Shopping around for the best Android phone you can buy in 2022? You’re in luck: the year has already yielded a cartful of fantastic flagships running versions of Google’s smartphone OS.
The tricky bit is picking which Android phone is right for you – especially when some of the top options take distinctly different approaches in their bid for a space in your pocket.
Spoilt for choice? The guide below pits three of our favourite Android phones against one another, in a battle for spec supremacy: the Samsung Galaxy S22, the OnePlus 10 Pro and the Google Pixel 6 Pro. Each offers a lot of smartphone at a similar price point – but which is best? We’ve covered all the numbers below.
Which price is right?
The slightly more expensive OnePlus 10 Pro starts at £799 for 128GB of storage space, rising to £899 for the 256GB edition.
Costliest of the bunch is Google’s Pixel 6 Pro, which costs £849/$899 for 128GB or £949/$999 for the 256GB variant. Need more space? There’s also a 512GB option in the US for $1099, which isn’t available to buy in the UK.
|Spec||Google Pixel 6 Pro||Samsung Galaxy S22||OnePlus 10 Pro|
|Screen||6.7in 1440×3120 AMOLED, 120Hz||6.1in 1080×2340 AMOLED, 120Hz||6.7in 1440×3216 AMOLED, 120Hz|
|Processor||Google Tensor||Exynos 2200 / Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Cameras||50+48+12MP (rear), 8MP (front)||50+10+12MP (rear), 10MP (front)||48+50+8MP (rear), 32MP (front)|
|Software||Android 12||Android 12 / OneUI 4.1||Android 12 / OxygenOS 12.1|
|Charging||30W wired, 23W wireless||25W wired, 15W wireless||80W wired, 50W wireless|
|Price||From £849||From £769||From £799|
Design & build: three forms of phone
Moving away from the modest styling of the Pixel 5, Google’s Pixel 6 Pro features an ‘edgeless’ back crafted from Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus. Tough enough to survive a tumble or two, the rear panel curves at the edges to neatly meet the alloy frame. The back itself is divided by a raised camera bump, so it won’t sit flush on a tabletop – but the design does give Google’s handset something distinctive, especially if you opt for one of the funkier two-tone finishes. Things are less novel up front, where you’ll find a notchless, all-screen setup, complete with a hole-punch selfie camera.
Samsung’s Galaxy S22 does less to break the mould, borrowing all of its style cues from the S21 before it. That means an aluminium chassis, smoothly rounded corners, a flat glass back (the first to be made from Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus) and a full-frontal display with uniform bezels. Also back is the familiar Contour Cut camera housing for the S22’s three lenses. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s certainly sleek and tidy.
Then there’s the OnePlus 10 Pro, which is somewhere between the two. Like the Pixel 6 Pro, it features a flat Gorilla Glass Victus back that curves to meet a streamlined metal border. Like the S22, it also sports a low-profile camera bump, although the 10 Pro’s is a square number with Hasselblad branding and a ceramic finish – which OnePlus claims offers superior scratch-resistance. As with the other two handsets, the OnePlus 10 Pro also has an edge-to-edge display, with an offset hole-punch camera.
Smallest and slimmest of the trio is the Galaxy S22, which measures in at 168g light and 7.6mm thin. The Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro are more comparable, hitting the scales at 210g and 201g respectively – with similar thicknesses of 8.9mm and 8.6mm.
Display: a matter of inches
All three of our Android contenders have frame-filling displays front and centre. None are cursed by a notch, and each ships with a hole-punch selfie camera setup – centred on the Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22, offset to the left on the OnePlus 10 Pro. Despite these apparent similarities, though, there are a few subtle but key differences between the trio.
Google’s Pixel 6 has the squarest corners of the bunch, while only the S22 benefits from uniform bezels: both the Pixel 6 Pro and the 10 Pro have thicker borders top and bottom, with slimmer bezels where the front panel curves to meet the chassis at the sides.
Size sets the Galaxy S22 apart from the other two: its 6.1in panel is the smallest, with both the Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro featuring 6.7in displays. A more comparable 6.6in screen can be found on the Samsung Galaxy S22+, but this starts at the significantly higher price of £949/$1000.
All three are AMOLED displays and all three offer dynamic refresh rates for enhanced power efficiency, based on the task at hand. But the Galaxy S22 again loses out here: its visuals top out a slick 120Hz, but the lowest rate it can dynamically drop to is 48Hz. Thanks to variable LTPO display tech, the Pixel 6 Pro has a much lower minimum of 10Hz, while the OnePlus 10 Pro trumps both by going as low as 1Hz.
As for resolution, the S22 serves up a respectable 1080×2340 (422ppi) pixel array – but the Google Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro beat it again, with 1440×3120 (512ppi) and 1440×3216 (526ppi) respectively. None of the three will leave you squinting, but if you’re shopping for the best Android phone for ogling, the OnePlus 10 Pro takes the win on price-per-pixel.
Cameras: lens envy
With multiple lenses sprouting on most Android smartphones, there’s more scope than ever for mobile makers to go their own way with camera tech. So it is with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 Pro.
Google’s Pixel 6 Pro ships with a capable trio of rear sensors: a 50MP f/1.85 main camera, flanked by a 48MP telephoto with 4x optical zoom and a 12MP f/2.2 ultra wide with a 114° field of view.
Samsung also gives its Galaxy S22 the three-cam treatment. A 50MP f/1.8 wide camera is on main shooting duties, with a 10MP f/2.4 telephoto backing it up with 3x zoom. A 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide also offers a 120° field of view.
Does the OnePlus 10 Pro win the numbers game when it comes to photography chops? It gives it a good shot: the main camera uses an optically stabilised 1/1.43in Sony sensor with a 48MP resolution and f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto offers 3.3x optical zoom and shoots at 8MP. OnePlus has also thrown the wide stuff wide open, with a 50MP ultra-wide that can cover a huge 150° field of view. All three of the 10 Pro’s cameras can shoot in full 10-bit colour, and each supports Hasselblad’s Natural Colour Calibration for more immersive saturation.
Selfie fiend? The Pixel 6 uses an 8MP front-facing camera, while the Galaxy S22 shoots at 10MP. The OnePlus 10 Pro bests them both by deploying a 32MP Sony sensor for super-sharp self-shots.
Until we’ve fully tested each of these Android phones side-by-side, it won’t be possible to say which offers the best bang-for-buck camera performance. Google’s known for utilising software smarts to improve imaging results; how this stacks up against the S22’s solid specs and the Hasselblad magic of the OnePlus remains to be seen.
Performance & battery life: size matters
Performance is always tricky to compare on paper, particularly given that each of these phones runs a different take on Android. Only a direct comparison test will determine the real winner, but the numbers give some indication of which hardware package is the most powerful. We know that the Galaxy S22 ships with 8GB of RAM, the Pixel 6 Pro with 12GB, and the OnePlus 10 Pro can be specified 8GB or 12GB.
We also know that Google’s equipped the Pixel 6 Pro with its first ever in-house chip: the Tensor Processing Unit. With tighter integration of software and hardware, the TPU is touted to deliver major improvements in machine-learning, as well as the engine powering voice commands. Among the many cores are a pair of punchy Cortex-X1 numbers, plus a 20-core GPU and Titan M2 security ship.
Depending on your region, the Samsung Galaxy S22 ships with either Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor or Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 (as is the case in Europe). The former is the beefier chip, although both are octa-core setups featuring Cortex-X2 hardware. GPU specs also vary by location, although the S22 is no gaming slouch in either guise.
No such uncertainty with the OnePlus 10 Pro: powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, it deploys Qualcomm’s 7th Gen AI Engine (reportedly four times faster than its predecessor) and a redesigned Qualcomm Adreno GPU that’s meant to be 25% more efficient. Add rapid LPDDR5 RAM into the mix, plus what OnePlus is calling “the most advanced cooling system ever on a OnePlus smartphone” and the 10 Pro shapes up as quite the powerhouse.
It’s equally beefy in the battery department, benefiting from a 5000mAh cell to match the Pixel 6 Pro’s equivalent capacity. Samsung’s not so strong, with a smaller 3700mAh tank inside the Galaxy S22. Interestingly, even if you shell out extra cash for the larger Galaxy S22+, you still only get a 4500mAh cell.
When it comes to refuelling, the OnePlus 10 Pro is the clear winner: 80W wired charging can fill its cell in a supremely speedy 32 minutes, while 50W wireless charging will do the same in 47. Both rivals lag behind. The S22 only supports 25W wired charging – and even if you stump up for the S22+ (which works with 45W wired charging), it still takes around an hour to brim the battery. The Google Pixel 6 Pro is limited to 30W wired charging; Google reckons it can hit 50% charge in 30 minutes, but reports of tardier tank-filling have been widespread.
Software & interface: flavours of Android
At their root, the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 Pro all run Android 12 – the most customisable Android interface to date. But use each of these smartphones and you’ll find that your experience varies quite significantly, because two of the three wrap Android in skins of their own.
Only the Pixel 6 Pro uses vanilla Android 12. This means a pure ‘Material You’ experience, complete with fresh widgets, automatic theming, device-wide searching and an updated always-on display. Adaptive and customisable, it’s Android’s biggest visual overhaul in years – and it’s certainly fresh. It also brings in an enhanced focus on privacy.
Samsung’s Galaxy S22 ships with One UI 4.1 installed. Because it’s built on top of Android 12, you get the security benefits, seamless installations and bigger app catalogue of the underpinning system, but wrapped in an icon-based interface that harks back to Tizen. You also get access to Google tools like Maps, alongside Samsung services such as Bixby, SmartThings and several other bits of bloatware.
OnePlus takes a similar approach, layering Android 12 beneath OxygenOS 12.1. Like One UI, this predominantly changes the look and feel, with much of the underlying functionality remaining the same. OxygenOS is arguably closer to stock Android, with less bloatware (although the duplicate OnePlus Photos app is superfluous). One of the neater features is Work Life Balance 2.0, which lets you toggle between two notification profiles to reduce distractions – or switch off when the day is done.
Which Android phone has the right interface for you will depend on your personal preferences and what you’re familiar with. Each of the three versions of Android 12 do a lot of the same things, with their own individual flourishes. If possible, we recommend going to a phone store and getting hands-on with all three.
Hardware & connectivity: same same
When talk turns to ports, the Google Pixel 6 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S22 and OnePlus 10 Pro are united in their use of USB-C – and united in their abandonment of the humble headphone input.
All three also use under-display fingerprint sensors for unlocking duties, although the ultrasonic solution in Samsung’s Galaxy S22 is speedier than the optical one in the Pixel 6 Pro. How rapid the “ultra-thin” fingerprint scanner beneath the OnePlus 10 Pro’s panel fares in comparison will be a matter for our full review.
In the storage wars, the Pixel 6 Pro is technically the winner – at least if you live in a region where its 512GB version is available (the USA or Australia). Otherwise, all three Android phones are available in 128GB and 256GB variants – and none have a microSD card slot, so there’s no option to expand the storage capacity.
IP68 water-resistance means each of the Android phones in this round-up can survive a splashing, while all three handsets also benefit from NFC, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2 and 5G data connectivity.
Initial verdict: which is the best Android phone in 2022?
So which is the best Android phone in 2022: the Google Pixel 6 Pro, the Samsung Galaxy S22 or the OnePlus 10 Pro? Until we’ve had chance to fully test all three together, we can’t make a concrete recommendation. But the numbers tell a lot of the story.
Samsung’s Galaxy S22 is firmly in third place. It’s a perfectly competent all-round Android smartphone, but it loses out on screen tech, performance and – most importantly – price. The Galaxy S22+ is closer to the Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro in several respects, but costs notably more than both handsets.
Picking a winner from the OnePlus 10 Pro and Google Pixel 6 is a trickier call. To a large extent, the better Android phone will be the one that works for you, whether that’s based on your individual software preference, or which of the two devices has a design that appeals more to your taste.
It’s certainly a contest of fine margins: the Google Pixel 6 Pro gives you bloat-free Android 12 and 12GB of RAM by default, while the OnePlus 10 Pro charges significantly faster, has a sharper, wider wide-angle lens and can deliver 1Hz refresh rates for ultimate efficiency – although it’s not a stock Android experience.
But there is one crucial factor which gives the OnePlus 10 Pro the win in this weigh-in: whether you opt for the 128GB or 256GB version, it’s £50 cheaper than the Pixel 6 Pro. That might seem like a minor price saving, but when you factor in the OnePlus 10 Pro’s spec sheet advantages, it shapes up as the best bang-for-buck Android phone you can buy right now.