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Best smartphones 2022: The best phones we’ve tested this year

Trusted Reviews recommends the very best mobile phones available now on Android and iOS, including the top options for photos, battery life and gaming

Introduction

The smartphone is likely going to be the most important piece of tech you own and we know choosing your next upgrade can be a daunting decision. With so many phones on the market all with different pros and cons, finding the perfect one is far from easy.

That’s where our best phones list comes in. We thoroughly review a load of phones each year – from cheap ones to flagships and everything in-between. This is the culmination of all those hours (and hours) of testing from our product experts.

We know that everyone wants something different from their phone. For some, the key is usability – can I hold it in one hand and does it fit in my pocket? For others, it’s whether the phone can make it from morning until bedtime without hitting 0%. Then there are those who buy a phone for its camera prowess, or because it can play the latest games.

This is our round-up of the best phones you can currently buy and it covers both iPhones running iOS and Android devices. When selecting the best phone in this list, we’ve focussed on the areas people care about the most. In our opinion, these are impressive cameras, easy to use software that’s frequently updated along with reliable screens and batteries.

At the time of writing, we haven’t fully reviewed some of 2022’s biggest devices due to different release schedules. The Xiaomi 12 series, OnePlus 10 Pro and others should arrive soon and if they’re good enough, we’ll add them to this list once they have all been fully reviewed.

We also have other best lists for those after something a little more specific. Our best camera phone round-up focuses on a device’s photographic and videography skills, while our best cheap phone and best mid-range phone lists focus solely on more affordable options.

How we test

Learn more about how we test mobile phones

Every phone included in the below list has been properly tested and used for an extended period by one of our product experts. We don’t review phones based purely on specs or a manufacturer’s claims – we use them as our everyday device for at least five days and usually for much longer. 

If you read a phone review on Trusted Reviews, you’ll know the reviewer has popped their personal SIM card into the phone, transferred across their most-used apps and even their backlog of WhatsApp messages. We go all in, so you know you’re getting an honest view of a product.

Our review process includes a mixture of real-world tests, along with more than 15 measured tests and industry-standard benchmarks. We believe this gives the most rounded view of a device. The scores a phone receives from a run under our professional colorimeters isn’t worth much if the screen can’t be used comfortably on a sunny day.

iPhone 13 Pro

The best phone
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Pros

  • Great to finally see a 120Hz display on an iPhone
  • Good battery life
  • Seriously impressive camera system

Cons

  • Other phones have better zoom
  • The notch feels dated

All things considered, the best phone you can buy right now is the iPhone 13 Pro. Apple’s latest high-end phone is reliable, takes great pictures and comes in a duo of sizes so you can go big or small.

The iPhone 13 Pro shines in a number of areas, though considering it’s one of the priciest phones on this list that shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise. The camera has recently been one of the main reasons to buy an iPhone and that remains here. We prefer the more realistic, natural images from the iPhone 13 Pro compared to slightly too vivid results from the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, while Apple’s flagship produces comfortably more pleasing, stable video than both Samsung’s latest effort and the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

The iPhone 13 Pro impressed our reviewer in other areas too. The addition of a fast and smooth 120Hz ProMotion display – a feature common on just about every new Android phone now – gives a bit more zip to scrolling, while the display itself just shines with excellent colours and high levels of brightness.

Another thing iPhones do better than Android competition is updates. The fast A15 Bionic not only makes the fastest phone on this list, but it’ll allow for multiple years of software and security updates. Apple still updates the 2016 iPhone SE, so the iPhone 13 Pro is an investment for the long-term.

The iPhone 13 Pro comes in two sizes. The regular 6.1-inch model is small enough for many to use one-handed and is ideal if big phones aren’t your thing. The larger iPhone 13 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch display and is a better choice for those who watch a lot of videos or play games. The Max size is also our pick if battery life is important, as we’ve found it comfortably outperforms the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Pixel 6 Pro and Oppo Find X5 Pro.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: iPhone 13 Pro Review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The best flagship Android phone
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Pros

  • Stunning display with fantastic detail and brightness
  • Versatile camera system with impressive zoom
  • Good low-light camera performance
  • Fast charging
  • Promise of many years of updates

Cons

  • Battery life should be better
  • Design a step backward
  • You need to buy the fast charger separately

For some, the fact our pick for the best phone runs iOS means that it is not really a choice at all. For those that want the very best of what Android has to offer, we don’t think you can go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

It might be an Ultra in name, but really this is the next-generation Galaxy Note – and that means it’s the only phone on this list to boast an integrated stylus. The S Pen lets you doodle, jot down shopping lists or navigate the UI with a dinky pen – you can’t do that on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Samsung’s latest effort doesn’t always come out on top in all photographic situations, but it does comfortably leave the competition in the dust when it comes to zoom. Push the duo of telephoto zoom as far as 10x and the results are far crisper and more usable than the iPhone 13 Pro and the Pixel 6.

Our reviewer praised the high-res display on the S22 Ultra for its accurate colours and beautiful representation of HDR video. We were also impressed with the excellent performance for both gaming and general use thanks to the top-end chipsets. It can’t quite match the iPhone 13 Pro for pure speed (both in Geekbench scores and our user experience), but really it’s not too far off.

The S22 Ultra does leave a little to be desired in its battery performance. Not so much compared to other high-end Android phones like the Oppo Find X5, but it doesn’t last anywhere near as long in normal usage as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Our reviewer managed to, in some cases, get through two days with the iPhone 13 Pro Max, while the S22 Ultra only just made it until the end of day one. Considering both phones are large devices this is a bit of a shame.

If you want a slightly cheaper – but still very capable – Android superphone then the outgoing Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra remains an admirable performer with an overall design we actually prefer to the newer model.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review

Pixel 6

The best software
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Pros

  • So many great software features
  • Nice array of colours
  • Strong camera hardware for the price

Cons

  • Some jank in the software
  • The display lacks the 120Hz refresh rate of many similarly priced rivals
  • A couple of odd design choices

For the sub £600/$600 price, we don’t think there’s a better all-around Android choice than the Pixel 6. It has the best-looking software of any phone we have reviewed – yes, including the iPhone 13 – and uses Google’s excellent imaging skills to snap some low-light pictures that give the far more expensive flagships from Apple and Samsung a run for their money. If you want clear and bright snaps taken at night in bars and restaurants the Pixel 6 is a great pick.

It might be lighter on the wallet, but the Pixel 6 still has plenty of handy features. There’s wireless charging, an IP68 rating to protect against accidental splashes along with a bright and accurate screen. It’s not a small phone, but it has dinkier dimensions than the Galaxy S22 Ultra making it easier to hold comfortably.

Pixel phones are also great because they get the latest software updates straight from Google far quicker than the competition and often for much longer. The four years of updates here gives you new features and protection for much longer than similarly-priced phones.

There’s a larger, Pro version of the Pixel 6 too. For the extra £150/$200, you get better battery life, a bigger 6.7-inch display that’s a little bit sharper and three, rather than two, cameras. We like the Pro a lot, but it doesn’t quite represent the value for money of the smaller Pixel 6 based on our experience using the two.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Google Pixel 6 Review

iPhone 13

The best looking phone
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Pros

  • Much improved battery life
  • Bright, vivid OLED display
  • Excellent main camera

Cons

  • No ProMotion
  • No optical zoom

Just as the Pixel 6 represents a more affordable Pixel 6 Pro, the iPhone 13 packs in many of the iPhone 13 Pro’s features at a lower price. If you’re coming from the iPhone 11 or older, and are happy with that size, then we’d say the iPhone 13 represents a strong upgrade.

Where we’d recommend you go for the Pro model is if you want the added versatility of the zoom camera, a feature missing here, or would benefit from the faster ProMotion display in high-end gaming sessions.

The iPhone 13 though is just as fast as the Pro model in benchmark tests and should get the same amount of software updates over the next few years. It runs the same iOS and has access to the same apps and games. It doesn’t, however, come in a Max size – just a small 5.4-inch model and a still quite small 6.1-inch variant. If you want a big screen for video content then this isn’t for you and you’ll want to look at the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: iPhone 13 Review

Sony Xperia 1 III

The best phone for watching video on the go
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Pros

  • No notch and cutout leaves screen uninterrupted
  • Narrow body is great most of the time
  • Features ditched elsewhere like SD card, headphone jack included

Cons

  • Screen doesn’t get bright enough outdoors
  • Tall display can make certain things feel cramped
  • Low-light and zoom photography isn’t that great for something that costs this much

Sony’s latest attempt at a flagship Android phone is very different to the other big hitters from Samsung, Oppo and Google. It doesn’t have a notch or cutout in the display, for example, and it’s the only phone on this list to have a high-resolution 4K display that, in theory, leads to sharper content.

It also adds and retains some of the features ditched by Samsung over the past few years, like SD card expansion for upping the amount of storage available after you’ve bought the phone. Sony has found its niche by filling these gaps, and it’s working.

There are still some quirks though, and that’s really why this phone isn’t higher up. While the three cameras are good and reliable, the image processing isn’t as clever as you’ll find on the iPhone 13 series, Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22. You have to work harder to take a good picture, which is great if you use the manual apps to their fullest, but not so much if you just want to point, shoot and end up with an Instagram-worthy shot.

Where the Xperia 1 III stands out against the crowd though is that it gives you more control over the phone and the things that it does. Our reviewer loved how you could tweak the display calibration to maximise the colours in video content, while the Pro camera and video give far more in-depth control than just about any other phone. If you’re familiar with Sony’s Alpha camera range then a lot of the same menus and user-interface design has been brought across here.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Sony Xperia 1 III Review

Asus ROG Phone 5

The best phone for gaming
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Pros

  • Long-lasting, fast-charging battery
  • 144Hz AMOLED screen
  • Fantastic stereo speakers

Cons

  • No telephoto camera
  • No wireless charging
  • Fantastic stereo speakers

Smartphones focusing purely on gaming are still very niche, but after a few years of being disappointed with what was on offer, we’ve finally been impressed by some of the gaming phones we’ve reviewed recently. 

The Asus ROG Phone 5 is, and we need to make this very clear, not for everyone – but if you like a gaming-focussed aesthetic and want to tweak your performance over, say, take the best pictures then go ahead,

While you’ll get excellent gaming performance from an iPhone 13 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra or even the Pixel 6, the Asus ROG Phone 5 takes things up a notch with a ridiculously smooth 144Hz display, gaming accessories and booming speakers. It doesn’t have the latest Snapdragon silicon, so that could mean there’s a ROG Phone 6 set for release, but the performance remains excellent.

This is a bigger phone than many others on this list and as a result, it has a huge battery that puts it ahead of the Android competition. There are also a couple of touch-sensitive triggers on the top, letting you ditch the usually terrible on-screen controls.

Reviewer: Basil Kronfli
Full review: Asus ROG Phone 5 Review

Asus Zenfone 8

The best small Android phone
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Pros

  • Great size for those who find Android phones big
  • Impressive speed
  • Lovely screen
  • Impressive value

Cons

  • Can get hot when gaming
  • No telephoto camera
  • No wireless charging

If the likes of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Pixel 6 Pro are too big for your hands (or you just prefer a smaller phone) then you might want to take a look at the Asus Zenfone 8.

Now, it’s not quite as dinky as the iPhone 13 Mini or the iPhone SE 2022, however with a display measuring 5.9-inches it’s the smallest Android phone on this list. Importantly, it doesn’t really sacrifice too much to hit that size. 

Performance is akin to the Pixel 6 in many areas and the camera is much better than Asus’ gaming phone. It also charges up very quickly and includes a charger – something often missing.

But the size does cause some issues. During the review process, we noticed the phone got far hotter under heavy load – especially in intensive tasks like gaming – than other phones on this list. The battery life is also far from great, likely owing to the smaller battery.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full review: Asus Zenfone 8

FAQs

What is a 90 or 120Hz display? And why would I want one?

Most of the phones included within this list feature a high refresh rate display, either at 90Hz or 120Hz. This means the display refreshes at either 90 or 120 times per second, up from the older standard of 60Hz. Having a fast display makes everything feel a bit smoother, be it swiping through Instagram or gaming. The iPhone 13 with its 60Hz display, for example, can’t compare to the smooth scrolling you’ll get from the 120Hz iPhone 13 Pro.

Should I buy a phone with 5G?

Most new phones, especially those over £400/$400, will now support 5G. This is the next step up from 4G, and provides faster and more reliable download speeds in areas where the network is live. 5G varies by country, with the USA touting a tech called mmWave that has far superior speeds if you’re in the right spot. While 5G isn’t a must have yet, it’s always good to futureproof your purchases and as most new phones come with the tech now you likely won’t miss out.

How much should I spend on a phone?

There are excellent phones at all price points these days, with the best often costing above a grand if you want the very best. If you aren’t so fussed on things like camera performance and display quality you can get an excellent device for £500/$600.

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

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Comparison Specifications

Here are all the specs for our best phones. Remember, the amount of megapixels doesn’t always equal a better camera – as proved by the iPhone 13 Pro still sticking wth 12 on each rear sensor and still coming out on top.

UK RRP
USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
AUD RRP
Manufacturer
Screen Size
Storage Capacity
Rear Camera
Front Camera
Video Recording
IP rating
Battery
Wirless charging
Fast Charging
Size (Dimensions)
Weight
ASIN
Operating System
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
Model Number
Resolution
HDR
Refresh Rate
Ports
Chipset
RAM
Colours

Trusted Reviews test data

While test data doesn’t tell the whole story, it’s an important part of our review process. As you can see, the iPhone 13 series is the king when it comes to benchmark, especially Geekbench, providing top scores.

Geekbench 5 single core
Geekbench 5 multi core
sRGB
Adobe RGB
DCI-P3
Max brightness
1 hour video playback (Netflix, HDR)
30 minute gaming (intensive)
30 minute gaming (light)
1 hour music streaming (online)
1 hour music streaming (offline)
Time from 0-100% charge
Time from 0-50% charge
3D Mark – Wild Life

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Founded in 2004, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

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