The best smartphone in 2022 isn't just 'the latest iPhone' or 'the latest Galaxy' and there are loads of brands with impressive handsets you should consider. After all, with top-of-the-line handsets costing over $1,000 / £1,000, it pays to know your options, and which fantastic handset could save you some cash.
With so much choice though, how can we be sure this is a masterfully curated list? We've teamed up with smartphone testers who have extensively reviewed every single phone covered in order to shortlist the best of the best.
If you're after a champion camera phone, you'll want to pick up a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, or an iPhone 13 Pro. If your budget doesn't stretch that far, the OnePlus 9 Pro is a lower-cost alternative. And you can also check out our round-up of the best camera phones too, which goes into more detail when it comes to imaging.
For a creative powerhouse, try Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 12 Ultra, with its amazing screen, super versatile cameras, and S Pen support – a pocketable sketch pad. Colour enthusiasts might like the OPPO Find X3 Pro, a beautifully designed phone with a full-path 10-bit colour management system for end-to-end billion colour capture, storage, and viewing.
Before picking up any phone, remember to check that the best iPhone apps and best Android apps for creatives are available. If you're jumping from an iPhone to Android, for example, the stellar Good Notes won't be an option on Google's mobile OS.
Once you've cross-checked your must-have apps and know which OS you need though, our list of top creative phones should help you figure out which is the right device for your personal life, productivity, work, and everything in between.
The best smartphones available now
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The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra does everything you need it to do. It's big, bright, bold, beautiful benchmark of a screen will dazzle you while watching your favourite content. And with S Pen support (S Pen sold separately), not to mention the most versatile camera system available, it’s also a creative suite unto itself, allowing you to shoot 8K video and snap pics with its 108MP stills camera and 10x zoom.
It's hard to find fault with the Galaxy S22 Ultra – trust us, we tried, for a long time. But the impressive cameras, fantastic-looking screen and powerful processor all impressed us in equal measure. The price is the only major consideration, as the Ultra has a price that's... well, ultra. But with fewer shortcomings than possibly any flagship phone on the market, Samsung is once again back on top. Want to know more? Read our in-depth Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.
It’s eye-wateringly expensive, but there’s no denying that the iPhone 13 Pro Max is the best, most feature-packed iPhone Apple has ever made. If you can handle the size of its 6.7-inch screen, you’ll be treated to an incredibly powerful processor, 6GB RAM, one of the best smartphone cameras in the world, and all with incredible battery life to boot.
All of this is wrapped up in Apple’s tried and tested minimal design, powered by the smooth and slick iOS 15. If you can handle its larger size (and larger price tag) then you’ll be more than content with Apple’s latest and greatest handset. Sure, we found the phone quite big to hold – and maybe a little uncomfortable too – but that's flagship phones for you. And the cameras, processor and software experience all make it easy to overlook the design.
The OnePlus 9 Pro is the first flagship from the Chinese phone maker to feature Hasselblad camera tuning, in addition to elements within the Pro mode that mimic the legendary camera icon's interface.
The phone's specs are flagship across-the-board too, with Snapdragon 888-power matched with 8GB RAM, and a stunning Dynamic AMOLED screen matched with a 120Hz refresh rate for smooth scrolling and punchy visuals.
Loaded up with a 48MP main camera featuring a custom Sony sensor, the tuning applied to photos taken on the OnePlus 9 Pro is a huge improvement over previous OnePlus phones, especially in challenging lighting. In fact, we'd go so far as to call it one of the best cameras around, especially if you're not a fan of editing your snaps. Take a photo, and eight times out of 10, it's Instagram-ready.
Add to the mix an ultra-high-resolution ultra-wide camera, which captures expansive landscapes at 50MP resolution, and shoots close-up pictures thanks to autofocus (something seldom seen on ultra-wide cameras), and photography is definitely one of the 9 Pro's fortés.
Also mightily impressive is the OnePlus 9 Pro's charging speeds. It powers up in around 30 minutes thanks to lightning-fast 65W charging. Even wirelessly, the 9 Pro charges quickly when matched with the official Warp Charge 50 Wireless Charger, and with a 4,500 mAh battery, you should get a full day out of it without any issues.
Perhaps the thing that most impressed us about the OnePlus 9 Pro, though, is that it undercuts most of its contemporary flagships by a fair amount, which means it deserves a high position on this list.
The iPhone 12 has a 6.1-inch display and has the same 5G support as Apple’s other new iPhones, along with very good (but not the absolute best) camera performance. The OLED screen is a joy to behold, and the MagSafe feature is an intriguing addition to Apple’s arsenal.
For anyone with smaller hands or skinnier jeans, the iPhone 12 mini is the only compact flagship worth considering. With its 5.4-inch screen size, top tier power and class-leading camera for such a compact contender, despite costing a fair whack, it’s worth every penny.
While the more expensive Pro models have swankier cameras, they’re noticeably pricier, making the 12 and 12 mini the best bang for buck option in the latest iPhone range lineup if you don’t need an optical zoom. Be prepared for no included charger to avoid a shock when unboxing, and you’ll have years of happy use ahead of you.
We found these phones the two iPhones 'for the rest of us' - they don't have flashy triple-camera arrays or huge screens, but the software is easy-to-use due to being the popular iOS, and the bodies are nice and small, so easy to use one-handed.
Find out more in our iPhone 12 mini review.
Oppo made waves with its excellent Find X2 Pro and Find X3 Pro. The Find X5 Pro carries forward the premium, high-end positioning of its predecessor, and again offers fantastic cameras, although it ditches the X3 Pro's party trick, which was its dedicated microscopic macro camera.
The ceramic back makes for a very elegant design, and the camera bump is lovely and smooth. It feels wonderful to hold, the rear panel mapped with 2000UV points for an incredibly nuanced curve. The display is stunning and battery life is also impressive – we got over a day of use out of a single charge when we reviewed it, and charging was super fast.
But we found the highlights were the cameras. You get 50MP sensor on both the main and ultra-wide cameras, producing high-resolution photos with beautiful depth and lots of detail. See our full Oppo Find X5 Pro review for more details.
The Note 20 Ultra is one of the best smartphones money can buy for creative people looking to scribble, draw, make notes and be productive on the move. Aside from its great camera setup and gorgeous large AMOLED display, its party trick – the removable S Pen stylus – offers tons of flexibility.
From handwriting notes (which can be straightened and converted to text) to creating fancy drawings with improved pressure sensitivity, Samsung’s stylus takes an already great phone and makes it truly amazing.
We found ourselves using the S Pen more than we expected, as it was useful for sketching, taking notes and writing notes. In fact, the stylus became a normal part of our experience for most apps, as we found useful tricks here and there for gaming, streaming media and social media.
With a stunning build, super-powerful specs, and a versatile camera setup capable of shooting 8K video, it’s one of the best phones money can buy, particularly if you make use of its swanky stylus.
The Google Pixel 5 isn’t a phone that blows you away with fancy multiple lenses. It keeps things simple with a 12.2MP main camera and a 16MP ultra-wide one, with no dedicated zoom lens.
Power-wise, things are middling too, with a Snapdragon 765G processor, and 8GB of RAM. On paper, then, the Pixel 5 isn’t up there with the most powerful, feature-packed phone in the word, but its price fairly reflects that.
What it does do, is offer a pure up to date Android experience in a smart minimal package, with solid well-lit camera performance and powerful image editing tools for tweaking on the move, with a battery that will comfortably last you through the day.
If you want to keep up with the latest Android features for the next few years and aren’t fussed about night or zoom photography, this could very well be the best handset for you. And if, like us, you enjoy using 'stock' Android, as Google intended, you'll find this a great choice. The software is nice and clean, with no bloatware or dubious extra features, so using the phone felt like a breath of fresh air.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the best folding smartphone to date, with a beautiful design, a robust hinge mechanism, and best of all Wacom pen support. When we reviewed the device, we concluded that Samsung had finally done it, creating a water-resistant folding phone with pen support opening huge creative potential thanks to the much large screen area.
Unfortunately, the cameras still lag behind and are definitely not a reason to buy this. There's also the matter of the eye-watering price tag. Foldable phones are worth playing around with, whether it's by buying one or just heading into a Samsung store to try one out. Everyone's comfort with the form factor will vary, and you'll only work out if you truly like it by folding a phone a few times. See our full Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review for more details.
While it may not be a class-leading flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 9 balances premium features with value wonderfully, making it a fantastic, affordable all-rounder that delivers plenty of power, a striking display, and Hasselblad tuned images, just like the 9 Pro.
As with last year's OnePlus 8 Pro, the OnePlus 9 sports a 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED which is vibrant, deep, and smooth. With a host of colour calibration modes, as well as support for HDR10+ content, it feels like a flagship experience. Combined with Sony's second-generation 48MP camera sensor, an IMX689, it has the same primary camera hardware as OPPO's excellent Find X2 Pro, a significantly pricier smartphone.
Loaded up with up to 256GB storage and 12 RAM, as well as a mighty Snapdragon 888 processor (as found in the Pro) – video edits, 4K capture and even rip-roaring 3D gaming won't be too much for the OnePlus 9. Additionally, with the latest version of Oxygen OS, the brand's trademark take on Android, the UI is both considered, and comprehensive.
For the first time on a non-Pro mode, OnePlus also adds wireless charging to the phone's spec roster, adding Samsung Galaxy S-grade convenience. Having said that, its wired charging speeds outperform any Samsung phone out there, powering up the device fully in around 30 minutes.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 might not be the best equipped of the S20-series, but it's still one of the most popular. Why? Because it packs an impressive set of features and a sharp, crisp screen into a super-manageable size. Plus, it costs a heck of a lot less than its bigger sibling, the S20 Ultra.
The device comes complete with three rear cameras, which includes a 64MP 3x zoom telephoto camera to help you capture shots from an impressive distance. The main camera is lower resolution at 12MP, but its nighttime performance is a big step up when compared to last year’s Galaxy S10. Combined with an ultra-wide camera and up to 8K video recording, the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus cover all bases without breaking the bank like the S20 Ultra does.
Water and dust resistant, like the iPhone 11 Pro, the S20 also supports wireless charging. Unlike its Apple rival though, you can add storage via an SD card. No doubt about it, one of the best smartphones money can buy right now.