Mobile phones, everyone has one but it can be a faff to choose the right brand. And that’s before you even get into cases and accessories. We’ve put together this range of buying guides, including the best waterproof and rugged phones on the market, the cheapest smartphones, best small phones and our favourite flip phones (oh the nostalgia…).
When it comes to accessories, we’ve also complied lists of the best phone photo printers, temporary lens attachments and smartphone gimbals.
In this guide:
- Best Waterproof Phones in 2022
- Best Small Phones 2022: Compact But Powerful Smartphones
- Best Flip Phones 2022: The Top Y2K Foldable Phones Making a Comeback
- The Best OPPO Phones 2022: From the Budget A Series to Premium X Series
- 7 Best Basic Dumb Phones 2022: Inexpensive Mobiles With Long Battery Lives
- The Best Portable iPhone Photo Printers In 2022
- Best Wireless Chargers and Phone Holders Of 2022
- Best iPhone Camera Lenses: Temporary Smartphone Camera Lenses 2022
- Best iPhone Gimbals In 2022 to Prevent Shaky Videos
- Best Rugged Phones: Waterproof, Shockproof and Unbreakable
Buying a phone: 7 quick considerations
The phone’s size and resolution is important to consider before buying, especially if you often stream videos, edit photos or download films. Most smartphones range between 5 and 6 inches, with anything larger being considered a tad bulky. For reference, the iPhone 8 is a 4.7-inch handset, while the newer iPhone 12 is a little over 6 inches. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is 5.8 inches and the Samsung Galaxy S21 offers a 6.2-inch screen.
Everybody has different tastes, so it makes sense that we all favour different brands. Whatever you fancy, make sure you read up on some reviews and check out the common complaints. Generally, better known brands will have better customer service and build quality, but lesser known brands have their own benefits, too – including often being cheaper than household names like Apple, Samsung, Song, Huawei and LG.
Considering the price of any handset you’re interested in is fairly obvious, but this includes looking at the price of repairs (in case something goes wrong down the line), monthly contract and accessory prices etc.
Megapixels tends to be a word that’s thrown around a lot when it comes to phone cameras, but you should actually note a variety of specs – including aperture, ISO levels, autofocus and a host of other features. Newer iPhones, for example, have a lot more camera modes that previous options, but not everyone needs all the options available.
If you’re on your phone a lot, you’re going to want something with a long battery life. At least 3500mAh battery or above should suit, while those who aren’t smartphone-addicted will likely be able to manage with a 3000mAh battery.
A large chunk of storage is taken up before you even set hands on your new phone due to the operating system and pre-installed apps. Realistically, 16GB-32GB should be enough for the average phone user. Those who take a lot of photos and videos, or who want lots of apps, should go for 64GB or 128GB variants.
If worst comes to worst and you run out of space, you can buy more storage through iCloud, Google etc. Something to bear in mind before you start deleting sentimental photos in order to free up space to download TikTok…
While most of us tend to use headphones or speakers for music, many of us stream entertainment on-the-go these days, meaning audio quality is an important metric to judge.
On that note, ensure you know what ports a phone has ahead of buying because features like the 3.5mm headphone jack are becoming more and more rare as smartphone manufacturers switch to USB Type-C audio jacks.
7 Best Waterproof Phones in 2022
If you’re a bit clumsy, this one’s for you. A waterproof phones does what it says on the tin; they’re designed to withhold being submerged in water for a certain period of time, i.e. if you spill a drink onto your phone or drop it in the pool.
Firstly, you’ll want to look at the IP rating, which is dust and water resistance. IP ratings are made up of 4 characters, with the first two standing for Ingress Protection. The third digit (ranging from 1 to 6) indicates how good it is at preventing dust or sand from entering the phone. The last digit, which has a maximum of 8, indicates liquid or water resistance. This means a rating of IPX8 is the best that you can get.
Best Small Phones in 2022: Compact but Powerful
Some of the best small smartphones pack a punch with updated processors and decent storage. We’ve pulled together our favourite little phones that won’t compromise on performance. These include the iPhone 13 mini, iPhone SE (2022), Google Pixel 5, Sony Xperia 5 III, Sony Xperia 10 III and Samsung Galaxy S10e.
The largest screen size we go up to on this list is 6.1-inches (when compared to, say, the iPhone 13 line-up, that’s fairly small). The smallest phone you’ll find here is 5.4-inches – which means you have lots of options to choose from.
Best Flip Phones 2022: The Top Y2K Foldable Phones
There’s a certain nostalgia that comes with slapping your phone shut at the end of phone call. It’s something we Gen Z-ers didn’t really get to witness, until now…
That’s right, flip phones are officially making a comeback (even Mashable agrees!) and we’re here for it. The latest foldable smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the Motorola Razr and the Huawei MateX are fantastic choices. They have an enhanced user experience, while retaining the fun of the OG flip phones. Flip phones, Friends streaming on Netflix, tamagotchis… welcome back to the mid-noughties.
The Best OPPO Phones 2022: Budget A Series to X Series
OPPO isn’t a well-known phone brand in the UK (yet), but OPPO’s phones are 5G ready, powerful and often super affordable, making them a great alternative to smartphone brands such as Apple or Samsung. The Chinese brand dominates the market in its home country, but they’re readily available in the UK, too.
There’s a wide range of different smartphones — from the budget A series to the more premium X series — with prices starting at £100 and topping out at £1,100. Many of the phones in the OPPO range sit between £150 and £400. At the link below, you’ll find everything you need to know if you’re considering buying one.
7 Best Basic Dumb Phones 2022
Dumb phones are as straightforward as the name suggests. While the majority of us are used to smartphones with a whole range of features, dumb phones are the complete opposite. Going back to the basics and taking on the appearance of phones popular in the 90s and early 2000s, dumb phones offer a more minimalist approach.
Focusing on texting and calling rather than features, these basic phones are ideal if you’re looking to simplify your mobile. If you’re thinking about buying a basic phone, here’s everything you need to know.
The Best Portable iPhone Photo Printers In 2022
Portable iPhone printers have increased in popularity ever since smartphones began to replace traditional cameras. For many people, having a physical copy of a photo is much better than just a digital copy. While iPhone cameras are great, it can often be tricky to get those photos off your phone and printing them from a standard printer often isn’t great quality.
With a small, lightweight mini printer — like the Instax Mini — you can easily print out all of your photos straight from your phone or social media. At the link below, we’ve rounded up the the best of the bunch.
Best Wireless Chargers and Mobile Phone Holders 2022
Gone are the days of tangled wires, enter the era of wireless charging. If you’re looking for a wireless charger, there are several types types to consider; some are car mounts for while you’re driving, some are pads for using at home and some are docking stations for charging multiple devices at once.
If you’re considering buying a wireless charger, check out our recommendations for the best Apple and Android wireless chargers suitable for all budgets.
Best iPhone Camera Lenses: Temporary Camera Lenses
An external lens can completely transform your iPhone photos; improving image quality or simply adding effects like fisheye or macro. Perhaps you want extra distance to shoot something far away or a wider angle for landscapes. iPhone lenses, like those from Moment, can help you achieve this.
While the latest iPhone models are capable of amazing photos, clip-on iPhone lenses can add that extra oomph to level up your iPhone photography skills and versatility. Enhance the iPhone 13’s Cinematic Mode with an anamorphic lens to add extra atmosphere or make your iPhone 12 Pro Max Telephoto go that extra mile, for example.
Best iPhone Gimbals in 2022 to Prevent Shaky Videos
iPhone gimbals can add stability, preventing blurred photos, to your iPhone photography and videography that standard image stabilisation can’t. The DJI and Zhiyun brands are the big contenders so we’ve obviously included them in our round-up, however, there are some lesser-known brands too that provide some amazing features for a fraction of the price.
Have you taken the first step to levelling up your content with our best iPhone lenses too? Combine your plans with a gimbal to really stabilise your footage. Whether you want to improve your iPhone 11 camera quality or level up your content creation game, here are our best gimbal for iPhone recommendations to suit all budgets and needs.
Best Rugged Mobile Phones 2022
Some of the best rugged phones of 2022 offer tons of new features like 5G connectivity, thermal imaging, 4K recording and even reverse wireless charging. While they may be bulky, you’re gonna want all the protection you can get if you’re prone to breaking your phone or do a lot of outdoor activities.
Some of these devices can even be submerged in meters of water or survive some of the longest falls! Many of these unbreakable phones have undergone some rigorous testing, so much so that some are even military-certified, scratch-proof and can withstand harsh weather conditions.