The best smartphone 2022on November 11, 2022 at 15:10 Tech Advisor

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2022 is nearly over but the year has seen some truly superb smartphones go on sale. Whether you’re looking for performance, camera smarts, or value, our definitive list of the ten best phones has it all. 

The top phone on this rundown won’t be the ideal phone for everybody so make sure to check out all ten. The best phone for you is out there, depending on what you value most – camera, battery life, design, specs, price, and more to boot come into play.

Samsung and Apple feature of course, but looking further afield to Android competitors such as OnePlus, Google, Oppo, and Xiaomi could mean you find your ideal pocket partner. Trust us, these phones all deliver – just all a little differently, and that’s a great thing. Good competition means better phones for everyone!

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Best smartphone 2022

1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – Best overall phone

Pros

Excellent camera

Phenomenal display

Stylus support

Cons

Bulky

Expensive

Slower charging

RRP:



From £1,149

While the S21 Ultra dabbled with Note-like features, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is unquestionably a full-blown successor to 2020’s Note 20 Ultra in everything but name. It’s expensive, but the best overall phone you can currently buy thanks to incredible performance and balanced features.

The design is distinctly different from the other entries in the Galaxy S22 range (which is to say very ‘Note-like’) and features an integrated S Pen stylus that expands functionality beyond most rivals, especially in terms of productivity.

Despite familiar-looking camera hardware, the upgrades made by Samsung render it one of the best systems in any phone right now; with a 108Mp main shooter backed up by an ultrawide and two telephoto lenses at different zoom levels – with the zoom performance particularly improved on previous models.

The expansive 6.8in LTPO AMOLED display delivers both high WQHD+ resolution and an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz, while long-term software support that surpasses even Google’s Pixels rounds out an impressive list of pros. If you can handle its huge size, it’s a real winner, with five years of software support the best in Android land.

Read our full
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

2. iPhone 14 Pro – Best iPhone

Pros

Dynamic Island is genuinely great

First iPhone with always-on display

Phenomenal cameras

120Hz display

Cons

Battery life same as 13 Pro

No fast charging

More expensive in the UK

The regular iPhone 14 is a very minor update over the iPhone 13, so it’s a pleasant surprise that the iPhone 14 Pro is such a leap over its predecessor. Some of the change is only skin deep, but when such a visual overhaul as the Dynamic Island makes its debut, it’s hard not to notice.

Apple has shrunk its famous screen notch into a pill and circular shape below the top bezel but filled in the blank space with black pixels, and then used animations to have notifications and updates from apps originate from the space, creating a use for the cut outs now seen for cameras on most phone screens. It is very clever, and means you can see what music playing, timers, weather and more constantly at the top of the screen without having to hop into the app.

The phone’s cameras are also exceptionally good, with the first 48Mp sensor on an iPhone allowing for 2x zoom cropping in addition to the 3x telephoto lens and a capable ultrawide. Apple has also finally introduced an always-on display that simply dims your lock screen and pleasingly doesn’t affect battery life, in our testing at least. It’s not a huge upgrade on the 13 Pro but if your phone is three or four years old this iPhone will feel lightyears into the future.

Read our full
iPhone 14 Pro review

3. Google Pixel 7 Pro – Best user experience

Pros

Superb display

Incredible, versatile cameras

Strong battery life

Exclusive software features

Cons

Big and heavy

Ugly design

Slow charging

The Pixel 7 Pro sees Google iterate on the big reinvention of 6 Pro by improving battery life, display, and the cameras. The 7 Pro is the best Pixel yet and a real ‘kitchen sink’ device – it’s big and heavy and the design might not be for you, but it delivers with an amazing Android experience.

If you don’t like iOS and don’t need the S22 Ultra’s S-Pen then the Pixel 7 Pro is the best phone choice going, and it’s cheaper than the two phones above it in this list. It takes incredible still shots that are among the best and most consistent of any phone, with Google’s superior software processing making this one of the most satisfying point and shoot cameras you can keep in your pocket.

There’a also tons of clever Pixel-only features like Magic Eraser to scrub out unwanted people and objects from photos, Live Transcribe for those hard of hearing, and a big bright display and nearly 2-day battery life to do it all on. Google promises five years of security updates but only three years of Android updates – Samsung and Apple beat Google on this front.

But the Pixel is the one to pick if you like your phone software customisable and playful. If you want a smaller phone, the Pixel 7 is also excellent but lacks the 5x telephoto lens found on the Pro.

Read our full
Google Pixel 7 Pro review

4. Oppo Find X5 Pro – Superb cameras

Pros

Best-in-class display

Versatile cameras

Unique design

Cons

No periscopic zoom

Expensive

RRP:



£1,049

The Oppo Find X5 Pro is a phenomenal phone by any measure. The 6.7in 10-bit 120Hz QHD+ panel is one of the best displays in any phone right now and Oppo backs it up with 80W wired and 50W wireless charging, a 5000mAh battery, and a top-tier camera that boasts 50Mp sensors on both the main and ultrawide lenses.

You’ll have to live without a periscopic zoom lens – the telephoto here is a measly 2x zoom – but results across all three rear lenses are exceptional. The design is unique too, thanks to a seamlessly sloped camera module built right into the ceramic of the phone’s body.

In terms of pure performance, the Find X5 Pro is also hard to beat, with all of the above, plus a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, 256GB storage and 12GB RAM. You just have to be willing to pay the price, as it doesn’t come cheap.

Read our full
Oppo Find X5 Pro review

5. Google Pixel 6a – Best value

Pros

Great performance

Solid battery life

Very good camera

Cons

60Hz display

Slow charging

Back plastic scratches easily

RRP:



£399

Although the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro have bigger, better screens and improved cameras, the $449/£399/€459 6a is better value and the Pixel phone most people should buy.

For the asking price you get the Google Tensor chip, the same as the 6 and 6 Pro, resulting in flagship level performance. Older A-series Pixels were sluggish – not this one.

You only get a 60Hz refresh rate screen, slow 18W charging, and a plastic back that we found scratches quite easily. There’s also only a 12.2Mp main camera, the same as on the Pixel 5, rather than the Pixel 6’s 50Mp shooter.

But aside from that this is close to the full Pixel experience at a superb price, with three years of Android OS updates and five years of security updates.

Read our full
Google Pixel 6a review

6. iPhone 14 – Superb all-rounder

Pros

Outstanding battery life

Great performance

Superb dual cameras

Top build quality

Cons

60Hz display

Slow charging

No RAW photo shooting

The iPhone 14 isn’t as good as the iPhone 14 Pro but it costs less – even if it is pretty much an iPhone 13 with a new name. The only things of note it adds to the 13 is a very slightly improved main camera and the admittedly impressed stablisation video mode called Action Mode.

There’s also car crash detection, which you will hopefully never have to use – the bottom line is, don’t upgrade from an iPhone 13, but otherwise this is the go-to iPhone for most people right now. The battery life is excellent and it has great performance, while the cameras are top notch despite not having a telephoto lens.

As ever with Apple, built quality is the best in the business, and iOS is extremely stable software. You’ll also get software updates for about five years, and can get a repair done at any Apple Store. If you want a larger screen and more battery, you could opt for the iPhone 14 Plus, but we prefer this smaller model.

Read our full
iPhone 14 review

7. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 – Best foldable

Pros

Superb performance

Solid battery life

Folds in half

Cons

Durability questions

‘Slow’ 25W charging

No telephoto camera

Samsung has addressed the Z Flip 3’s issues of bad battery life and middling camera performance for the price and made the Z Flip 4 an all-day phone with the same main and ultrawide cameras as the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.

It means this is the best foldable phone you can buy today, at a price similar to flagship slab smartphones. While durability questions remain over the display and the crease in it, we can’t test that – but Samsung says the Flip will last for at least 200,000 open and close motions, which roughly equates to five years of average use.

The improved battery is likely down the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with its improved energy efficiency, meaning you no longer have to charge the Flip halfway through the day. 8GB RAM is more than enough, though you might want to spend a little more to get 256GB storage. We also love the side mounted fingerprint sensor.

For all intents and purposes, this is an S22 with a better processor that folds down to half its size. It’s compelling, and one of the best phones full stop.

Read our full
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 review

8. Vivo X80 Pro – Outstanding cameras

Pros

Truly outstanding camera

Fast wired and wireless charging

Superb battery life

Cons

Awkward camera design

No Gorilla Glass

Frustrating software

RRP:



£1,199

Vivo has knocked it out of the park with the X80 Pro, a phone whose camera is truly excellent, rivalling the best Apple, Samsung, and Google have to offer.

A Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip powers four rear lenses, the main being a wonderfully capable 50Mp sensor. Every lens benefits from Vivo’s V1+ image processing chip, and there’s gimbal stabilisation on the telephoto lens to aid clarity of zoom shots. It’s an incredibly full feature set, and low-light photography is outstanding. Add to that excellent video modes with cinema-wide aspect ratios and a film-like grain and you’ve got a powerhouse camera in your pocket.

The phone is a big one so you’ll have to be happy with a 6.78in AMOLED. It’s a 120Hz LTPO (with variable refresh rate) and QHD+ resolution.

Downsides to the phone are the lack of Gorilla Glass for proven scratch and crack protection to the front and back, and the frustrating software. But overall this is another leap forward for Vivo that you should seriously consider if you want a premium camera on the back of your phone.

Read our full
Vivo X80 Pro review

9. Motorola Edge 30 Ultra – Outstanding battery life

Pros

144Hz OLED display

Best-in-class performance

Excellent value

Phenomenal battery & charging

Cons

Camera is good, but not great

Poor IP rating

Not many Motorola phones grab our attention these days, especially at the high-end, so we were pleasantly surprised by the Edge 30 Ultra. It’s one of the best phones of 2022, and a decent buy if you want a 144Hz OLED, a spec you normally only see on garish gaming phones.

Performance is amazing thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, and the phone is really nice to hold thanks to matt satin-like sheen to the rear glass, plus the slightly curved display makes it sleek. Perhaps best of all is the reliable two days battery life here – better than the other phones on this round up.

Add to that 125W super fast wired charging with the charger in the box and the Edge 30 Ultra is a formidable Android choice. Three years of software updates is just about good enough, but the camera does disappoint slightly and there’s no full waterproofing. Otherwise this is a great phone at a great price.

Read our full
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra review

10. OnePlus 10 Pro – Best for customisable software

Pros

Super-fast 80W wired charging

Great longevity

Top specs

Cons

Inconsistent cameras

No IP rating

RRP:



£799

The latest flagship phone from OnePlus is a good alternative to the likes of the S22 or Pixel 6 series, especially if you live in the US and have few other high-end Android options

With a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and speedy 80W wired charging the 10 Pro has core specs to match anything its rivals offer, and we’re broadly fans of the slick design too – though not everyone is.

And although the Oxygen OS software has seen an aesthetic overhaul the past few years, it’s still one of the most customisable Android skins out there, meaning you can tinker around to really make this phone feel like your own.

Despite support from Hasselblad, the camera system is still the phone’s primary weakness here and the main thing that sets it apart from the pricier but similarly-specced Oppo Find X5 Pro.

The rear triple sensor setup is impressive, don’t get us wrong, but inconsistencies – especially in exposure – only serve to remind us that it’s not up there with the best of the best, and that makes it a touch harder to recommend; even if the OxygenOS user experience is superb and battery life is among the best of any flagship currently out there.

Read our full
OnePlus 10 Pro review

Your buying guide for the best phones in 2022

When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance, and value. 

Generally speaking, a flagship phone in 2022 will start at around £700 but can cost over £1,000 in some cases. On contract, you’re looking at between £30 and £50-per-month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile data.

It’s worth noting that while this list highlights the best smartphones available right now, that doesn’t explicitly mean flagships (even though they do feature heavily here). There are entries that cross over with our
mid-range and
budget phone charts too, but earnt their place here, based on the capabilities and quality on offer, relative to their price.

Buying a phone outright will usually give you the best value, but we appreciate finances in the real world don’t always accommodate such big one-off purchases. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan, as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.

FAQ

1.

Should you buy an iPhone or Android phone?

There’s more than one mobile operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS.

The vast majority of phones today run Android – 13 being the latest publicly-released version. Apple’s iOS platform, currently on iOS 16, may have a lower market share but developers almost always release their apps on iOS first. As a result of this approach, it has one of the best app stores you can find.

If you have an Android phone or an iPhone and want to move to a phone running the other OS (operating system), it’s fairly easy to transfer your contacts and other select data from one to the other. What you can’t move are paid-for apps and certain app data (like WhatsApp backups), so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform – and research any specific concerns you may have about the process.

2.

Why should you buy an unlocked phone?

An unlocked phone is one that is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying ‘unlocked’ usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM card or contract attached.

The most important point is that an unlocked
phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract – if you can afford it.

The only real exception to this is Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.

Generally speaking, if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.

More importantly, you are not locked into a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of said contract or commit to another two years. 

Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.

3.

Which SIM or mobile plan should you get?

One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.

For the record, every phone in this list takes a nano-SIM.

If you get that wrong it is easily solvable; every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes, you simply pop out the one you need.

But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.

More important is to make sure that if you want 5G you get a 5G-enabled phone and SIM.

Related:
How we test smartphones

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