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Best smartphones of 2022 | CNN Underscored

Smartphones are on the heart of our digital lives — they’re what we use to speak with family members, deal with necessary enterprise, binge on TikToks and the whole lot in between. And because you’ll doubtless use your cellphone greater than every other gadget you personal, selecting the correct one to final you thru years of use is essential.

However with new telephones popping out seemingly each month, it may be onerous to determine which one is definitely best for you. That’s why we’re all the time testing the most recent flagships from the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and extra to be sure to get one of the best smartphone to your wants.

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Finest smartphone total

Apple’s iPhone 13 has a contemporary construct with an immersive show, with one of the best efficiency and top-of-the-line cameras of all of the telephones we have ever examined.

With its newest slate of smartphones, Apple constructed on our earlier total winner, the iPhone 12, in all the fitting methods. The iPhone 13 boasts upgrades to the options we deem most necessary in terms of selecting a smartphone — the show, processing energy and digicam capabilities.

In relation to photograph capturing, the iPhone 13 leads the category at this worth level (for a nominal improve, you’ll must spend extra on the iPhone 13 Professional or Professional Max). The cellphone’s twin cameras — a 12-megapixel huge and a 12-megapixel ultrawide — together with Apple’s processing methods work collectively to ship a photograph that works 9 instances out of 10. And that’s extra reliable efficiency than every other cellphone — Galaxy S21 included — can ship.

The important enchancment this yr is in low-light efficiency, due to bigger sensors that seize extra gentle, so even photographs taken in dim circumstances seem brighter and provide minimal to no grain. Sometimes, a photograph taken in low-light scenes introduces extra noise and grain, which reduces the standard of a photograph — an issue we discovered with most different smartphones’ cameras, however not with the iPhone 13.

Jacob Krol/CNN

The iPhone 13, outfitted with Apple’s newest cellular processor, the A15 Bionic, additionally shone in efficiency, as FaceTime calls, shopping the online, posting on social media, taking part in video games and even doing work all occurred promptly and with out hiccups. With giant exports in Pixelmator, the iPhone was three to 5 seconds quicker than iPhone 11, and an iMovie render of a 4K file was executed about 10 seconds quicker. Efficiency is on par with the Samsung Galaxy S21 throughout the board, although the iPhone was faster with focusing, capturing and processing a photograph or video.

Battery life is improved considerably over the iPhone 12. On a full cost, the iPhone 13 lasted for 14 hours and quarter-hour in our battery take a look at, an hour and 45 minutes longer than the iPhone 12.

For individuals who both need to go smaller or spend much less, the iPhone 13 Mini has the very same characteristic set — and related battery life — in a smaller housing with a 5.4-inch show for $699.

Finest Android smartphone

Should you desire Android, the Galaxy S22 (or the bigger S22+) are the best way to go. These telephones provide stunning shows, lengthy battery life, excellent cameras and a number of the finest efficiency we have ever gotten out of a smartphone. Plus these telephones look nice, with a glass-and-metal construct that is available in 4 engaging colours.

Finest finances smartphone

Should you’re seeking to spend lower than $500, it would not get higher than the Google Pixel 6a. This slick cellphone has the identical speedy Google Tensor processor because the dearer Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Professional, delivers all-day battery life and will get you a clear Android expertise with no annoying bloatware.


6.1 inches, 2532 x 1170 Tremendous Retina XDR

6.1 inches, 2340 x 1080 AMOLED

6.1 inches, 1080 x 2400 OLED

Refresh charge





Apple A15 Bionic

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Google Tensor






128GB / 256GB / 512GB

128GB / 256GB



12-megapixel huge and ultrawide cameras (again), 12-megapixel TrueDepth digicam (entrance)

50-megapixel huge, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10-megapixel telephoto (again); 10-megapixel (entrance)

12.2-megapixel huge digicam, 12-megapixel ultrawide (again); 8-megapixel (entrance)

Dimension and weight

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 inches, 6.14 ounces

5.7 x 2.7 x 0.29 inches, 5.92 ounces

6 x 2.6 x 0.35 inches, 6.3 ounces





Foldable smartphones are choosing up steam. It’s at present a distinct segment market, however the folding way forward for telephones is thrilling. The brand new type issue permits for breakthroughs to occur in engineering and creates new experiences for us to make use of. A single gadget may be capable to deal with your communication wants and be a pill. From a way of life perspective, a compact gadget just like the Z Flip could make your use of know-how extra intentional.

If we had been to choose one proper now, it might the Z Flip 3 5G. We’ve known as it one of the best foldable available on the market, and it’s comparatively reasonably priced, particularly with a trade-in. It goes from compact with a tiny 1.1-inch display screen to a big 6.7-inch display screen when unfolded. It additionally launched at $999, which continues to be dear however less expensive than the $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold 3. The hinge feels nice and has additional options to make sure particles or supplies received’t get caught below the show. The cellphone incorporates a reliable set of cameras, particularly a large and ultrawide lens, with the entire modes you would need.

As you’d anticipate, when testing a smartphone, we bodily swap over to that gadget for a time frame. It turns into our every day driver, with our SIM card inside, the apps we use and our contacts. That’s our real-world testing — utilizing it for cellphone calls, texting with mates, capturing reminiscences, taking part in video games, chilling out with music, studying the information and taking in content material.

Moreover, we pay shut consideration to 4 particular areas. When evaluating a cellphone’s construct, we analyze and take a look at the design. Does it really feel good within the hand? Is it straightforward to carry, or is it a slippery mess? We additionally think about what kinds of ports a cellphone has and, after all, test for a headphone jack. As telephones have been getting bigger and bigger, dimension is taken under consideration.

Efficiency covers loads — from the show to software program and even connectivity, with extra in between. To standardize the efficiency, we used benchmarks on every smartphone, and these are the identical assessments we run on gadgets in particular person critiques. A proprietary battery take a look at and Geekbench 5 are the callouts. With connectivity, we examined each mobile and Wi-Fi in quite a lot of conditions.

With cameras, we tried to make use of them as you’ll. Capturing household at night time and throughout the day, testing the all-important Portrait Modes and simply normal taking pictures. We shook our arms to check stabilization, tracked shutter instances and noticed how lengthy it took to seize a photograph.

Battery life was a class of its personal to determine full run instances, charging instances and simply how a lot use every cellphone might present. The CNN Underscored battery take a look at consists of a 4K video on a loop that runs till the gadget powers off. We make sure the brightness is ready to 50% and switch off connectivity by way of airplane mode.

Our greatest finances iPhone choose, the iPhone SE delivers an entire lot for $429. You get the identical highly effective A15 Bionic processor discovered within the iPhone 13 collection, in addition to 5G help and a reasonably good digicam for the worth. Should you’re married to the Apple ecosystem and on a finances, it’s a no brainer. However for everybody else, we expect the Pixel 6a’s superior cameras, design and battery life give it the sting.

In case you have the cash to spend and wish an extra-large display screen, an included stylus and one of the best digicam on a Galaxy cellphone, the Galaxy S22 Extremely is a good possibility. Nonetheless, we expect the cheaper S22 and S22+ (which have the identical quick processor and a lot of the identical options) are the higher choose for most individuals.

The OnePlus 10 Professional is a worthy different to the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 6 Professional, sporting an incredible show, a horny design and particularly quick charging speeds. Nonetheless, its efficiency and cameras can’t fairly sustain with our prime picks.

Because the smaller model of our total choose, the iPhone 13 Mini merely shrinks the display screen to five.4 inches and packs a smaller battery inside. It nonetheless meets the identical excessive efficiency marks and lasts a full day. If you would like a smaller iPhone, that is the best way to go. Except you’re brief on pocket house, we suggest the usual iPhone 13, as the additional display screen actual property makes it extra usable and the keyboard feels a lot much less cramped.

At $200 greater than the iPhone 13, the 13 Professional options an extra digicam for close-ups and the power to take macro pictures, and it ups the refresh charge on the show to an ordinary 120Hz. Should you’re actually into images, we expect the soar is value it for extra particulars, colours and readability in all pictures captured on the gadget. Apart from these enhancements, it’s similar to the iPhone 13, making Apple’s normal iPhone the higher alternative for many.

The iPhone 13 Professional Max is Apple’s largest cellphone with a 6.7-inch show. Just like the 13 Professional, it incorporates a high-refresh-rate show and a triple-camera system with LiDAR. Should you’re utilizing the cellphone as your major digicam, there’s a case to be made right here particularly for the enhancements with readability. And though it boasts the longest battery life among the many new iPhones, until you already know you’d use the digicam options, we’d nonetheless suggest the usual iPhone 13, because it performs simply as effectively in on a regular basis conditions.

The iPhone 12 was our earlier total choose and a yr later it’s nonetheless an excellent possibility. It boasts a twin digicam predominant system with a 6.1-inch OLED display screen that impresses with vibrancy.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are similar aside from the display screen dimension, and that’s actually excellent news. With a 5.42-inch display screen, the iPhone 12 Mini is the compact cellphone with no compromises. It has the identical digicam setup because the 12, and which means terrific photographs regardless of the taking pictures circumstances. It runs iOS 14 simply as effectively and actually is a good alternative for individuals with smaller arms.

Just like the Professional iPhone fashions, the S21 Extremely goals to stage up the expertise with a bigger display screen, actually high-end aluminum construct and 6 cameras. Efficiency in our testing was actually on par with the S21 as an entire. Sure, the gadget has extra RAM, however until working giant exports or utilizing the gadget for video enhancing, the bottom RAM within the S21 is simply positive. The opposite boosts are within the digicam division. The twin telephoto lens, nonetheless, which permits for 10x optical zoom, was a recreation changer in our testing. We had been in a position to seize photographs from afar with a surprising quantity of readability for a smartphone; it’s a definite enchancment on the 3X optical zoom, plus software program processing on the common S21. Should you don’t must get these lengthy pictures, although, the usual Galaxy S21 is cheaper and practically as feature-filled.

Arriving 9 months after the unique S20, the Galaxy S20 Fan Version acquired nearly the whole lot proper. A $699 mash-up of Samsung applied sciences held collectively in a polycarbonate plastic construct, it delivers a triple-camera setup on the again with help for House Zoom. It will possibly take good photographs and seize clean video, however it takes somewhat extra work than our greatest total choose. The 6.5-inch Tremendous AMOLED show on the entrance delivers a 120 Hz refresh charge. We want all telephones, together with the iPhone 12, supplied the quicker refresh charge. Finally, although, the iPhone 12 is simply $100 extra, and the Pixel 4a 5G is less expensive.

There’s loads to love in regards to the Galaxy Z Flip 3, from a smoother hinge that makes opening and shutting extra seamless to a bigger cowl display screen that’s lastly extra practical than gimmick. Now you can actively see notifications, management playback and even monitor exercise all from the entrance display screen. The primary inside show is greater than the S21’s (it’s nearer in dimension to Samsung’s bigger S21+) with a 6.7-inch show that incorporates a excessive refresh charge. And it’s powered by the identical processor because the Galaxy S21 together with the identical huge and ultrawide lenses. That mentioned, we nonetheless don’t see a compelling argument for a folding cellphone but, however if you happen to’re bought on the folding future, we’d suggest this one for it’s S21-like characteristic set.

Samsung’s newest mixture cellphone and pill is absolutely spectacular — it’s additionally $1,799, which is a ton to pay for a cellphone. The software program expertise right here is extra desktop-like, with options for multitasking with any utility, and the Z Fold 3 provides high-refresh-rate shows, a quicker processor and a substantial enchancment within the total construct. Choosing a Galaxy Z Fold 3 permits you to do extra with only one gadget, however there are some limitations with Android. There are additionally long-term sturdiness issues with a foldable. Except you’re an early adopter, choose for the standard non-folding smartphone.

The primary Pixel of 2020 struck a very nice chord. At $349, it delivers a very strong expertise with an OLED display screen, a fingerprint sensor on the again and one digicam lens on the again. It’s an incredible 4G LTE-capable cellphone for its worth, however in 2020 we’re additionally targeted on longevity, and for somewhat bit extra the Pixel 4a 5G will get you a extra future-proof gadget.

The Pixel 5, at simply $699, is the high-end Pixel for 2020. However it doesn’t actually impress greater than the Pixel 4a 5G — it has a barely extra refined design and helps reverse wi-fi charging. Except you’re a Pixel die-hard who needs a enjoyable shade, the variations are minimal and the 4a 5G is the best way to go.

Motorola’s reentry into the flagship house was a blended one. The dearer Edge+ is a Verizon unique, and that’s simply no enjoyable. The Motorola Edge is a modest flagship with a show that stretches to the very edge (get the title now?), actually spanning the fitting and left sides. It didn’t add a lot precise use instances, although, and at $699 it fell to our then finances choose within the Pixel 4a 5G. Nonetheless, now that it’s dropping under $300 throughout gross sales, it’s a worthy possibility for these on a decent finances.

Our expertise with the primary era of the Razr was nostalgia-fueled however finally not an excellent foldable expertise. The second gen retains the long-lasting design and a hinge that you would be able to bodily really feel. However the truth that it feels extra sturdy doesn’t get away from feeling the show fold and listening to it creak. We do just like the bigger show on the entrance over that of the tiny one on the Z Flip, although. And Motorola making it out there unlocked, as an alternative of locked to Verizon, is a good transfer.

OnePlus is thought for offering flagship specs and options at a worth that undercuts its opponents, and the $749 OnePlus 8T isn’t any completely different. It consists of the most recent Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 865, 5G connectivity, an enormous battery and 4 rear-facing cameras, together with a macro lens for these photographs the place you want to get actually near your topic. All OnePlus telephones are powered by Android and run OnePlus’ proprietary Oxygen OS on prime of it. The 6.55-inch show even has a 120 Hz refresh charge, however finally the OnePlus 8T fell brief from considered one of our prime picks as a result of unreliable digicam efficiency. Oh, and the truth that Samsung undercut OnePlus by releasing the Galaxy S20 FE that almost matches its specs however prices $50 much less.

The OnePlus 8 Professional was launched in early 2020 and stays within the OnePlus lineup as a higher-end possibility for OnePlus followers. It’s usually priced at $899, which is uncharted territory for a corporation recognized for its low-end costs on high-end telephones. We reviewed the 8 Professional shortly after it launched and located it to be a unbelievable Android cellphone, with a stellar show and powerful efficiency with long-lasting battery life. The unlocked OnePlus 8 Professional lacks help for mmWave 5G networks, sure to be a downside for some. The cameras are good however not on the identical stage because the iPhone 12, and at this worth it must be pretty much as good or higher to get a prime choose.

Microsoft’s reentry into the smartphone house was a singular one. The $1,299 Floor Duo doesn’t have a folding display screen, however fairly two separate screens which can be related by a stellar hinge. The design purposely doesn’t characteristic any display screen on the entrance, and it’s meant that will help you use your cellphone with intention. And whereas the {hardware} is nice, the software program expertise left us wanting much more. Android as an entire isn’t prepared for the two-screen revolution, and it was actually buggy when it got here to sending functions to the correct sides of the show. Nonetheless, we’ve got excessive hopes for model two.

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