The Radio Times logo
We may earn commission from links on this page. Our editorial is always independent (learn more)

Best Android phones to buy in 2022

With so many smartphones on the market, how do you choose a new Android handset? We've narrowed it down for you.

David Paul Morris via Getty Images
Published: Monday, 21st March 2022 at 3:30 pm

There’s always a lot of excitement when Apple releases a new iPhone, but it’s easy to forget that more than 70% of phones used worldwide are Androids.

Advertisement

They cover a wider range of needs and often represent better real-world value. But choosing the best Android phone to buy is not easy. There are hundreds of handsets out there, and new models seem to appear on an almost weekly basis.

This is why we put together a list of the best Android-based phones you can buy in 2022, featuring top brands including Google, Samsung, OnePlus and more.

We won’t be focusing on budget phones in this list. If your budget is closer to £150 than £700, be sure to read our best budget smartphone round-up. If you have between £200 and £700 to spend, take a look at our best mid-range phones guide.

If you’re undecided between iOS and Android, we have a breakdown of the Apple iPhone 13 Pro vs Google Pixel 6 Pro and check out our best iPhone round-up.

Jump to:

Best Android phones at a glance

Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images (Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

How to choose the best Android phone

A few years ago, we might have advised that you should be careful about the brand of Android smartphone you bought. Some makers used software skins that, frankly, weren’t that good. But today, companies like Oppo and Xiaomi make some of the best phones around, regardless of price. That old creakiness has mostly gone.

How much should you spend on a new Android phone?

Our cheapest option here costs a little over £300, and that’s enough to get you flagship-grade performance, 5G and a slick design. You’ll need to spend a bit more to get a world-class camera setup, one that can take great zoomed images and super-detailed ultra-wide ones as well as what we might call ‘normal’ photos.

You don’t have to spend much to get an excellent screen, and there’s now very little correlation between the price of the handset and overall battery life. Spending more money is about getting a phone that takes better pictures, feels and looks more expensive, and is more likely to still feel slick and quick years after you buy it.

Best Android phones to buy in 2022

Best Android: Google Pixel 6 Pro

Price: From £849

Pros:
  • Fantastic screen with high refresh rate
  • Great camera and new AI modes
  • Snappy and smooth experience
Cons:
  • More expensive than prior Pixel models
  • No main wall charger in the box
  • Phone was a little slippery to hold

Google decided to shake things up with the release of the Pixel 6 Pro this year. With a unique new camera design focused on the camera module, a stunning, high-resolution display and silky-smooth performance due to the new “Tensor” chipset, it emerged as one of the best alternatives to the Apple iPhone. As we detailed in our Google Pixel 6 Pro review, it’s more than just a visual overhaul.

The 6 Pro feels premium. While it’s large to hold – and has a bigger price tag than any other Pixel to date – we were impressed. Its camera remains one of the best on the market, and the adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz meant all app scrolling was buttery smooth. It’s our pick of the best Android you can buy so far in 2022.

Buy the Google Pixel 6 Pro:

Best premium Android: Samsung S22 Ultra

Price: £1,149

Pros

  • Bundled S-pen is fantastic
  • Great high-resolution display
  • Quad camera set-up

Cons

  • May be too big for some users
  • No expandable storage
  • No wall charger in the box

Every aspect of the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a premium feel, easily earning a place on this list. It's a spiritual successor to the Note series, with an S Pen that pops into the bottom of the handset and a crisp high resolution 120Hz display. It's big and expensive, but if you need power and performance then look no further.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra:

Best mid-range performance: Moto G200 5G

Price: £399.99 (RRP)

Pros

  • Powerful 5G processor
  • 108 MP triple camera setup

Cons

  • No expandable storage
  • No wireless charging

If you want top performance without having to pay top pricing for a flagship, consider the Moto G200. It's got top-end Snapdragon 888+ 5G processor that gives it lots of power for under £400, alongside a triple camera set-up with a 108 MP primary, a strong 500mAh battery and a 144Hz refresh rate keeps the display and apps running silky smooth. The back is made of plastic and it has no expandable storage or wireless charging, but those are minor compromises we are willing to make.

For more on this handset, read our in-depth Moto G200 5G review and be sure to check out our guide to the best Motorola phones you can buy in 2022.

Buy the Motorola Moto g200:

Best for fans of small phones: Samsung Galaxy S21

Price: £769

Samsung Galaxy S21

Pros:

  • Easy to handle
  • Versatile triple rear camera
  • Stylish design

Cons

  • The back is plastic
  • One-day battery life

Samsung fans who will appreciate a large screen should buy a Galaxy S21+ or the Galaxy S21 Ultra. But if you don’t play games or stream video a lot, you may prefer the cheaper Galaxy S21. We think it’s actually the best-looking one of the trio, even if it does have a plastic back rather than a snazzy glass one.

It’s a pocket-friendly phone with a good processor and three solid cameras, including a decent zoom. The S21’s screen is ultra-bright too, handy for use outdoors. Battery life is not the longest on this list, but this should only be an issue for real phone addicts. While the Ultra has a 6.8-inch display, the base model is 6.2-inches.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S21:

Best quality design: Samsung Galaxy S22+

Price: £949

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

Pros

  • Great camera
  • Fantastic display
  • Larger battery than the standard S22
  • Plenty of power

Cons

  • Not a million miles better than the S21+
  • No mains charger in the box
  • Can't conclusively beat the Pixel 6 Pro camera

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ is an absolutely fantastic handset from Samsung. It merits its high price point with a speedy processor, plenty of power and a stand-out camera.

During testing, we consistently enjoyed the S22+ and it performed perfectly, taking on a range of tasks with ease — gaming, streaming, video calls and much more.

Should you buy a Samsung Galaxy S22+? That depends. If you're using a phone from the S21 series, you might not necessarily need to upgrade here — unless you're ready to step up to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, that is. However, if you're using an older handset, the S22+ is definitely a viable upgrade option.

We love its display, the user experience is smooth and reliable and there are plenty of top-end features. However, the fact that it can't conclusively outgun the (slightly more affordable) Google Pixel 6 Pro in the camera stakes is a drawback.

Best quality under £800: Xiaomi Mi 11

Price: £749

Xiaomi Mi 11

Pros:

  • Top-tier processor
  • Similar approach to design as a £1000-plus phone

Cons:

  • Other Xiaomi last a bit longer off a single charge

We often consider Xiaomi to be the star manufacturer for getting you lots of internal hardware for little cash, but the Mi 11 is also unusually impressive on the outside. It has a curved Gorilla Glass back and front, with aluminium running down the sides.

This is the design of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but this Xiaomi costs at least £250 less. Almost everything on the inside impresses, too, from the Snapdragon 888 processor to the superb ultra-high-resolution 120Hz OLED screen and the detailed 108 megapixel (MP) primary camera. What’s missing? The Xiaomi Mi 11 does not have a dedicated zoom camera. And, like a lot of fancy and slim phones like this, the battery life isn’t quite as long as some of Xiaomi’s more affordable models.

We also compared the Xiaomi Mi 11 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 to help you decide.

Buy the Xiaomi Mi 11:

Best for experimental photos: Oppo Find X3 Pro

Price: £1,099

Oppo Find X3 Pro

Pros:

  • Highly unusual microscope camera
  • Striking design
  • Powerful

Cons:

  • The Galaxy S21 Ultra camera is still a bit more versatile
  • High cost

This is Oppo’s top phone of last year, the kind of Android you might buy instead of a Galaxy S21 Ultra or Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max. Is it worth the switch?

We prefer the Oppo’s Snapdragon processor to the Samsung’s Exynos one. And it has an incredibly odd “microscope” camera with a 60x zoom lens.

It lets you see the individual threads in fabric or the unexpectedly complex surface of leaves. The Find X3 Pro also has a better selfie camera than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, although its single 2x zoom camera isn’t in the same league. At its original launch price, we might choose the Samsung as a result. But if you find the Find X3 Pro on sale or want to try something a little more unusual, this is a world-class phone.

For more on the handset, read our full Oppo Find X3 Pro review.

Buy the Oppo Find X3 Pro:

Best all-rounder at a sensible price: OnePlus 9

Price: £629

OnePlus 9

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Excellent performance

Cons:

  • No telephoto lens
  • Plastic sides

Here’s a breath of fresh air for you. The OnePlus 9 is a mid-priced phone that offers an experience very close to the £1000 crowd.

Its processor is brilliant, the design tasteful, the screen bold and bright. And charging is super-fast, too, getting you from flat to full in a little over a half-hour.

Even the main and wide cameras are good, although, for pure main camera image quality, we might pick the Google Pixel 6 series instead. If you go looking for holes, you’ll find there’s no telephoto lens for zooming in, and that the OnePlus 9’s sides are plastic rather than metal. However, it’s a sensible compromise if you don’t fancy spending more on the OnePlus 9 Pro, which costs £829. (Here’s our OnePlus 9 Pro review).

Not decided? Try our OnePlus 9 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 guide.

Buy the OnePlus 9:

Best for sheer value Xiaomi Poco F3

Price: £349

Xiaomi Poco F3

Pros:

  • Great value
  • Strong gaming performance
  • Top-quality screen

Cons

  • Cameras can’t compete with the best here

If the OnePlus doesn’t sound like enough of a bargain to you, check out the Xiaomi Poco F3. This phone is something of a money-saving maverick.

It has 5G, a sharp OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate for ultra-smooth scrolling, a glass back and is even super-thin at 7.8mm thick.

Sure, the rear design is a bit provocative on the blue version, but Xiaomi sensibly stays reserved for the black and white models.

The Snapdragon 870 processor is superb for gaming given the cost. Where’s the compromise? The camera, as is so often the case. Its 48MP main lens is solid, even at night. And the macro camera is fun to play around with. But the ultra-wide isn’t in the same league as some of the other phones here, and there’s no dedicated telephoto lens for zooming in.

Buy the Xiaomi Poco F3:

Best for gaming: Asus ROG Phone 5

Price: £799.99

Pros:

  • Fantastic speakers
  • Smooth, immersive widescreen
  • Premium design

Cons:

  • Not best-in-class camera
  • Big, bulky body too big for many
  • No wireless charging

If you are into some of the more power-intensive mobile games, you should check out the Asus ROG Phone 5 - which is a premium handset great for entertainment.

The specs largely speak for themselves: 144Hz AMOLED display made by Samsung, a fast-charging 6000mAh battery, loud stereo front speakers, a 64MP main camera lens and of course, it’s fully compatible with a large number of gaming accessories.

As our tech expert noted in our Asus ROG Phone 5 review: “Its screen is huge, bright and punchy, its speakers are categorically best-in-class, making for loud... sound perfect for movies and music, and naturally, its suped-up internals make it a killer handheld gamer on the go. Whether you’re blasting through baddies or binging through an entire Netflix series in bed, no phone sucks you in quite like the ROG Phone 5.”

Buy the ASUS ROG Phone 5

Advertisement

Still can’t decide? Don’t miss our best smartphone, best iPhone and best camera phone guides to help you narrow it down.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content