There’s never been a better time for smartphones. We’ve come a long way from the brick-shaped phones that came with a shoulder strap or had to be plugged into a car to use. Almost every Android phone and iPhone is a thin, glass-covered rectangle with a high-res screen and ample performance.
But that’s a double-edged sword, as almost every phone looks and performs the same. Obviously, you want something special, or offering the most features and bang for your buck at least. Luckily, we’ve seen and tested every new smartphone available today and can tell you which are the best to pick from.
We get that choosing the right phone is unlike any other device. After all, it’s something you rely on and use every day. Trust us, we won’t steer you the wrong way in your quest for the best smartphone.
TL;DR – These are the Best Smartphones:
- Google Pixel 7
- Google Pixel 6a 5G
- iPhone 14 Pro
- Google Pixel 7 Pro
- Asus ROG Phone 5S
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Google Pixel 7
The Google Pixel 7 is honestly the best value smartphone you can buy today. For $599 to start it undercuts most of its competition while packing in some great hardware. The 6.3-inch devices features a classier design with a more aluminum frame and camera bar. The 1080 x 2400 resolution has also been upgraded with an even brighter panel that hits a maximum brightness of 1400 nits so it can shine in the sun too.
Of course the biggest hallmark of any Pixel phone are fantastic cameras and this handset delivers with an incredibly sharp 50MP main camera and a serviceable 12MP Ultrawide camera. That leaves a telephoto camera conspicuously out of the picture, but the Pixel 7 makes up for this with a Super Res Zoom feature that can capture images with an up to 8x zoom – though shots stop looking so great after 5x zoom. This phone is also considerably faster at all of its smart AI-powered functions like speech recognition and Night Sight photography thanks to Google's latest Tensor G2 chip.
Google Pixel 6a 5G
Best Budget Smartphone
For a great phone when you’re on a budget, grab the Google Pixel 6a 5G. It's hard to not see this as a flagship Pixel smartphone were it not for that little ‘a’ in the name and the $449 price tag—though you can find it cheaper. You get the same Google Tensor chip found in the Pixel 6, giving you upper-mid range performance to cruise through games and open multiple apps at a time, switching between them with ease. That Tensor Chip also powers the big, bright OLED display, providing plenty of room for gaming, texting, and streaming.
The Pixel 6a comes with Android 12, a super clean software toting only the basics like Maps and Pay. Luckily, Google has a strong track record for providing software support long after the launch of a phone, helping stretch its longevity. There’s also AI tech making for an impressive voice-to-text experience and cool camera functionality, among other conveniences. The only major downgrades when comparing the Pixel 6a and the Pixel 6 are battery life, charging speed, and its main camera is only 12.2MP. Serious photographers may be disappointed, but most users will find the cameras more than up to the task for whatever they’re shooting. If those slight flaws aren’t deal breakers, this budget smartphone offers impressive value.
iPhone 14 Pro
For an iPhone that goes above and beyond, you’ll want the iPhone 14 Pro. This version brings a slight upgrade to our previous favorite, the iPhone 13 Pro. You get a beefy phone powered by Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, making it breeze through pretty much any task you throw at it, including gaming or video editing for content creators. This version gives you an upgraded screen, which finally removes the notch for Face ID, opting for a new pill-shaped camera hole called the Dynamic Island. This feature can expand and show different animations, including alarms, navigation, and the music playing—which can be held down to access media controls. The stunning display also offers a 120Hz refresh rate that drops to just 1Hz, allowing for the new always-on-display that won’t drain the battery.
The iPhone 14 Pro totes plenty of other features that make it one of the best phones money can buy. First, there are the cameras. You get a 48MP main with 2x zoom for beautiful, vibrant images along with a 12MP wide and a 12MP telephoto with 3x zoom. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better phone cameras than these, and the 14 Pro even shines when photos are taken in low light. It’s also possible to film 4K videos. Just be prepared, as the cameras bump so big it prevents your phone from sitting flat on a surface. You also get new safety enhancements like crash detection and a satellite phone feature for easy contact with emergency services.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Best Android Phone
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a closer to perfect smartphone than the Google Pixel 7 Pro, which offers even more greatness than the Pixel 6 Pro. Don’t expect it to blow every phone out of the water by every metric, but just realize that everywhere you look, you’ll find excellence. The phone comes with a unique design that helps it stand out while still providing a solid build. Inside that frame, Google has put plenty of oomph with the new Tensor G2 processor that handles everyday tasks and gaming with ease. It even renders images quicker and powers some impressive speech recognition. Beyond that, you get ample battery life with faster charging, Face Unlock, and a top-notch camera system.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro totes a huge, sharp display, hitting a wild 1,500 nit peak brightness that’s made all the better with a 120Hz variable refresh rate. That display makes for a solid viewfinder to use with the triple camera system on the rear. You get a phenomenal main sensor that captures a wide dynamic range, warm colors, and excellent detail. The main camera is flanked by an ultra-wide camera for getting everything in the shot, and a 5x telephoto camera goes all the way to 30x digitally. All that, and Google is only asking $899, whereas its competitors ask over $1000 for their top-spec models.
Asus ROG Phone 5S
Best Gaming Phone
For a beast of a gaming phone, you'll want to turn to the Asus ROG Phone 5S. The latest iteration improves upon the already great ROG Phone 5. The system is now powered by a Snapdragon 888 Plus chipset backed up by 16GB of LPDDR5 memory (can go up to 18GB), so speed and capacity won't be an issue. Games load from a solid 256GB of fast, UFS 3.1 storage. And, when you need a reliable connection for gaming, you can enjoy 5G on the go or the latest Wi-Fi 6E connectivity. You'll be able to get in some marathon gaming sessions thanks to the phone's 6,000mAh battery, but you can keep playing even as you’re juicing up since there’s a charging port on the side of the phone.
Sure, plenty of phones offer fast internals, but it's what Asus does on the outside that sets it apart for gaming. The Asus ROG Phone 5S has a zippy 144Hz AMOLED display that scans for touch inputs at a wild 360Hz. Asus also includes more controls, so you're not stuck handling all the complicated actions of games with just your thumbs. Two ultrasonic side buttons can work like triggers or even handle swipe gestures. And, there's a motion control system that will let you set up 10 different phone movements to correspond with in-game controls – think tilt to turn. Heck, there's even some cool RGB lighting on the back of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
If you’re just looking for a big-screen packed with loads of power behind it, nothing beats the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The company’s latest release features a 6.8-inch (1,440 x 3,088) AMOLED display that’s big, bright, and responsive. You get a 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate, so it’s perfect for gaming too. And, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, it has S-Pen compatibility, so you can easily jot down notes or do some sketching. When finished, the stylus can be slotted into the phone for an easy storage option.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offers some solid externals, but everything it’s packing inside is no slouch either. The base model comes toting 8GB of RAM with 128 GB of storage, but you can upgrade up to 12 GB and 1TB of storage. The decent capacity and storage, plus the unnamed 4nm processor, make for a super snappy phone. It shouldn't break a sweat, even when you’re running multiple apps or completing more taxing tasks like editing videos or gaming. And, with a 5,000 mAh battery, you can use this baby all day without fear of it running out of juice.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Best Foldable Phone
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a far cry from the flip phones of yesteryear, though it does look nearly identical to its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 3, with just a few minor improvements. It rocks a 6.2-inch display and remains relatively thin when folded. However, you can open the phone like a book—using the redesigned hinge to make the action smoother—and inside lurks a 7.6-inch screen, meaning you basically get a little tablet that’ll fold neatly into your pocket. Just be prepared for the phone to feel a bit awkward at first due to its unique dimensions, and there’s still a slight crease where it folds.
If you’re worried about the quality of the two seamless displays, you should find them plenty bright and smooth thanks to the Dynamic AMOLED panels offering a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. Samsung has added a taskbar to the Z Fold 4 to house your most used apps and improved the under-display selfie camera to better blend with whatever is on screen. Powering those displays is a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor paired with 12GB RAM to cruise through tasks and games. A 4,400mAh battery is loaded in, so you can use it all day without it dying, though there’s a fast charging feature if it does. You also get decent cameras, but unfortunately, they don’t compare to the stunning cameras on Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam.
Danielle Abraham is a freelance writer and unpaid music historian.