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Best Samsung Phone for 2022

Whether you want the tablet-size Galaxy Z Fold 4 or an affordable device that covers the basics, there's something for you in Samsung's lineup.

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Samsung has a huge range of different phones to choose from, which can make finding the best model for your needs a bit of a challenge. If you want the best of the best, there's the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the most advanced phone in its flagship lineup with an S Pen stylus, impressive camera and hefty price tag of $1,200. On the other end, there's the budget-friendly Galaxy A12, which lists for just $180. And there are tons of different choices in between so you can find a Samsung phone that fits your needs and your budget. 

Whether you want a high-performance phone with incredible photo skills and a raft of exciting features, or a more affordable device that nails the basics, there's a Samsung phone for you. Right now, you can find additional deals on Samsung phones and more with CNET's ongoing coverage of the best Black Friday deals.

Samsung Galaxy phones: Prices and sizes

Model US starting price (at launch) Screen size
Galaxy S22 Ultra $1,200 6.8 inches
Galaxy S22 Plus $1,000 6.6 inches
Galaxy S22 $800 6.1 inches
Galaxy S21 FE $700 6.4 inches
Galaxy A53 5G $450 6.5 inches
Galaxy Z Fold 4 $1,800 6.2 inches (cover); 7.6 inches (main)
Galaxy Z Flip 4 $1,000 1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)
Galaxy Z Flip 3 $900 (new lower price as of 8/22) 1.9 inches (cover); 6.7 inches (main)
Galaxy A42 5G $400 6.6 inches
Galaxy A32 5G $280 6.5 inches
Galaxy A12 $180 6.5 inches

How to pick the right Samsung phone for you

Like many purchasing decisions, deciding which Samsung phone is right for you comes down to what you want in a phone and how much you're willing to spend. If you want the largest screen available on a standard Samsung phone, enjoy notetaking with a stylus and want a camera with a significantly closer zoom, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the right choice for you. But you'll also have to be willing to spend more than $1,000 unless you score a trade-in deal. 

Those who don't need the stylus, prefer more compact devices and still want a top-notch camera should consider the Galaxy S22 or Galaxy S22 Plus. And if you really just want the basics, like a spacious screen, 5G and a decent camera, consider the Galaxy A53 5G. If you want the flashiest tech around -- and you have deep pockets -- the company's latest Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 pack innovative foldable displays that are certainly eye-catching. Check out the entries in our guide below for more details on each Samsung phone, including their pros and cons.

It's also important to consider whether now is the right time to upgrade. If you have a relatively new phone that's two to three years old and still functions properly, you can probably wait. Phones like the Galaxy S21 FEGalaxy S22 lineup and Galaxy A53 5G all arrived in 2022, so they should still feel fresh and new. Samsung has also committed to supporting four generations of Android security and operating system updates on these devices.

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If you're ready to upgrade but can hang on for a few more months, you might want to wait before making a purchase. Since Samsung typically launches its new Galaxy S phones within the first couple of months of the year, we are likely to see a successor to the Galaxy S22 sometime between January and March 2023. 

Finding the best Samsung phone will ultimately come down to preference. Choosing among so many options can get complicated, so here's how to decide which Samsung phone is best for you.

Samsung

The $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra is Samsung's most expensive phone that isn't a folding phone. With its giant 6.8-inch screen and four-lens camera, it's best for those who want the largest screen and best camera possible in a new Samsung phone. Unlike last year's model, the Galaxy S22 Ultra also comes with Samsung's S Pen stylus at no additional cost, just like Samsung's older Galaxy Note devices. 

At 6.8 inches, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is noticeably larger than the 6.6-inch Galaxy S22 Plus and 6.1-inch Galaxy S22. The camera is also one of the biggest reasons you should consider this phone over Samsung's smaller and cheaper devices. While all three new Galaxy S22 phones can take better photos in the dark and have improved color and contrast, the S22 Ultra is the only one with two telephoto lenses. As a result, the S22 Ultra has the closest zoom of any Samsung phone -- and perhaps any phone, period. It also has a 108-megapixel main sensor similar to the one in last year's phone, along with a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera and the two 10-megapixel zoom lenses. 

The Galaxy S22's high price and large size are probably too much for most people, and its battery life could be better. But for those who love big screens and who really want a superior zoom camera and the S Pen for taking notes, the S22 won't disappoint.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

 

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The Galaxy S22 Plus is the middle child of the Galaxy S22 lineup, but don't overlook it. Its 6.6-inch screen size is just right for most people, it has a sharp new glass-and-metal design and the camera has gotten a major upgrade compared with the S21 generation. Although it's a bit pricey at $1,000, it feels like the right option for those who want a screen that's big but not gigantic paired with one of the best cameras around. 

Many of the updates Samsung made across the Galaxy S22 lineup are iterative, like the phones' new processors and refreshed designs. But the jump from the Galaxy S21's 12-megapixel camera to the S22's 50-megapixel camera is perhaps the most noticeable improvement. Both the Galaxy S22 Plus and regular Galaxy S22 have this new camera system, along with other internal camera enhancements, which results in better low-light performance, color and detail. The Galaxy S22 Plus also lasted the longest in CNET's battery test of Samsung's Galaxy S22 phones, although battery life still felt average rather than impressive. 

Overall, the Galaxy S22 Plus is the best choice for those who want a premium phone with a top-notch camera and a large, bright screen.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review.

 

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Android users don't have much choice when it comes to small phones, but Samsung is changing that with the Galaxy S22. The standard Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch screen, whereas many competing Android phones have displays that measure around 6.4 inches or larger.

The $800 Galaxy S22 otherwise brings many of the same benefits as the Galaxy S22 Plus. That includes a 50-megapixel camera with better low-light photography, a new processor and a revamped design that feels more elegant than the S21. It's essentially a smaller version of the Galaxy S22 Plus, except the Plus also has a bigger battery, faster charging and ultrawideband support. 

The Galaxy S22 is the best option for those who want a more compact phone that still has most of the premium features found in Samsung's bigger and more expensive phones. Just keep in mind that the Galaxy S22's smaller size also comes along with shorter battery life than the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 review.

 

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The first S20 "Fan Edition" seriously impressed us with its balance of performance and price, and the new Galaxy S21 FE takes that further with a solid triple camera, a vibrant display and the same powerful processor found in the flagship S21. It has a 6.5-inch screen, making it an ideal choice for those who want a phone that's larger than the regular Galaxy S22 without the Galaxy S22 Plus' high price. Although it's missing some of the Galaxy S22's bells and whistles -- like improved night photography and a newer processor -- this phone has a sharper front-facing camera for selfies and video calls.

The Galaxy S21 FE faces some tough competition from Google's Pixel 6A, but if you're after a great overall Samsung phone and don't want to pay top dollar for the flagships, then the S21 FE is well worth considering.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review.

 

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New for 2022, the Galaxy A53 gets you a plethora of Samsung features and power at a fraction of the S-series price. It boasts a far larger screen and more versatile camera cluster than the iPhone SE, though Apple's budget model delivers snappier performance. 

Still, Samsung fans will appreciate what they're getting here considering the affordable price. The Galaxy A53 5G has an ultrawide lens for taking photos with a broader field of view and also supports night-mode photography. Image quality isn't as good as what you'd get on a more expensive Samsung phone like the Galaxy S21 FE or Galaxy S22, but it's certainly clear and colorful enough for basic shots. Other highlights include a long-lasting battery, four guaranteed generations of Android operating system updates and a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

Overall, the Galaxy A53 5G is a suitable choice for those who prioritize having a large screen and long battery life for less than $500. Just keep in mind you might have to deal with some occasional lag, and the camera isn't as advanced as those found on pricier phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy A53 5G review.

$350 at Amazon
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Usually priced at $1,800 (yikes!), the Galaxy Z Fold 4 still costs substantially more than your average smartphone. But the latest version of Samsung's book-style foldable is filled with small improvements that add up to a much more pleasant overall experience. The hinge is thinner, the device is slightly lighter and the cover screen is a bit wider, making it feel more natural to use as a phone when closed. That's on top of other routine smartphone upgrades like a better camera that's similar to the Galaxy S22's and a new processor. Our reviewer Patrick Holland called it his "favorite Android tablet."

If you already have a Z Fold 3, it's not worth upgrading. But if you're willing to spend big (or can find a good trade-in deal) and are interested in a phone that can double as a tablet, the Z Fold 4 is the way to go.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review.

 

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If the Galaxy Fold is a tablet that folds in half to become a phone, the Z Flip is a phone that folds in half to become a smaller phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a generation older than the newly released Galaxy Z Flip 4. But we recommend it over the Z Flip 4, since it's cheaper while still offering many of the same benefits. The Z Flip 4 has a new processor, larger battery, a new main sensor for taking better low-light photos and a slightly tweaked design. That might sound like a lot, but these changes come together to make only a slightly improved experience over last year's Flip 3.

With the Z Flip 3, you're still getting a 6.7-inch display that folds in half and can easily slide into a jeans or jacket pocket. The cover screen is also the same size on both phones, and the Z Flip 3 and 4 each have similar cameras and 5G connectivity. At around $1,000, it's now the most affordable foldable phone Samsung sells. Unless you can find the Z Flip 4 at a discount that makes it the same price as the Z Flip 3, we recommend going for last year's phone.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review.

 

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Samsung

The A42 5G Android phone sits just below the A52, provides less RAM, loses the macro camera and has a lower-resolution front-facing camera. It still has 5G connectivity though, along with a bigger battery and a marginally bigger display, which could make it a great affordable Samsung phone option for those of you who watch a lot of videos on the move.

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If 5G speeds are your top Android phone priority but you don't want to spend much money, Samsung's Galaxy A32 5G is where you should be looking. Its low price makes it one of the cheapest 5G-enabled Samsung Galaxy phones that's possible to buy right now, and you still get a big 6.5-inch display and a multiple rear camera setup. It's not challenging the overall performance of the S21 line, but it's a solid all-rounder device for the money.

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The Galaxy A12 is one of the cheapest phones Samsung sells and it's the one to consider for those of you who simply want a phone for all of life's essentials. If you don't care for extravagant cameras or supercomputer-levels of processing power, you won't have to pay for them with this model. It doesn't have 5G, but it does have four rear cameras, a 6.5-inch display and a capacious 5,000-mAh battery. Given the generally low demands of the specs, that battery should easily last a full day.

The camera is one of the biggest factors that distinguishes the Galaxy A12 from Samsung's other less expensive phones. During CNET's testing, the Galaxy A12 took noticeably better photos than the cheaper Galaxy A03S and Galaxy A02S, especially in low light. Just remember you'll likely have to buy a microSD card since the A12 only comes with 32GB of built-in storage. 

Samsung also recently launched the Galaxy A13, which has 5G, more storage and a sharper 50-megapixel camera, which could be worth considering when searching for Samsung Galaxy phones.

Read our Samsung Galaxy A12 review.

 

Frequently asked questions about Samsung phones

Why buy a Samsung phone instead of other Android phones?

The right phone for you depends on a variety of factors, such as your budget, your current phone and whether you own other mobile accessories from the same company (like earbuds or smartwatches). Many people prefer to stick with phones from the same company because the experience is more consistent and there's less of a learning curve when switching to a new device.

The same holds true for Samsung; the company's One UI software (its customized version of Android) can be found across its phone lineup. Samsung also just announced the newest edition of this software, One UI 5, which introduces a more customizable lock screen and the ability to answer a phone call through a text message instead of speaking.

Consistency aside, there are some benefits to choosing a Samsung phone over devices from other Android phone makers. Samsung usually excels when it comes to display quality and brightness, and it typically offers a lot of choice in terms of size and pricing. Samsung phones usually offer decent battery life -- especially the middle-sized to large phones -- and the cameras are usually among the best, especially on the Galaxy S22 lineup. Samsung also offers four years of Android version updates for most of its new smartphones, which is longer support than even Google provides for its Pixel phones.

However, Google's Pixel devices also have stellar cameras along with specific software features you can't get elsewhere. The OnePlus 10 Pro is also a bit cheaper than the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra at regular price without a trade-in, and the international version offers blazing fast charging speeds. It could be a better choice for those who want to pay a little less but still want a giant 6.7-inch screen and triple rear camera, especially if you're located outside of the US and can take advantage of that speedy charging.

Which Samsung phone series is best, Galaxy A or Galaxy S?

Samsung's Galaxy A and S families serve different purposes, so which one is right for you will depend on your needs and budget. The Galaxy A lineup is Samsung's midtier and budget line, and it's the best choice if you're looking for a phone under $500 without a trade-in deal. These phones typically offer core features like a big screen, large battery and multiple cameras at a cheaper price. 

But you also get what you pay for. Samsung's cheapest phones have very limited storage space, poorer cameras compared to the pricier models and sometimes struggle with juggling multiple tasks. However, more expensive phones like the Galaxy A53 5G provide almost everything most people want in a basic phone, although you'll still have to compromise a bit on camera quality and general performance. 

The Galaxy S series, on the other hand, is Samsung's flagship smartphone line. Galaxy S phones usually include the best tech that Samsung has to offer at the time and include features you'd expect on any high-end phone, such as a premium design, 5G support, screens with high refresh rates and multiple high-end cameras. The biggest updates that launched with the Galaxy S22 lineup, for example, included the bump to a 50-megapixel main camera sensor with improvements to night mode photos and brighter screens. However, you'll have to be willing to pay hundreds of dollars more than you would for a Galaxy A series phone in most cases. 

How we test Samsung phones

We test Samsung phones similar to the way we test most smartphones: by evaluating core characteristics like camera quality, battery life, software, performance, design and overall value compared to competing devices. 

To assess the camera quality, we take photos in various lighting conditions to see how the camera performs in different scenarios. Then, we compare those results to the same photos taken on competing devices or previous models (in many cases both.) We also test various shooting modes using different lenses, specifically focusing on new or unique features (like the Galaxy S22's Ultra's zoom). 

We generally test battery life in two ways: by assessing how long the battery lasts during a typical day, and by seeing how long the battery lasts during continuous video playback. The video playback test isn't always included in initial versions of our reviews because it can take up to a full day to run. We typically use that time to test other aspects of the phone to provide a well-rounded review.

Performance is measured anecdotally by using the phone and through benchmarking apps. Design is subjective, but we look for things like build quality, how comfortable the phone feels to hold and how much screen space it provides for the size. For software, we look for unique features that may not be available on other phones, ease of use and update longevity.