The best smartphones in 2022 compared
|For the Android team||For the iOS camp||Mid-range option||Best value-for-money||Best foldable phone||Best gaming phone||Most eco-friendly|
|Rating||Read the Google Pixel 7 Pro review||Read the Apple iPhone 14 Pro review||Read the Google Pixel 7 review||Read the Google Pixel 6a review||Read the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review||Read the Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro review||Read the Fairphone 4 review|
Selecting a high-end smartphone means getting the best screen, the best performance, and the best camera possible. In recent years, high-end smartphones have become more and more premium, be it in terms of design, technical specifications, or price.
In this selection, we have classified smartphones into different categories in order to meet different budgets and types of use. A gamer, for example, will not necessarily require the latest 200 MP camera. We have therefore targeted some of the main concerns one has when buying a smartphone.
Buying guide: Things to consider
Each year, smartphone manufacturers try to add exciting new features to their models, ranging from cameras to batteries and even the form factor itself. Below are a few tips on what to look for when buying a smartphone in 2022.
Main characteristics of current smartphones
- Form factor: Foldable displays are probably the most exciting development in smartphones in recent years. Thanks to flexible displays, the form factors of the smartphones themselves are also becoming more flexible. In 2022, you will have choices between the ultra-compact Galaxy Z Flip 4, the standard brick format from the iPhone to the Xiaomi, or the foldable tablet in the form of the Galaxy Z Fold 4. You can find a current overview of the best foldable smartphones here:
- Cameras: The vast majority of high-end smartphones offer at least three cameras at the back: ultra-wide, standard wide-angle, and telephoto. Do not be blinded by the resolution count: The difference between 12 and 200 megapixels is not as big as the numbers suggest. What is more important are factors like the sensor size or the image processing algorithms. You can read more about this in the respective smartphone reviews or in the following article.
- Battery life: You hardly have to worry about battery life in 2022 for flagships. Even with intensive use, you can get through the day with the vast majority of models. However, the differences are starker when it comes to charging: While Xiaomi charges its smartphones completely using 120 watts in a matter of minutes, Apple and Samsung are more conservative. Additional information about batteries and fast charging can be found in the following article.
- Display: First it was 60 Hz, then 90 Hz, 120 Hz, or even 144 Hz: Over the past two years, smartphones have been getting faster and faster displays, and even Apple has jumped aboard the bandwagon since the iPhone 13 Pro was released. High refresh rates ensure a smoother display, whether for gaming or everyday use. However, the higher Hertz numbers also nibble away at the battery, so manufacturers usually adjust the refresh rates depending on the content being displayed. You can read more about screens via the following article.
- Processing power & other specifications: The high-end smartphones of 2022 are all so powerful that you’ll have a hard time pushing them to their limits. All flagships offer more than enough power for current games and for everyday life anyway. The same applies to 5G, which is now standard equipment in smartphones. However, you should carefully consider how much memory you need before buying. This is because expansion options like a microSD card slot are almost non-existent in the upper mid-range models.
NextPit recommends: These are the best flagship smartphones in 2022
I presented a comparative table at the beginning of this article concerning the best flagships in 2022. In what follows, I will approach the different smartphones one by one. Depending on the type of user, there is a perfect choice for everybody.
After bold moves in both software and hardware during 2021, Google played safe in both fields, opting to iterate on both the Android 12 and Pixel 6 line to give the market their successors. And those refinements paid off, especially after a bunch of bugs and issues that initially plagued the Pixel 6 family.
My colleague Camila Rinaldi was straightforward, proclaiming the Pixel 7 Pro “the best Pixel ever” in her review. With great battery life, the pure Android experience, long-term support, and, of course, one of the best cameras in the market, the Pixel 7 Pro is an excellent choice, even for those tainted by the bugs found on the previous year’s model.
The best iOS phone: Apple iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro is not only the best iPhone, but also one of the best camera smartphones. Unlike previous years, Apple made significant changes by replacing the notch with the Dynamic Island in the form of a pill cut-out, but most importantly, a new camera system. The iPhone 14 Pro embeds a new triple camera module that is spearheaded by a new 48 MP camera.
The latest flagship of Apple takes very nice pictures by offering extremely natural renders that iPhone cameras are famous for. The colors are consistent between the different sensors and with the new 2x zoom introduced in the main camera, the ultra wide-angle can also capture macro shots while the telephoto lens excels with its 3x zoom. All these make the iPhone 14 Pro’s camera system a very seductive proposition due to its versatility.
Apple has also had videographers in mind by improving the Cinematic Mode with the possibility of filming in 4K and the new Action mode which offers greater stabilization of your videos.
Best mid-range phone in 2022: Google Pixel 7
Ok, the “mid-range” title doesn’t really fit the Pixel 7 specs, a true flagship phone in its own right. However, with high-end phones continually testing how much tech enthusiasts are willing to pay for a phone, the Pixel 7 offers almost the same hardware found on $1000 phones for considerably less money.
Most of the same qualities from the Pixel 7 Pro apply to the regular model, including its premium design, Android updates, exclusive software features, excellent battery life, and, again, its capable camera system that is still a reference for phones on its price range. To sweeten the deal, the Pixel phones are discounted way more frequently than iPhones, so it is worth checking for deals.
Best value-for-money: Google Pixel 6a
The Pixel 6a is an easy suggestion in 2022, despite packing most of the same internals as 2021’s Pixel 6 line. While most phones in its price range cut corners on processing power, software updates, and features, the Pixel 6a offers almost the same hardware as the more expensive models with very few sacrifices.
Basically, you give up the higher-resolution sensors, wireless charging, bigger screen, and battery found on the Pixel 6 Pro, while keeping the same flagship-level performance, long-term software support, water-proof build, and exclusive camera and Android features. What is not to like?
Best foldable smartphone: Samsung Z Fold 4
Samsung is the undisputed champion of foldable smartphones with its Galaxy Z Fold 4. The South Korean manufacturer confirmed its supremacy with its latest magnum opus. The foldable design continues to impress with excellent finishing and technical reliability that continues to make it the best foldable flagship. Samsung has further improved the robustness of the Z Fold 4 this year and still offers a very good battery life, high performance, and two beautiful screens.
The main strength of the Z Fold 4 is that it offers not only very advanced hardware but also a neat software experience. Features like Flex Mode, Taskbar, split screen, and floating windows make the Galaxy Z Fold 4 a smartphone that was specially built for productivity. Fans of the late Galaxy Note will also be happy to know that they can use the S Pen on their Z Fold 4.
The ROG Phone 6 Pro is the king of gaming smartphones. Asus put all its efforts to offer the best gaming experience on the mobile market in 2022. The extremely original design, the 165 Hz AMOLED screen as well as the impressive performance will seduce gamers. The ROG Phone 6 Pro may be a bit on the pricey side, but for what it offers, you should definitely pick it up if your pockets are deep enough.
The main strength of the ROG Phone 6 Pro, in our opinion, is the enjoyable gaming experience that it offers. The Air Triggers, haptic triggers that increase control possibilities, and X mode that boosts performance considerably and allows you to play for hours without overheating thanks to the efficiency of the Aero Active Cooler 6, and its external fan, all offer an amazing gaming experience. Moreover, with its 6,000 mAh battery, the battery life is simply marvelous and should bode well for your marathon gaming sessions. Armed with the 67 W fast charge system, you can be up and going in double quick time.
Yes, the Fairphone 4 is neither the slimmest, the prettiest, nor the fastest smartphone. And considering what it offers, it’s not cheap either. But: Fairphone does everything in its power to ensure that the smartphone is produced in a sustainable manner and under fair working conditions. Furthermore, the smartphone comes with a five-year warranty, and Fairphone plans to roll out Android updates until 2027.
The hardware can also be upgraded: Besides the battery, you can also replace the camera modules or the memory, for example. The solid build quality also gives us hope that the smartphone will last much longer than just the industry standard of two years.
Of course, there is also a downside: For a recommended retail price of €579 (there are no plans for the Fairphone 4 to be sold Stateside), you will receive far less power in the Fairphone 4 than in handsets from Xiaomi or other brands. At least the Snapdragon 750G SoC offers solid performance and is also capable of 5G support, but will that still be sufficient in 2027? We shall see. The included cameras also performed surprisingly well for a small manufacturer. The bottom line is, the Fairphone 4 offers a well-rounded overall package and has thus earned four out of five stars.
Anyone who is considering buying a smartphone for over $1,000 or the hereabouts is likely to be quite familiar with the smartphone world. After all, there has to be a fundamental interest in investing the price of a used small car on a mobile phone!
Before you commit to a purchase, take a hard-look look at the spec sheet. Make sure the phone of your choice meets all your requirements. Flagship Android and iOS smartphones can easily last for several years thanks to frequent updates. Picking up the flagship smartphone is therefore also an investment for the future and should therefore be carefully considered.
So take a good look at the smartphone and if possible, get a hands-on before you buy. Do you like the software? Are you bothered by elements such as a plastic back or a huge notch in the display? For these reasons, the rankings in the above list are not set in stone. Everyone has different preferences and needs, so, one smartphone that works for you might not work for your other half. All these things should be considered before you swipe your card.
Refurbished, sale units, and used smartphones
If removing the protective film for the first time on your new device does not cause you to jump for joy, you can pick up more expensive smartphones from the second-hand or refurbished market. It is particularly advisable to use devices that carry a refurbished guarantee. These are used smartphones that have been checked and refurbished by reputable companies to ensure that they are in tip-top condition. Refurbished devices are particularly exciting to check out when they come with an extended warranty. This is how you protect yourself when picking one up just in case the handset gives up the ghost just a few weeks down the road.
Of course, you do not have this advantage when buying a used smartphone from private owners on platforms such as eBay, eBay classifieds, or other portals. However, used devices can be found for significantly reduced prices here, as there are no additional costs because the middleman has been cut out. With the so-called ‘sale’, you also secure older models that online shops still carry in new condition but which are no longer in production.
Promotions and sales
Towards the end of the year, each consumer electronics device that you purchase is accompanied by an even greater risk of stumbling upon a cheaper offer just a few weeks down the road. This can be attributed to sales like Black Friday and its associated Black Week, Amazon Prime Day, Singles Day, and Cyber Monday, all of which are discount days in the months of October and November, which are meant to prime the economy before the Christmas shopping frenzy season begins. Since smartphones are one of the most popular consumer electronics devices in the market, you should keep your eyes peeled for great deals. You can check out the dates for this year’s sales and promotions in the table below:
|Black Week||21 to 25 November 2022|
|Black Friday||25 November 2022|
|Cyber Monday||28 November 2022|
It’s best to keep an eye on our homepage these days. Because we search for offers in every online shop and manufacturer’s website and assess the offers according to their value. As in this article, you can inform yourself with further reviews and news about the respective devices before buying.
Sign up for a contract with a service provider or an installment plan
If your old smartphone is completely broken and cannot be used, leaving you in desperate need of an immediate replacement, you can always opt for an installment plan that covers several months of payments. Normally, this is seen in the traditional framework of smartphone contracts, where you obtain a new smartphone for free for a monthly surcharge or for a lower one-time payment.
Generally speaking, restrictions on a particular smartphone model to a specific network operator no longer exist today. However, there is still the risk of paying more for the device at the end of the contract compared to buying it outright now.
On the other hand, you also obtain lower prices with a monthly financing plan. You pay off the purchase price of the new device across an agreed number of monthly installments sans contract and with 0% interest. Such financing packages are extremely popular, but it also comes with their own risks. For instance, if you lose your new smartphone immediately after buying it or if it breaks, you will still honor the remaining installments for a device that can no longer be used or is limited in functionality.
What do you think of this approach as well as our selection? Which models have we missed out on which do you think deserve to be included in the list? Let us know in the comments!
This article was updated in November 2022. Existing comments have been preserved.