Best Android Phones to Buy in 2022

The Android phone world is peppered with some of the best mobile technology around. From Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra with its incredible zooming camera setup to Google’s new Pixel 7 series with its custom-made processor, there are exciting features to be found wherever you look. And it’s not just at the expensive end where you’ll find the best stuff either. More and more manufacturers have been focusing on the mid and lower ranges with phones like the Pixel 6A, Nothing Phone 1 and Samsung Galaxy A53 packing great features for more affordable prices. 

If you’ve got deep pockets and a passion for the most cutting-edge tech around, then you can even look toward Samsung’s folding models, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 3. Those bending displays will certainly draw a few curious looks when you’re out and about. 

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But all those choices can also make the shopping for the best Android phone 2022 has to offer an overwhelming and confusing experience, which is why I’ve rounded up my favorite Android devices. These powerful Android phones all have generally great cameras, screens, battery life or all of the above. I also considered features such as 5G and wireless charging. Read on to see my top picks for the best Android phones and check out the best tips on how to buy a new phone, too. CNET’s team updates this list periodically as we review new products.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Like:
• S Pen is included with the phone and there’s a slot for storing it
• Great low-light photography
• Closer zoom than most competing phones
• Distinct design

Don’t like:
• Expensive
• Cameras are mostly the same as on the Galaxy S21 Ultra
• Battery life isn’t as long as the S21 Ultra

The $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most expensive Android phones out there, but for good reason. It has a giant 6.8-inch display, an S Pen stylus you can store inside the phone (just like the Galaxy Note), and a four-lens camera with a zoom range that’s hard to beat. Samsung also improved the way all of its new Galaxy phones take photos in low light, which is especially important on a photography-oriented phone like the Ultra. 

The only downsides? The S22 Ultra’s sky-high price and relatively short battery life. Still, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best phone for people who want the biggest screen and one of the best cameras available in a smartphone. You just have to be willing to pay a higher price for those perks.

Read our Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

 

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Google

Like:

• Refreshed design looks great
• Superb cameras
• Clean and enjoyable interface

Don’t like:

• Battery life could be better

Google’s latest flagship phone, the Pixel 7 Pro, isn’t a huge overhaul from the already excellent Pixel 6 Pro Google launched last year. But it’s taken that winning formula and made some key tweaks to almost every element, resulting in a superb phone that’s bliss to use. The refreshed camera can take stunning images too, earning its spot among the best flagship phones around. 

Read our Pixel 7 Pro review.

 

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Like:
• Bright screen
• Good balance of screen size and comfort
• Better camera with improved color and contrast
• Attractive design

Don’t like:
• $1,000 is still expensive for a phone
• Battery life isn’t as long as the iPhone 13 Pro’s
• No new built-in camera modes
• Fast charging requires a special $50 adapter

The $1,000 Galaxy S22 Plus has the right balance of size, performance and camera performance for most people. The 6.6-inch screen provides plenty of space for those who prefer larger-sized phones but feel like the Ultra might be too overwhelming (and expensive). The upgrade to a 50-megapixel camera also makes a huge difference compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 lineup, especially when it comes to color and contrast in photos. 

My biggest complaint is that the battery life was just mediocre, although it did outlast the regular Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Ultra during CNET’s battery test. It also would have been nice to see new features that take advantage of the S22’s improved camera, especially since the S22 Plus is more expensive than several phones on this list. Still, the Galaxy S22 Plus has everything most people need in a new phone.

Read our Galaxy S22 Plus review.

 

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Patrick Holland/CNET

Like:

• Sleek design
• Great value 
• Main camera is Google’s best

Don’t like:

• Battery life is good but not great
• Not as much Android version support as Samsung

At around $600, the Google Pixel 7 offers a great way to put some of Google’s best tech in your pocket without emptying your bank balance in the process. It undercuts the fully-specced 7 Pro model by some way, but still packs the same Tensor G2 processor, a glorious screen and a great main camera. 

Like the 7 Pro, it’s had a refreshed design which looks classy and stylish, while its Android 13 software is clutter-free and easy to use. The battery life could be better, but with careful use you’ll get through a day on a charge. It lacks the telephoto zoom and a couple of the other bells and whistles of the 7 Pro, but if you’re after a solid everyday phone at a decent price, then the base Pixel 7 is a great option.

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Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Like:
• Improved camera with better low-light photography
• Elegant design
• Great size for people who prefer smaller phones

Don’t like:
• Battery life could be better

Finding a smaller-sized Android phone is no easy task these days. Most phones come with screens that are at least 6.4 inches or larger, leaving people who prefer petite phones with few options. The $800 Galaxy S22 checks that box. It has everything we loved about the Galaxy S22 Plus — an eye-catching design, an excellent camera system with a 50-megapixel main lens and a sharp screen — but in a more pocket-friendly size. 

Still, the Galaxy S22 falls short in the same area as its pricier siblings: battery life. I was able to get through a full day with the S22’s refresh rate set to adaptive, which cranks it up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling, but only barely. That said, the S22’s battery life might be enough for some people, especially those who spend most of their day at home or in the office with a charger nearby. The Galaxy S22 is otherwise a solid choice for any Android user, but especially those looking for a smaller-sized phone.

Read our Galaxy S22 review.

 

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Like:
• Nice screen
• Speedy performance
• IP67 water-resistant
• Affordable price

Don’t like:
• No wireless charging

The next-gen Pixel 6a is available now, and if you want 5G on the cheap the smartphone is a solid choice. This Pixel phone has a high-end chipset, great rear cameras, a good display, and average battery life. It is one of the cheapest good 5G smartphones you can buy right now.

Read our Google Pixel 6A review.

 

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Like:
• Classy design
• Powerful performance
• All-day battery life
• Vibrant screen

Don’t like:
• Disappointing camera
• Waterproof rating restricted to T-Mobile-exclusive models
• Lacks 80-watt fast charging in the US

The OnePlus 10 Pro earned a good score in our review thanks to its slick design, its powerful performance and its price tag, which undercuts its main rivals. It needs a few improvements — most notably to the camera, which is good, but not great — but this flagship offers a great overall experience. If you’re after a top-end 5G phone that’s a bit different to your friends’ iPhones and Galaxy phones then it’s a solid option to consider.

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Nothing Phone 1

A flashy, affordable phone

Like:

• Flashing design
• Solid performance
• Affordable price

Don’t like:

• Cameras are only okay
• Not yet available in the US

The Nothing Phone 1’s affordable price, its solid performance and its good-enough camera setup already makes it a solid option to consider if you’re looking for an Android phone on a budget. But this phone takes the pizzazz up a notch with its suite of flashing LED lights on the rear which certainly makes it stand out against its competitors. 

It’s a great phone that we enjoyed reviewing, but there is a downside; As of right now, there’s no plans to launch the phone in the US. UK shoppers can pick it up right now, but those of you in the US will have to simply keep your fingers crossed. 

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Like:
• 120Hz cover screen
• Water resistance
• Enhanced tablet experience
• Software improvements for multitasking and Flex Mode

Don’t like:
• $1,800 is still expensive

Foldable phones haven’t really hit the mainstream, remaining instead only in the reach of those willing to spend top dollar on the latest in mobile innovation. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best folding phone around, offering top-notch performance, a great camera setup and a variety of tweaks to its folding technology that make this Android smartphone more desirable than its predecessor.

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Samsung

Likes:

  • Better battery life than before
  • Still the best flip phone to get into foldables
  • Water resistance

Dislikes:

  • Same cameras as the Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 is an iterative update but it packs a punch for the $1,000 price tag. With a better battery life thanks to a more power efficient processor and a bigger battery, the Flip is finally worth investing in as a flagship device.

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At a whopping price of $2,500, the Sony Xperia Pro isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a photographer or videographer looking for professional-level camera phone features, you can’t go wrong. The Xperia Pro is essentially four products in one: a phone, a camera monitor, a speedy photo file transfer device and a 5G machine suitable for broadcasting and livestreaming.

Read our Sony Xperia Pro review.

 

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