full charge. Note the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn't come with a charger in the box though, so you'll have to use your existing one or buy one separately.
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 cameras working to do the heavy lifting.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra won't be for everyone with its high price, but it's a top choice overall. Be sure to read our full review before making your final decision, but if you're after one of the best overall smartphone experiences we believe you'll find it here.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
How to choose the best smartphone for you
Depending on the way you use your smartphone, there might be one or more aspects of a phone that are important to you.
If you want a hardy smartphone, you should check whether it has an IP rating - this will dictate how protected it is against dust and moisture. Also consider its material - ceramic is very fragile, as is glass, but plastic and metal can be more protective.
If you stream a lot, you might want a good-looking display. Bigger, up to 6.8 inches, might be useful for you, as will a resolution over 1080p. Refresh rates of 90Hz or 120Hz also ensure that motion looks smoother.
Battery life can be a pain for people, though capacity doesn't always dictate how long a mobile lasts. A phone needs to last at least a day to be useful for most people, though some go up to two days.
Charging speed is also important, and anything of 65W or up is good, though some phones now offer over 120W. The best phones power up in under an hour, and some even take less than 30 minutes.
Camera quality is hard to convey though a specs list, so you'll have to rely on our analysis and testing to see how good they are - but it's always useful to find a camera phone with multiple lenses and modes.
How we test the best smartphones
Every phone on this list was subject to a full TechRadar review, and therefore our entire test process.
The core part of this is that we just use the phone as our own one for a week or more. We slot our SIM card in, use the device for social media, entertainment, photography and other normal tasks.
This is so we can emulate how you'll use the device if you buy it. It helps us understand all the quirks of a phone that you don't notice if you just leave the device in a lab and test it. Of course, we will do some lab tests too, for some direct comparison.
So we'll game and we'll do benchmark tests to work out how powerful a phone is; we'll time a phone when it's charging but also just work out how powering fits into our morning routine; we'll test how long a phone takes to run down but also just handle it day-to-day for a long period of time.
Our main areas of focus in our review are the phone's design, display, cameras, performance, software and battery life, though of course its price is also important for our final judgement.
Not found the best smartphone yet?
You're at the end of our best smartphone guide, but that doesn't mean we can't help you still - if you're stuck on which model is for you, we've got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.
If you want to get all the info, then check out our full mobile phone deals page.