Best Smartphones of 2022

Searching for a smartphone with great battery life? Awesome cameras? A truly affordable price? Take a look at these options.

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details of the camera lenses of 3 different smartphones Photo: Consumer Reports

Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest flagship device or a more modest model for basic talking and texting, there’s no shortage of well-made smartphones on our ratings list (available to CR members).

Consumer Reports tests dozens of models each year, checking the basics, including how long the batteries last and how bright the displays are, along with premium features such as multicamera setups and the hinges on “foldable” phones.

But even the most lackluster of smartphones represents a leap in technology from a decade ago. And that means you don’t have to buy the No.1-rated phone to get a great product.

All but 20 of the 50 models currently in CR’s ratings have earned our recommendation. And the top 20 are separated by just a few points.

So which is the best smartphone for you? Well, that depends. Are you willing to spend a little or a lot? Is daylong battery life your first priority or is a cutting-edge camera setup what you covet most?

To help you out, here’s a range of smart options, based on our extensive lab testing.

Best iPhone

Apple’s latest supersized flagship phone improves upon its predecessor with a high-refresh-rate display that makes animations appear much smoother than before, a macro photography mode that makes it easier to take close-up photos of pets, flowers, and other objects, and a new video mode that automatically blurs the background of your subject, creating a dramatic effect.

While the 13 Pro Max costs $100 more than the 13 Pro, it packs in several more hours of battery life (53 vs. 40) and a bigger display (6.7 inches vs. 6.1 inches). The cameras on both models are similarly capable. (With the iPhone 12 Pro models, on the other hand, you have to step up to the Max to get the best camera tech.)

On the flip side, the Pro Max is significantly heavier than the Pro, and it can be tough to use one-handed, even for people with long fingers. So, if you’re wary of bulky phones, you might be happier with the more modest-sized Pro.

Interested in other iPhone models? Take a look at which iPhone you should buy.

Best Android Phone

Samsung has long reigned as king of the Android smartphone market, but in recent years, its models have started to blend together a bit.

The S21 Ultra is the first device in the company’s S series lineup to support on-screen scribbling with an optional ($40) stylus, borrowing that capability from the now-extinct Galaxy Note line. The new Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with an S Pen tucked inside an onboard silo, fully embracing the Note’s design, but it scores just a hair below the older model, according to our testers.

All of the Galaxy S21 and S22 phones performed well in our labs, but perhaps the most mind-blowing thing about them is that they cost $200 less than the S20 comparable models that debuted in 2020. 

With the S21 Ultra, you also get those premium big-phone perks we’ve all come to expect: great battery life, a fancy zoom camera, and a huge, 6.8-inch Netflix-worthy display.

Check out these other great Android smartphones.

Best Low-Priced (Under $500) Smartphone

Never heard of OnePlus? You’re not alone. But the company’s phones are worth your consideration. And at $400, the OnePlus 8T is the cheapest option out there for people who want 5G connectivity, but not in an Apple or a Samsung phone.

The model receives an Excellent rating for performance, and its battery lasts nearly a whole day, 23.5 hours in our testing.

The downsides? This is one of the few smartphones these days not designed to be water-resistant. The rear and selfie cameras receive ratings of just Good from our testers, which puts them behind the pack. However, the rear 1080p video quality fairs much better, with a Very Good rating.

Learn more about great low-priced smartphones.

Best Android Phone for Battery Life

At just under 53 hours, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max has the longest battery life among the smartphones in our ratings. Its smaller sibling, the iPhone 13 Pro, clocks in at 40 hours.

But there are great, very long-lasting smartphones for Android users, too.

Take the OnePlus Nord N100, which comes in at just under 49 hours. It’s a budget model with midrange scores in terms of display, performance, and camera quality. But when you’re spending less than $200, it’s hard to complain.

If you’re willing to go up in price, you might also consider the Samsung A52 5G. For $500, it delivers a Very Good 6.5-inch display, speedy performance, reasonable camera quality, and a battery that lasts 45 hours. Not too shabby.

Headshot of CR author Melanie Pinola

Melanie Pinola

As a service journalist, my goal is to help people get the most out of their technology and other tools. Prior to joining CR, my work appeared online and in print for publications including The New York Times, Wirecutter, Lifehacker, Popular Mechanics, and PCWorld. When I'm not researching or writing, I'm playing video games with my family, testing new recipes, or chasing the puppy. Feel free to reach me on Twitter (@melaniepinola).