Best smartphones in 2022

Best phone camera 2022: The best Android and Apple smartphone cameras to buy

Here at Expert Reviews, we test hundreds of smartphones every year. From the most expensive flagships to the budget handsets you buy out of sheer necessity, we run a series of pretty rigorous benchmarks to make sure we're as informed as possible. As a result, we’ve snapped test pictures with every single phone that comes through our doors, so we know exactly which phones have the best cameras for your Instagram food/pet/holiday pics.

If you’re keen on taking pictures or video with your phone, or you simply want to know that you’ve got a smartphone that’s great for taking holiday snaps, then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find our regularly updated list of the best phone cameras on the market, and a helpful camera buying guide – so you know exactly what to look for when you’re browsing the Carphone Warehouse website.

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Best phone camera: At a glance

How to buy the best phone camera for you

Megapixels aren’t everything

The first thing you need to be wary of is that megapixels aren’t everything. Pop into Carphone Warehouse and you’ll see the megapixel count listed next to the phone, but that isn’t the de facto indication of whether a smartphone's camera is any good or not. Higher megapixels might look like a bonus, but it largely boils down to the tech inside.

Aperture is key

The thing you need to look out for? Aperture. A number listed with an f/ in front of it might look a little confusing at first glance, but it says a lot about the camera you’re holding. An f/1.4 aperture is wider than an aperture of f/2.0 for instance, which means that the camera will let in a lot more light and thus, greater potential for detail.

Don’t forget pixel and sensor size

Pixel and sensor size is just as important as that f-number. In short, the size of each individual pixel (measured in um) determines the quality of the image. Unlike aperture, bigger is better when it comes to pixel and sensor size. Got a big camera sensor? More information can be gathered, accruing better dynamic range and reduced visual noise, while a bigger pixel size lets more light in, performing better in low-light.

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Best phone camera 2022

1. Google Pixel 6: The best phone camera yet

Price: £499 l Buy now from Argos

Jumping to the top of the podium, the Pixel 6’s cameras are simply remarkable. Featuring a brand-new 50MP sensor (as well as a 12MP ultrawide), the Pixel 6's top-notch photographic capabilities yet again jump to the top of the list. And when it costs this little, there's really not much point in choosing anything else.

The Pixel 6's wide f/1.9 aperture is well suited for low-light photography and in good light, the Pixel 6 produced pictures with superb dynamic range and colour saturation, while the white balance was nice and accurate. And with Google improving the performance of its HDR+ processing algorithms, it’s quicker to capture images as well. New features such as Magic Eraser let you remove unwanted objects and people from your picture with a simple tap, and “Face Unblur” does a great job at reducing blur on a moving subject as well.

Something else that makes this phone stand out is its portrait mode capabilities. Whether you use the front- or rear-facing camera, every portrait shot is captured beautifully, with nicely blurred backgrounds and crisp, definable edges around the subject. The Pixel 6 offers the best camera for your Instagram vanity shots and while it might lack the tertiary 4x optical zoom sensor of the more expensive Pixel 6 Pro, the regular model really does set a brand-new smartphone photography benchmark. Especially considering how little it costs compared to other phones on this list.

Read our full Google Pixel 6 review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 50MP, 12MP wide; Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 8MP

Buy now from Argos

2. Apple iPhone 14 Pro: Best for video

Price: £949 l Buy now from Amazon

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro is one of the most expensive phones on the list but it does a mighty fine job of taking reliable photos and crisp, steady 4K video at 60fps.

The 14 Pro has three cameras on the rear. The main camera yet again delivers sensor-shift stabilisation on a smartphone – keeping your videos as steady as can be – and is now in its second generation, with Apple improving the way it processes low- and mid-light images. The main camera has seen a huge resolution boost to a massive 48MP, with a 65% larger sensor, while the 12MP ultrawide sensor has doubled in size. The 12MP 3x telephoto module is the same as it was last year.

While still image quality is excellent – with the 14 Pro building on Apple’s excellent portrait mode – the best thing is the iPhone 14 Pro's video capabilities. Yet again capturing footage at 4K resolution at a maximum framerate of 60fps with support for Dolby Vision, no other smartphone’s video efforts come close when it comes to this level of quality. The Cinematic mode – which lets you shoot with a shallow depth of field with automatic focus transitions – has received a resolution bump to 4K, and the all-new Action Mode applies action camera-like stabilisation to your video.

It’s an expensive choice, no doubt, but that’s the sky-high price you pay for excellent-quality video on the go.

Read our full iPhone 14 Pro review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 48MP, 12MP (wide), 12MP (3x telephoto zoom); Aperture: f/1.8, f/2.2, f/2.8; Stabilisation: sensor and optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps with Dolby Vision; Front camera: 12MP

3. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: The best telephoto camera

Price: From £945 l Buy now from Amazon

Like its predecessor, the Galaxy S22 Ultra continues to raise the bar of what to expect in terms of smartphone photography.

Not only does it continue to be the only smartphone to support 8K resolution video recording (with remarkable results), but the Galaxy S22 Ultra's zoom capabilities are second to none. Offering a hybrid zoom range of up to 100x, the Galaxy S22 Ultra excels when it comes to telescopic photography, and the 108MP main camera is no slouch either. In our tests, we found that the Galaxy S22 Ultra was capable of capturing detail-rich images in well-lit environments, with superb dynamic range and rich, bold colours that look as if they’re going to leap straight off the screen. The phone's night mode also did an exceptional job at boosting the brightness of the image without adding pesky visual noise and blowing out street lights.

Useful photography features such as the ability to grab an image directly from any frame of an 8K video recording are also a huge bonus, as is the ability to capture in both JPEG and DNG formats simultaneously in the Expert RAW app on the Galaxy Store. So, if you need a flagship smartphone that can pretty much do it all in the camera department, as well as something that knocks it out of the park with telephoto images, then the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ideal candidate.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 108MP, 10MP (10x telephoto), 10MP (3x telephoto), 12MP (wide); Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 8K at 24fps; Front camera: 40MP

4. Apple iPhone SE 3 (2022): The best-value iPhone (with a great camera)

Price: £419 l Buy now from Amazon

Apple might prefer its customers to spend more on the iPhone 13, but the lower asking price of the iPhone SE 3 (2022) is well worth a look when it comes to the camera department. Powered by the same top-end chipset as Apple's flagships – the A15 Bionic – the iPhone SE may only be fitted with a single 12MP rear camera, but image quality is frankly exceptional for the price.

It also finally benefits from Apple's Deep Fusion tech, which improves low-light images, as well as Smart HDR 4, which enables the camera to detect and adjust exposure for each face in group shots. The photos we've managed to capture with the iPhone SE have been very good across the board.

Once more, Apple's portrait mode brings out the very best of the 12MP sensor, with crisp details and a rich palette of colours. In low-light, in fact, the iPhone SE 3 surprisingly holds its own against the iPhone 13 Pro Max, too. The A15 Bionic also allows for more even exposure levels and you can also record crisp 10-bit Dolby Vision HDR 4K video at 60fps.

In short, little comes close to the iPhone SE 3 at this price. Despite the lack of ultra-wide-angle and zoom options, the iPhone SE 3'scamera is an astonishingly capable one.

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 12MP; Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 60fps; Front camera: 7MP

5. Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G: The best budget camera

Price: £285 | Buy now from Amazon

Xiaomi continues its reign of technical wizardry with the release of the Redmi Note 11 Pro. Somehow, Xiaomi has managed to launch a budget phone with a massive 108MP camera, which is something that's frankly astounding for a phone this cheap, and it really impressed in testing.

For a mere fraction of what the most recent iPhone and Samsungs cost, this is a phone that manages to hold its own under scrutiny, taking Instagram-worthy pictures in a wide variety of lighting conditions and environments. Video recording is limited to only 1080p at 30fps, but for this little, the Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G barely manages to place a foot wrong elsewhere.

Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 11 Pro 5G review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 108MP, 8MP (wide), 2MP (macro); Aperture: f/1.9; Stabilisation: electronic; Video resolution: 1080p at 30fps; Front camera: 16MP

6. OnePlus 10 Pro: The best-value camera

Price: £800 l Buy now from OnePlus

OnePlus may not have the same high level of brand recognition as the likes of Samsung and Apple in the UK, but its flagship beaters frequently gain a lot of praise as great alternatives, and the OnePlus 10 Pro is the culmination of its smartphone achievements so far. Its trio of cameras impressed in our tests, with consistent colour balance, plenty of detail and very little visual noise. Paired against the iPhone 13 Pro, it even edged it in some instances, capturing clean and crisp images in well-lit conditions.

The OnePlus 10 Pro's night shots have also much improved, although these do look a bit soft compared to the iPhone. Other improvements and new additions for this year include the ability to take still images in 10-bit colour and RAW+ capture, which is a Hasselblad-tuned mode that combines three RAW frames to create an image with even greater dynamic range than in a regular RAW format. The new ultra wide camera is also capable of capturing both 110-degree and 150-degree fisheye images.

Read our full OnePlus 10 Pro review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 48MP, (wide), 50MP (ultrawide), 8MP (telephoto); Aperture: f/1.8; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 8K at 24fps; Front camera: 32MP

Buy now from OnePlus

7. Sony Xperia Pro-I: The best for photographic flexibility

Price: £1,225 l Buy now from Amazon

If there's one thing Sony has nailed in recent years, it's smartphone camera tech. After all, the company’s cameras are so good that many Android manufacturers use Sony sensors in their own handsets, and there's no sign that this will stop anytime soon, either. But, of course, the very best Sony has to offer comes in the form of its own Xperia Pro-I, a (very) high-priced flagship with one of the most comprehensive and well-thought-out camera offerings to date.

Its trio of 12MP lenses might not seem out of the ordinary, but the new wide sensor is essentially the same huge 1in sensor as can be found in the legendary Sony RX100 point-and-shoot camera line. In testing, we found that minimal processing was applied to images, with Sony preferring to present them as neutrally as possible – this approach pays off, especially when it comes to preserving shadow in certain HDR situations.

The Sony Xperia Pro-I is also set up with extensive manual control over your shots, with a full suite of modes built into the camera app. The dedicated two-stage shutter button is a huge bonus, too – we just wish it was cheaper.

Read our full Sony Xperia Pro-I review for more details

Key specs - Rear camera: 12MP, 12MP (telephoto), 12MP (ultrawide), depth; Aperture: f/2; Stabilisation: optical; Video resolution: 4K at 120fps; Front camera: 8MP

15 Best Phone Case Brands (2022) + How to Choose

June 24, 2022

Every person is unique—just like their phone case. Although mobile phones have been around for years, it wasn't until the introduction of Apple's iPhone way back in 2007 that we suddenly sat up and turned our attention towards phone case brands.

After touch screens hit the market, the best phone case brands floated to the surface as time passed. These top tech companies continue to refine their case materials based on your everyday needs and fantasies. Now, it's not unreasonable to expect your phone case to be fully compostable or for it to survive an unexpected drop from a 3-story building. Whatever type of mobile case you're after, you'll discover all of the best brands for phone cases right here.

Ready for the big reveal? Use the following links to skip ahead to the section that interests you the most.

In the next section, you’ll discover five brands that we think stand out amongst the crowd.

Our recommendations for the 5 top phone case brands

Image credit: Pela

If you’d rather take the wheel and do your own brand investigation, we’ve compiled a short list of the top phone case brands targeted to a handful of your specific needs. Use the following list to determine which one is right for you.

Best eco-friendly phone case brand: Pela Case Best protective phone case brand: Otterbox Best outdoor enthusiast phone case brand: Mous Best drop protection phone case brand: Urban Armour Gear Best waterproof phone case brand: LifeProof

Keep reading to see all of the phone case brands that made it into our top 15. Whether you’re buying a drop-proof case for slippery fingers or a compostable phone case for an eco-friendly mom, this complete list has a little something for everyone.

Pela Case ★★★★★ 48,000+ 5 star reviews | The internet's most loved case Protect your phone and the planet with the world's first compostable phone case. Pela Cases offer a serious drop protection without compromising on style. Over 857,205 people have switched to Pela. What are you waiting for? Shop our collection

The 15 best brands for phone cases

Whether you’re searching for a high tech, fashion tech, or green tech company, we've created a list of the top 15 phone case brands that you deserve to know about. Keep reading to discover more about each brand and a few of their most note-worthy highlights.

Pela is redesigning everyday products to create a waste-free planet. So, once this eco-friendly company discovered that over a billion phone cases are created every single year, they devised the ultimate sustainable solution: a compostable phone case. That’s right, your Pela phone case will break down into compostable soil within 6 months, leaving no harmful chemicals or residues behind. Can’t wait 6 months? No problem. Pela took it a step further and created the electric kitchen composter, Lomi. In less than 4 hours, Lomi will break down your organic food waste (and your Pela case!) into nutrient-rich dirt that you can use to nourish your garden.

Price range: Medium-High

Why we love this brand: We love Pela’s mission to create everyday products that don’t contribute to the world’s growing landfill waste. Their goal is to eliminate 1 billion pounds of plastic by 2028 with the help of community partners and everyday people like you! Pela is also climate neutral certified and a certified B corporation.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Pela makes the best phone cases that feature up to 45% plant-based materials in their design. The brand’s signature Flaxstic cases are truly sustainable yet, oh so stylish and silky-smooth to the touch. Plus, you won’t have to sacrifice on durability since Pela’s compostable cases can easily withstand accidental phone drops and scratches. Don’t believe us? Check out this video for the results of a 20 foot drop test.

Check out Pela's compostable phone accessories.

Urban Armor Gear (UAG) cares about offering you the best military grade protection that a phone cover has to offer. They make some of the best phone cases for tradespeople, construction workers, and anyone looking for a rugged phone case with military grade protection. From skateboarders to snowboarders, UAG covers protect your cell phone from any fall south of 16 ft. from the ground.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: We love that Urban Armor Gear uses recyclable packaging to ship their products to your door. Their phone cases are also recyclable but most of their products have a 10-year warranty so, you won’t need to buy a replacement any time soon.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Urban Armor Gear makes the best phone covers for drop protection. Their prices are also more approachable than other phone case brands that boast a similar amount of durability.

Although Otterbox was established in 1998, this company continues to push quality phone construction to its limits. Otterbox cases could be dropped in the middle of a road, run over by a car and still be in full working order afterwards.

Price range: Medium-High

Why we love this brand: When it comes to your phone protection, this reputable brand always tops the list. If you are eco-conscious, they even make some of the Otterbox cases with 50% recycled materials.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Otterbox makes the best protective phone cases for people who need a dependable and durable phone case. Otterbox phone cases also feature antimicrobial treatment options, MagSafe charging, scratch protection and non-slip polycarbonate shells.

Back in 2014, the founders of Mous saw an opportunity to create a phone case that felt “just-right”. They understood that drop-proof mobile cases were too bulky to be functional and thin cases were too flimsy to absorb the shock of a blunt fall. These challenges led Mous to the creation of their proprietary AiroShock™ technology.

Price range: Medium-High

Why we love this brand: They create phone cases that are ROHS & REACH certified. This means that the use of hazardous chemicals is restricted during product construction. We also love their line of Limitless magnetic cases featuring natural materials such as walnut, bamboo, and leather.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Mous creates sturdy and sleek phone cases that will be a welcomed companion to any outdoor enthusiast. They also create ultra-durable phone mounts for bikers, cyclists and motorcyclists and content creators.

LifeProof aims to push the boundaries of what a phone case can offer to outdoor adventurers. With this vision in mind, they decided to start small and create a line of drop-proof, dirt-proof, snow-proof and waterproof cases. Even with all of that under their belt, LifeProof continues to dream up new unique features for their tough covers.

Price range: High

Why we love this brand: LifeProof continues to introduce exciting new materials for their sturdy smartphone cases, such as antimicrobial coatings and recycled plastics. We especially love their range of WĀKE Lifeproof cases that are made using 85% ocean-based recycled plastics.

Why we recommend their phone cases: LifeProof makes the best waterproof case for snorkelers, surfers, kayakers, swimmers, beach go-ers and anyone who enjoys scrolling in the bathtub.

Check out the top 24 eco-friendly phone cases here

Tech21 heard the popular axiom “form follows functions” and created a phone case that could withstand a 10 ft. drop. Once they achieved this with their FlexShock ™ technology, they set out to become one of the best phone protectors with original style.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: Tech21 knows that one size does not fit all when it comes to picking out a design for your phone cover. They’re also constructing new case designs that are biodegradable and made from recycled materials.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Tech21 cases are shock resistant and feature dozens of colors and patterns to choose from. These creative phone case designs are a breath of original design and high-quality construction.

Although it’s getting easier to pay for things with a tap of your mobile device or watch, there are still a few valuable cards that you need to keep with you on the go. With this in mind, Smartish created the best wallet case to keep your photo ID or your precious coffee loyalty card.

Price range: Low-Medium

Why we love this brand: Smartish is on a mission to make your life easier by creating clever products with dual functionality. In addition to giving you an all-in-one wallet solution for your phone case, Smartish partners with the Austin Humane Society to help rescue homeless animals.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Smartish wallet cases are perfect for people who want a simple solution for carrying wallet cards along with their mobile devices. With a Smartish cover, you can also create a sturdy pyramid shape using just a credit card and your phone. Perfect for Netflixing on the go.

Speck’s goal is to bridge the gap between tech devices and our humanity. So, if you’ve ever dropped your phone on the bathroom floor while texting, Speck has a soft spot for you. That’s why Speck designs smartphone cases that you can show off and hold onto at the same time.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: Speck pushes for empathetic product design and partners with local charities who are dedicated to humanitarian causes. The Speck website itself also features an Accessible360 certification, ensuring that their digital products are accessible to users of all types.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Speck cases feature a non-slip grip construction and are both fall-safe and MagSafe. If you do happen to drop your phone- no worries! Their rugged cases include 13-ft drop protection and a Microban® shield to stop pesky bacteria from growing on your cover.

Moshi creates high-quality smartphone cases that exude craftsmanship and attention to detail. The company sees the pitfalls of excessive consumerism and wants people to invest in long-term, quality phone case options that will last for the long-haul.

Price range: Medium-High

Why we love this brand: Moshi delivers beautiful smartphone cases that are made with BPA and phthalate-free materials. The brand also offers vegan leather covers and a 10-year global warranty on all of their products.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Moshi uses clean, minimalist construction to create some of the best phone covers on the market. Moshi also devised a clever way to keep your credit cards safe. They developed a line of SnapTo™ slim wallets that magnetically attach to their SnapTo™ hybrid cases.

Loopy gets its name from their patented, interchangeable and adjustable super loops. One tear-resistant super loop is attached to the back of each of their phone cases. The result? You will never again have an excuse for dropping your phone in the middle of a failed selfie.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: Loopy is one of the best phone case brands for runners and individuals who are constantly on the go. They’re also great for anyone who always ends up carrying too many things at once.

Why we recommend their phone cases: These rugged cases were drop tested from a height of 6-feet and have a crack resistant shell, you won’t have to worry about slowing down any time soon with this phone case in hand. Plus, their durable super loop allows you to safely carry your phone using only one finger. Freeing up your other nine fingers for keys, wallets, bags, children and puppies.

Based out of Los Angeles, Bandolier formed their luxury phone accessory brand to disrupt the world of high tech with high fashion. Although Bandolier may stock the most expensive phone cases on this list, their patented crossbody strap transforms your cell phone into a sleek carry-on item.

Price range: High

Why we love this brand: Bandolier is one of the best phone case brands for travelers and chic city-goers who appreciate luxurious, functional, and stylish case design.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Their mobile case straps are both utilitarian yet complimentary to any concert attire or evening gown you might throw on before riding into town. The only downside of Bandolier is that this brand's cases are only for Apple devices.

From day one, Spigen (pronounced spee'gan) set out to create a sensible phone case that would fit their customers’ needs. Spigen, a name inspired by the German words, "spiegel" (mirror) and "gen" (gene), knew that technology would continue to advance and along with it, so would the expectations of their customers. So, after 15 years and 550 prototypes, you can trust that Spigen cases will protect your phone like a mother bear.

Price range: Medium-High

Why we love this brand: Spigen creates ultra slim phone covers that will withstand the tough times. We especially love their range of Enzo cases, featuring a Genoma™ Italian leather that’s produced chemical-free with the help of natural vegetable tanning.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Spigen cases are constantly being put to the test, which means you’ll have an exhaustive range of protective cases to choose from. Their rugged cases feature multi-layer design, strong polycarbonate, and carbon fibers.

If you’ve ever wanted to see llamas, hot dogs, peaches or a photo of your favorite beach on the back of your phone, then KaseMe is perfect for you. KaseMe supplies dozens of colorful patterns and designs for their tough or slim phone covers. For only a few dollars more, KaseMe offers a dedicated “Create Yours” tool that walks you through the process of designing your own phone case.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: We love KaseMe’s customizable phone cases and the work they do to support the One Tree Planted foundation. During checkout, you can opt in to donate a few extra dollars towards planting trees.

Why we recommend their phone cases: In just a few clicks, you can adorn your KaseMe phone cover with a picture of your dog in a tutu, your favorite spot to watch the squirrels or a drawing of your beloved monstera plant.

Nomad started their journey into the world of protective cases with a minimalist, ultra-portable phone charger. From there, their mission grew to build high-quality accessories for the 21st century nomad. Currently, Nomad specifically makes iPhone cases, but if you own an Android, this sleek case design may get you to consider switching over.

Price range: Medium

Why we love this brand: Nomad is the great brand for anyone searching for a slim and well-constructed leather phone case that will age well over time.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Their rugged cases have 6-10 ft drop protection, raised TPE bumpers for your phone's screen, internal shock bumpers, and are compatible with both MagSafe and wireless charging. To top it off, they source high-quality Horween leather for many of their products.

Ringke cases were created to compliment the original design of your phone's construction. They specialize in shock-resistant, rugged cases that are also transparent, allowing you to show off the natural exterior of your phone.

Price range: Low

Why we love this brand: Ringke creates covers for a wide-variety of smartphone models. Even models that are more than two years old. So, if you have an older device that’s still in good working condition, don’t throw it out! You’ll likely find a suitable case for it on Ringke’s website.

Why we recommend their phone cases: Ringke cases are a great option for people who want an affordable, transparent phone case that is durable and easy to grip.

6 things to consider when shopping for a phone case

Now that we’ve had a look at all of the best phone case brands, here are 6 key considerations to keep in mind while you’re shopping for the mobile case that works best for you.

How much the phone case will cost you: Remember that you’re paying to protect your phone. If you settle on a phone cover around the $10 mark, it may be a smaller upfront cost but it could cost you the price of your phone if it shatters the first time you drop it. Even $20-$30 will offer a little more durability.

How often you upgrade your phone: If you gotta have the latest mobile phone camera or the extra battery life that comes with a new device, look into Pela’s compostable phone cases. Choosing a more sustainable phone case will allow you to stay on top of the latest upgrades without creating additional environmental waste.

The type of phone case: If you expect to slip your phone into your pants’ pocket, a slimline case will be your best friend. If you leave your phone sitting in high-traffic outdoor areas or on a construction site, you may prefer a rugged/armor case to protect against high impact.

Features that make your life easier: Wallet cases may be the perfect solution for you if you’d rather not carry more than one thing at a time. Or, you might prefer a brand that offers MagSafe or wireless phone charging to make your day-to-day life more convenient.

The brand’s values: More and more brands are starting to give back to the community or environment around them. If you can’t decide between three brands that all offer 6ft drop protection, you may want to dig deeper into their ethos and how they’re using their brand for good.

Materials used in construction: It’s actually surprising how many different types of materials phone cases are made out of. From leather and walnut to polycarbonate and carbon, you’ll have to decide between natural fibers and plastic-based designs. Some brands are now developing cases that are BPA-free or REACH certified.

Which brand is right for you?

Image credit: Pela

We’ve looked at all the best phone case brands and what to look for in your next phone case. All that’s left is for you to decide which one is right for you! Maybe the best brand for you is the one that has a case to withstand any drops into your bubble bath. Or, maybe it’s a brand with an ethos that you can identify with and support.

It's a tough decision but ultimately it comes down! The best brand will tick all of your boxes and align with your core values. Whatever brand you choose, we know it'll be worthy of your cell phone.

Do compostable cases still sound too good to be true? Learn more about Pela's sustainable strategy here.

Written by: Anna Buck

Best smartphones in 2022

The best smartphones aren't quite as predictable as they once were with a number of new options emerging, including many in the $500-$750 range. Now you aren't going to get a folding screen or a 50x zoom at that price unless you bump up to the full $1,000 and up flagships, but those features don't matter to everyone.

True flagships still have their place, they push the boundaries of what's possible in a smartphone form factor, but some of the best smartphones can do everything most need them to do for far less. Whether you want the latest and greatest or just the best smartphone for your specific needs, it's a great time to be in the market for a new phone.

Google's new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro were recently announced and the blend of value, unique software offerings and typically outstanding cameras make them serious contenders for this list. Our reviews are just getting underway, but we'll have them soon. If you can't wait, Pixel 7 pre-orders are open already and if you are looking for a good deal on any phone then check out the Prime Early Access Sale October 11-12.

We've spent hundreds of hours reviewing and researching all of the best smartphones available today and whether you value productivity, photography, gaming, social media, videography, or battery life, these phones are the best of the best.

What is the best smartphone?

Despite the launch of the iPhone 14 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro is arguably still the best smartphone on the market for most people. You should be able to find it for under the original $999 retail price and the dramatically improved cameras, stellar battery life and unmatched software support make it a compelling smartphone investment.

Apple’s A15 Bionic processor in the iPhone 13 Pro has been overtaken by the A16 Bionic, but it still tops anything available outside of an iPhone. The triple-cameras on the back of the iPhone 13 Pro produce excellent photos and the best video of any phone on the market and it matches the camera specs of the iPhone 13 Pro Max identically.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

For Android fans, depending on your budget there are a number of other fantastic options as well. The Samsung Galaxy S22+ is the best Android phone for most people with its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and a triple-camera array that allows you to get fantastic photos near or far with up to a 30x digital zoom.

On the other end of the price spectrum is Google’s Pixel 6 , which at $599, is arguably the best Android value ever. The specs won’t blow you away, but Google's software support is unmatched on Android and the company's new SoC is surprisingly powerful. Google's photography remains unmatched in this price category. Check out the battle between two of the best smartphones on the market: Pixel 6 vs. iPhone 13.

If you're interested in other affordable smartphones you may want to check out our best budget phones, which sticks to sub-$500 phones including Google's Pixel 6a.

That’s a quick look at some of our top picks, but here’s a rundown of all the best smartphones available today.

The best smartphones you can buy today

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

1. iPhone 13 Pro Best smartphone for most people Specifications Display: 6.1-inch Super Retina 120Hz ProMotion XDR OLED (2532 x 1170) CPU: A15 Bionic RAM: 6GB Storage: 128/256/512GB or 1TB Rear camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.5); 12MP ultrawide (ƒ/1.8); 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) Front camera: 12MP wide (ƒ/2.2) Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Bright 120Hz display + Excellent camera performance + Unmatched software support + Outstanding battery life + Untouchable performance Reasons to avoid - Slow charging - Telephoto needs more reach - Notch needs to go

The iPhone 13 Pro claims the spot as the best overall smartphone for most users away from the iPhone 12. While the iPhone 13 certainly still has strong appeal at its more affordable $799 price point, there are far more compromises by going with the non-Pro models this year including weaker cameras, lack of 120Hz displays and a considerable drop in battery life.

The iPhone 13 Pro fixes all of our concerns with last year's model and with the exception of screen size it puts the iPhone 13 Pro on equal footing with the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This includes the incredible new triple camera system with unbelievable low-light performance when using either the wide-angle or ultra-wide lens thanks to new sensors and sensor-shift image stabilization.

While the A15 Bionic may be needlessly fast today, you'll appreciate it in a few years when your phone is still running circles around most of the competition and is getting day and date updates to the latest version of iOS likely through 2027. The $999 starting price may be daunting, but the iPhone 13 Pro is worth it.

See our full iPhone 13 Pro review

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2. Pixel 6 Best phone value available today Specifications Display: 6.4-inch FHD+ (2400x1080) OLED at up to 90Hz CPU: Google Tensor RAM: 8GB Storage: 128, 256, 512GB Rear camera: 50MP wide-angle f/1.85; 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2 Front camera: 8MP f/2.0 Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at John Lewis (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Excellent software support + Unique AI software features + Bright 90Hz display + Affordable price + 30W fast charging Reasons to avoid - No telephoto lens - No charger in the box

At $599 the Pixel 6 creates a clear upgrade path for Pixel fans coming from the Pixel 3a or Pixel 4a, who were underwhelmed by the Pixel 5a and want more without spending $1,000. The budget realm has been Google’s bread and butter over the last few years and the Pixel 6 may perfectly fit into an underdeveloped price range in the market.

While it may lack premium features found on the Pixel 6 Pro and some and other flagship phones from Samsung or Apple, the large 90Hz display, incredible primary camera and strong software support from Google may be enough to finally push a Pixel device into the mainstream.

Google has made it clear in recent years that it wants to be known as a great "value proposition" in the market and while it is trending out of the realm of what we consider budget phones, there is no better smartphone value today than the the Pixel 6.

Read our full Pixel 6 review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

3. Samsung Galaxy S22+ Best premium Android phone for most people Specifications Display: 6.6-inch Super AMOLED (2340x1080; 120Hz) CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128 or 256GB Rear cameras: 50P wide (ƒ/1.8), 12MP ultra wide (ƒ/2.2), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, ƒ/2.4), 10MP telephoto (3x zoom, ƒ/2.4) Front camera: 10MP (ƒ/2.2) Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at John Lewis (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Unmatched optical zoom + Gorgeous adaptive QHD+ AMOLED screen + Excellent battery life + S Pen support

Samsung's Galaxy S22 and S22+ didn't get the major overhaul that the Galaxy S22 Ultra did this year, but the relatively subtle changes to the already excellent Galaxy S21 add up to a phenomenal phone premium smartphone buyers that aren't swayed by the S Pen or 108MP camera of the S22 Ultra.

You would be forgiven for not realizing much had changed, Samsung's only design tweaks include new colors and the Contour Cut Camera housing now matches the back of the phone rather than using a contrasting color. However, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the new 50MP primary wide-angle camera sensor and Samsung's now Android leading four years of major OS and security updates are all significant upgrades over last year's model.

If you are in the market for a premium Android phone the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ belong near the top of your list.

See our full Samsung Galaxy S22 review

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4. Google Pixel 6a Best affordable Android smartphone Specifications Display: 6.1-inch OLED (2400x1080) CPU: Tensor RAM: 6GB Storage: 128GB Rear camera: 12.2MP wide-angle (ƒ/1.7); 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) Front camera: 8MP (ƒ/2.0) Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) View at John Lewis (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Excellent software support + Unique AI software features + Bright and colorful display + Affordable $449 price + Solid performance Reasons to avoid - Older camera sensors - Lacks wireless and true fast charging - 60Hz display

The Pixel 6a sticks to the same formula as last year's Pixel 5a, bringing many of the best features of Google's flagship phones to a sub-$500 price point. However, it has the benefit of following in the footsteps of the much more successful Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, which means it gets Google's powerful new Tensor chipset.

This is a dramatic performance boost from the Snapdragon 765G in the Pixel 5a and catapults the Pixel 6a to near the top of the performance charts in this price range. While it doesn't get the new 50MP primary camera of its pricier siblings, it still undeniably takes the best photos in the budget market.

Unlike some other budget phones *cough* iPhone SE *cough* you also get the exact same modern design as the flagship models and with its more modestly sized camera array and 6.1-inch display the Pixel 6a is the most pocketable and easy to carry of the current Pixels. If you are looking to spend the least amount of money on a phone that will deliver an excellent experience for several years then the Pixel 6a belongs at the top of your list.

See our full Pixel 6a review.

(Image credit: Future)

From a performance standpoint, the iPhone SE (2022) is an absolute marvel, featuring the same market-leading A15 Bionic SoC as the flagship iPhone 13 lineup. It's also a rarity in the smartphone world in 2022 for its 4.7-inch display, diminutive by modern standards. Combine this with the $429 price point, $270 less than the next cheapest iPhone, and you've got a winning combination for Apple.

With all of that said, there are certainly tradeoffs that Apple made to hit that price point. The iPhone SE 2022 still has a single rear camera and a relatively weak 7MP front-facing camera. Apple's computational photography continues to improve and it squeezes some solid results out of the middling hardware, but it's not up to flagship standards. The old-school design and Touch ID are something you'll either love or hate as it looks like you are carrying a 5+-year-old phone. Finally our biggest complaint was the relatively weak battery life, but if you are opting for the budget iPhone because you aren't a heavy smartphone user this likely won't be a problem.

See our full iPhone SE (2022) review

(Image credit: Future)

6. iPhone 13 Pro Max Best big screen iOS smartphone Specifications Display: 6.7-inch Super Retina 120Hz ProMotion XDR OLED with CPU: A15 Bionic RAM: 6GB Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB Rear camera: 12MP wide (f/1.5), 12MP ultra-wide (f/1.8), 12MP telephoto (f/2.8) Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (ƒ/2.2) Today's Best Deals View at John Lewis (opens in new tab) View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Beautiful, premium chassis + Excellent performance + Great battery life + Gorgeous display with 120Hz refresh rate + Stellar cameras Reasons to avoid - Really expensive no matter the config

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is overpowered, gorgeous and expensive. You don't want to go with the 128GB base model, but you can probably get away with 256 or 512GB of storage, which still means you are looking at a starting price of $1,199. If that's too rich for your blood then take a hard look at the iPhone 13 Pro or even the iPhone 13.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is a multitasking/gaming/photography machine without question. And it lasted over 12 hours on our battery test. But like the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the iPhone Pro Max 13 is really for heavy-duty users, not those of us who are just watching videos, trawling social media, reading books and texting,

So who do I recommend the iPhone 13 Pro Max to? Content creators, with a focus on photographers and videographers who maybe can’t afford something like the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema 6K camera. It’s also for people who love opulence, power and endurance and the iPhone Pro Max 13 has that in spades.

See our full iPhone 13 Pro Max review

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7. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Best foldable phone you should actually consider buying Specifications Display: 6.7-inch FHD+ (2,640 x 1080) 120Hz Super AMOLED CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 RAM: 8GB Storage: 128GB or 256GB Rear cameras: 12MP wide (ƒ/1.8); 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) Front camera: 10MP (f/2.4) Today's Best Deals View at AO - Mobile Phones Direct (opens in new tab) View at AO - Mobile Phones Direct (opens in new tab) Check Amazon (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Unique and stunning design + Bright, vivid 120Hz display + Excellent camera performance + IPX8 water resistance + Affordably priced Reasons to avoid - Terrible battery life - Lacks telephoto

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 should be the phone that takes foldables mainstream. While the battery life will undoubtedly present problems for some users, it isn’t an insurmountable issue and is worth the trade-off if you want a full flagship experience that can fit in any pocket.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 delivers what most people seemed to want from the iPhone 12 mini, an ultra-compact phone that doesn’t compromise on the flagship experience. The 6.7-inch, 120Hz display on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is second to none; the cameras produce fantastic photos and videos; and the Snapdragon 888 chip should be fast enough to comfortably last you through the four years of security updates you get with the phone.

We haven’t reached the point where there are no sacrifices when opting for the foldable form factor, but the Galaxy Z Flip 3 gets very close. If you are willing to work around the short battery life, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 delivers a flagship phone experience unlike any other.

See our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review

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8. Pixel 6 Pro Best affordable flagship phone Specifications Display: 6.7-inch QHD+ (3120x1440) OLED at up to 120Hz CPU: Google Tensor RAM: 12GB Storage: 128, 256, 512GB Rear cameras: 50MP wide-angle f/1.85; 48MP 4x telephoto f/3.5; 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2 Front camera: 11.1MP f/2.2 Today's Best Deals View at Amazon (opens in new tab) View at John Lewis (opens in new tab) View at (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Excellent software support + Fantastic and versatile camera system + Unique software features + Affordably priced + Bright 120Hz display Reasons to avoid - Unproven processor - No charger in the box

At $899 the Pixel 6 Pro is affordable compared to its flagship competitors, but it isn’t the immediately obvious value that the Pixel 6 represents. With the OnePlus 9 Pro hardware eclipsing it in some areas for around the same price and Samsung's now nearly one-year-old Galaxy S21 phones having dropped in price.

The unproven Tensor chip may be tough for users that only upgrade every few years to depend on its first-gen, particularly with a proven commodity like the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max. Google is back in the conversation for best pure phone camera on the market with the Pixel 6 Pro, but others beat it in some areas with Samsung's superior telephoto and Apple's video superiority.

While its raw numbers may not hold up to its competitors, Google’s entire pitch for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro essentially boils down to it being a phone that adapts to you. After having spent over a month with the phone now I love what I’ve seen so far and while it may not be envisioned when I asked for a flagship Pixel phone, it’s exactly what I wanted.

See our full Pixel 6 Pro review

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The OnePlus 10 Pro is a streamlined attack on the flagship phone market from OnePlus with a reduced price, competitive specs and a single model to avoid any confusion for buyers.

It gets the same new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor as other Android flagships, a powerful triple camera array with telephoto, a vivid 120Hz adaptive display, a new design to stand out from the crowd and solid software support to assure the phone is up-to-date for years to come.

The OnePlus 10 Pro at $899 is an outstanding value that for the right buyer is the best phone available today. It offers performance on par with anything on the Android side, battery life that rivals even the iPhone, a gorgeous display that is only outdone by Samsung and fast charging that still blows away any of the competition in the U.S.

See our full OnePlus 10 Pro review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag/Sean Riley)

10. Xiaomi 12 Pro Best alternative Android flagship phone Specifications Display: 6.7-inch WQHD+ LTPO OLED (3,200x1,440) CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 RAM: 8 or 12GB Storage: 128 or 256GB Rear camera: 0MP wide (ƒ/1.9); 50MP ultra-wide (f/2.2); 50MP 2x telephoto (f/1.9) Front camera: 32MP (f/2.45) Today's Best Deals View at (opens in new tab) View at Carphone Warehouse (opens in new tab) View at AO - Mobile Phones Direct (opens in new tab) Reasons to buy + Unmatched charging and battery life + Impressive triple 50MP camera array + Solid software support + Bright adaptive 120Hz display + Powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor Reasons to avoid - Occasional stutters in OS - Weak telephoto versus competitors - Generic design

The Xiaomi 12 Pro, starting at $999, is taking on the other flagship Android manufacturers on even ground and while that may be a slight misstep on the retail pricing front, the fact that it should typically be available for less means consumers will ultimately see it as the value brand.

To be fair, the hardware matches up well with anyone else on the market — from its beautiful LTPO 120hz display to its trio of 50MP cameras capable of up to 8K or 4K HDR 10+ video recording and powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. That’s before we get to its mind-bending 120W charging with the bundled charger and outstanding battery life.

Xiaomi has even addressed software support with its three years of major OS updates and four years of security updates commitment. However, we still need to see how fast it manages to deliver those updates. MIUI is a more significant overlay than most, but it’s good to see that level of support. While the camera performance and those occasional UI lags keep the Xiaomi 12 Pro from the top podium spots on the best smartphone list, it remains an excellent option that, with a few software updates, could be even more formidable.

See our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review.

How to find the best smartphone

There are dozens of smartphones released every year and it can be difficult to decide which is going to be the most suited to your needs. Here’s a good set of questions to ask yourself as you consider which of the best smartphones is right for you.

What’s your budget?

As you would probably expect, this is going to be a major deciding factor in your smartphone buying experience. There are three fairly distinct tiers in the smartphone market at the moment. Budget smartphones in the $250-$400 range can deliver a solid enough experience for many users, but will typically give up some camera quality, feature a weaker processor and offer reduced software support. Mid-tier smartphones in the $600-$750 range are enjoying a real resurgence at the moment with features that are just behind the flagships for hundreds less. True flagships start at around $999 and can go up to $1,400 and beyond, and as expected at this price, you should be getting a top-of-the-line processor, the ability to capture near DSLR quality photos and a fantastic display.

Android or iOS?

This could certainly be the first question you ask and will narrow your choices down considerably if you are set on one or the other. The truth is that the two operating systems are closer than ever in terms of overall functionality. Apple still delivers faster software updates, superior privacy and generally a better app experience. Android offers more customizability, a superior voice assistant, a wider variety of hardware and more user control.

(Image credit: Future)

How much battery life do you need?

All the rest of its features won’t matter much if your smartphone is constantly dying before the end of the day for you. We conduct our own battery tests to see how long they will last on a single charge. And while your mileage will of course vary depending on your tasks, it will give you a general idea of how they stack up to one another.

Do you prefer a larger screen?

While the big-screen trend has largely eliminated the truly small smartphones from the market, there is still a spectrum of more compact options. Smaller phones at this point come in at or below 5.8-inches and the largest options are between 6.5-6.8 inches. For productivity and content consumption, a larger screen is definitely better, but there is certainly a portability trade-off so consider what you can carry comfortably.

How much do you value the camera?

The camera is one of the biggest differentiators as you move up the smartphone tiers. There are budget options that can capture excellent photos. However, they’ll lack some of the advanced telephoto and often high-end video capture capabilities that you will find in pricier smartphones. If, like most people, your smartphone is your only camera, then it’s worth considering whether the added reach or resolution of a high-end smartphone will allow you to capture photos and moments you otherwise might have missed.

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