We test and rate the best phones because you deserve a handset that has it all. The very best phones available offer great cameras, the kind of performance power you need to multitask and enough battery life to last the whole day. Put simply, these phones should be a pleasure to use.
To help you pick the best smartphone for your needs and budget, we test dozens of handsets in the lab and in the real world to bring you in-depth reviews and make recommendations you can trust. We also compare the best camera phones side by side to see which devices offer the best image quality.
With strong options available at all price levels, you don’t have to spend a lot to get something great. You can get a solid mid-range phone that delivers all the features you need for under $500.
Our best phones list has something for everyone, including great bargains and amazing flagships for those willing to pay a premium. We’ve ranked all the top phones based on our testing. Here are the top smartphones right now and what’s on the way.
What are the best phones?
Based on our testing, the iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best phone for those who want it all. This flagship delivers even better camera performance, thanks to a new 48MP sensor, as well as super smooth Action mode video. And the Dynamic Island replaces the notch with an elegant cutout that doubles as a dashboard for live activities and alerts. We also love the always-on display, blazing A16 Bionic performance and epic battery life of nearly 15 hours. The iPhone 14 Pro is also great if you prefer a smaller screen.
The regular iPhone 14 is another fine option if you want something more affordable. It offers strong performance, improved cameras and a great 6.1-inch display, as well as Action mode video. But we wish it offered a 120Hz display and telephoto zoom. For an extra $100, you can get the iPhone 14 Plus, which offers a bigger screen and longer lasting battery without making you pay iPhone 14 Pro Max prices.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has proven to be a top alternative, and the best phone for those who prefer Android. It delivers the brightest and more colorful display we’ve tested, a built-in S Pen that’s 70% faster than before and much improved cameras. A cheaper version, the Galaxy S22 lets you enjoy many of the great features included in the Galaxy S lineup, but for less than both the Ultra and the Galaxy S22 Plus.
It’s also worth keeping an eye out for the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, which are set to launch today at Google’s event. (Follow our Pixel 7 event live blog for the latest news.) They will feature a new Tensor 2 chip and other upgrades.
If you’re looking for a foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a newcomer to our best phones list, delivering a 50MP main camera a more durable display and a new taskbar for multitasking. This foldable phone is also expensive, so Android phones might consider more affordable flagships like the OnePlus 10 Pro.
As for lower-cost options, the Pixel 6a is here for $449. It has impressive cameras and the best performance for an Android phone at this price. But for iPhone fans, the $429 iPhone SE (2022) is for you.
The best phones you can buy today
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The iPhone 14 Pro Max is the best phone we’ve tested, and that’s because it has everything you could want in a flagship. You get a stunning 6.7-inch display with new always-on capability, which lets you check the time, battery status, widgets and notifications without turning the phone on. And the new Dynamic Island is even better, a replacement for the notch that delivers everything from music playback status and timers to your next Maps direction towards the top of the screen.
Other highlights of the iPhone 14 Pro Max include a powerful A16 Bionic processor that smokes all Android phones and a powerful new 48MP camera that gives you the choice of brighter images or sharper resolution in ProRAW. And the new Action Mode for video is super smooth and compelling. The best part is the battery life, as we saw close to 15 hours in our testing, making this a total beast and worth the premium.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro Max review.
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The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ultimate Android phone for power users. It delivers a built-in S Pen just like a Galaxy Note, and you get 70% less latency for smoother performance. The 6.8-inch display is simply the best we’ve tested, offering class-leading brightness and color saturation, making this panel easy to read outdoors in direct sunlight and fantastic for watching shows and movies.
The other big reason to buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the camera improvements. There’s a larger main 108MP sensor that lets in more light, which means brighter pictures without having to use Night mode. And when you do engage Night mode, you’ll get even better pics in some scenarios than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Add in faster 45W charging and a sleek design and you have a winner. We just wish the battery life were a bit longer
See our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.
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Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro is the best phone under $1,000, and that includes Android and iOS. That’s because you get best-in-class performance from the A16 Bionic chip and the best camera performance in a design you can use with one hand. The 48MP camera delivers sharper and brighter photos, and you’ll get excellent low-light results, especially outdoors from the iPhone 14 Pro’s Photoonic Engine.
Video is another strong point for the iPhone 14 Pro, as you get a super smooth Action mode along with a sharper 4K Cinematic Mode. Add in a very clever replacement for the notch with Dynamic Island and an always-on display and you have one of the best phones you can buy. We just wish Apple offered faster charging.
Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review.
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The Google Pixel 6a runs on the same Tensor processor that powers the Pixel 6. That means the same AI-driven features on that more premium phone are available on this sub-$500 model. And Google even ups the ante by introducing new capabilities to its stellar Magic Erase photo editing feature.
Speaking of photos, the Pixel 6a carries on the tradition of Google’s budget phones offering superior photo-taking skills. The camera hardware on the Pixel 6a doesn’t necessarily impress, but Google’s flair for computational photography means the photos you take with this phone will top images by similarly priced camera phones. You may even get photos that rival what a more premium handset can produce.
We wish the battery life on the Pixel 6a was better, but sometimes for a cheaper price, you make trade-offs. The great thing about the Pixel 6a is that those sacrifices are few and far between.
Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.
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The iPhone 14 is the best new iPhone for those looking for an affordable option. For $799, you get improved cameras across the board with better low-light performance (thanks to Photonic Engine), and the new Action mode for video delivers super stable video when you’re in motion — no gimbal required.
The iPhone 14’s A15 Bionic is stolen from the iPhone 13 Pro, which results in stronger graphics performance. This phone could even save your life when its new safety features come online, including Emergency SOS via Satellite and crash detection. We’re not a fan of the same old design, and we wish Apple offered a 120Hz display at this price, but overall the iPhone 14 is a winner.
Read our full iPhone 14 review.
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The iPhone 14 Plus is what happens when Apple listens to its customers. This new model replaces the iPhone mini with a large 6.7-inch OLED display, which is great for watching movies, playing games and more. And at $899 you don’t have to pay the iPhone Pro Max premium. Plus, you get the same great camera upgrades as the regular iPhone 14, including a larger main sensor and Photonic Engine for better low-light performance.
The other big reason to go for the iPhone 14 Plus is the battery life. This handset lasted nearly 12 hours on our testing, which is about 2.5 hours longer than the regular iPhone 14. Add in strong A15 Bionic performance and you have a winner. But we do wish Apple offered a 120Hz display and telephoto lens at this price.
Read our full iPhone 14 Plus review.
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The OnePlus 10 Pro is a powerful Android handset with a gorgeous design, beautiful display, and the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a OnePlus device. The Chinese phone maker has come a long way in the last year or two with photography power that can sometimes keep up with the likes of the Pixel 6 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
With stellar battery life and peak performance, the OnePlus 10 Pro handles any task you could want. Thanks to the new cooling system, the phone is also a powerful gaming device. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor doesn’t get as hot, so it doesn’t need to throttle as much as some other Android phones.
In our battery life testing, the OnePlus 10 Pro went for nearly 12 hours in its adaptive 120Hz refresh rate mode. That easily beats the Galaxy S22 Ultra and comes close to the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. And with 65W charging, you can nearly recharge the phone from empty to 100% in 30 minutes. The best part is that you get all of this for $899.
Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.
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When it comes to the iPhone SE (2022), you really are getting a lot for your money. At $429, the newest budget iPhone outperforms anything else in the price category and even puts the highest-end Android phones on their toes. With the same A15 Bionic that powers the iPhone 13, the SE is a little beast.
But like its predecessor, it recycles the iPhone 8 body. That means huge bezels, but you get a Touch ID home button. This tired design won’t be to everyone’s liking, nor will the lack of Night mode. This glaring omission is one reason why the new iPhone SE doesn’t rank higher. And you also lose out on Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network.
The iPhone SE (2022) offers a lot and is one of the best phones under $500. It trades blows with the Pixel 5a, meaning that iPhone buyers on a budget have two great options to look at. (The other being the $499 LTE-only iPhone 11.)
Read our full iPhone SE (2022) review.
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It may not have the S Pen support or the other maxed out features found on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the Galaxy S22 does have something more important for people who want ones of the best phones but don’t want to break their budget getting one — a low price tag. At $799, the Galaxy S22 matches the price of the iPhone 13 while letting you save the couple hundred bucks that a more expensive S22 model commands.
You don’t have to make a lot of trade-offs for that lower price. The same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset that powers other S22 phones in the U.S. ships in this model. Samsung also includes the same camera improvements — a more powerful main lens, a bigger sensor for better low-light shots and a 3x optical zoom — added to the Galaxy S22 Plus. In short, this is the Samsung phone to get if you want all the great Galaxy S22 features without having to swallow a four-figure price tag.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review.
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It might be a year old now, but Apple is still selling the iPhone 13 and believe us when we say it’s a good deal at $699. You get the amazingly powerful A15 Bionic chipset, great cameras, and small form factor that’s easy to use one-handed.
The iPhone 13 represents a great value for what’s on offer. The iPhone 14 may be great, but you can save $100 by opting for last year’s model. You might lose out on the small camera upgrades, but you nonetheless get a great handset.
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The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes the best foldable phone and makes it better in multiple ways. For one, Samsung and Google made it much easier to multitask by adding a taskbar, and you can now drag and drop content between more apps when you’re running them side by side.
We also really like the improved camera system on the Galaxy Z Fold 4, headed up by the same 50MP main sensor as the Galaxy S22 series. In our testing, the Fold 4 held its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max and beat it in a few shots.
Other highlights of the Galaxy Z Fold 4 include a slimmer hinge and narrower bezels, as well as a brighter main display. The battery lasted longer, too, in our testing.
However, $1,799 is still a lot to spend on a phone — even one that doubles as a tablet — and this is still one thick and heavy device. But if you want a foldable phone that can do it all, this is it.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.
How to choose the best smartphone for you
- Android or iPhone? Android phones give you more choice in terms of price, size and innovative designs. However, iPhones offer speedier software updates, better games and apps and better security and privacy. See our iPhone vs Android face-off.
- Unlocked or carrier? Most shoppers in the U.S. buy new phones through their wireless carrier. But an unlocked phone gives you the freedom to buy the device without any sort of contract and then bring it to the provider you want to use.
- Screen size: If you’re looking for a big phone, 6 inches and up is a good place to start. The biggest phones are 6.5 to 6.8 inches. If you want something you can easily use with one hand, go with one of the best small phones with a screen under 6 inches.
- Cameras: Don’t pay attention to the megapixel count. Instead, look at camera face-offs between phones to see the photo quality and look for special features like Night Mode to get better quality in low light. Also see our best camera phone roundup.
- Battery life: Generally, phones with larger batteries (measured in mAh) offer the longest battery life, but that’s not always the case. That’s why we run our own battery test.
How we test smartphones
In order for a smartphone to make our best phone list, it needs to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.
When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.
To measure the quality of a phone’s display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.
One of the most important tests we run is the Tom’s Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.
Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.
For more information, check out our how we test (opens in new tab) page for Tom’s Guide.