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

Best smartphones to buy in 2022

If you're on the look out for a new smartphone, this guide has everything you need to make an informed decision. Our experts have tested the best handsets available in 2022 to help you make the right purchase.

Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Published: Friday, 13th May 2022 at 11:07 am

Our experts have been testing flagship smartphones from the best brands out there in order to help you choose the perfect phone. Whether you need something that's perfect for video capture, charges in a flash, or just a great all-rounder — our guide has something for you.

Advertisement

The best flagship smartphones come in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices – but each will have at least one thing in common: providing a top tier user experience. It doesn’t matter if they are Android or iOS, the handsets that make up our list of the best smartphones of 2022 (so far) will be doing something special – whether that’s offering a stunning display, fast charging or just superior performance.

Because of the 'top tier' nature of these phones, they are quite expensive, with many costing over £1000. If you're looking for something more affordable it's well worth taking a look at our best budget smartphones guide.

With those hefty price-tags in mind, it’s important that you can find the best smartphone for you. So we thoroughly tested all of these phones and put them through their paces – testing out specs and features to help you make a buying decision.

Looking for more of the latest releases from Apple? Be sure to read our iPhone 13 mini review, iPhone 13 review, iPhone Pro review and iPhone 13 Pro Max review. For more on the latest Android devices and how they shape up, don’t miss our in-depth Google Pixel 6 Pro review and the latest Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

Jump to:

Best smartphones at a glance

How to choose the best smartphone

How much should you spend on a new smartphone in 2022? We think they start to get interesting around the £200 mark. But in this round-up, we’re not going to focus too much on the lower end of the market. If that’s what you’re looking for, read our guide to the best budget smartphone for affordable alternatives.

Mid-range phones cost anything from around £350 to £700. Here you get a phone that, in many ways, will feel very similar to the most expensive phones going. If this price bracket is for you, read our best mid-range phone guide.

So why should you pay the big bucks? A few features you just don’t tend to get in mid-tier mobiles include long zoom cameras, which now extend as far as 10x in some phones and ultra-high resolution screens. Some budget models have slightly lesser build quality, trading aluminium or glass for plastic to lower costs.

But we should stress that a “best” smartphone can technically be any price point. Being expensive does not make a handset great on its own, and some of the more affordable handsets we have praised for providing great value for money.

When our experts put a handset through its paces they consider battery, cameras, specs and features, design, set-up, connectivity, storage and more.

So it’s worth spending a little time working out which of these is most important to you when buying a phone. Do you need a large screen to stream films and play games? Or, is a brilliant camera the deciding factor? Try our best 5G phone, best iPhone and best camera phone guides if these factors are important to you.

Read on for the best smartphones to buy in 2022 so far.

Best smartphones to buy in 2022

Apple iPhone 13 Pro, from £949

Best iPhone for most people

iPhone 13 Pro
Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Pros

  • Incredible camera setup
  • Sharp, clear display
  • Responsive and fast

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to some rival phones
  • Lacks some of the power of the 13 Pro Max

Alongside the Pro Max, the iPhone 13 Pro is Apple’s premium flagship smartphone this year - and we consider it to be the best iOS handset for most people. Yes, it’s an expensive piece of tech, and the same can be said for the previous model. The iPhone 13 Pro has a stunning display, great software performance, strong battery life, 5G connectivity and a highly-impressive 12 MP triple camera setup.

As our tech expert wrote in our iPhone 13 Pro review: [The phone] represents the best option of the entire iPhone 13 range because it combines next-level hardware with optimised software, all within a form factor that will suit most people.”

Buy the Apple iPhone 13 Pro:

Google Pixel 6 Pro, from £849

Best overall Android handset

Pros:

  • Fantastic 120Hz display
  • Stunning camera and great AI modes
  • Snappy Android experience

Cons:

  • More expensive than prior models
  • We miss the grippy sides of earlier models
  • There’s no mains wall charger in the box

The Pixel 6 Pro is Google’s true flagship handset. Boasting a unique new design, a stunning display, industry-leading camera and silky-smooth performance – it not only breathed new life into the series as a whole but instantly established itself as one of the best Android devices of the year. It’s a premium Pixel device and one that we felt emerged as a true competitor to the Apple iPhone for possibly the first time.

Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review.

Buy the Google Pixel 6 Pro:

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, from £1,149

Best premium Android

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

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is 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. Pretty much every aspect of the smartphone has a premium feel. 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:

iPhone 13 Pro Max, from £1,049

Best phone for shooting videos

iPhone 13 Pro Max
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

If it’s power you need, especially for taking photos and shooting videos, the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best handset that you can buy this year.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has a wealth of flagship video and photo tools, including a Cinematic Mode, Macro Mode and Photographic Styles. It shoots 4K footage, while Apple’s ProMotion technology preserves battery by adapting the refresh rate.

As we wrote in our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review: “The improvements made to both the camera hardware and software ... are what drew us in most when reviewing this phone and are enough to warrant an upgrade almost by themselves.”

Buy the iPhone 13 Pro Max:

Honor Magic 4 Pro, from £949

Best for zoom photography

Honor Magic 4 Pro blue

Pros:

  • 100x zoom camera
  • Fantastic quad-curved display
  • Speedy wireless or wired charging

Cons:

  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Magic UI gesture controls
  • Divisive design

The Honor Magic 4 Pro is an eye-catching new flagship phone from former Huawei sub-brand, Honor.

It offers 100W wired and wireless fast charging, plus plenty of features, but the thing that really impressed our experts was the phone's zoom photography.

It offers a 100x digital zoom function, bolstering the 3.5x telephoto zoom. Of course, if you zoom right in to 100x a lot of detail is lost, but to even be able to do so on a smartphone is staggering. The phone uses AI technology to capture some detail from each stage of the zoom as you zoom in, meaning it can perform well at quite high zoom distances, still capturing good detail and accurate colours.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, £1,599

Best foldable phone

Pros:

  • IPX8-rated water resistance
  • S Pen support

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Visible hinge

Samsung did not shy away from its foldable phones last year. In fact, it doubled down - releasing the Galaxy Z Fold3 with some great refinements of the concept. We love that the tech exists, and it’s great to see some new smartphone design ideas.

As our tech expert wrote in this 4.5/5 star Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: “All of the additions to this third-generation foldable phone including IPX8-rated water resistance and S Pen support make it more durable and practical. It’s still painfully pricey, but Samsung is continuing its dominance in foldable phones.”

Buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3:

Motorola G200, from £399

Best performance for mid-range price

Pros

  • Powerful 5G processor
  • 108 MP triple camera setup

Cons

  • No expandable storage
  • No wireless charging

The Moto G200 has a top-end Snapdragon 888+ 5G processor that gives it lots of power for around £400, alongside a triple camera set-up with a 108 MP primary, a strong 500mAh battery and a 144Hz refresh rate display The back is made of plastic and it has no expandable storage or wireless charging, but if you want performance without having to pay top pricing for a flagship, consider this phone.

Buy the Motorola Moto g200:

Xiaomi Mi 11, £749

Best for high-end design at a lower price

Xiaomi Mi 11

Pros:

  • No-compromise design at a lower price
  • Top-tier processor
  • Good value

Cons:

  • No zoom camera

The Xiaomi Mi 11 is the best alternative to the OnePlus 9, and is the phone to get if you want something that looks and feels a bit more high-end. Why? The Mi 11 has a curved glass front, a curved glass back and metal sides.

This is the design style of a £1000-plus phone, for £750. It also has one of the best Android processors available at the time of writing, the Snapdragon 888, and the 108MP main camera captures stacks of detail in photos.

So, what’s missing? The Xiaomi Mi 11 doesn’t have a dedicated telephoto camera lens, although its 2x zoom results beat the OnePlus 9’s. The OnePlus beats Xiaomi for ultra-wide camera quality. Both are crackers with slightly different strengths.

Buy the Xiaomi Mi 11:

Samsung Galaxy S21, £769

Best pick for fans of smaller phones

Samsung Galaxy S21
Samsung Galaxy S21

Pros

  • Relatively small and easy to handle
  • Fun triple rear camera array

Cons

  • Has a plastic back
  • One-day battery life

The real success of the Samsung Galaxy S21 is that it sort of miniaturises all the bits that make a top Samsung phone so appealing. It looks fantastic, has a highly versatile, high-quality triple camera array with none of the rubbish filler cameras you see in cheaper phones, and a very bright, rich OLED screen.

It is also a lot smaller than the more recent Galaxy S22+ or Galaxy S22 Ultra and costs hundreds of pounds less. There are just two little issues to consider. Like most small phones, the Galaxy S21’s battery doesn’t last quite as long as the bigger, pricier options. And the back is plastic rather than glass.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S21:

Xiaomi 12 Pro, around $999

Best for fast charging

Xiaomi 12 Pro

Pros

  • Very fast charging
  • Powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip
  • 120Hz refresh rate display

Cons

  • MIUI 13 software isn't perfect
  • Can heat up during intensive use
  • Battery life could be better

The Xiaomi 12 Pro is the successor to the 'flagship killer' Xiaomi 11T, but this model chooses to go head-to-head with other flagships instead of trying to compete in that usual category. Currently priced at $999 – with UK pricing and release date to follow – it's definitely an expensive handset, but one with a great design and camera set-up. But it was the charging capabilities that truly impressed us during testing, with the phone going from dead to full in under 30 minutes.

Read our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review.

Advertisement

For news, reviews, and deals check out the RadioTimes.com Technology section and why not consider signing up to receive our technology newsletter.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content