Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Smartphones are on the heart of our digital lives — they’re what we use to speak with family members, deal with necessary enterprise, binge on TikToks and every little thing in between. And because you’ll seemingly use your telephone greater than some other gadget you personal, choosing the right one to final you thru years of use is essential.

But with new telephones popping out seemingly each month, it may be laborious to determine which one is definitely best for you. That’s why we’re at all times testing the newest flagships from the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung and extra to ensure you get one of the best smartphone in your wants.

Best smartphone general

Apple’s iPhone 13 has a contemporary construct with an immersive show, with one of the best efficiency and top-of-the-line cameras of all of the telephones we have ever examined.

With its newest slate of smartphones, Apple constructed on our earlier general winner, the iPhone 12, in all the appropriate methods. The iPhone 13 boasts upgrades to the options we deem most necessary in the case of selecting a smartphone — the show, processing energy and digicam capabilities.

When it involves photograph capturing, the iPhone 13 leads the category at this worth level (for a nominal improve, you’ll have to spend extra on the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max). The telephone’s twin cameras — a 12-megapixel huge and a 12-megapixel ultrawide — together with Apple’s processing strategies work collectively to ship a photograph that works 9 instances out of 10. And that’s extra reliable efficiency than some other telephone — Galaxy S21 included — can ship.

The crucial enchancment this yr is in low-light efficiency, due to bigger sensors that seize extra mild, so even images taken in dim situations seem brighter and provide minimal to no grain. Typically, a photograph taken in low-light scenes introduces extra noise and grain, which reduces the standard of a photograph — an issue we discovered with most different smartphones’ cameras, however not with the iPhone 13.

3-iphone 13 underscored review

Jacob Krol/CNN

The iPhone 13, outfitted with Apple’s newest cellular processor, the A15 Bionic, additionally shone in efficiency, as FaceTime calls, looking the net, posting on social media, taking part in video games and even doing work all occurred promptly and with out hiccups. With giant exports in Pixelmator, the iPhone was three to 5 seconds sooner than iPhone 11, and an iMovie render of a 4K file was completed about 10 seconds sooner. Performance is on par with the Samsung Galaxy S21 throughout the board, although the iPhone was faster with focusing, capturing and processing a photograph or video.

Battery life is improved considerably over the iPhone 12. On a full cost, the iPhone 13 lasted for 14 hours and quarter-hour in our battery check, an hour and 45 minutes longer than the iPhone 12.

For those that both need to go smaller or spend much less, the iPhone 13 Mini has the very same function set — and related battery life — in a smaller housing with a 5.4-inch show for $699.

Best Android smartphone

If you favor Android, the Galaxy S22 (or the bigger S22+) are the way in which to go. These telephones provide lovely shows, lengthy battery life, very good cameras and a few of the greatest efficiency we have ever gotten out of a smartphone. Plus these telephones look nice, with a glass-and-metal construct that is available in 4 enticing colours.

Best price range smartphone

If you’re seeking to spend lower than $500, it does not get higher than the Google Pixel 6a. This slick telephone has the identical speedy Google Tensor processor because the dearer Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, delivers all-day battery life and will get you a clear Android expertise with no annoying bloatware.

iPhone 13

Galaxy S22 Bora Purple

Google Pixel 6A product shot


6.1 inches, 2532 x 1170 Super Retina XDR

6.1 inches, 2340 x 1080 AMOLED

6.1 inches, 1080 x 2400 OLED

Refresh fee





Apple A15 Bionic

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Google Tensor






128GB / 256GB / 512GB

128GB / 256GB



12-megapixel huge and ultrawide cameras (again), 12-megapixel TrueDepth digicam (entrance)

50-megapixel huge, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10-megapixel telephoto (again); 10-megapixel (entrance)

12.2-megapixel huge digicam, 12-megapixel ultrawide (again); 8-megapixel (entrance)

Size and weight

5.78 x 2.82 x 0.3 inches, 6.14 ounces

5.7 x 2.7 x 0.29 inches, 5.92 ounces

6 x 2.6 x 0.35 inches, 6.3 ounces





Foldable smartphones are choosing up steam. It’s at present a distinct segment market, however the folding way forward for telephones is thrilling. The new type issue permits for breakthroughs to occur in engineering and creates new experiences for us to make use of. A single machine may have the ability to sort out your communication wants and be a pill. From a way of life perspective, a compact machine just like the Z Flip could make your use of know-how extra intentional.

If we have been to choose one proper now, it will the Z Flip 3 5G. We’ve referred to as it one of the best foldable in the marketplace, and it’s comparatively inexpensive, particularly with a trade-in. It goes from compact with a tiny 1.1-inch display screen to a big 6.7-inch display screen when unfolded. It additionally launched at $999, which remains to be expensive however less expensive than the $1,799 Galaxy Z Fold 3. The hinge feels nice and has further options to make sure particles or supplies gained’t get caught underneath the show. The telephone incorporates a reliable set of cameras, particularly a large and ultrawide lens, with all the modes you can need.

As you’d count on, when testing a smartphone, we bodily change over to that machine for a time period. It turns into our day by day driver, with our SIM card inside, the apps we use and our contacts. That’s our real-world testing — utilizing it for telephone calls, texting with mates, capturing reminiscences, taking part in video games, chilling out with music, studying the information and taking in content material.

Additionally, we pay shut consideration to 4 particular areas. When evaluating a telephone’s construct, we analyze and check the design. Does it really feel good within the hand? Is it straightforward to carry, or is it a slippery mess? We additionally consider what forms of ports a telephone has and, in fact, test for a headphone jack. As telephones have been getting bigger and bigger, measurement is taken into consideration.

Performance covers lots — from the show to software program and even connectivity, with extra in between. To standardize the efficiency, we used benchmarks on every smartphone, and these are the identical exams we run on gadgets in particular person evaluations. A proprietary battery check and Geekbench 5 are the callouts. With connectivity, we examined each mobile and Wi-Fi in quite a lot of conditions.

With cameras, we tried to make use of them as you’ll. Capturing household at night time and through the day, testing the all-important Portrait Modes and simply common taking pictures. We shook our fingers to check stabilization, tracked shutter instances and noticed how lengthy it took to seize a photograph.

Battery life was a class of its personal to determine full run instances, charging instances and simply how a lot use every telephone might present. The CNN Underscored battery check consists of a 4K video on a loop that runs till the machine powers off. We make sure the brightness is about to 50% and switch off connectivity by way of airplane mode.

Our greatest price range iPhone decide, the iPhone SE delivers an entire lot for $429. You get the identical highly effective A15 Bionic processor discovered within the iPhone 13 sequence, in addition to 5G assist and a reasonably good digicam for the worth. If you’re married to the Apple ecosystem and on a price range, it’s a no brainer. But for everybody else, we expect the Pixel 6a’s superior cameras, design and battery life give it the sting.

If you’ve got the cash to spend and need an extra-large display screen, an included stylus and one of the best digicam on a Galaxy telephone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a good possibility. However, we expect the cheaper S22 and S22+ (which have the identical quick processor and a lot of the similar options) are the higher decide for most individuals.

The OnePlus 10 Pro is a worthy various to the Galaxy S22 and Pixel 6 Pro, sporting a fantastic show, a gorgeous design and particularly quick charging speeds. However, its efficiency and cameras can’t fairly sustain with our prime picks.

As the smaller model of our general decide, the iPhone 13 Mini merely shrinks the display screen to five.4 inches and packs a smaller battery inside. It nonetheless meets the identical excessive efficiency marks and lasts a full day. If you need a smaller iPhone, that is the way in which to go. Unless you’re quick on pocket area, we suggest the usual iPhone 13, as the additional display screen actual property makes it extra usable and the keyboard feels a lot much less cramped.

At $200 greater than the iPhone 13, the 13 Pro options an extra digicam for close-ups and the power to take macro photographs, and it ups the refresh fee on the show to a regular 120Hz. If you’re actually into pictures, we expect the leap is value it for extra particulars, colours and readability in all photographs captured on the machine. Besides these enhancements, it’s an identical to the iPhone 13, making Apple’s customary iPhone the higher alternative for many.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple’s largest telephone with a 6.7-inch show. Like the 13 Pro, it incorporates a high-refresh-rate show and a triple-camera system with LiDAR. If you’re utilizing the telephone as your major digicam, there’s a case to be made right here particularly for the enhancements with readability. And though it boasts the longest battery life among the many new iPhones, except you understand you’d use the digicam options, we’d nonetheless suggest the usual iPhone 13, because it performs simply as nicely in on a regular basis conditions.

The iPhone 12 was our earlier general decide and a yr later it’s nonetheless possibility. It boasts a twin digicam fundamental system with a 6.1-inch OLED display screen that impresses with vibrancy.

The iPhone 12 and 12 Mini are an identical aside from the display screen measurement, and that’s actually excellent news. With a 5.42-inch display screen, the iPhone 12 Mini is the compact telephone with no compromises. It has the identical digicam setup because the 12, and which means terrific images irrespective of the taking pictures situations. It runs iOS 14 simply as nicely and actually is a good alternative for individuals with smaller fingers.

Like the Pro iPhone fashions, the S21 Ultra goals to stage up the expertise with a bigger display screen, actually high-end aluminum construct and 6 cameras. Performance in our testing was actually on par with the S21 as an entire. Yes, the machine has extra RAM, however except working giant exports or utilizing the machine for video enhancing, the bottom RAM within the S21 is simply fantastic. The different boosts are within the digicam division. The twin telephoto lens, nonetheless, which permits for 10x optical zoom, was a recreation changer in our testing. We have been in a position to seize photographs from afar with a shocking quantity of readability for a smartphone; it’s a definite enchancment on the 3X optical zoom, plus software program processing on the common S21. If you don’t have to get these lengthy photographs, although, the usual Galaxy S21 is cheaper and practically as feature-filled.

Arriving 9 months after the unique S20, the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition acquired nearly every little thing proper. A $699 mash-up of Samsung applied sciences held collectively in a polycarbonate plastic construct, it delivers a triple-camera setup on the again with assist for Space Zoom. It can take good images and seize easy video, nevertheless it takes slightly extra work than our greatest general decide. The 6.5-inch Super AMOLED show on the entrance delivers a 120 Hz refresh fee. We want all telephones, together with the iPhone 12, provided the sooner refresh fee. Ultimately, although, the iPhone 12 is simply $100 extra, and the Pixel 4a 5G is less expensive.

There’s lots to love concerning the Galaxy Z Flip 3, from a smoother hinge that makes opening and shutting extra seamless to a bigger cowl display screen that’s lastly extra practical than gimmick. You can now actively see notifications, management playback and even monitor exercise all from the entrance display screen. The fundamental inner show is greater than the S21’s (it’s nearer in measurement to Samsung’s bigger S21+) with a 6.7-inch show that incorporates a excessive refresh fee. And it’s powered by the identical processor because the Galaxy S21 together with the identical huge and ultrawide lenses. That stated, we nonetheless don’t see a compelling argument for a folding telephone but, however in case you’re bought on the folding future, we’d suggest this one for it’s S21-like function set.

Samsung’s newest mixture telephone and pill is admittedly spectacular — it’s additionally $1,799, which is a ton to pay for a telephone. The software program expertise right here is extra desktop-like, with options for multitasking with any utility, and the Z Fold 3 provides high-refresh-rate shows, a sooner processor and a substantial enchancment within the general construct. Opting for a Galaxy Z Fold 3 permits you to do extra with only one machine, however there are some limitations with Android. There are additionally long-term sturdiness considerations with a foldable. Unless you’re an early adopter, decide for the standard non-folding smartphone.

The first Pixel of 2020 struck a very nice chord. At $349, it delivers a very stable expertise with an OLED display screen, a fingerprint sensor on the again and one digicam lens on the again. It’s a fantastic 4G LTE-capable telephone for its worth, however in 2020 we’re additionally targeted on longevity, and for slightly bit extra the Pixel 4a 5G will get you a extra future-proof machine.

The Pixel 5, at simply $699, is the high-end Pixel for 2020. But it doesn’t actually impress greater than the Pixel 4a 5G — it has a barely extra refined design and helps reverse wi-fi charging. Unless you’re a Pixel die-hard who needs a enjoyable colour, the variations are minimal and the 4a 5G is the way in which to go.

Motorola’s reentry into the flagship area was a blended one. The dearer Edge+ is a Verizon unique, and that’s simply no enjoyable. The Motorola Edge is a modest flagship with a show that stretches to the very edge (get the identify now?), actually spanning the appropriate and left sides. It didn’t add a lot precise use circumstances, although, and at $699 it fell to our then price range decide within the Pixel 4a 5G. However, now that it’s dropping beneath $300 throughout gross sales, it’s a worthy possibility for these on a good price range.

Our expertise with the primary era of the Razr was nostalgia-fueled however finally not foldable expertise. The second gen retains the long-lasting design and a hinge which you can bodily really feel. But the truth that it feels extra sturdy doesn’t get away from feeling the show fold and listening to it creak. We do just like the bigger show on the entrance over that of the tiny one on the Z Flip, although. And Motorola making it obtainable unlocked, as a substitute of locked to Verizon, is a good transfer.

OnePlus is thought for offering flagship specs and options at a worth that undercuts its opponents, and the $749 OnePlus 8T isn’t any totally different. It contains the newest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 865, 5G connectivity, a giant battery and 4 rear-facing cameras, together with a macro lens for these images the place you want to get actually near your topic. All OnePlus telephones are powered by Android and run OnePlus’ proprietary Oxygen OS on prime of it. The 6.55-inch show even has a 120 Hz refresh fee, however finally the OnePlus 8T fell quick from one among our prime picks attributable to unreliable digicam efficiency. Oh, and the truth that Samsung undercut OnePlus by releasing the Galaxy S20 FE that just about matches its specs however prices $50 much less.

The OnePlus 8 Pro was launched in early 2020 and stays within the OnePlus lineup as a higher-end possibility for OnePlus followers. It’s usually priced at $899, which is uncharted territory for an organization recognized for its low-end costs on high-end telephones. We reviewed the 8 Pro shortly after it launched and located it to be a incredible Android telephone, with a stellar show and robust efficiency with long-lasting battery life. The unlocked OnePlus 8 Pro lacks assist for mmWave 5G networks, sure to be a downside for some. The cameras are good however not on the identical stage because the iPhone 12, and at this worth it must be pretty much as good or higher to get a prime decide.

Microsoft’s reentry into the smartphone area was a singular one. The $1,299 Surface Duo doesn’t have a folding display screen, however quite two separate screens which might be linked by a stellar hinge. The design purposely doesn’t function any display screen on the entrance, and it’s meant that can assist you use your telephone with intention. And whereas the {hardware} is sweet, the software program expertise left us wanting much more. Android as an entire isn’t prepared for the two-screen revolution, and it was actually buggy when it got here to sending functions to the correct sides of the show. Still, we now have excessive hopes for model two.

Read extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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