December 3, 2023

Famous high-end phones such as iPhone 13 Progoogle Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra It packs massive performance, stunning camera systems, and a host of features designed to make everyday tasks easier. But these premium phones come at high prices to match, which means they might not be the best choice if you just need a decent device without the bells and whistles.

The volume of options from a variety of phone manufacturers should make shopping simple, but sometimes even more confusing, whether you’re looking for a quality phone, a luxury phone, or an affordable phone like Pixel 5A 5G. The best devices in the market not only have different price tags but also have different camera specifications, screen sizes and storage capacity.

In this article

To help you read some of the terms and spend your money right, I’ve put together my tips for buying a phone in 2022.

How to buy a new phone: Top phone buying tips

  • Find out what interests you most: Is it the screen size? camera quality? battery life? This will help narrow down your choices. Phones like the iPhone 13 Pro, for example, pack almost as good cameras Compete with the quality you get from a DSLR. If you are a photographer, spending money here is a good idea. If not, you can probably save yourself a bundle.
  • Do not rule out the middle range: The features of last year’s flagship phones always flow into this year’s mid-range phones. You can get a great phone that does just about everything any premium phone can do for a fraction of the price. Google’s Pixel 6 Pro has a great zoom camera, but the base Pixel 6 has most of the key specs and comes at a more reasonable price.
  • Shop in sales: Look for great discounts and promotional deals around major holidays, especially Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday. Find out your grace period in case you need a quick return or exchange.
  • Last year’s phones: It can often be a big deal, too. Wait for this year’s launch to get last year’s phone at a lower price, when stores and carriers try to offload their existing stock.
  • Carry the phone to the store first: You may love or hate the way you look and feel personally.
  • Check if you have already invested: Have you already purchased a lot of iPhone apps and iTunes movies? Stick to your iPhone if you still want to access it. Likewise, if you’ve invested in a lot of Android apps, you’ll need to stay on that side of the fence. Otherwise, it is easy enough switch pads.
  • Buy a case and screen protector: You’ll protect your phone from costly damage, and increase your phone’s resale or exchange value when you’re ready to go.
Oneplus 9 phone connected with charging cable

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Smartphone performance against budget

In general, performance corresponds to cost. The latest and greatest technology usually comes at a higher price. Flagship phones have the best cameras, the most powerful processors and may even use the latest technologies like flexible screens. The high prices mean that these phones are only worth considering for those who want the absolute latest technology in their pocket.

However, not everyone needs such sophisticated technologies, or they may simply be unwilling to spend the $1,000 or more that is usually required to get them. Fortunately, the mid-range segment of the phone world has been one of the fiercest battlegrounds in which companies compete, resulting in some amazing phones that won’t break the bank. Features such as wireless charging and multi-lens cameras that were once the domain of the flagship are now common in mid-range phones.

Even budget phones will still offer good camera quality and enough power to enjoy all your daily web browsing, WhatsApp browsing, and Instagramming.

4G or 5G?

5G is the latest standard that promises ultra-fast mobile data speeds when you’re out and about. Like any new technology, it is common to see it on high-end devices but it is also common to find it in affordable phones as well.

5G coverage isn’t ubiquitous just yet, so it’s important to ask yourself if you need 5G speeds at all and, crucially, whether they’re available where you live. If you plan to keep your phone for at least two years, you can safely expect 5G to become more of the norm at that time. If you are aware of it now, you may feel that in nine months you will feel differently and you may regret not doing it sooner.

A hand holding a smartphone with glass buildings and a street in the background.

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Screen Size

All phones have gotten steadily bigger over the past few years, with the iPhone 13 Pro Max measuring 6.68 inches and the Galaxy S22 Ultra coming in at 6.8 inches. Small phones are not popular anymore but There are a few options to consider If you don’t want a huge screen to stretch out your pockets.

In terms of iPhone, your best option is the iPhone 13 Mini. With a screen size of 5.4 inches, it’s much smaller than its larger siblings, but it still packs the latest processors and delivers ultra-fast 5G speeds. Instead, the iPhone SE It is similar in size but has shorter specifications and comes at a more affordable price.

Two smart phones.

Andrew Howell/CNET

Camera performance

Camera features have been a major bragging point in modern phones, as manufacturers always want a bigger and more exciting number, whether that’s the number of megapixels or the amount of actual camera lenses. Three rear cameras are now commonplace — a regular lens, an ultra-wide lens, and a telephoto lens — even budget-focused phones have multiple cameras.

This is great, because more lenses means more shooting options when you’re out and about. But that doesn’t mean any multi-lens camera is as good as the other. As with processor performance, the more you spend, the better the results are usually, with the best cameras ever found on the most expensive flagships.

Galaxy S20

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Look for features like optical (not digital) zoom and night mode for better low-light photos and optical image stabilization. Sometimes these features may not be obvious, and it is not possible to judge the performance of the camera just by looking at the specifications. If you really care about your phone’s photography skills, take some time to look at the reviews and see how your camera performs before you spend your money.

Battery life

Most phones, from budget to flagship phones, can last you most of the day on a single charge. Larger phones may have larger batteries, but they also have larger screens and more powerful processors, so they suck up that extra power quickly. Few phones will give you more than a day of use. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Always plan to fully charge your phone overnight.
  • Look for features like fast charging, which allows your phone to get a large amount of power in a short period of time. Check to see if your phone has a compatible faster charger, as an old USB plug may not support it.
  • Your battery will last longer if you avoid more demanding tasks like gaming or video streaming. Keeping the screen brightness low will also help.
iPhone 12 Pro Max

Andrew Howell/CNET

Processor performance

High-end phones have powerful processors with up to 12GB of RAM. It is enough to make these phones do any task without effort, but you do not need to spend money on a flagship level to get great performance.

Most decent mid-range phones offer enough power to handle all your daily needs. You will still be able to play almost any game from the Google Play Store and Edit your HD photos In apps like Snapseed. There’s a little you can throw at most mid-range phones that they just won’t be able to handle.

As you move to the end of the budget, you’ll start to notice some slowdowns in things like gaming. More demanding 3D games may seem more difficult and may stop unexpectedly. However, basic tasks like sending emails, listening to Spotify and browsing Instagram shouldn’t be a problem.

How much phone storage do you need?

Most phones, even those on a budget, come with at least 32GB of storage, 10 of which can be used by pre-installed apps and the phone’s operating system. If you never plan to record any video and playing games is not your thing, 32GB might be enough, but other than that, you should consider 64GB as the minimum.

OnePlus 9 Pro Smartphone

Andrew Howell/CNET

High-end phones, especially those that can record high-quality 4K video, offer 256GB or more. With so much space, you don’t need to think twice about having to erase old files.

If the phone supports microSD cards, it’s different, as you can pick up 32GB (or larger) microSD cards for very little money these days, and inserting one into your phone will greatly increase the amount of storage you can access.

Bonus Features

Many of these features are now popular on phones at different price points and are worth keeping in mind when shopping.

  • Fingerprint Scanner or Face Unlock: There may be a scanner on the back, or even invisibly integrated into the screen. Biometric security, as it’s called, is more secure than having to remember a PIN.
  • Water Resistant: Do you often receive calls in the rain? Look for a phone that has at least an IP67 rating to keep it safe from water and spills.
  • Wireless charging: This is available on many phones, some of which now offer faster wireless charging speeds, as long as you use a compatible charging pad.

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