Best US market phones of 2021 - buyer’s guide

GSMArena team, Last updated 23 November 2022.

Last updated: November 23, 2022 (Changelog)

Seeing how popular our Buyer's guide is, we decided to do one specifically for the US market because it is pretty different from the other parts of the world.

One important difference is that the major Chinese brands are almost absent. Not all of them (there is OnePlus), but the vast majority of popular Chinese brands of smartphones such as Xiaomi, Realme, Oppo, vivo, etc., are only available as gray imports.

In addition, the traditional brands with a presence in the US market offer a more limited selection of their smartphones. For instance, the high-end Nords from OnePlus are not available, Motorola's Edge family is small, while Samsung's Galaxy A series has been reduced to just a couple of phones.

The absence of strong competition from the Chinese brands also gives a fighting chance to some OEMs that wouldn't normally take a big cut of the total shipments. Motorola is just one example.

A few things to keep in mind, we didn't include any phones, which are considered gray imports. For once, you won't be getting after-market support and warranty in most cases, and secondly, it's hard to find a phone that would work with US carriers unless it's specifically made for the US market. That's why we try to keep things as official and retail in our selection as possible, and you will find most, if not all, of the handsets below available through the manufacturers' official stores or via the major retailers and the carriers themselves.

So, without further ado, here's our comprehensive list of devices, which are worthy of your attention and hard-earned cash in descending order.


Best phones above $1000


Editors' choice above $1000

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max

Specs
  • 'Best iPhone ever'
  • Robust build - Steel frame, Ceramic Shield, IP68 and then some
  • Most potent chipset on the market
  • Large 120Hz Dolby Vision OLED
  • Four flagship 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 and we think it’s the best phone you can buy in the US. 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
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4

Specs
  • 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 among the best smartphones right now and it 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
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G

Specs
  • It’s a Galaxy S Ultra and it’s a Galaxy Note!
  • Outstanding high-res OLED screen, S-Pen.
  • One of the best cameraphones, long zoom capability
  • Flagship-grade speed, 5G, all sorts of connectivity options.
  • Solid design, IP68-rated.
  • Not very fast to charge - 45W charger has no benefit over 25W.
  • No charger, no headphones in the box
  • Regional chipset divide could bother some users.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best flagships for many reasons. First, it’s not only a Galaxy S Ultra, but also a Galaxy Note Ultra. Yay, the Note lives! It also gathers all the cutting edge tech Samsung can offer to the public so far, short of a foldable screen, of course.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has one, if not the best mobile OLED screen with all the bells and whistles, and with native S Pen support, of course. And now that the S-Pen comes integrated within the Ultra, you won’t need to purchase a pen-holding case.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also offers excellent battery life (for a flagship), the latest-gen fingerprint reader, and loud and clear stereo speakers.

One of the most important aspects of the Galaxy S22 Ultra are its cameras. A quad setup means you get two teles on this Galaxy Ultra going all the way up to 10x. And all of these cameras, plus the selfie, deliver excellent photo and video quality.

The continued regional divide that leaves the bulk of the world with what some perceive as the inferior Exynos chipset is hardly ideal. The good news is that the US market is getting the Snapdragon-powered model, so here is another reason to get it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $1000


Editors' choice up to $1000

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Specs
  • Robust build , IP68 rating
  • Most potent chipset on the market
  • Large 120Hz Dolby Vision OLED
  • 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

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is now cheaper and it remains among the best iPhones you can get today. Arguably, if the price is right, it might be the better one to get if you are not hell bent on having the new Dynamic Island feature.

The 13 Pro Max has a ProMotion 120Hz display and a versatile camera with a large 12MP sensor for the main camera, a 3x telephoto, and an improved ultrawide camera with macro mode.

The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max offers fantastic dust and water resistance, plus its Ceramic Shield is incredibly crack proof. Of course, the iPhone also offers top-notch performance. If you are an iPhone type of person, the cheaper iPhone 13 Pro Max is a no-brainer.

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
Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Specs
  • '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 cameras, LiDAR scanner
  • Class-leading speaker quality
  • At least 5 years of firmware updates
  • No charger, no headphones in the box
  • Uninspiring battery life
  • Not the fastest to charge
  • Apple iOS is not for everyone

The iPhone 14 Pro is the smaller Pro model, which has everything the Max has, but the battery life due to the smaller battery capacity. It is still one of the two best iPhones in 2022. We’ve already explored the Max here in this chapter, but in case you need a refresh – the iPhone 14 Pro, and Max, offer some of the best screens, cameras, designs, and chipsets on the market right now.

So, if you are after the latest iPhone but don’t want to get the Max, the regular Pro would serve you well, too.

Read full review
Motorola Edge 30 Pro

Motorola Edge 30 Pro

Specs
  • Extra fluid 144Hz display, straightforward HRR handling
  • Top-tier performance, excellent stability under sustained CPU load
  • Fast charging with standard USB Power Delivery peripherals
  • Wireless charging
  • Stereo speakers, NFC, UD fingerprint scanner
  • Reliable camera system, excellent selfies
  • Android 12 interface akin to that on a Pixel, additional Moto custom bits, 'ready for' PC-like capability
  • Not waterproof (just splash resistant), plastic frame lacks premium feel
  • Display not as bright as the competition
  • Battery life is uninspiring
  • No telephoto camera, no 4K60, no 4K on the ultrawide at all

The Motorola Edge+ (2022), also known as Edge 30 Pro across the European markets, has unique selling points but also some notable shortcomings. On the first list is the 144Hz display - we can appreciate the smoothness but can't quite see it as a substantial advantage over the 120Hz of the competition. We do appreciate the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 hardware, of course.

We also enjoyed the 'stock' Android 12 build, sweetened by Moto enhancements and we can even come up with use cases for the 'ready for' platform. It's in those cases that the latest-gen Snapdragon comes in handy and it doesn't hurt that the Edge 30 Pro shows one of its more stable implementations that we've seen.

The lack of a telephoto camera stands out and it's compounded by all too simple video recording capabilities. Slight missteps in the display and battery departments, while hardly dealbreakers, place the Edge 30 Pro in a somewhat trailing position. Add to that the missing waterproofing in a sea of properly sealed competitors and some odd choices in the BoM and the phone isn't looking very premium either.

With all that said, the Motorola Edge+ / 30 Pro isn't a bad package. On the contrary, it's a balanced offering that's easy to recommend.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G

Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G

Specs
  • IP68 rating, Gorilla Glass Victus, metal frame, 167g
  • Superb 120Hz AMOLED display
  • Versatile triple camera that goes from ultra wide to 3x zoom with excellent performance across the board
  • Great performance
  • Stereo speakers
  • No charger in the box

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ is an excellent Android flagships at quite an attractive price in the US.

The Galaxy S22+ comes a 1080p 120Hz AMOLED and flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 hardware. It has an improved camera system since the controversial S21 – now we have a 50MP OIS primary, a 10MP OIS 3x telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide camera. The selfie camera is the flagship-grade 10MP AF unit we’ve seen on the S21. All cameras deliver top-notch quality in stills and video, day and night.

The Galaxy S22+ offers a decent battery life, too. Overall, it’s a great deal and we do recommend it.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4

Specs
  • Compact foldable smartphone, not insanely priced
  • Excellent design, Victus+ panels, tougher aluminum
  • IPX8-rated for water resistance
  • Outstanding foldable display - bright, color-accurate, 120Hz, HDR
  • The latest Snapdragon chipset
  • Great all-round camera experience and quality
  • Improved battery life, faster charging
  • Heavily throttles under 100% CPU/GPU load
  • No charger in the box
  • We would appreciate more functionality for the outer display
  • No DeX support

The Galaxy Z Flip went from a fashion-centric device to a full-blown flagship in just a couple of generations. The Flip4 is what the Flip3 should have been from the get-go - a powerful foldable smartphone with excellent camera performance, decent battery life and charging speed.

And indeed, we can say a lot of positive things about the new Z Flip4 - it has a superb water-proofed design that will hit the nostalgia notes across many users. It's a compact flip phone, one that clicks simply great.

The Z Flip4 offers an excellent AMOLED screen, good battery life, good charging speed, and the speakers are nice. It also packs the most powerful Android chip to date, though the thermals lead to throttling. And the camera performance is superb across the board, photo and video, day and night.

We consider the Flip4 as the most affordable foldable smartphone of the current generation, one of the most compact, too. And for its reasonable price, it delivers an outstanding set of features.

It's not an ideal smartphone - it takes a while to get used to its design and form factor. Then you need to live with the crease and the plastic screen protector over the screen. Dust gets in various places, too. But we are recommending it to people who'd like to own a unique phone, small, and yet powerful and capable; to users that will take it with all of its good and not so good aspects

Read full review

Best phones up to $900


Editors' choice up to $900

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Specs
  • Lighter than the two main competitors, about as premium too; IP68 dust- and water-resistant
  • Sharp, bright, color-accurate, with a high refresh rate, this display is stellar
  • Android from the source, exclusive feature set, unrivaled perception of smoothness on this side of the OS divide
  • Great camera quality overall with an unmatched character that has a loyal following
  • Less expensive than major competitors
  • Tensor chip
  • Fast firmware updates
  • Below average battery life, perhaps partly a consequence of display refresh rate seemingly not as adaptive as advertised
  • Very slow charging by today's standards
  • Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light
  • Selfies rarely come out tack sharp

Pixels have historically lacked mainstream appeal, and the lack of truly global availability is no small part of why that is so. This year, the list of countries with official Pixel presence has been expanded to 16, and maybe that will drive sales numbers up, even if a lot of the world will still be missing out.

And there's quite a lot to be missing out on. The camera system is the single biggest Pixel 7 Pro selling point that comes to mind, and it brings some welcome improvements, even if a bit modest. That, of course, comes on top of what is a hard to quantify character that you simply can't get on anything that's not a Pixel.

The Pixel 7 Pro is certainly not the best flagship right now - battery life is markedly worse than on a current iPhone, and a Galaxy will likely get you better longevity too. Neither Apple nor Samsung are industry leaders in charging speed, but Google has become an industry... trailer? Two hours for a full charge can turn into an actual issue in day-to-day use, we reckon.

But as far as consistently good and reliable photo and video quality is concerned, the Pixel is one of the best. It is a compelling package that can easily win over other brand loyalists if given a chance, and the enticing pricing helps a lot.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 14 Plus

Apple iPhone 14 Plus

Specs
  • Sturdy design and sleek looks
  • Excellent OLED, Dolby Vision, HDR10, high brightness
  • Very good battery life
  • Top-notch stereo speakers
  • Flagship-grade performance even if not the latest chipset
  • Dependable photo quality from the main and selfie cameras
  • Outstanding video quality and stabilization across the board, great action clips
  • Every iPhone gets at least five years of iOS updates
  • Wide feature gap with the 14 Pro family: no 120Hz refresh rate, A16 Bionic, zoom camera or AF on the ultrawide
  • Priced too close to last year's iPhone 13 Pro Max, which has most of the above
  • No charger in the box, somewhat slow charging
  • Apple's iOS restrictions can be off-putting to newcomers to the ecosystem

The iPhone 14 Plus is one of the best iPhones Apple has ever made, as usual. It does exactly what it is supposed to do - offering the non-Pro experience on a larger display. A big bonus from the new size is the larger battery capacity and hence - the better battery life.

The iPhone 14 Plus is one of the lightest 6.7-inch smartphones around with a flagship-grade design, screen, speakers, battery life, performance and video quality. Meanwhile, its new cameras, including the AF-capable selfie one, are as controversial as usual - it's like their quality hasn't changed for generations because of the heavy processing and over-sharpening.

Still, this iPhone 14 Plus finds its way to the hearts and pockets of people despite the lack of a high refresh rate screen or zoom camera. A lot of users won't mind this. It is well worth considering if you don't need the extra features that the Pro models bring.

Read full review
Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Apple iPhone 13 Pro

Specs
  • Outstanding sturdy and water-proof design
  • Still rather compact
  • Bright OLED screen, 120Hz
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Excellent performance, 5G
  • Great photo and video quality all-around
  • Compact as it may be, the 13 Pro weighs a lot
  • The chipset is prone to heavy throttling under max load
  • The fast charging isn't very fast

The same reason we picked the iPhone 13 Pro Max applies to the 13 Pro. It's still one of the best iPhones with standout features like the 120Hz ProMotion display, the large main camera sensor and the improved ultrawide camera capable of excellent macro photography.

Just like the Pro Max, the standard Pro model also offers water and dust-proofing and Ceramic Shield for increased resistance to drops and scratches. The chipset powering up the handset is one of the most powerful solutions on the market. It's mostly about the OS, though, as iOS might not be everyone's cup of coffee, but given how popular iPhones in the US are, we have a feeling most of the users won't mind it. In case the 14 Pro Max and 13 Pro Max are too big for you, and you are in for a high-end iPhone but don’t want to spend as much, the 13 Pro seems like a logical choice.

Read full review
OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro

Specs
  • Superb 120Hz LTPO2 AMOLED display with granular HRR control
  • Excellent sustained performance and thermals
  • Reliably good performance from the primary camera
  • Competitive battery life
  • 80W SuperVOOC charging speeds are excellent
  • Distinctive design with premium finish, water-resistant in US
  • OxygenOS 12 no longer has that OnePlus fan-favorite look and feel
  • Ultra wide is not at the level of last year's model and also lacks AF or Macro
  • Most games limited to 60Hz refresh rate
  • Front camera and telephoto camera only offer 1080p video recording

OnePlus 10 Pro is the company’s current flagship and it’s one of the best phones you can get right now at about $900. It comes with an outstanding LTPO2 OLED display, superb sustained performance, and offers reliable camera performance. The best part – the phone is water-resistant for the US market!

One thing you should know is that the camera system is simply worse than the OnePlus 9 Pro due to downgrading of the ultra-wide camera. While the quality difference isn't massive, it is still objectively and measurably worse and also drops the macro functionality in favor of a frankly pointless fisheye effect.

The 10 Pro is certainly a strong contender, but that might depend on who you ask. If you're looking to buy into an expansive ecosystem, you might want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, the 10 Pro does have a capable all-around camera with enough features to keep photographers and casual picture-takers happy while also catering to content creators who appreciate a color-accurate display.

Read full review

Best phones up to $800


Editors' choice up to $800

Apple iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14

Specs
  • Major internal redesign for easier repairability
  • Bright OLED screen, HDR10, Dolby Vision and excellent color accuracy
  • Solid battery life
  • Loud stereo speakers, excellent output
  • Great all-around performance from the older but still solid chipset
  • Great photo and video quality across all three cameras
  • Autofocus on the selfies camera and Action Mode are great camera additions
  • Every iPhone comes with at least five years of iOS updates
  • Minor upgrade over iPhone 13
  • Wider feature gap with the 14 Pro: no 120Hz refresh rate, A16 Bionic, zoom camera or AF on the ultrawide
  • The notch is still a polarizing design element
  • The fast charging isn't particularly fast, and the charger is not bundled
  • Apple's iOS restrictions can be off-putting to newcomers to the ecosystem

The iPhone 14 is very much a familiar affair. It is an incremental upgrade over last year's model. It has a major internal redesign that makes it more easily repairable, particularly a back panel or a display swap is now much less of a pain. The iPhone 14 has only a slightly larger battery pack but notably better battery life and even faster charging. The chipset is last year's A15 Bionic, but with five GPU cores, 6GB of RAM (50% more), Bluetooth 5.3, a more energy-efficient Qualcomm 5G modem, new satellite connectivity for SOS messages and new Crash Detection.

The camera department has a new larger 12MP main camera with a 1/1.65" sensor, 1.9-micron pixels, a new 12MP ultrawide and a new 12MP, f/1.9 selfie camera now with autofocus onboard. There is also the new Action Mode video stabilization, 4K Cinematic mode at 30 fps and a new Photonic Engine for better low-light photos.

It's not an insignificant list of changes once you really dig in. Some are obviously more impactful than others, and it will be up to the individual user to judge what constitutes enough reason for an upgrade. The way we see it, anybody on an iPhone 13 has little to no incentive to jump ship. Unless you really need autofocus on your selfie cam, all of those other camera improvements only realistically result in shorter capture times in low light. We would even go as far as to say that iPhone 12 users shouldn't feel too tempted by the 14 and can hold off upgrading for at least another year.

If you are running any iPhone older than that and you are looking to upgrade, then the iPhone 14 is nothing short of a solid and dependable way to go. Sure, it is a bit on the boring side in more ways than one, but you definitely know what you are getting into. For the more adventurous or frugal, there is also the option of picking up an iPhone 13 and potentially banking on some extended software support now that the A15 Bionic has gotten a new lease on life in the iPhone 14. Either way, you will be getting a great phone for the years to come.

Read full review

Best phones up to $700


Editors' choice up to $700

Apple iPhone 13

Apple iPhone 13

Specs
  • Outstanding design - sturdy and water-proofed
  • Bright OLED screen, HDR10, Dolby Vision
  • Dependable battery life
  • Loud stereo speakers, excellent output
  • Excellent performance, 5G
  • Great all-round photo and video quality across all three cameras
  • Minor upgrade over iPhone 12
  • No 120Hz refresh rate
  • The notch is still an eyesore even if smaller
  • The fast charging can be handled better

As we mentioned as part of our iPhone 14 entry, the iPhone 13 is an equally attractive offer as it is almost an identical phone, cheaper at that. The iPhone 13, just like the 14, does lack a high refresh rate screen – its most notable omission. But the iPhone 13 is still one of the most durable and powerful phones on the market, yet lightweight and comfortable. The OLED screen is great; it has reduced though still huge notch, offers outstanding contrast and brightness, Dolby Vision and HDR10 support.

The iPhone 13 has the powerful Apple chip with 5G, there is also latest Apple dual-camera with Cinematic mode, you get stereo speakers, fast charging, and even MagSafe support.

Read full review
Asus Zenfone 9

Asus Zenfone 9

Specs
  • IP68-rated, GG Victus, metal frame, grippy, lightweight
  • Excellent 120Hz OLED screen
  • Class-leading battery life, wide battery care feature set
  • Headphone jack, properly great speakers
  • Autofocus on all cameras, ultrawide and selfie included
  • Wonderful video stabilization
  • No telephoto camera
  • No wireless charging
  • Night camera mode is a little sluggish

The Asus Zenfone 9 is probably among the best compact Android flagship you can get. It has commendable qualities across the board. It's built as flagship as it can be - IP68 rating, GG Victus front and a metal frame. There is the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 5G chip with great performance. The camera quality turned out brilliant, no matter day or night, photo or video, or the type of camera you are using.

That's not all. The Zenfone 9 impressed us with its speakers quality, the excellent OLED, and rich connectivity options, including a 3.5mm jack.

Finally, the Zenfone 9 may be a flagship, but its price of $700 is quite reasonable by today’s standards.

Read full review

Best phones up to $600


Editors' choice up to $600

Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7

Specs
  • Compact and premium build, easy to handle, unique-looking design, dust- and water-resistant
  • Sharp, bright, color-accurate display
  • Good battery life considering the phone's size
  • Android from the source, exclusive feature set, unrivaled perception of smoothness on this side of the OS divide
  • Overall, great camera quality with an unmatched character that has a loyal following
  • The display is just 90Hz as opposed to competitors pushing beyond 120Hz
  • Very slow charging by the standards of the day
  • Ultrawide camera is underwhelming in low light
  • Selfies rarely come out tack sharp

The Pixel 7 is definitely one of the best options in the $600 price range, especially when considering camera quality. It has a flagship-worthy performance, although a bit lower than you'd expect; it's one of the best phones for mobile photography, if not the best-in-class, and it has bright OLED, great-sounding stereo speakers, long battery life (with the size category in mind) and exceptional software ensuring timely updates and smart features.

Sadly, there are a few caveats to consider here. There's no true telephoto camera; the display is limited to 90Hz; some of the most advanced software features are region-dependent, and the charging solution is just way too outdated for a 2022 flagship release.

But we do recommend it- at that price, the Pixel 7 offers a unique combination of ultra-premium camera experience, long battery life and AI-based features that make it the smartest kid on the block.

Read full review
OnePlus 10T

OnePlus 10T

Specs
  • Bright 120Hz display
  • Fastest Android chipset on the market, great sustained performance
  • Competent main camera for both stills and video, in good light and at night alike
  • Some of the fastest charging in the business, solid battery life
  • Nice sounding stereo speakers
  • NFC, IR blaster, Android 12, MIUI 13.
  • Alert slider is now gone
  • No IP rating
  • Most games limited to 60Hz, browsers to 90Hz
  • No telephoto camera, the ultrawide is so-so
  • OxygenOS is now but a reskinned ColorOS

The OnePlus 10T is a $600 smartphone with large Fluid AMOLED screen with 1B colors and 120hz refresh. It also packs the latest Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset with proper cooling solution that helps for great sustained performance.

Of course, there is more. The phone has a reliable enough camera system, good battery life and plenty fast 150W charging. The stereo speakers turned out quite nice, too.

It’s not all so flagship-grade, through – the camera system is so-so, there is no zoom camera, no IP rating, and the press images have already revealed the absence of the alert slider. That last bit, coupled with the fact that OnePlus and Oppo Android overlays have been steadily converging, may also put off long-time fans of the brand.

In its essence, the OnePlus 10T is an upper-midrange phone with a top-tier chipset and class-leading charging capability. We'd say it's priced accordingly and is worth what OnePlus is asking.

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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

Specs
  • IP68 rating for dust and water protection, variety of color options
  • Smooth 120Hz Super AMOLED display
  • Top-class battery life
  • Powerful Snapdragon 865 5G chipset
  • The ultra wide and tele cameras aren't the downgrades they appear to be compared to the other S20s, the triple camera as a whole is mostly great
  • Bundled with a slow 15W charger
  • Plastic back looks fine but is the opposite of 'premium'
  • No AF for selfies, unreliable portrait mode on the front cam
  • 4K video recording is uninspiring

Okay, the Galaxy S20 FE might be two years old, but it’s still a solid offer for its all-round premium specs. The S20 FE is an IP68-rated smartphone with a good 120Hz OLED screen, powerful hardware, and a capable triple camera on the back.

The Galaxy S20 FE also offers superb battery life and good stereo speakers.

And don’t let its age scare you, the Galaxy S20 FE has been updated with Android 13 and One UI 5, so you will have the latest available software.

With the holiday season upon us, we believe the Galaxy S20 FE should be making it to quite a few shortlists.

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Motorola Edge (2022)

Motorola Edge (2022)

Specs
  • 6.6-inch 144Hz OLED, HDR10+
  • Dimensity 1050 chipset with 5G
  • 50MP main cam with OIS
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Large battery, fast wired and wireless charging
  • Clean Android
  • No telephoto camera
  • Water-repellent, but not waterproofed

The Motorola Edge (2022) is available for $600 in US, $500 if you get it on sale. And it’s an incredibly attractive deal – the Edge has a smooth 144Hz OLED screen, powerful enough Dimensity 1050 5G chipset, and good triple-camera on the back with a 50MP OIS primary.

The Motorola Edge (2022) also offers loud stereo speakers, like most of the Moto phones, one large battery and a variety of charging options including wireless.

Finally, being a Moto, also guarantees a clean Android experience and a couple of major updates in the future.

SPECS
OnePlus 9 Pro

OnePlus 9 Pro

Specs
  • Great display performance
  • Relatively clean software and great UI performance
  • Powerful loudspeakers
  • Good performance from the main wide and ultra-wide cameras
  • Excellent 4K 120fps mode
  • Fast charging
  • Rear camera performance still behind the competition
  • Outdated front camera
  • Worse battery life performance than previous models
  • Most games still locked to 60fps

OnePlus is having a field trip in the US with its balanced offerings there. The OnePlus 9 Pro is the company's top smartphone for 2021, but even in 2022 it's still an easy recommendation in the US market with all the bells and whistles.

The handset packs one of the best displays around (LTPO AMOLED at 120Hz), blazing-fast charging and a versatile and capable camera setup. Sure, it's not on par with the flagship-level competition in this regard, but it gets the job just fine.

The clean-ish Android experience and 3-year-long software support are a breath of fresh air in the Android segment in the US. Although OnePlus' recent direction change when it comes to software is rather polarizing and that's definitely something worth considering by the pure Android fans. In any case, the good price/performance ratio remains a staple of OnePlus' phones in the US.

The OnePlus 9 Pro retails for $600, but it can also be found on sale for as low as $400.

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OnePlus 9

OnePlus 9

Specs
  • Good display performance
  • Relatively clean software and great UI performance
  • Powerful loudspeakers
  • Good performance from the main wide and ultra-wide cameras
  • Fast charging
  • US market gets ingress protection
  • Plastic frame
  • No dedicated telephoto camera
  • Outdated front camera
  • Worse battery life performance than previous models

The OnePlus 9 is another all-round smartphone that deserves a spot on this list. It did not make it to the flagships, or the flagship killers, but its current price of about $600 makes it an excellent contender in its price bracket. Even better, OnePlus is now selling it for $300 as part of its Black Friday deals.

The OnePlus 9 has a superb 6.55-inch 120Hz Fluid AMOLED screen with HDR10+ support, and it employs the most current Snapdragon 888 5G chipset. We found its primary and ultrawide cameras on the back to be quite capable with a good photo and video quality.

The good OnePlus traits continue with powerful stereo speakers and the incredibly fast 65W charging.

The OnePlus 9 is not without a few caveats, of course. The international model has no ingress protection, there is no zoom camera on the back, the selfies aren't that good, and most importantly - the battery life is uninspiring.

Still, those omissions aren't enough to distract us from this excellent versatile smartphone, and we do recommend exploring it.

Read full review

Best phones up to $500


Editors' choice up to $500

Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6a

Specs
  • Attractive, compact design that looks more expensive than it is, IP67
  • Bright and accurate AMOLED display
  • Good sustained performance from the Google Tensor this time
  • Extended firmware update support; Voice Typing and on-device language processing is excellent
  • First in line for OS updates
  • Great all-around camera
  • 60Hz refresh rate is not competitive for this price range
  • No 3.5mm jack, no charger

Then there's the Pixel 6a 5G that’s quite the deal. It packs a compact HDR OLED screen, offers excellent performance and top-notch camera quality via the dual-camera system on the back. The phone is also IP67-rated for dust and water resistance.

The Pixels are among the first phones to get the new Android versions, which is nice. The only issue we have with this 6a model is the lack of a high refresh rate support for the screen.

Red full review
Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Specs
  • It's an iPhone, and a 'cheap' one at that, as iPhones go.
  • TouchID!
  • IP67 rating
  • Apple A15 Bionic with 5G chipset
  • The camera takes some great photos and videos
  • Stereo speakers
  • While technically 'compact', the massive bezels mean small usable screen area
  • Apple’s excellent Night mode is sorely missed here
  • Battery life is only so-so
  • 60Hz LCD screen
  • No charger in the box

Apple released a new SE in 2022 and it's among our top picks for its incredibly compact and lightweight body. It's hardly perfect though, but Apple has the iPhone 13 mini and 12 mini for those seeking perfection. So, the SE has a dated a form factor introduced years ago and reuses a lot of the iPhone 8 bits. That means a single camera, a small battery, giant screen bezels and - TouchID.

The best bit about the iPhone SE 2022, outside its incredibly compact and lightweight body, is the chipset – it employs the Apple A15 Bionic chip with 5G, the same one behind the latest iPhone 13 generation. The A15 chip is more powerful than even the beefiest Android, and it'll remain capable for years to come, during which time it'll keep getting software updates - the iOS way. It's a very affordable entry into that iOS world too.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Samsung Galaxy A42 5G

Specs
  • Bright Super AMOLED screen, small notch
  • Eye-catchy design
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Very good photo quality, day and night
  • Impressive 4K clips from the main cam
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers
  • Slow to charge

The Samsung Galaxy A42 5G is still an excellent offer even if it’s a 2-years old phone. It has an AMOLED screen and flagship-grade performance in addition to its great battery life and photography skills. It even offers 5G connectivity at that price.

There is a catch, though. The screen is 720p resolution, and charging the beefy battery takes longer than we'd have liked it. Then again, at that price ($400 or lower, depending on the carrier), we are getting plenty, more than we would have hoped for, in fact.

Read full review
Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro

Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro

Specs
  • 120Hz LCD screen
  • Powerful enough Snapdragon 778 5G chipset
  • Rugged phone, IP68
  • Dual-camera on the back with a 50MP primary
  • Samsung DeX
  • No stereo speakers
  • LCD display may not be as attractive as an OLED

If you want a rugged, powerful and yet affordable smartphone – the Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro might be just for you. It’s a $500 phone with a 120Hz LCD screen, a powerful Snapdragon 778G 5G chipset, and a capable duo of cameras over at the back.

This Xcover6 Pro is part of the most recent update schedule by Samsung and will get Android 13 with OneUI 5. DeX support is also avaialble.

SPECS
Apple iPhone 12 mini

Apple iPhone 12 mini

Specs
  • Tiny OLED, high-res, bright
  • Iconic design with ceramic shield, aluminum frame, IP68
  • Powerful Apple A14 Bionic chip with 5G
  • The cameras take some great photos and videos
  • Night Mode and Dolby Vision available
  • Loud stereo speakers
  • Potential throttling under certain conditions
  • No charger, no headphones

The Apple iPhone 12 mini is quite cheap via T-Mobile ($499) and it’s one of the smallest flagships you can buy today.

The iPhone 12 mini packs a 5.4" OLED screen of 1080p resolution and the powerful Apple A14 chip with 5G connectivity! It has the same dual-camera as the regular iPhone 12 with great photo and video quality. It also enjoys loud stereo speakers. The mini is one of the most durable phones to date as it has the same Ceramic Shield and IP68 waterproofing as the standard and Pro models.

Read full review

Best phones up to $400


Editors' choice up to $400

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Specs
  • 120Hz Super AMOLED screen
  • Versatile camera
  • Decent performance
  • Stereo speakers
  • IP67-rated for dust and water resistance
  • No charger in the box
  • Downgraded since A52s in performance, 3.5mm jack, no Wi-Fi 6

The Galaxy A53 is a very good offer even if it’s a downgrade since the Galaxy A52s. The A53 is now competitively priced and offers IP67-rated design, a great 120Hz Super AMOLED screen, snappy performance with 5G, a reliable versatile camera setup with OIS.

The Galaxy A53 supports up to 25W fast charging, but the charger is sold separately. The missing Wi-Fi 6 and audio jack from the A52s are baffling. But even with these, it is one solid allrounder and deserves a spot on this list.

Read full review

Best phones up to $300


Editors' choice up to $300

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022)

Specs
  • 120Hz LCD screen
  • Powerful enough Snapdragon 695 5G chipset
  • Water-repellent design, stylus
  • Triple-camera on the back with a 50MP OIS primary
  • 5,000mAh battery
  • No stereo speakers
  • LCD display may not be as attractive as an OLED

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) can be found at about $300 and it’s an outstanding mid-range phone with a 120Hz display, good performance and incredibly reliable camera. The large battery is a thumbs up, too.

The Motorola Moto G Stylus 5G (2022) also offers clean no-nonsense Android experience. IF you can find this phone at about $300, you should get it.

SPECS
Motorola one 5G UW ace

Motorola one 5G UW ace

Specs
  • Big, HDR10-compliant screen
  • Water-repellent design
  • Powerful Snapdragon 750G behind the wheel
  • Very good photo quality, day and night
  • Clean Android experience
  • Comes with Android 10
  • No high refresh rate mode

Motorola's One 5G Ace, also available as Motorola's One 5G UW Ace for Verizon handset is a recently discounted powerful smartphone with the same Snapdragon 750G SoC and a big 6.7-inch HDR10-compliant screen. It definitely gives these Samsungs a run for their money. It has a powerful, unrivaled Snapdragon 750G chipset for the money, a big 6.7-inch display, HDR10 at that, and a solid 5,000 mAh battery to run all that.

The One 5G Ace uses the same camera setup as its rivals and doesn't miss on the microSD card, NFC and 3.5mm audio jack. More importantly, in typical Motorola fashion, the company made it splash-resistant - a nice bonus to have when buying a budget handset these days. And in case you are wondering, yes, the One 5G Ace works with Verizon, you just have to get the UW Ace version of the phone. It's the same phone but compatible with Verizon's 5G network.

SPECS
OnePlus Nord N20 5G

OnePlus Nord N20 5G

Specs
  • Vibrant and bright display
  • Lightweight and sleek design
  • Great chipset performance with excellent thermal management
  • Wonderful battery life and support for fast charging
  • No high refresh rate mode
  • Lacks ultra-wide camera and 4K video recording
  • Single loudspeaker is unimpressive

In the context of the US market, OnePlus is in a great position with T-Mobile and Metro to be offering smartphones in its Nord lineup that are well-equipped and intended for the pre-paid market. The Nord N20 brings a great AMOLED screen with in-display scanner, excellent battery life, all packed in an attractive and sleek plastic body.

Overall, the Nord N20 is a well-equipped device with enough features to satisfy the above-average smartphone user. It plays games very well - with minimal throttling - and it yields excellent battery life. Not to mention, it charges up very quickly thanks to the included SuperVOOC charger.

This display, although not a high-refresh rate one, is still brighter and produces a nicer image than equivalent LCD panels in this class. To wrap it all up, the Nord N20's Snapdragon 695 also brings 5G to this affordable price point.

Read full review
Nokia G400

Nokia G400

Specs
  • Big 120Hz LCD screen, GG3
  • Good Snapdragon 480+ 5G chip
  • Triple camera on the back
  • Clean Android experience
  • Large battery
  • No stereo speakers
  • 4GB/64GB version only

Nokia G400 is a very tempting offer in this affordable category. It has a 120Hz LCD screen and is powered by the rather good Snapdragon 480+ 5G chipset. The phone also features three cameras on its back and comes with a large 5,000mAh battery.

The Nokia G400 has no-nonsense design and runs on a clean Android 12. If you budget is around $300, you should give this one a try.

SPECS
Samsung Galaxy A23

Samsung Galaxy A23

Specs
  • Large 90Hz LCD screen
  • Quad camera on the back, OIS
  • 5,000mAh battery, 25W charging
  • NFC, FM radio, microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Splash protection
  • Mediocre screen quality
  • Lacks ambient and proximity sensor
  • Slow and laggy software

The $200 Galaxy A23 deserves a spot here. It has quite a few nice features like excellent battery life, a likable design, fast 90Hz screen, good photo camera quality (OIS available), and Android 12 with the latest One UI.

On the other hand, the Galaxy A23 is a slow phone due to the sluggish Snapdragon 680 chipset. It also lacks some basic features like ambient light and proximity sensors (virtual sensing). And the screen quality is not as we hoped it to be – read not excellent, but not that bad either.

While far from perfect, we can see why the Galaxy A23 can make sense for some people – it comes from a popular brand with the latest software and offers enough to be a good daily driver – like excellent battery life and good camera.

Read our full review

Best phones up to $200


Editors' choice up to $200

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Samsung Galaxy A13 5G

Specs
  • Large screen, 90Hz, small notch
  • Adequate performance for 720p OS experience, 5G
  • 50MP primary camera
  • Android 12
  • microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers, no UW camera

The $199 Samsung Galaxy A13 5G has a rather good 90Hz LCD screen and a large 5,000mAh battery. Its triple camera on the back is quite basic, but still better than many of the competitors in this price bracket have to offer.

The Galaxy A13 5G offers adequate performance via its Dimensity 700 5G chipset. It has no ultrawide camera or stereo speakers, though, not that we expected them at this price.

SPECS
Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

Motorola Moto G Power (2022)

Specs
  • Large screen, 90Hz, small notch
  • Adequate performance for 720p OS experience
  • 50MP primary camera
  • Android 11
  • microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Water-repellent coating
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers, no UW camera

The $199 Moto G Power has a 90Hz LCD screen and a large 5,000mAh battery – and that’s why it is one of the best phones under $200.

The G Power (2022) comes with water-repellent coating and offers adequate performance. It has no ultrawide camera or stereo speakers, but at this price point – we didn’t expect such features anyway.

SPECS
Samsung Galaxy A03s

Samsung Galaxy A03s

Specs
  • Solid build, good grip
  • Large screen with excellent contrast
  • Outstanding battery life
  • The daylight camera quality is good
  • Relatively recent Android and solid OneUI Core
  • 3.5mm jack, microSD, NFC
  • Subpar performance, lag is occasional
  • Dull screen colors
  • Sluggish charger, no fast charging support
  • Poor selfies, videos, speaker

The Galaxy A03s is a good entry-level smartphone - that's undeniable. It has a good screen, a reliable battery, a recent Android OS with OneUI interface, and a non-nonsense primary camera.

It is a cheap phone with rather cheaper screen and subpar performance, but at $169 we just cannot ask for more.

Read full review
Motorola G Pure

Motorola G Pure

Specs
  • Large screen, small notch
  • 13MP primary camera
  • Android 11
  • microSD, 3.5mm jack
  • Water-repellent coating
  • 720p screen
  • No stereo speakers, no UW camera

The $100 Moto G Pure has a large 720p LCD screen and a 4,000mAh battery. It is a cheap phone with clean Android, which also offers decent smartphone experience.

The G Pure can be found even cheaper across various retailers, so if you want the cheapest smartphone possible, keep an eye for this one.

SPECS

Most recent updates

November 23, 2022:Added iPhone 14 Pro Max, Galaxy Z Fold4, Galaxy Z Flip4, Google Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 7, Zenfone 9, iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, OnePlus 10T, Galaxy S22+, Motorola Edge+ (2022), iPhone 13, iPhone 12 mini, Galaxy Xcover6 Pro, Nokia G400, Galaxy A13 5G, Galaxy A23 5G, Moto G Pure, OnePlus 9 Pro, Galaxy S20 FE. Removed Galaxy Z Fold3, Galaxy S21 Ultra, Pixel 6 Pro, OnePlus 10 Pro, Galaxy S22, iPhone 12, Zenfone 8 Flip, iPhone 13 mini, Galaxy S21 FE, Pixel 6, iPhone 11, Galaxy A52 5G, Motorola Edge (2021), Nokia G20.

August 3, 2022:Added Galaxy S22 Ultra, OnePlus 10 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 5G, Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Asus Zenfone Flip 8, iPhone SE (2022), Galaxy A53, Pixel 6a, OnePlus Nord 20 5G, Samsung Galaxy A03s, Motorola G Power (2022). Removed Galaxy Z Flip3, ROG Phone 6s, OnePlus 9 Pro, Galaxy S21 5G, Zenfone 8, OnePlus 8T, Pixel 5a 5G, iPhone SE (2020), Samsung Galaxy A32 5G, Samsung Galaxy A12.

Dec 16, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy A32 5G with the Motorola One 5G Ace as our Editor's Choice in the sub-$300 category.

Best phones by category


Reader comments

  • Quericus
  • 01 May 2022
  • YeV

With the exception of 1+ this list also applies to the Canadian market; 1+ isn't widely available here. Nokia, Motorola, Google, Asus and Sony can be ordered by Amazon or some Staples or Best Buy stores. Samsung and Apple are the dominant bran...

Listen to this. I went to phone finder and selected all your options (except bootloader), and there are 14 results. Surprising not many. Samsung S10, S10e, S10+ Samsung M62, F62 Sony Xperia 5 II, 1 II, 1 III, Pro, Pro-I and LG V60 Here is t...

  • Anonymous
  • 04 Feb 2022
  • keI

i think the iphones are kinda overrated but still good list, found some great phones to recommend to family