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The best Samsung phones: High-end, mid-range, and entry-level models
Samsung has been the king of the Android world for years now, and the South Korean giant’s lineup of phones has something for everyone. When deciding the best Samsung phone for you, there are a few things to consider:
- How far can you stretch your budget?
- How important is camera performance?
- Will you use your Samsung phone for gaming or demanding apps?
- What form factor do you want? Small? Large? Folding?
Once you’ve decided what’s important to you, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve tested and reviewed literally every Samsung phone on the market, boiling down the options to just six phones. If you want some more insight, check out our detailed buyer’s guide to learn more.
Get a great deal this holiday season
Looking for a great deal on your next Samsung phone? Right now, several phones are on sale for the holiday 2022 season. You can check out our full list of holiday and Black Friday deals, or check out the list below for the best Samsung phones on sale right now:
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus is the best Samsung phone for most people
If you just want a great Samsung phone, the Galaxy S22 Plus is the one to get. In fact, it’s also our pick for the best Android phone to buy, period. It hits all of the major points we look for in a smartphone: excellent performance, great cameras, and the best software support in the industry. Honestly, we struggled to find faults with this phone, and you will too.
Like all of Samsung’s premium S22 smartphones, the S22 Plus is built for speed. Depending on where you live, that means a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor or a Samsung Exynos 2200 processor, and although Qualcomm’s SoC edged out Samsung’s in our testing, both were easily able to handle anything we threw at them. Whether it’s high-intensity gaming or just scrolling through social media feeds, the S22 Plus took everything in stride.
Typically flagship performance means weaker battery life, but you’ve got nothing to worry about here. The 4,500mAh battery gave us seven hours of screen-on time on a single charge, which is more than enough for a full day’s use. In fact, it lasted longer than the S22 Ultra, despite the smaller cell. Charging is speedy too, going from 0 to 100% in 50 minutes during our testing. Granted, you will need to buy a USB Power Delivery PPS-compatible charger, which is not included in the box. Wireless charging is a bit slower, taking 90 minutes.
Although it got edged out by its more expensive sibling in our list of the best camera phones, the S22 Plus is still among the best you can buy. The 50MP main sensor, 12MP ultrawide sensor, and 10MP telephoto sensor all produced excellent photos in our testing. Often secondary lenses don’t perform as well as the main sensor, but our test photos showed excellent white balance and exposure across the board. That makes this phone an extremely versatile device for taking photos in just about any situation.
Other plusses are the streamlined design, bright 120Hz display, and excellent software features in One UI. While we were a bit put off by the amount of pre-installed apps the phone comes with, most (but not all) of them can be uninstalled. That’s a small price to pay for the plethora of customization options Samsung packs in its OS. The company also offers the best software support in the Android world, with four years of OS updates and five years of security updates. Of course, that’s a selling point for all Samsung phones, and not just the S22 Plus specifically.
At the end of the day, the S22 Plus is our pick for the best Samsung phone you can get for under $1000. Unless you really want an S Pen, you won’t miss anything from the S22 Ultra. The S22 Plus truly represents the best of Samsung, and we think it’s the ideal phone for just about anyone.
What makes it stand out
- Premium design: The slick, streamlined design looks and feels great.
- Versatile cameras: The triple-camera setup is great for just about any situation.
- Great performance: Whether you get the Snapdragon or Exynos version, the S22 Plus can power through anything.
- Gorgeous display: The bright, crisp 120Hz display is easily visible outside, even on sunny days.
- Good battery life: The S22 Plus will last for at least a day of use, and charges back up fast.
The Samsung Galaxy A53 5G offers unbeatable value
If you’re looking for a more affordable Samsung phone, the Galaxy A53 5G is easily our favorite. Coming in at roughly half the price of the pick above, this phone offers incredible value. It’s not flagship-level, but it hits all of the basics so well that average users won’t notice the difference.
Starting with the cameras, it features a four-camera setup that’s ready to take great photos in just about any situation. We were really impressed with the color accuracy, with a much less aggressive level of color saturation when compared to older Samsung phones. Our results from the macro camera weren’t the best, but the main, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses are all top performers, providing lots of versatility.
On the front side, the A53 5G sports a bright, crisp, and speedy 120hz AMOLED display. This beat all of the devices we’ve tested at this price range, and there’s an option to reduce the refresh rate to improve battery life. That said, this couldn’t be further from being an issue.
This thing is also a battery beast. It packs a beefy 5,000mAh battery, which translated into nearly two full days during our testing. Charging is also speedy, topping off in a little under an hour and a half. There’s no charger in the box though, so you’ll need to buy a compatible charger if you don’t already have one at home.
If we had to nitpick, our only complaint is performance. The Exynos 1280 is certainly fast enough for social media scrolling and other everyday uses, but it can’t compete with processors in more expensive devices. Unless you’re a big mobile gamer or want to edit video on your phone, this is a fine tradeoff to make for great battery life and a lower price tag.
What makes it stand out
- Versatile cameras: The quad-camera setup provides excellent results in a variety of situations.
- Long battery life: Expect the Galaxy A53 5G to last well over a day and a half, even without battery-saving mode enabled.
- Great display: The 120hz AMOLED display is crisp and bright, even in daylight.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the power user’s dream phone
If you want the best, most powerful Samsung phone (without dipping into foldables), the Galaxy S22 Ultra is it. The king of the S22 lineup carries the torch of the now-defunct Galaxy Note line to provide a power user’s dream phone, complete with an integrated S Pen. We were also pleasantly surprised by the new grippy texture on the S Pen, making it more comfortable to use.
Performance here is stellar. We experienced no hiccups, studders, or slowdown while testing the device on everything from social media to intense gaming. However, we were a bit disappointed by the lowest-specced model at 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re going to spend the money on a Galaxy S22 Ultra, the 12GB/256GB model is the sweet spot.
Another huge selling point for this phone is the cameras. You won’t find better cameras on any other Samsung phone, or perhaps any other phone on the market. It tops our list of the best camera phones you can buy, beating out the likes of the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. The quad camera setup provides excellent versatility and amazing results, topped off by a colossal 108MP main sensor. We ran it through the gauntlet of tests, but the takeaway is that every image was clean, sharp, and punchy. Unlike most smartphone cameras, zoom performance is also excellent, although results beyond 30x fall off rapidly.
Make no mistake about it, this is a large phone. The massive AMOLED screen clocks in at 6.8 inches, which is far too large to use with one hand. It’s one of the brightest and sharpest screens we’ve ever tested, but if you’re coming from a smaller phone, there will be a learning curve.
Now for the downside: this is a very expensive device. It starts at $1,200, and if you want to get the 12GB/256GB model we recommend, that’ll add another $100 or more on top. If you can afford it though, it’s worth it. This phone is an absolute powerhouse.
What makes it stand out
- Integrated S Pen: If you use it, this can be a game-changer for productivity. Or Candy Crush. Your call.
- Amazing cameras: This is the best camera phone on the market, bar none.
- Gorgeous screen: The S22 Ultra screen is excellent, setting a high bar for the competition.
The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the best foldable for most people
Foldable phones are still a relatively young category, but the Galaxy Z Flip 4 has far more advantages than disadvantages. If you’ve been eyeing a foldable for your next phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is the one we’d recommend for most people. It does everything a normal phone can do and then some, and you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy it, either.
The biggest selling point here is obviously the form factor. The clamshell design will be immediately familiar to anyone who used a flip phone in the pre-smartphone era, but it opens up into a sizable and (relatively) seamless 6.7-inch AMOLED display. In our testing, it wasn’t quite as bright or crisp as a traditional display, but it was more than good enough. However, it’s not as wide as a normal smartphone, which makes it much easier to use with one hand. There’s also a small screen on the front (when closed) that displays the time and notifications without having to open the device.
Although it works like a standard smartphone when open, the Z Flip 4 has a few software tricks that other phones can’t match. When half open, the phone enters “Flex Mode,” which essentially splits the screen into two parts. This can be used to display two different apps or two parts of the same app, for example, a YouTube video at the top and YouTube comments at the bottom. Our favorite integration is with the camera, which places the viewfinder at the top and the shutter button on the bottom for easy group selfies.
Speaking of the camera, the Z Flip 4 is certainly a capable shooter, but not quite at the same level as flagship devices in Samsung’s S-series lineup. It does serve as a great selfie phone, though. Apart from group selfies using the Flex Mode mentioned above, the smaller screen on the front can also serve as a mini-viewfinder, which allows you to take selfies with larger, more capable external cameras.
Apart from that, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a great little phone. Performance is stellar, although it does heat up a bit with extended use. Battery life is also significantly better than its predecessor, which was our main complaint about the 2021 foldable. It’s still limited compared to traditional phones (four to five hours in our testing), but that’s enough for a typical day. It took a little over an hour to charge while plugged in, or an hour and a half wirelessly. Once again though, there’s no charger in the box.
Ultimately, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a very unique phone that’s a lot of fun to use. For anyone looking to buy a Samsung phone, this is a great option with a design that’s unmatched by any other company.
What makes it stand out
- It flips: The clamshell design is a unique throwback to the flip phone era, with advantages and disadvantages over traditional phones.
- Very pocketable: The small size fits easily in pockets and purses and is great for one-handed use.
- Relatively affordable: You won’t find a better-priced foldable anywhere on the market.
The Galaxy Z Fold 4 is the best tablet replacement
While the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a productivity powerhouse, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 takes things to the next level by unfolding into a bright, sharp, 120Hz 7.6-inch tablet. To sweeten the deal, the interior screen is compatible with an S Pen, although there isn’t one included in the box.
The large interior screen is obviously the big selling point here, but the rest of the phone is top-notch, too. It features two of the same lenses as the S22 Plus, both of which are great everyday performers. The third ultrawide lens is also a nice addition, although we found it to have a slightly different color profile than the other lenses. The interior screen has an under-display camera to minimize its visual impact, but like others we’ve tested, the image quality is pretty bad. It’s fine for video calls, but that’s about it.
On the performance side, the Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 is more than powerful enough for smooth and consistent performance, even on the larger screen. Battery life also clocked in at a respectable four to five hours in our testing, although battery-saving features can extend this a bit further. It took nearly an hour and a half to charge from dead to full, so don’t expect the fastest results.
The biggest downside here is that this bad boy starts at $1,800, and that’s without an S Pen. That will run you either $50 or $100, depending on which model you choose, and with no pen holder in the chassis, you’ll probably want to buy a case for it, too. This isn’t a phone for anyone on a budget, although you can save a bit of money by picking up the Galaxy Z Fold 3 instead. Cameras are a bit worse, but otherwise, it’s still a very capable device.
What makes it stand out
- It folds: The phone opens into a very nice 7.6-inch tablet.
- S Pen compatibility: Get even more out of your phone with an S Pen (sold separately).
- Great software: Android 12L has been optimized for larger devices, providing a much better experience.
The Samsung Galaxy A13 5G is great for people on a tight budget
Finally, we have the best Samsung phone for those on a budget, the Galaxy A13 5G. It steps in for the much-loved Galaxy A32, which is tough to find these days and never really got its 2022 replacement. Don’t get us wrong, the Galaxy A13 is still a good phone given its combination of price and specs, it’s just not the home run that the Galaxy A32 offered.
Samsung’s budget range can’t be compared to the likes of the Galaxy S22 lineup, but we still think that there are options that represent more than enough phone for most users. In our testing, we achieved decent performance as long as you’re not gaming, great battery life, and a capable main camera. Photos were great and crisp in daylight, though swapping the ultrawide lens for a macro is disappointing.
Most cheap Samsung phones have pretty dated designs, but the A13 5G is a welcome exception. The camera lenses are nicely blended into the body, and the rounded shape feels comfortable in the hand.
At under $300, you won’t find a better phone in this price range from Samsung, let alone any other company. The only other option we’d consider is the A23 5G, but you’ll have to open your wallet a little wider.
What makes it stand out
- Incredible value: The sub-$300 price tag is just right — and it’s free at most carriers.
- Great battery life: This phone always lasted for longer than a day in our testing, often reaching two days.
- Headphone jack: Yes, Samsung still has one or two models with a headphone jack in 2022.
What we look for in the best Samsung phones
We’ve reviewed hundreds of Android phones over the years here at Android Authority, so we’ve developed a keen eye for what you look for in a smartphone. If you’re thinking of picking up a Samsung phone specifically, here’s what to look for:
Look for value
It’s tempting to jump right for the most expensive Galaxy S22 Ultra or Z Fold 4, but these phones offer much more than most users will ever need. For that reason, we recommend the S22 Plus from the premium lineup, since it hits the best price-to-performance ratio. Likewise for budget devices like the A53 5G and A32 5G.
Samsung phones all use the company’s in-house One UI software, which is a slightly tweaked version of Android with extra features. They also all offer four years of version updates and five years of security updates, so even the cheapest phones will remain up to date for a long time. However, phones on the low end will show their age much sooner.
Nowadays, megapixel counts don’t mean nearly as much as software smarts, but Samsung phones are generally great performers. They all tend towards heavier saturation in photos, for better or worse. However, rather than looking for high MP counts, we recommend looking for phones with dedicated ultrawide and telephoto lenses where possible. The added versatility is a big plus in your mobile photography kit.
Build materials and design
Price is generally the deciding factor in how good a phone’s build quality is, but there are a few things to look out for. For example, Gorilla Glass Victus is much more resistant than Gorilla Glass 5, although you’ll still probably want to get a case if you want it to last. Camera housings are another contentious issue design-wise, but if you are going to get a case, you won’t even notice it.
It’s tough to find a better value than ordering from Samsung itself. Amazon may offer faster shipping, but the Samsung website usually offers the best trade-in values and additional perks. For example, the Galaxy S22 series offered up to $200 in free Samsung credit with your purchase.