Dozens of Android phones have launched in 2022, each muscling into the market and pining for your attention - but which are the best of the best?
At T3 we review all the latest and greatest handsets running on Google's operating system, which we've compiled into a handy best-of 2022 guide, pulling together the greatest flagships, alongside affordable and cost-effective alternate options.
Here are our top 3 Android phone picks, followed by the best of the rest:
The best premium Android phone experience goes to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. We called it "the ultimate flagship" in our review, because it quite simply betters any other Android handset out there right now.
On balance of cost to features, however, the best Android phone for most people
crown falls to the OnePlus 10 Pro. As stated in our review, this handset is "one step closer to the top" - yet it doesn't cost a fortune.
If you're looking to save cash but still get great features, then the best budget Android phone is the OnePlus Nord 2. That's what this brand does best: delivers strong without a massive asking price - but we still said in our review that it performs "well in all the key areas".
The best Android phones you can buy 2022
The top dog Samsung flagship delivers everything you'd expect and more - including a built-in S Pen stylus (like the old Note used to have) which we've found really useful for interacting with the additional software features.
Add great cameras - and we really love the exposed rear design of these four lenses - and battery life that starts off so-so but improved with learning, and you've got one killer flagship Android phone. It'll cost you a fair chunk, of course, but it's worth every penny in our view.
Take a read of our full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review for the full breakdown on why it's such a top pick
OnePlus has risen through the ranks over the years, always offering seriously big spec for a not-so-big price point. In this handset it's the stunning 6.7-inch screen that we found to be its main lure - especially thanks to its 120Hz fast refresh rate and high-res 10-bit colour depth quality.
Another headline grab that we really love about this phone is how fast you can charge it up - it only took us about 30 minutes to take it from empty to full. That’s game-changing - and it's a good job given the fact that the battery life is otherwise just okay.
Check out our full OnePlus 10 Pro review to read why we think it's the best Android phone for most people
OnePlus knows its stuff when it comes to making quality budget Android phones - and the Nord 2 is a prime example of that. The follow-up to the massively successful original Nord, the second-gen model shakes up the camera system, improves on battery life, and speeds up the performance. What was already a fantastic phone is now even better - indeed the best budget Android phone right now.
So why is it so cheap? Well, everything about this phone is good rather than great. You can’t expect it to smash any of the records set by the most expensive flagships, but what you will get is a solid, reliable handset that is excellent value for money.
Read our full OnePlus Nord 2 review where we explain why it has everything you could need from an affordable phone
Top Android phones 2022: The best of the rest
As Google is the godfather of Android, it goes without question that it makes the best pure Android phone in the Google Pixel 6 Pro - as the software is always one step ahead of anything else on the market, bringing the latest and greatest features.
Not only that, the Pixel 6 Pro's camera is astounding for point-and-shooting in all conditions - it's just a shame there's no zoom on board. There's Google's own processor, too, called Tensor that's super fast and crunches through images and tasks with such ease.
Like the idea of a pure Android handset? Read our full Google Pixel 6 Pro review to learn more
Oppo's Find X5 Pro is an ideal alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, delivering a gorgeous design finished in ceramic and a really impressive camera system. And just like the OnePlus further up this page, there's ultra-fast charging too.
If you’re big on photography then the Find X5 Pro is a stunner, its dual 50MP main/wide cameras and 13MP telephoto camera are able to take super pictures - helped along by Oppo's own processing hardware that helps it stand apart from the crowd.
Read our full Oppo Find X5 Pro review to get a better look at this stylish handset and what its cameras can do
If you're power hungry then the Xiaomi 12 Pro is ideal. It packs the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, just like a number of the 2022 flagships on this list - but in our tests it actually performed better than most of those! Smooth, fast and reliable: it's well suited to everything from gaming to photo editing. We've also been massively impressed by the screen, which offers heaps of resolution and brightness (including HDR10+ support).
There are some downsides though: the battery life only scrapes through a day - but at least you can recharge it in only 20 minutes thanks to 120W charging - while the cameras have limits, as there's no jaw-dropping zoom like you'll find in, say, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Read our full Xiaomi 12 Pro review to see if this power machine delivers all the right points to make it your perfect Android match-up
Although no longer the most up-to-date model in the series, you can buy the S21 Ultra for a touch less cash than the top dog S22 Ultra. This might clinch the deal for you - especially as the specification of both handsets is very similar, ignoring their differing designs.
The S21 Ultra also doesn't come with an S Pen stylus (the S22 Ultra does), but you can buy one and use it. Even without, though, the overall user experience is so strong, the cameras are super, and the high-end spec still delivers with aplomb.
Want to know more? Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review to get an idea as to why last-gen can sometimes be the best buy
The predecessor to the best all-round Android phone for most people, the OnePlus 9 Pro was the product release where OnePlus really found its feet, collaborating with Hasselblad to create a stonkingly brilliant camera system - which we found really impressive.
Add a gorgeous screen, stacks of power (yes, it's last-gen, but it's still strong), fast-charging that's still quicker than Samsung's best, and you've got one seriously capable Android phone here. Plus it's cheaper than the newer OnePlus 10 Pro, which is twice the reason to consider buying.
Read our full OnePlus 9 Pro review to see why this was the moment OnePlus really elevated itself as a cameras master
All about performance, the Realme GT 2 Pro is a mid-range smartphone in terms of price, delivering flagship-level specs and really fast charging (although not as speedy as the Xiaomi 12 Pro). Packing the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, it's super powerful and means it'll make most tasks a breeze - even if you're into the most demanding mobile games like Call of Duty Mobile or PUBG Mobile.
Another unique feature of the Realme GT 2 Pro is its design: the back of this Android phone is designed to look and feel like paper. While it won't be for everyone, we think it's nice to see something a bit different to the norm - especially in the green finish of our review product, as pictured.
Check out our full Realme GT 2 Pro review to see if this affordable yet high-spec handset with an eco-conscious design is the Android phone for you
Released just before Samsung's S22 series arrived, the 'Fan Edition' S21 Ultra's goal was to bring much of that flagship hype but in a more streamlined and affordable package - its 6.4-inch screen making it smaller than most flagships in this guide.
Job done in other departments, too, as we noted in our review: this lower-priced flagship is "a very capable piece of kit with a decent camera, powerful processing and a long-lasting battery". A good way to get many of Samsung's top-tier features, just for a bit less, then.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S21 Fan Edition review to see if you should be a mega-fan too
Best Android phones: extra information
The best Android phone for you isn’t necessarily going to be the most expensive or advanced phone, although of course you’ll find lots of big-name flagship phones such as the best Samsung phones in our list. While flagships are great choices for many buyers we’ve also taken great care to include phones for every kind of Android user, and for every budget.
The Android market gets ever more competitive, and that’s brilliant news for buyers: Android is the OS for many of the best cheap phones you can buy, many of the best compact phones, and almost all of the best gaming phones too.
Android phones also completely dominate the best foldable phones market: right now interesting new models from Samsung, Huawei, Motorola and more are currently competing for the folding phone crown, unchallenged by Apple.
Let's face it. Many, perhaps even most, of the best phones overall in 2022 are Android ones that deliver hardware and features as good as or better than any iPhone.
How to choose the best Android phone for you
When it comes to choosing the best Android phone, budget will probably be the single biggest factor that guides your hand. Will you go for the cutting-edge ultra-premium model? Or the second highest tier of still being premium, but without the most ridiculous features? Or are looking for a great bang-for-buck mid-range set? Or do you have a strict lower budget in mind?
Then, two of the biggest factors are size and the cameras. Phones are still creeping up and up in screen size, and some people want the biggest they can get, while some want to find a more one-handed phone, or a middle ground. Regarding the cameras, we all want something that can take excellent shots, right? But do you need fancy zoom lenses, or are you happy with a simpler array as long as it takes great shots?
Who are the best Android phone makers?
There are so many Android phone makers today that recommending the best can be quite a task. Here at T3 we think Samsung has consistently produced quality smartphones over many years, making it a no-brainer for this list. Chinese brands like Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Oppo also consistently produce phones with great hardware, too - but you might find the software can be a bit contentious at times.
So aside from a few exceptions - Huawei, for example, has no access to Google Play Store apps - all Android phones today offer a very similar and high-quality baseline experience. Maker choice really comes down to aesthetic preference and high level features and software - or you might get so used to one manufacturer's ways that you'll always want to stick in their stable.
How we test the best Android phones
T3 is one of the world's foremost experts in terms of reviewing and rating phones, and when it comes round to testing the best Android phones we've got a very detailed, multi-step process to sort the pretenders from the champs.
The first step we undertake is reviewing the phone from a design and build quality point of view. Here we want to discover exactly what the phone offers physically, aesthetically and in terms of connectivity. We're looking at general things like fit and finish here, too.
Next we're specifically looking at the Android phone's screen. We break the screen out as its own section as a phone's screen is absolutely critical to a device's usage experience. We want to know what its size, resolution, panel type, coating, brightness and features are.
We also evaluate what the Android mobile offers in term of core internal hardware. So we're talking about its CPU, GPU, RAM and storage specs. Crucially, though, as we understand that specs and benchmark scores on paper can only take you so far in any judgement, we actually use the phone thoroughly in a variety of applications and games to see just what the hardware is capable of in a day-to-day usage case.
Cameras get a lot of weight in T3's testing - as a person's Android handset is also their primary camera in most circumstances. We're looking at not just the quality and size of the phone's camera lenses, but also the types delivered (wide-angle, telephoto, macro, black and white, etc) as well as what advanced sensors are on board. Of course we're obviously judging a camera system's quality by the images it produces, with us looking out for key scoring areas such as accuracy of colour reproduction, detail, and so forth.
We then move on to testing the phone's battery life. T3 does this purely based on real-world testing, using a phone continuously for a series of days as our own and then reporting in on just how long it lasts.
We also compare the phone to other Android mobiles that offer the same sort of package or retail for the same sort of money to provide context.
Only then do we bestow a star score out of 5 and, if it's high-scoring, we then consider it for inclusion in our best Android phones buying guide.