There are new phones arriving all the time, especially when it comes to the world of Android. Apple’s iPhones will always be popular but handsets running Google’s mobile OS provide you with a wealth of choice – and usually much better specs for the same price.
Last year also brought along some phenomenal handsets which are still well worth buying, with the
Pixel 6 Pro still among our favourites, and a fantastic foldable in the
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Here at Tech Advisor we independently test each phone thoroughly so we can bring you the very best options worth considering at any given moment. Here we rank the top ten but keep checking back as we update this list regularly.
Clicking through to our in-depth reviews will help, as we have detailed benchmarks, test photography and more for you to explore.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t feel like an S22 at all – in fact this is more like a covert revival of Samsung’s once-loved Note brand, with a distinct design from its S22 siblings and a built-in slot to store the included S-Pen stylus.
The camera is one of the best in any phone, with a 108Mp main shooter backed up by an ultrawide and two telephoto lenses at different zoom levels – with the zoom performance particularly improved on previous models.
The expansive 6.8in LTPO AMOLED display delivers both high WQHD+ resolution and adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz, and with S-pen stylus support it comfortably fills the productivity niche of the former Note phones.
You may not have heard of Vivo before, but you should definitely be paying attention.
The company is a giant of the Chinese smartphone market, and is slowly expanding its international reach – which is a good thing, because it’s been an open secret for the last few years that Vivo probably makes the best cameras in any phone around.
The X80 Pro is no exception, with four phenomenal rear cameras. The 50Mp main lens is phenomenal, but it’s the 48Mp ultrawide that really blows away all the competition, and the two zoom lenses add extra options. The tech is really at its best in low light, with hands-down the best night mode available anywhere.
It’s a great phone elsewhere too, with a top-class display, fast charging, and excellent battery life. The main frustration is that the company’s Android skin is a little awkward, but if you care about the camera and can afford to spend this much, it’s hard to do better.
Pixel phones have always been about the camera, but the competition is catching up fast – and the 6 Pro’s camera, while phenomenal, isn’t quite our favourite right now. It’s no slouch though, and benefits from big upgrades on the Pixel 5 – now packing a 48Mp main lens along with an ultrawide and a periscopic telephoto, this is the most powerful Pixel camera yet.
The bigger edge to the phone is Google’s software though. The 6 Pro runs the best version of Android around, with the clean simplicity of stock Android plus all of Google’s excellent Pixel-exclusive upgrades, now powered by the company’s new in-house Tensor chip.
You’ll have to put up with slow charging (and buy your own charger to boot), and accept the fact that this is a big phone with a divisive design – you may well love it, but there are plenty out there who don’t.
The Oppo Find X5 Pro is a phenomenal phone by any measure. The 6.7in 10-bit 120Hz QHD+ panel is one of the best displays in any phone right now and Oppo backs it up with 80W wired and 50W wireless charging, a 5000mAh battery, and a top-tier camera that boasts 50Mp sensors on both the main and ultrawide lenses.
You’ll have to live without a periscopic zoom lens – the telephoto here is a measly 2x zoom – but results across all three rear lenses are exceptional. The design is unique too, thanks to a seamlessly sloped camera module built right into the ceramic of the phone’s body.
For pure performance, the Find X5 Pro is also hard to beat, with all of the above plus a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, 256GB storage and 12GB RAM. You just have to be willing to pay the price, as it doesn’t come cheap – though the regular
Find X5 is a great option that costs much less.
If you can’t afford the Pixel 6 Pro – or even the Pixel 6 – then Google has another option for you: the decidedly affordable Pixel 6a.
This mid-range phone packs the same flagship Tensor chip as its bigger brothers, along with a similar design. But it’s a much smaller phone, and made from plastic rather than glass.
There are downside, of course. The camera specs aren’t quite the same, though it still impresses. You’ll also get slower charging and only a 60Hz refresh rate on the display. If you can live with those downsides though, this is an excellent option for the price.
The Zenfone 9 is a full-force flagship in a small size, and with remarkably few compromises for it.
The 5.9in display makes this one of the smallest phones on the market, especially on the Android side, and comfortably the smallest with specs this strong.
The Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and up to 16GB of RAM mark this as a serious performance phone, though cooling problems do leave that power slightly throttled. The 8+ Gen 1 is also partly to thank for the excellent battery life however, which puts other compact smartphones to shame.
The gimbal-stabilised main camera impresses, especially at night, though with a few visual glitches and issues in bright environments it’s clear Asus has some software tuning to do. Some may also miss the variety offered by rivals, especially the lack of a telephoto lens here.
Given the phone is so good, it’s frustrating that Asus is only promising two years of support, so this will only suit those who know they’re on a regular upgrade schedule. The overall experience is excellent though, with smart software and welcome touches like the IP68 rating and headphone jack.
OnePlus’s first T-branded Nord phone is a worthy follow-up, powered by MediaTek’s 5G-capable Dimensity 1300 chipset.
The Nord 2T also totes a 90Hz AMOLED display, a great primary 50Mp main camera, and nippy 80W fast charging.
Software-wise, the company’s OxygenOS user experience is also a major highlight – bringing responsive interactivity and a clean interface to the table that lends itself to the phone’s powerful, premium feel. The only downside is that the company only promises two Android version updates, and a third year of security fixes.
Don’t think of the S22 as a poor man’s S22 Ultra – Samsung has used its standard flagship model to strike a super balancing act of specs and features that comes with few flaws, all squeezed into a surprisingly compact build.
As a result, you get some of the best performance found in an Android phone currently, a glass-bodied design, and the latest Android 12 (dressed in Samsung’s own One UI 4.1, at launch) with a commitment to years of software support.
The battery life is a little weak, and some of the camera features will likely benefit from firmware fixes over time, but this remains an excellent example of an Android flagship.
The Nothing Phone (1) came out of the gate fully hyped, as the first phone from former OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new company.
It may not be the grand smartphone revolution we were promised, but it is an excellent affordable Android option. Mid-range specs are paired with flagship features like wireless charging and an IP53 rating, and really the only hardware weakpoint is the battery life.
Then there’s the design. The semi-transparent, LED-accented design likely won’t be for everyone, but if you want an Android phone that looks different to everyone else’s then this would certainly tick that box.
Your buying guide for the best Android phones in 2022
While you only get to choose from a handful of Apple handsets, there’s something for everyone when it comes to Android.
They come from a variety of different manufacturers – in all manner of shapes, sizes and colours – and each has unique selling points, whether it’s a sleek, waterproof design, a huge display or an abundance of cameras. Sometimes, you can even find all of those attributes on one phone.
We’ve done our best to rank the phones in order, taking into account build, value, performance and features. However, make sure you get a phone that’s right for your needs – it might not simply be the phone in the top spot.
Important specs to look for are:
Screen quality: resolution, refresh rate (ideally at least 90Hz), and whether it’s LCD or OLED
Chipset: does it use the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, a lower 7- or 6-series chip, or even something from rival MediaTek?
RAM: look for at least 8GB, but more is better
Storage: look for at least 128GB, and check if it’s expandable or not
Camera: don’t just check Mp count – look into the types of lenses available, the sizes of the sensor, and check photo samples in our reviews
Waterproofing: is there an official IP rating or not?
Battery & charging: will it require a daily charge, and how fast is the charging – both wired and potentially wireless
5G: most phones now support 5G, but double-check to be sure
Software: not all Android skins are created equal – our favourites are stock Android, Samsung’s One UI, and OnePlus’s OxygenOS, but read reviews to get a sense of each operating system’s strengths and weaknesses. Check the manufacturer’s upgrade promise too, and which software version it ships with – Android 12 is the latest, but it’s not available on phones from every manufacturer.
Tech Advisor's Deputy Editor, Dom covers everything that runs on electricity, from phones and laptops to wearables, audio, gaming, smart home, and streaming - plus he's a regular fixture on the Tech Advisor YouTube channel.