We fully test every phone we can get our hands on here at Digital Trends, and after conducting hundreds of reviews, we’re confident in recommending whether a particular phone is a good buy for you.
After much debate and soul searching, we landed on the Apple iPhone 13 Pro as our top pick for the best phone available right now. One phone doesn’t fit everyone’s needs, so we have plenty of other great picks depending on what you’re looking for. Android fans will love the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and those looking to save money, or who want a smaller phone, have lots of choices as well.
Here’s why the iPhone 13 Pro ultimately triumphed, and our picks for other smartphone categories.
Of course, picking the best smartphone is only part of the battle — once you’ve decided which one is for you, you also need to buy it. We’ve included some handy links to buy each phone directly, but don’t forget to check for our deals posts as well, which will detail the best sales of the moment.
Dan Baker/Digital TrendsApple iPhone 13 Pro Best overall smartphone
- Packs lots of power into its size
- Incredible camera and video performance
- Very long-lasting battery
- Smooth and responsive 120Hz screen
- Comes with 1TB storage option
- No fast charging
- No USB-C
Why you should buy this: It’s the best smartphone around, with zippy performance, a great camera suite, and some gorgeous good looks.
Who it’s for: Anyone who wants the best smartphone money can buy.
Why we picked the iPhone 13 Pro:
If you’ve got the money, then the iPhone 13 Pro is absolutely the best smartphone around, and the device you should buy. Apple has pulled off another huge task, one-upping 2020’s iPhone 12 Pro and upsetting a legion of other smartphone manufacturers. With top-tier flagship power, a stunning display, an extremely long-lasting battery life, and one of the best cameras around, the iPhone 13 Pro is a triumph and the best smartphone you can buy.
We’ll start with the design because not much has changed here. The iPhone 12 Pro’s angular sides are still here, as is the stainless steel frame and range of gorgeous finishes. The notch is the largest design change made, though it’s still subtle. The new notch is slightly smaller, but also extends slightly deeper into the display, so doesn’t actually change much. Thankfully, the display it settles into is a stunner. The 6.1-inch Super Retina panel is clear and bright and finally uses the 120Hz ProMotion tech from the iPad Pro, making the performance seem even smoother and zippier.
It’s not just the display that makes the phone seem fast, because it is fast. Apple’s new A15 Bionic processor is extremely powerful and capable of handling anything you’ll throw at it. It’ll stay that way for years to come as well, thanks to Apple’s extremely solid update record, and with storage options starting at 128GB, you’ll have room for plenty of snaps and apps. The battery is excellent too, lasting for well over a day, with the possibility of lasting into a second day on light use.
The camera systems are, as we’ve come to expect, also excellent. The rear suite is comprised of three 12-megapixel lenses: A main wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, and an ultrawide-angle lens. This trio is powerful and capable, providing strong color accuracy and plenty of detail. The telephoto lens also has a macro mode, which kicks in automatically, and shoots surprisingly good images.
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro is perhaps the best all-around smartphone you’ll find, though it doesn’t come cheap. Prices start from $999, but you can also find it on every major U.S. carrier, and from a big range of retailers too. 5G is also included, making this a strong future-proof option. Truly, the iPhone 13 Pro is the best smartphone you can buy right now. However, with the iPhone 14 series landing soon, you might want to wait.
Best overall smartphone
Dan Baker/Digital TrendsApple iPhone 13 Runner-up best iPhone
- Fast and responsive performance
- Excellent camera and video capabilities
- Long-lasting battery life
- Supports most premium features
- Still no USB-C
- No higher refresh rate or telephoto lens
If the iPhone 13 Pro has one weakness, it might be that it isn’t as good a value prospect as the iPhone 13. While the iPhone 13 Pro is excellent, it isn’t actually that much better than its lower-priced sibling. At $799, the iPhone 13 offers much the same experience as the Pro version, with the same powerful A15 Bionic processor, 5G, a strong battery, and the latest iOS 15. It does miss out in a few areas, obviously. The frame is aluminum, rather than steel, and you’ll miss out on the telephoto lens and 120Hz as well. But if those features don’t tickle your fancy, then the chance to save $200 is one that’s hard to turn down.
Runner-up best iPhone
Andy Boxall/Digital TrendsSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Best Android phone
- S Pen is convenient and highly accurate
- Versatile camera takes great photos
- The latest processor for power
- Long software support
- Beautiful high refresh rate screen
- Not very fast battery charging
- Large and heavy
Why you should buy this: It’s possibly Samsung’s best ever phone, and the best Android phone around.
Who it’s for: Anyone looking for the best Android has to offer.
Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra:
Put simply, it’s big, brilliant, and the best Android smartphone currently available. The largest of Samsung’s S22 series phones, what the S22 Ultra lacks in pocket-friendly credentials it more than makes up for with cutting-edge tech. True, it’s massive, but if you’re looking for one of the best smartphones you can buy today, it ticks all the boxes.
The demise of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra left space for the S22 Ultra to step up as its sort-of replacement. Looks-wise, it takes its design inspiration from the Note 20 Ultra: Sleek yet all business, with its flush camera module, squared-off corners, and sharp lines. It’s also one of the heaviest smartphones around, weighing in at a hefty 228 grams — and it’s also not the best option for those who prefer to use their phone one-handed, at a chunky 9mm thick. It’s still a stunning phone though, with a matte finish that comes in a choice of five colors: Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, burgundy, and Pink Gold.
The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen with 3088 x 1440 pixels and 120Hz refresh rate impresses from the start, covered in Gorilla Glass Victus+, with support for HDR 10+, and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. This means everything looks stunning, even outdoors under the brightest sunlight.
Under the hood, the S22 Ultra packs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor in the U.S. (or the Exynos 2200 for those in the U.K. and the rest of Europe). You get 8GB or 12GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage space — but there’s no microSD card slot, so the storage you buy is all you’ll ever have. Nevertheless, those are some pretty powerful specs, which means this phone can handle anything you throw at it, from multi-tasking apps to the latest demanding games. The 5,000mAh battery will easily see you through a full day of heavy use or two days’ moderate use and Samsung’s added 45W fast charging too, though there’s no charger bundled in the box.
As you’d expect from the Galaxy-S range, the camera is impressive too, though it’s not a massive step up from the Galaxy S21 Ultra. You get a 108MP main lens, 10MP periscope zoom,