The 6 best Android phones in 2022

When it comes to smartphones, you really only have two options: Android or iOS. There used to be more operating systems, and there are some niche ones if you look hard enough, but the majority of the market is dominated by Apple and Google.

Google’s Android OS is clearly the platform of choice — at least from a global perspective — with companies like Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola, and Google itself making hardware powered by Android. Depending on which manufacturer you side with, you’ll experience Android unlike any other. That’s what makes the technology so exciting. You’ve got options. 

But whether you’re looking for that pure Android experience or just want the best smartphone money can buy, here is a breakdown of the top Android phones available right now.

pros

  • High quality and capable quad-camera system
  • Best telephoto shooter available
  • Full integrated S Pen support
  • Incredible AMOLED display
cons

  • Phone can be too big for some
  • Screen has curved edges
  • Charging speed can be faster

Features: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor | Built-in S Pen | 108MP wide-angle camera

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best overall smartphones today and the best that Samsung has to offer for camera performance. With the S Pen now being incorporated into the phone, the Note lives on in the S22 Ultra, turning the Ultra into the ultimate stylus-enabled smartphone.

If your job requires you to zoom into subjects from far away, no other phone beats the S22 Ultra in terms of telephoto capability and, more importantly, quality. Zooming up to 30x provides good quality images, but even beyond this zoom level, there are practical reasons to see details of the subjects you are shooting.

See the full review: Galaxy S22 Ultra review

While the camera hardware is mostly the same as last year’s S21 Ultra, Samsung worked to improve low-light shooting. That’s on top of the immersive 6.8-inch OLED panel that proves once again that Samsung is the king of displays.

pros

  • A smartphone that doubles as a tablet
  • Large 7.6-inch, 120Hz, OLED panel
  • S Pen support
  • Flex Mode features
cons

  • Expensive at $1,799
  • Charging speed can be better
  • Form factor takes some getting used to

Features: 7.6-inch Main Screen | Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Flagship triple camera system

Foldables are inching closer and closer to mainstream acceptance but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to hop on the innovation wagon. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the company’s most refined 2-in-1 smartphone yet, and it’s also the best one on the market. 

See the full review: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review

With the latest model, you’ll get up to 12GB of RAM, a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor powering the system, a flexible display that can transform from 6.2 inches to 7.6 inches, and all the software perks of Android 12L. Samsung has also made some improvements to the industrial design to create a more uniform, durable, and lightweight form factor. 

pros

  • Fantastic camera experiences
  • Optimized Android 13 interface
  • Timely updates and support for years
  • Unique hardware design
cons

  • Average battery life
  • Display quality is only decent
  • Software experience can be too minimal

Features: 6.7-inch LTPO OLED display | Google Tensor with Titan M2 security | Android 13

Google’s Pixel 6 Pro is the best smartphone currently available from Google. The Pixel 6 has many of the same specifications, but the one less camera on the back and 90Hz panel (compared to the Pro’s 120Hz) make the Pixel 6 Pro the Google phone to buy.

The Pixel 6 Pro starts at $899 and comes in a wave of pastel, Googley colors like Stormy Black, Cloudy White, or Sorta Sunny. Naturally, the software experience on the Pixel 6 Pro is clean, minimal, and takes a user-first approach. It’s also a prime candidate for all the latest Android software and security updates, which is great for users who value longevity. 

The cameras are clearly the focus of the Pixel 6 Pro, with Google’s amazing backend processing and new 50MP main lens doing most of the heavy lifting. For some of the best point-and-shoots you can get, look to the Pixel.

See the full review: Google Pixel 6 Pro review

pros

  • Ultra-fast wireless and wired charging capability
  • Bloatware-free software
  • Exceptional value at $799
cons

  • Storage and RAM configuration is limited to in the US
  • Hasselblad influence is still maturing
  • Inconsistent software updates

Features: 6.7-inch LTPO display | Bloatware free | 65W SuperVOOC charging

OnePlus used to be the “flagship killer” brand but has since evolved into higher-priced flagships directly challenging the likes of Samsung and Apple. Compared to Samsung, OnePlus offers an experience that is free from ads and bloatware while also now providing some interesting features such as reverse wireless charging and adaptive 120Hz displays.

The OnePlus 10 Pro is priced in a much more competitive range than last year. At $799, the device is in-line with Google’s flagship Pixel 6 Pro, and undercuts Samsung’s S22 Plus and Ultra handsets. Still, OnePlus has managed to cram in specs that go tit for tat with the more expensive rivals.

See the full review: OnePlus 10 Pro review

One area that OnePlus leads the pack in is the charging capability of its phones. SuperVOOC 65 support and Warp Charge Wireless 50 support are provided in the OnePlus 10 Pro. This means you can charge up your phone from 1% to 100% in just 29 minutes. 

Pros

  • Lovely, high-quality design
  • Ultra-fast wireless and wired charging capability
  • Bloatware-free software
  • One of the best ultra-wide cameras on the market

Cons

  • Storage and RAM configuration is limited to 8GB/128GB in the US
  • Hasselblad influence is still limited to software
  • Software experience is ever-changing

pros

  • Exceptional value at $449
  • Timely software updates and support for years to come
  • Best camera system in its price range
cons

  • Mid-range processor
  • Hardware can feel plasticky
  • Selfie camera is decent at best

Features: Competitive $449 price tag | Google-exclusive software features | Exceptional battery life 

Google’s Pixel 6a checks all the boxes of a competitive, mid-range smartphone. instead of focusing on premium-grade materials and flashy features, the Pixel 6a is just a simple, user-friendly device that makes you question if you’ve been paying too much for smartphones. 

At $449, the Pixel 6a offers a useful dual 12MP camera system, with Google’s Tensor chipset powering all that’s within. That also means you’ll be getting the same software tricks as flagship Pixels, like Magic Eraser and Live Translate. If you can live with a 6.1-inch display and are tight on budget, then the Pixel 6a is the budget Android to buy.

See the full review: Google Pixel 6a review

pros

  • 6.67-inch OLED display ramps up to 144Hz
  • 4,650mAh battery
  • Magnetic pop-up trigger buttons are beneficial for gaming
cons

  • Software experience can feel cluttered
  • May not support your carrier network
  • Hardware design can be too jarring

Features: Pop-up side triggers | 144Hz AMOLED display | 120W fast charging

If there’s one area that Android completely dominates iOS in, it’s gaming. Whether you game on existing mobile apps or take to the cloud for streaming, Android manufacturers have spent the past years forging a new category of gaming-tailored smartphones. If you want the best, check out the Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro. It’s not the most expensive gaming phone on the market, and it certainly doesn’t need a big price tag to do the talking.

See the full review: Black Shark 5 Pro review

To start, the phone can be configured with up to 16GB of RAM for high-graphics gaming and enhanced app management. Then, there’s the external hardware like the 144Hz refresh rate display that makes gameplay look buttery smooth, the two side trigger buttons that can retract into the phone when not in use, and RGB designs etched throughout the body of the phone — because Xiaomi wants you to game in style. 

The best Android phone is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra due to its beautiful AMOLED display, powerful CPU, and state-of-the-art camera. Here’s how the best of the best compare to each other:

Android phone

Price

CPU

Display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

$1,199

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

6.8 inches, 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

$1,799

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1

6.2 and 7.6 inches, 120Hz Flexible AMOLED

Google Pixel Pro 6

$899

Google Tensor

6.7 inches, 120Hz AMOLED

OnePlus 10 Pro

$799

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

6.7 inches, 120Hz LTPO AMOLED

Google Pixel 6a

$449

Google Tensor

6.1 inches, 60Hz OLED

Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro

$799

Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

6.67 inches, 144Hz AMOLED

All of these phones run the same base operating system, but the user interface ranges from stock Android to more elaborate options. So first, you need to figure out which fits your needs best.

Camera performance across the board is solid from just about every phone on the list, but some are better than others. If you plan to capture photos as your primary function, then you should look to Google, Samsung, or even OnePlus.

If you plan to spend $1,000 or more, then you may also want your phone to last for at least a couple of years. You should consider companies with a good track record of regular updates, notably Google and Samsung.

Choose this Android phone…

If you want…

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The overall best and for taking pictures

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

The best foldable phone

Google Pixel Pro 6

A clean and minimal software experience

OnePlus 10 Pro

A fast and snappy alternative to Samsung

Google Pixel 6a

The best value Android phone

Xiaomi Black Shark 5 Pro

The best gaming phone

The process to make our smartphone selections includes testing the phones for weeks, researching reviewer guides and manufacturer websites, talking with colleagues and other users who have hands-on experience with the smartphones, and then selecting the best from all of the available choices. 

Over the past year, we tested new Android phones from Google, Samsung, OnePlus, Sony, Motorola, and several others. 

Outside of this list of excellent options, here is another device that’s sure to delight. 


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