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Best phone showdown: The top iPhone, Galaxy, and Pixel models stacked up

Samsung, Apple, and Google have new phones -- so is it worth upgrading? With flagship models like iPhone 14 Pro Max and Pixel 7 Pro, it's tempting to buy the latest this holiday season. But there are other options if you want the best phone.

Samsung, Apple, and now Google have released new versions of their flagship smartphones this year, and with so many other great models on the market, choosing the best phone for you may be a daunting task. Things like battery life, storage space, and even health and safety features factor into how well a new phone will fit into your mobile lifestyle.

And whether you prefer Android or iOS-based devices, it's important to factor in pricing and device longevity when shopping for a new smartphone. Since new models are almost yearly releases, it sometimes pays to opt for an older generation phone than the latest and greatest. Not only can you save a bit of cash, but you'll also still get a lot of the same features, even if you have to sacrifice a bit of performance to do so. 

To help you decide which is the best phone for you, I've put together a list of the top smartphones you can buy right now. I've broken down their features and price points to help you find the best fit for both your budget and your needs.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Excellent battery life and fast-charging
  • 4K and Dolby Vision support
  • Wi-Fi 6 support
  • Satellite SOS and crash detection
cons
  • Satellite SOS requires monthly fee
  • Very expensive, especially at larger storage capacities
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage: UP to 1TB | Processor: A16 Bionic | Panel type: Super Retina XDR | Color: MIdnight, Space Black, Purple, Deep Purple, (Product)RED, Silver, Starlight | Battery life: 29 hours | Water and dust resistant: Yes

The iPhone 14 Pro Max is part of Apple's newest lineup of smartphones, and it continues to prove why the company is the king of mobile devices. The 6.7-inch display uses Apple's Super Retina XDR panel for bright colors, finer details, and enhanced contrast. It even supports 4K resolution for video playback as well as Dolby Vision for HDR. It also has the new Dynamic Island feature, which transforms that notch of dead space on previous models to a notification hub.

It's built with an all-new A16 Bionic processor which boosts speed and overall performance to make using the iPhone 14 Pro Max an entertainment and work hub. With support for Wi-Fi 6, you can get blazing fast wireless internet speeds even when an LTE network isn't available. And new sensors in the phone allow it to use Apple's new crash detection feature, which automatically knows when you've been in a car accident or have fallen and contacts emergency services. It also is equipped with the new satellite SOS system, which will allow you to call for help even if you don't have LTE service. 

Read the review: iPhone 14 Pro review

The battery has gotten an upgrade as well, giving you up to 29 hours of use on a full charge. And with the fast-charging feature, you can get up to 50 percent battery with just 35 minutes of charging; which is perfect for when you forgot to charge overnight and need to top up on your lunch break or during a work meeting.

Can't decide between the Pro and Pro Max? You can read our full comparison to see what differences there are between the two models.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 8K video support
  • Excellent rear camera
  • S Pen included
  • Up to 1TB of storage
cons
  • Expensive, especially at higher storage capacities
  • No Dolby Vision support
  • No crash detection
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.8 inches | Storage: Up to 1TB | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Gen 8 | Panel type: WQHD+ Edge | Color: Phantom Black, Green, Pink Gold, Bora Purple, Burgundy, Phantom White | Battery life: 5,000mAh | Water and dust resistant: yes 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was released in February 2021, and it has set itself up as the go-to Android smartphone. The 6.8-inch screen uses a WQHD+ panel to deliver more lifelike images, and it is equipped to handle 8K video playback as well. For storage, you can get up to 1TB of pre-installed drive space, and if you somehow need more room for photos, videos, and music, you can sync your phone to your favorite cloud storage service. 

Read the review: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

It's built with an 8th generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for enhanced efficiency and performance over previous Galaxy S models, letting you launch apps, text, and video chat more quickly and with smoother video. And if you're into photography, the 108MP rear camera has a 100x Space Zoom feature to capture clearer images of the moon as well as a night mode for capturing amazing images in low light.

The S22 Ultra comes with an S Pen stylus so you can navigate menus and apps or handwrite notes when you need to. And it can be stored inside the phone itself so you never have to worry about losing it. The battery of the S22 Ultra can give you up to 18 hours of use on a full charge, and with the fast charging feature, you can top up your phone more quickly when you forget to charge overnight.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Quality cameras all across the board
  • User-first software approach
  • 5,000mAh battery with LTPO display
  • Priced competitively at $899
cons
  • No 1TB storage option like Apple/Samsung
  • Stock Android can feel minimal
  • Capped at 30W fast charging
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage: Up to 512GB | Processor: Google Tensor G2 | Panel type: OLED | Color: Snow, Obsidian, Hazel | Battery life: 5,000mAh | Water and dust resistant: Yes 

Just announced, the Google Pixel 7 Pro impresses with an updated camera array that features a 50MP main lens, a 48MP telephoto, and a 12MP ultrawide that shoots better low-light photography than ever before. Like last year's Pixel 6 Pro, the new Google flagship complements the improved camera hardware with its tried-and-tested computational chops, including Magic Eraser for on-the-fly content-aware fill, a new Macro Focus for enhanced zoom-in shots (up to 30x), and more. 

That's not to take away from the overall design and performance of the Pixel smartphone. This year's Pro model still features the now-iconic Pixel camera bump that beams from side to side, polished aluminum build quality, and a vivid 6.7-inch LTPO display that refreshes between 1 to 120Hz. The larger footprint also gives room for a beefy 5,000mAh battery that should keep the Pixel running for hours on end. 

More: How to watch the Made by Google event and what to expect

At $899, the Pixel 7 Pro undercuts its closest competitors, the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Even then, you can expect snappy performance thanks to the Tensor G2 chip, with at least five years of consistent software and security updates. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Under $450
  • OLED screen
  • Adaptive battery
  • Titan M2 security chip
cons
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support
  • No 4K video support
  • No crash or fall detection
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.1 inches | Storage: 128GB | Processor: Google Tensor | Panel type: OLED | Color: Charcoal, Sage, Chalk | Battery life: 4,410mAh | Water and dust resistant: Yes 

If you're looking to buy a phone for your younger child or teen, the Google Pixel 6a is an excellent choice. It retails for under $500, which is great news for your budget and for parents of forgetful kids who may not be responsible enough for a more expensive smartphone. And just because the phone is budget-friendly, that doesn't mean that it skimps out on features. 

The 6.1-inch screen uses an OLED panel for better color volume and range, enhanced contrast, and improved detailing. The Google Tensor processor lets you launch apps, call, text, and video chat faster and more easily while the Titan M2 chip and Tensor security core protect the phone from spying and hacking.

With 128GB of internal storage, there's plenty of space for photos, videos, apps, and documents. And if you need more room, you can sync your phone to your favorite cloud storage service to free up your local drive. The phone is also water resistant up to 4 feet, so you won't have to worry about rain, sweat, or spills ruining the phone. 

Read the review: Google Pixel 6a review

The battery has an adaptive power mode, which automatically reduces power consumption when the phone isn't being used, which boosts the battery life to about 24 hours. This is especially handy since you and your kids won't have to remember to keep a charging cable handy while at work or school.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Alexa, Bixby, and Hey Google
  • Cover screen for notifications
  • Incredibly compact
  • Water and dust resistant
cons
  • Somewhat poor battery life
  • Expensive
  • Folding form may cause crease in screen
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.7 inches | Storage: UP to 512GB | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 | Panel type: Dynamic AMOLED | Color: Graphite, Bora Purple, Pink Gold, Blue | Battery life: 3,700mAh | Water and dust resistant: Yes 

Flip phones have made a (somewhat) triumphant return with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, once again letting you sassily hang up on someone by snapping the phone shut while also bringing the form factor up to speed with modern expectations. The Flip 4 is incredibly compact when folded, about 3 inches square, making it perfect for slipping into your pocket, purse, or travel bag. It also features a cover screen to provide quick, easy-to-read alerts for phone calls, texts, and app notifications without needing to open your phone. The folding form factor is also great for content creators, influencers, and aspiring photographers; you can use the phone as its own tripod when taking group photos, filming TikTok dance challenges, or setting up time-lapse shots of nature or cityscapes.

And not only is the Flip 4 compact, it's also water and dust-resistant, so rain, sweat, and everyday use won't be an issue. The screen uses Corning Gorilla Glass to protect against cracks, scratches, and chips while still giving you complete control over your apps and phone. And if you can't live without a virtual assistant, the Flip 4 is compatible with Samsung's Bixby as well as Alexa, and Hey Google to give you hands-free control over your new phone. 

Read the review: The Galaxy Z Flip 4 solves these two big problems for me

The one disappointing feature of the Flip 4 is the battery life. While it does give you up to 9 hours of use on a full charge, you'll likely have to keep your charging cable handy to keep your phone powered up for your commute and evening use. It does have a fast-charging feature, so you can quickly top up your phone battery on your lunch break or while you're in a meeting, which is great if you forgot to charge the night before.

Can't decide between the Flip 4 and Fold 4? You can read our full comparison to help you decide which is the right folding phone for you.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Great battery life
  • Fast processor
  • Up to 1TB of storage
cons
  • No satellite SOS
  • No crash detection
  • Still on the pricey side
More Details

Tech specs: Screen size: 6.1 inches | Storage: Up to 1TB | Processor: A15 Bionic | Panel type: Super Retina XDR | Color: Midnight, Blue, Sierra Blue, Gold, Graphite, Green, Alpine Green, Pink, (Product)RED, Silver, Starlight | Battery life: 22 hours | Water and dust resistant: Yes 

The previous generation of iPhones is still a great option if you're looking to upgrade, but aren't concerned with having the latest and greatest models. The iPhone 13 Pro offers up to 1TB of internal storage for apps, photos, videos, and music, but if you somehow need more room, you can sync your phone to iCloud to free up local drive space. The 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display gives you incredibly lifelike images with great color volume and detailing that's perfect for photography as well as streaming videos and video chatting with friends and family.

The A15 Bionic processor chip isn't quite as fast as the new iPhone 14, but still lets you quickly and efficiently multitask, launch apps, text, and call. The integrated battery gives you up to 22 hours of use on a full charge, letting you go all day before you need to even think about plugging in. 

Read the review: iPhone 13 Pro review

Aren't sure if you should spring for the iPhone 14? You can read our full comparison of the iPhone 13 and new iPhone 14 to see which model is best for you.

What is the best phone?

My pick for the best phone is the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It gives you up to 29 hours of use on a full charge as well as support for 4K video playback and recording with Dolby Vision HDR. The new A16 processor lets you multitask more efficiently while launching apps much faster. It also features Apple's new satellite SOS and crash detection features, letting you call for help even if a cellular network isn't available.

Best phone

Price

Storage

Screen size

iPhone 14 Pro Max

$1099

Up to 1TB

6.7 inches

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

$900

Up to 1TB

6.8 inches

Google Pixel 7 Pro

$899

Up to 512GB

6.7 inches

Google Pixel 6a

$299

128GB

6.1 inches

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

$850

Up to 512GB

6.7 inches

iPhone 13 Pro

$1000

Up to 1TB

6.1 inches

Which phone is right for you?

Choosing a phone can be a daunting task. But having a list of your must-have features can go a long way toward narrowing down your options. If you're a mobile professional or travel a lot for work, you'll want to choose a phone that can provide you with at least a full day of use on a full battery as well as both LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity. If you're looking for your teen's first smartphone, a budget-friendly and less feature-heavy option may be better to prevent overspending as well as misuse. And if you're a content creator or other creative professional, you'll want a phone with an excellent front and rear camera to capture photos and videos for your social media feed.

Choose this best phone...

If you need...

iPhone 14 Pro Max

A top-tier phone with cutting-edge features

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

A top-tier Android smartphone 

Google Pixel 7 Pro

A flagship camera experience at your fingertips

Google Pixel 6a

A more budget-friendly smartphone, or a first phone for kids and teens

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

A folding form-factor smartphone 

iPhone 13 Pro

An older phone that still offers great features

How did we choose these phones?

The process to make our phone selections includes testing the phones for weeks, researching reviewer guides and manufacturer websites, talking with colleagues and other users who have hands-on experience with the smartphones, and then selecting the best from all of the available choices. 

Over the past year, we tested new phones from Google, Samsung, Apple, OnePlus, and several others.

Which phone has the best camera?

It's debatable between the iPhone 14 Pro, Google Pixel 7 Pro, and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. For long-distance shots, the Samsung's 108MP rear camera with 100x Space Zoom can capture subjects as far out as the moon. For point-and-shoot pictures and a rather simplified (but effective) camera experience, Google's Pixel phones have always been at the top. If you're a videographer at heart, then the iPhone 14 Pro, with Cinematic mode and Action mode, makes for an excellent tool to get the shots you need.

How long should a phone battery last?

The average phone battery gives you about 22 hours of use on a full charge, which is great for staying connected on your commutes, work flights, and at home in the evenings. But that's just the average, actual use time varies by phone model and by what you're using your phone for. 

For example, the new iPhone 14 Pro Max boasts a 29 hour battery life. But you'll most certainly get less than that if you habitually scroll through social media or stream video and music. And the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 has just a 9 hour battery life, which is further reduced by streaming, social media, and making calls.

How much storage should my phone have?

Most smartphones have a base storage capacity of 128GB, which is plenty of space for average users to download apps and music, take photos, and shoot video. However, if you're a mobile or creative professional, you'll need more space. Many smartphones have expanded storage options up to 512GB or even 1TB, and you can always sync your phone to your preferred cloud storage service to free up local storage space.

Which phones are also worth considering?

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, there are tons of options out there. Whether you're looking to upgrade or get your first smartphone, Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus have great choices:

Editorial standards

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