Best flagship phones 2022 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 21 October 2022.

Last updated: October 21, 2022 (Changelog)

If you are after the very best on the smartphone market, you've come to the right section of this buyer's guide.

The highest of high-end phones are in this category. The latest Galaxy and iPhone are the default choices at this level, but big names out of China have their own takes too, of course. Both Xiaomi and Oppo can offer you no-compromise handsets with build and features to match or even beat Apple and Samsung. Foldables can be found here too.

Editors' choice

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4

  • Displays are roughly twice as bright as the foldable competition, on par with conventional ones
  • Impressive battery life in onscreen tests for a foldable
  • Camera system is a meaningful step up; the unique selfie capabilities through the cover display can be a pro on their own
  • Improved design, IPX8-rated
  • Feature-rich software with unmatched multi-tasking functionality and S Pen support
  • Top-notch performance
  • There is a crease and a gap
  • No charger, charging speed behind the competition

The Galaxy Z Fold4 is our current top pick for the best flagship for many reasons. It is among the view smartphones right now that has the wow factor and unique looks. Sure, there are other foldables, but the Fold is the only one that’s available everywhere and is jam-packed with features.

The Galaxy Z Fold4 offers Samsung’s best displays and chipset, some of the best cameras, and it even supports S-Pen if that’s your thing. And being a foldable tablet surely puts it ahead of the competition for its versatility and usability.

Indeed, those who are after productivity are unlikely to find a superior package than the Fold4 - in smartphone or smartphone-like form, that is. The combination of the new Android for large screens, Samsung's proprietary One UI add-ons, and the stylus support, is simply unrivaled.

The Fold4 all-round excellence continue with its speakers, battery life, connectivity. In fact. The only things that fail to impress on this Fold4 are the charging speed and the still present screen crease.

Ultimately though, these are small enough as to be largely immaterial and Galaxy Z Fold4 is the best flagship right now.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

  • 'Best iPhone ever'
  • Robust build - Steel frame, Ceramic Shield, IP68 and then some
  • Most potent chipset on the market
  • Large 120Hz Dolby Vision OLED, even if notched
  • Four flagship 12MP cameras, LiDAR scanner
  • Top-notch battery life
  • Class-leading speaker quality
  • At least 5 years of firmware updates
  • No charger, no headphones in the box
  • Not the fastest to charge
  • Apple iOS is not for everyone

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is Apple's best iPhone in 2022. It has a ProMotion 120Hz display, now with an Always-on option, a redesigned notch that’s now a feature called Dynamic Island, and a more prominent camera upgrade with a 48MP sensor for the main camera with 2x lossless zoom, a better ultrawide camera, and an improved selfie one with autofocus.

The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max offers amazing dust and water resistance, plus its Ceramic Shield is incredibly crack proof. Of course, the latest iPhone is unmatched when it comes to performance. If you are an iPhone type of person, the 14 Pro Max is a no-brainer. If you are after the best flagship - that's also this iPhone 14 Pro Max but you should be willing to give Apple iOS a chance. It's not bad, it's just different.

All of these apply to the regular Pro, in fact. It's up to you to decide which size suits you best. No matter the hardware differences, you will still get the same experience. Got to love Apple for that.

Read full review
Xiaomi 12 Pro

Xiaomi 12 Pro

  • Thoroughly impressive display.
  • Class leading charging speed.
  • Top-notch speed.
  • Four speakers.
  • Excellent trio of main cameras with great image and video quality.
  • No formal IP rating.
  • Non-competitive battery life.
  • Throttles.
  • Ultrawide camera lacks autofocus, telephoto has just 2x zoom.

The Xiaomi 12 Pro surely deserves a spot on our shortlist. It has one of the best displays in the industry, four immersive speakers, comes with the most current Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, and the battery can be recharged unbelievably fast with the 120W power adapter.

The triple-camera system on the Xiaomi 12 Pro offers excellent photo and video quality and it’s versatile enough for a flagship. Sure, the UW camera could have benefitted from autofocus capabilities, and the zoom camera could have a longer reach. But Xiaomi makes up for these with good sensors and processing.

While the Xiaomi 12 Pro may not be the most feature-rich flagship, it is still one of the best around. The Xiaomi 12 Pro is one dependable smartphone suited to gaming, streaming, and photography. If you can forgive the lack of (official) ingress protection, it can very well be your thing.

Read full review
Oppo Find X5 Pro

Oppo Find X5 Pro

  • Exquisite design with mirror-like back and sweeping lines around the camera
  • Excellent OLED with 1B colors, HDR10+, 120Hz refresh.
  • Latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset.
  • Top-notch camera setup with great photo and video quality
  • Fast wired and wireless charging.
  • The microscope camera from X3 Pro is gone.
  • The telephoto camera needs OIS, also more reach (it's just 2x)
  • Limited market availability

Another year, another great Find – the Find X5 Pro continues a lineage of compelling flagship Oppos in the high-end segment. The Find X5 Pro model looks like the Find X3 Pro, but has lost the unique microscope camera. Still, it offers excellent hardware and performance where it matters.

The only downside is that the telephoto camera only offers 2x zoom but you get excellent photo and video quality with special features like the custom MariSilicon X image chip and the 5-axis OIS.

Outside this concern, the Oppo Find X5 Pro delivers across the board – it has a great OLED, the latest and fastest hardware, a large battery with good endurance and incredibly fast wired and wireless charging. And, of course, the high-end ceramic back which you can carry around without fear of scratches.

Read full review

India special

vivo iQOO 9 Pro

vivo iQOO 9 Pro

  • Premium build
  • Outstanding 120Hz QHD LTPO2 AMOLED
  • Top-notch performance
  • Great battery life, fast charging
  • Superb photo quality from the main, ultrawide and selfie cameras
  • Class-leading stabilization, excellent daylight videos
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Lovely ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, enormous and with many uses
  • No ingress protection
  • No high refresh rate gaming
  • Becomes hot during peak GPU use

The iQOO 9 Pro is a brilliant smartphone currently sold in India and China. It offers plenty of cool stuff like gimbal stabilization, LTPO 2.0 E5 AMOLED, 120W fast charging, 3D ultrasonic fingerprint reader, and even the BMW Motorsport branding.

The camera on the back, even if it won’t impress with its zooming capabilities, offers outstanding photo and video quality, and impresses with video stabilization.

In addition to the screen, battery life, performance, and camera, we also liked the iQOO 9 Pro speakers and the fast 120W wired charging.

Read full review
Motorola Edge 30 Ultra

Motorola Edge 30 Ultra

  • Stylish, no-nonsense looks, no fingerprints on the frosted back
  • Super smooth 144Hz display, pretty good adaptive refresh rate handling
  • Excellent screen-on battery endurance
  • Super-fast charging over standard PowerDelivery protocol
  • Great speakers
  • Overall competent camera setup, particularly nice selfies
  • Clean Android interface, updates up to Android 15, additional Moto custom bits, 'ready for' PC-like capability
  • Slippery as can be, no proper waterproofing
  • Occasional mistouch prevention issues
  • Chipset is prone to throttling
  • No 4K video recording on the ultrawide and tele cameras, subpar low-light video in general

The Edge 30 Ultra is a capable allrounder, with an excelled 144Hz OLED, the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset, and a versatile camera with a 200MP primary and a 50MP ultrawide shooters in addition to the 12MP 2x telephoto. There is also a 60MP selfie camera, which turn out to be quite capable.

Perhaps our biggest gripe with it has to be the lack of 4K video recording on the ultrawide and the telephoto cameras, which feels like an arbitrary limitation, and one that may be fixed with an update. What isn't going to be fixed is the build - waterproofing for submersion, poor grip and misinterpreted touch input every now and then.

But for all that's not quite up to scratch, there's a lot to like about the Edge 30 Ultra. Outside of its video peculiarities, the camera system doesn't have glaring flaws, so long as you didn't expect miracles from 'the first 200MP camera'. The display is bright, fluid, and just the right amount of adaptive; battery life is top-notch where that display is involved, and charging speed is among the fastest we've seen from standard USB PowerDelivery peripherals. The Moto is rocking a nicely complete software package, too - stock look, custom features, PC-like capability, and 3 OS updates.

Read full review
Honor Magic4 Pro

Honor Magic4 Pro

  • Surprisingly comfortable design despite the weight and thickness, IP68 certified
  • Bright 120Hz LTPO AMOLED with high PWM frequency
  • Outstanding speaker quality and loudness
  • Solid camera performance for the most part with plenty of unique features
  • Selfies are excellent as well
  • Impressive wired and wireless charging speeds
  • Comes with 256GB base storage, UWB support and advanced facial unlock
  • Battery life could be better
  • Competing periscope cameras have further reach
  • The ultrawide camera's nighttime performance is subpar
  • The refresh rate rarely goes up to 120Hz if set to be variable

The Honor Magic4 Pro is an awesome phone that's rather easy to recommend. It offers premium hardware and features sprinkled with some rare functionalities such as Ultra Wideband, high-frequency PWM backlight control, and an advanced facial unlock in combination with a great ultrasonic fingerprint reader. It also has a whole bunch of video recording and editing tools and the memory config.

The Magic4 Pro has all the bells and whistles, of course, an excellent 6.81-inch LTPO OLED display, top-tier SoC, blazing-fast charging, all the cameras you'd need, sleek design, offers 256GB of internal storage as a standard, IP68 certification against water and dust and awesome stereo speakers. Moreover, the handset brings UWB support, two actually usable 3D ToF sensors (one is used for biometric identification aside from the fingerprint reader) and some unique video recording features.

Honor has to work better on its software, especially with the somewhat unreliable camera app, which makes unpredictable switches between the zoom and main cameras. The low-light performance needs a boost, too. But all things considered the Honor Magic4 Pro is still one of the best flagships on the market with some unique capabilities and we do recommend putting on your shortlists.

Read full review

Most recent updates

October 21, 2022: Replaced the Galaxy S22 Ultra with Galaxy Z Fold4 (new top). Added Honor Magic4 Pro and the Motorola Edge 30 Ultra. Replaced the iPhone 13 Pro Max with the iPhone 14 Pro Max. Removed the vivo X80 Pro, the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Pixel 6 Pro.

June 29, 2022: Replaced the Galaxy S21 Ultra with Galaxy S22 Ultra (new top). Replaced the Oppo Find X3 Pro with the Find X5 Pro. Replaced the vivo X70 Pro+ with the vivo X80 Pro. Replaced the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra with the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Added iQOO 9 Pro. Removed the Huawei Mate X2.

Nov 5, 2021: Added Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Oct 20, 2021: Replaced the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max as our Editors' choice. Also replaced the vivo X60 Pro+ with the vivo X70 Pro+, the Galaxy Z Fold2 with the Galaxy Z Fold3. Removed the Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max.

May 11, 2021: Replaced the Galaxy Note20 Ultra with the S21 Ultra as our Editors' choice. Also replaced the Oppo Find X2 Pro with the Find X3 Pro, the Mi 10 Pro with the Mi 11 Ultra. Added the vivo X60 Pro+ and the Huawei Mate X2 as niche choices, and removed the Zenfone 7 Pro, OnePlus 8 Pro and the Mate 40 Pro.

Nov 23, 2020: Replaced the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max with 12 Pro Max.

Best phones by category

Reader comments

  • B52
  • 06 Dec 2022
  • gLC

It is great that you have an update log at the end! Still, I am really surprised about Fold4 kicking out S22 Ultra.

  • Anonymous
  • 01 Dec 2022
  • dWB

They removed the S22 Ultra from this list? Seriously now?

Ι have the fold4 and can only second the editor's choice. Definitely the best flagship for me. Not sure if it's the best for most people.