Best AT&T phones to buy in 2022: Samsung, Apple, and more!


The US phone scene is often dominated by carriers, which can be either good or bad depending on the carrier you choose. Fortunately, AT&T is one of the biggest ones with superb nationwide coverage and a plethora of phone options from which to choose. So whether you’re looking for the latest bleeding-edge flagship, a good value mid-tier device, or a budget phone, AT&T has something for you. To ensure carrier compatibility, every phone listed here is directly available through AT&T.

If you are on Verizon — or if you’re an AT&T customer looking for other options — you can check out our list of best Verizon phones.

Navigate this guide:

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is, simply put, the best a slab smartphone can get right now in the US market or anywhere else for that matter. It has the best screen, the most versatile camera system with the best zoom lenses, and one of the largest batteries around. While there are other phones better at some things, no phone delivers the whole package like the Galaxy S22 Ultra does.

Let’s start with the screen. This is simply the best display in any smartphone right now, a 6.8-inch, 120Hz Samsung AMOLED panel that can vary its refresh rate between 1Hz to 120Hz. It packs 1440 x 3088 pixels, meaning it’s well above 2K resolution and gets the brightest of any portable screen in the world at a maximum of 1,700 nits. It’s not an exaggeration to say the Galaxy S22 Ultra screen is a technically superior display panel than 99% of the screens you encounter in your daily life, whether it be your work monitor or car dashboard screen or perhaps even home television.

Next up we have optics, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers the most versatile camera system around, with five lenses covering the focal range from ultra-wide all the way to 3X and 10X optical zoom. You can actually zoom all the way to 100X digital zoom, but at this level, images look very soft, so we’d advise you to keep it below 30x, where images remain sharp. The fact that you can get a clean 20X zoom with a smartphone is wild. The other cameras are excellent too, particularly the main camera, a 108MP shooter with a large image sensor. Coupled with nano-binning technology, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can take in a lot of light and thus produce good images even in low-light scenes.

Powering everything is either the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip from Qualcomm or Samsung’s own Exynos 2200. Both are flagship chips, but Qualcomm’s SoC is a superior performer if we were to nitpick. Still, the Exynos chip will serve most people well.

There’s also the S-Pen stylus, now included as part of the phone free of charge, and is housed in a silo slot inside the phone. This means you can sketch or anecdote documents easier than with any other phone. Throw in all-day battery life thanks to the 5,000 mAh cell, 5G support, wireless charging, and the ability to output a computer-like UI to an external display (Samsung DeX) and you have a phone that can just do more than any other smartphone on the market. There is nothing another phone can do that this phone can’t do — other than fold in half.

    The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a do-it-all phone with a large, beautiful screen, the most versatile cameras, and a flagship processor.

Runner-Up: Apple iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro Silver

If you’re an iPhone person and want the best Apple has to offer right now, then the Apple iPhone 14 Pro (or the larger Pro Max) is it. While the backside of the new iPhone 14 Pro phones look similar to last year’s model, the front has a new eye-grabbing feature — the notch is gone, in favor of a pill-shaped cutout that Apple has named “Dynamic Island”. This fancy moniker is not exactly unearned, because Apple has designed a new notification system that plays nicely with the cutout. By using a black color, it blends into the cutout, allowing it to visually expand or even branch out into parts. This is all to show useful information such as the music being played by the phone, or incoming alerts from your food delivery services or Uber ride.

Is this a groundbreaking change that alters how you use the iPhone? No, but it does look very cool. The iPhone 14 Pro also got the processor upgrade to A16 Bionic, and it is the most powerful SoC by some distance again. The cameras also got a big upgrade — for the first time ever, the iPhone 14 Pro uses a 48MP main camera that then applies pixel binning technology to produce 12MP photos with larger pixels. This, combined with new computational photography methods known as “Photonic Engine” greatly improves low light performance.

Another reason to go for the iPhone is you get excellent software support, with a major OS with new features every year, and support for well over half a decade. iOS 16, for example, brings many cool new features such as the ability to quickly remove the background of photos with a subject/object in the foreground. These are things you had to use a photo editing app to do before.

The iPhone 14 Pro’s battery life is going to be very good despite its relatively small size. And if you upgrade to the larger iPhone 14 Pro Max, you’re getting the absolute best battery life in the business.

So you may be wondering: why is the iPhone 14 Pro a runner-up? Well, the iPhone 14 Pro is so new we haven’t had much time to test it yet, and honestly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra set the bar so high, that it’s unfair to knock it down right away just because Apple introduces a new phone. Remember, some of these new iPhone camera breakthroughs like pixel binning are not exactly new things on the Android side. Plus, we’re almost certain the Galaxy S22 Ultra is still going to have a much better zoom lens. But still, we expect great things from the iPhone 14 Pro cameras.

    The iPhone 14 Pro finally gets rid of the notch in favor of a pill shape cutout that does a lot more than house selfie cameras! The iPhone 14 Pro also brings improved cameras and a new A16 Bionic that’s going to outperform any SoC in Android.

Best for Most People: Google Pixel 6

Pixel 6 back

This category caters to the average consumer mold who may not be the most demanding phone enthusiast, but at the same time still want a phone that performs well at a good price. And right now, it’s hard to beat the standard Google Pixel 6. At $699, it is several hundred dollars cheaper than the recent iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S21 phones, but the Pixel 6 has arguably a better camera and smarter software than both Apple and Samsung’s best. That’s because the Pixel 6, despite being the lower tier of the Pixel 6 series, kept the two most important/best parts of the Pixel 6 Pro: the 50MP main camera with a large image sensor and the new Tensor SoC designed by Google to handle machine learning and process images. These two components combine for a camera that’s perhaps the single best point-and-shoot camera on the market right now. No matter the lighting condition, just point the Pixel 6, tap the shutter button, and you’ll likely get a shot with better colors and dynamic range than most other smartphones in the world.

There’s also an ultra-wide camera here too, and while this one doesn’t reach the heights of the main camera, it’s still very capable and can capture sweeping landscapes.

What makes Pixel cameras so fun to use is Google’s more intelligent software. Take a photo of someone, for example, and you can add a somewhat realistic motion blur around them to make them appear like they’re moving at high speeds. Snapped a shot with unwanted people in the background? You can get rid of them with the Pixel’s “magic eraser” feature.

We are also big fans of the Pixel 6’s look, with that unique camera visor making for a striking design that stands out from the crowd. The software experience is a strong point too, as Pixel’s UI is whimsical and playful, with lots of helpful features such as passively identifying music playing nearby. The only thing missing here on the Pixel 6 that other more expensive smartphones offer is an ultra-high refresh rate display (it’s just 90Hz here on the Pixel 6) and a dedicated zoom camera. Neither are going to be big deals for most people, as the 90Hz OLED screen here is still gorgeous and fluid, and a digital 2x zoom with the Pixel 6 is still solid.

    The Google Pixel 6 brings Google’s best ever camera hardware and software into a device that costs several hundred dollars cheaper than the newest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy.

Also great: Apple iPhone 14

Apple iPhone 14 Product red

Okay, so compared to the Pro models, the standard iPhone 14 is a bit boring. It keeps the old notch design and doesn’t even have Apple’s newest and greatest silicon. But the iPhone 14 is still an improved version of a highly polished phone that’s one of the most widely used smartphones around the world.

While the A15 Bionic chip here is from 2021, it’s been optimized to run better on the iPhone 14, plus if we’re going by benchmark numbers, the A15 Bionic is still more powerful than any silicon in Android.

The iPhone 14 cameras got improved over the 13’s optics too. The image sensor and pixels are larger for the main and selfie camera, and this is paired with the new “Photonic Engine” to produce what Apple says are much superior low-light photos compared to the iPhone 13 devices. The iPhone 14 also gains a new “Action Mode” which uses EIS to crop into the picture for more stable videos. Crowd favorites like Cinematic Mode return from last year.

Battery life has also been improved thanks to software improvements. While the iPhone 13’s battery life was just okay, the iPhone 14 is being promised by Apple to last all day. Throw in new crucial software features like Crash Detection, and the most well-rounded eco-system around, the iPhone 14 is a great option for someone looking for a new phone and doesn’t need all the bells and whistles.

    The iPhone 14 may not be as exciting as its Pro siblings, but it is still a super powerful, refined smartphone that checks many boxes the average consumer would want from a phone.

Best Compact: Apple iPhone 13 Mini

iPhone 13 Mini

If you are someone who really prefers small phones, you may want to snap up the iPhone 13 Mini now, because Apple has apparently discontinued the series — there was no iPhone 14 Mini announced at the recent Apple event. AT&T still carries the iPhone 13 Mini, but once stock is out, there is a chance that’s the last you’ll see of this petite iPhone.

And that’s a shame, because despite its dainty size, the iPhone 13 Mini packs plenty of power, running on Apple’s A15 Bionic which is still one of the best mobile silicon around. You’ll be able to run any app or play any game on it without issues.

The camera system is not going to win any awards in 2022, but they’re capable performers, with a 12MP main and 12MP ultra-wide providing the two most useful focal lengths. With a larger sensor and faster aperture than the iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 13 Mini’s camera is a good performer at night, sometimes not even needing night mode.

Software is another area where you’ll see benefits by going Apple over Android, as the iPhone gets steady updates longer than most Android devices will. Another reason you may want to go for the Mini is Apple’s rich and diverse ecosystem of products. If you own a MacBook or iPad, the iPhone 13 Mini plays very nicely with it. Send files back and forth with ease. Record a voice memo on one device and have it show up on the other instantaneously. Have your AirPods audio seamlessly switch from iPhone to iPad or vice versa.

    The iPhone 13 Mini is a tiny phone that packs plenty of power. If you dislike big phones, then this is for you.

Best Large Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

a person holding a Galaxy Z Fold 4 with the cover screen preview on

If you want the most capable and flashiest phone that’s available on AT&T, it’s got to be the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4. A mini tablet that can fold in half to become a pocketable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is still an exciting form factor four generations in that breaks away from the traditional slab handsets.

Last year Samsung made the Fold 3 more durable by adding IPX8 water resistance and more versatile with S Pen support. Both of these return, plus Samsung made further refinements. Each improvement may appear small on its own, but together they add up to more than the sum of their parts.

The first improvement is Samsung shaved the protruding hinge a bit, so it no longer sticks out as much on the Fold 4 as in previous Folds. Then, Samsung gave the space saved to the outside display. While that screen still measures 6.2-inches, it is now slightly wider, for a slightly less cramped 23.1:9 aspect ratio. The Fold 4 in folded form is still a tall candybar shape, but less so than before.

Then, Samsung shaved another few grams off the weight. At 263g, this is the second lightest large foldable phone on the market and the lightest one available in North America. The Fold 4 also got much-improved cameras, with a 50MP main camera with a large-ish 1/1.55-inch sensor, and a 3X telephoto zoom lens that’s much better than the mediocre 2X zoom lens last year. The camera experience of the Fold 4 definitely leveled up, though it is still not Samsung’s best of the best optics.

Samsung also refined the software to make multi-tasking and jumping between apps a bit easier. This is a phone on which some of us at XDA have done actual work. Sure, it will never beat working off a proper laptop, but it’s a heck lot easier to type/write and multi-task on the Z Fold 4 than on a typical slab phone.

But if you want this machine for fun, you can do so too. The Galaxy Z Fold 4 offers a 7.6-inch large Samsung AMOLED screen with 120Hz that is ideal for gaming and video watching, and “Flex Mode,” aka the ability for the hinge to stay halfway folded, allows the Galaxy Z Fold 4 to sit in an L-shape, like a laptop. This means hands-free video calls or group selfies or time-lapses. The outside “Cover Screen”, as mentioned, is a bit wider than last year — but still very easy to use one-handed.

The Fold 4 also runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1, which is the best possible chip in Android right now and it’s much more battery efficient than even the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that came out six months ago. This means the Fold 4 has better battery life despite having the same sized battery as last year at 4,400 mAh.

If we must nitpick, it’s that some of the flaws of Samsung’s Fold is still here four generations in, like the deep crease down the middle of the screen, or the fact the phone cannot fold flat. These are things rival foldables have all fixed years ago. But since those phones don’t sell outside China, Samsung doesn’t have to worry. The camera system, as mentioned, is very good for a foldable, but still falls short of the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s shooters, or even the Pixel 6 Pro’s. The image sensors are smaller, so they don’t take in as much light. There’s less depth of field if you try to focus close to a subject. We must stress that’s comparing the Z Fold 4’s cameras against the absolute best camera phones on the market. Otherwise, the cameras will still satisfy most casual users.

Samsung has also fine-tuned the software so that most of the app scaling issues are gone. Everything works here as it should for the most part. The only exception is some games that benefit from a widescreen view will still see some cropping here because when unfolded, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 screen is almost a square.

These are minor, minor nitpicks — the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is still the best and most polished foldable phone on the market. And technically the most impressive phone in all of AT&T’s portfolio.

    The Galaxy Z Fold 4 brings back all the great things about the Fold 3, plus a much better camera system, a slightly wider outside screen, and smarter software.

Best Small Foldable: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Galaxy Z Flip 4 with screen partially folded and camera open

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 was arguably the most stylish foldable phone ever, so Samsung was wise to not change much for the Galaxy Z Flip 4 in terms of outer design. The Flip 4 still brings that awesome two-tone finish and even gives consumers the option to customize colors this time around.

The Flip 3 last year was a breakthrough for Samsung, as the first foldable phone to fall under the four-digit pricing, and as a result, the Flip 3 sold better than any previous foldable phone by far. The Flip 4 is going to continue the momentum. Improvements here aren’t as drastic as before — the hinge is a bit less bulky, and the chipset got the expected bump to Qualcomm’s latest and greatest. But otherwise, the camera hardware, display size and resolution, and form factor is identical to the Flip 3. This isn’t a bad thing, as the Flip 4 is still a very compact and easy-to-use phone. The 120Hz, 6.7-inch screen still looks gorgeous, and the outside cover screen has improved software that allows it to run any app now — though some apps will look silly on that smaller landscape display.

Galaxy Z Flip 4 with AOD on

The Flip 4 brings back IPX8 water resistance, and Flex Mode is still here, making for a phone that’s super fun to shoot selfies with. While the camera hardware remains the same as last year — Samsung’s computational photography has become smarter, so the Flip 4’s cameras are better. You can expect excellent dynamic range day and night, and a sweeping ultra-wide camera that grabs great landscape shots. Video performance is strong too, thanks to a combination of OIS and EIS, and you can even take selfies with the main camera system using the outer screen as a viewfinder.

However, the camera system here can’t measure to the Fold 4, let alone the S22 Ultra. So if you’re someone who really cares about smartphone photography — this phone might not be for you. But judging by how many Flip 3 Samsung sold, chances are many people would much prefer the compact and stylish nature of the Flip more than they need the absolute best camera. The Flip 4 is still the most stylish foldable around.

    The Galaxy Z Flip 4 is a clamshell foldable that combines the compact form factor of yesteryear’s phones with a modern Android experience equipped with the most powerful Qualcomm chipset and cutting-edge foldable OLED technology.

Best Mid-Range: Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

Samsung Galaxy A53 White

The Galaxy A52 5G was one of the best mid-range smartphones Samsung put out throughout the year, and the Galaxy A53 5G follows in its footsteps by improving on pretty much everything that made its predecessor a good mid-ranger. The A53 5G comes with a 6.5-inch, 120Hz Samsung AMOLED display that pumps out punchy, vibrant visuals. The silicon powering the device this year is the Exynos 1280, which is a capable chip in this price range and helps power the A53’s camera hardware to produce images that punch above their hardware class.

The 64MP main camera, in particular, is capable during the day, capturing photos that are sharp on details, and with a balanced dynamic range. At night, you will have to use Night Mode so Samsung’s computational algorithm can work its magic, but if you have the patience to wait a second or two for Night Mode to finish, you can get some good night shots too. Shoot without night mode, however, and photos at night are blotchy and messy. Still, can’t complain too much at this price class.

The 12MP ultra-wide camera offers a wide field of view for sweeping landscape shots, but your photo quality will depend on how the lighting situation is even more so than the main camera. There’s a pair of 5MP sensors that are there mostly to pad the number of cameras, but the 32MP selfie camera on the other side is a good performer.

The A53 5G’s body is still made of plastic, but Samsung added this new coating that gives the plastic a grippier texture that feels quite good in the hand. Combine this with the flat display, chamfered corners, and a light weight of 189g, and you have yourself a very comfortable phone to hold.

Samsung’s software running on the A53 5G, OneUI, is responsive and full of customization options, but animations can stutter from time to time. But battery life is excellent thanks to the 5,000 mAh battery. The Galaxy A53 5G is a phone that won’t blow your socks off with performance, but it’s a capable mid-range phone for your daily needs.

    The Galaxy A53 5G is a capable mid-range phone that offers a vibrant display, a solid main camera, and long lasting battery life.

Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy A23

Galaxy A23 in blue colorway

Samsung not only makes the most cutting-edge flagship phones, but it also makes entry-level phones for those on a tighter budget. At $299 or around eight bucks a month via AT&T’s plan, the Galaxy A23 5G is an entry-level Android phone with a respectable 6.6-inch 120Hz LCD display with an adaptive refresh rate, and a large 5,000 mAh battery to power it.

Under the hood, you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 SoC with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand the storage via the SD card slot. A 50MP, f/1.8 main camera with OIS headlines the camera system, which coupled with Samsung’s software smarts should be able to produce good photos under the right lighting conditions. There’s also a 5MP ultra-wide and two more sensors for depth and macro photography.

Instead of a hole punch, you’ll have to make do with a small notch, but it houses a functional 8MP shooter. You also get a headphone jack, NFC, and, as the name gives away, 5G capability. There’s also proper security in the form of Samsung Knox, and there’s a fingerprint reader embedded into the power button on the side. Overall, if you want a large-screen device that can last all day and can handle basic smartphone tasks, you could do a lot worse than the Galaxy A23 5G.

    The Galaxy A23 5G is the newest phone to join Samsung’s affordable line of A phones, and this one brings a large 5,000 mAh battery and a 6.6-inch LCD display, plus 5G connectivity.

This sums up our list of the best AT&T phones currently available. At the top of the line, we have options from Samsung and Apple that are worth considering if you’re looking into phones that look and feel premium and high-end. Then we have options trickling down to everything from compact phones all the way to ruthlessly cheap devices. All of these phones can be acquired directly through AT&T and can be paid for in monthly installments, trade-ins, and more. Check out the respective listings for more specific terms and conditions.

If I had to recommend, I’d say that most users are going to be very happy with the Google Pixel 6, iPhone 14 Pro, or if they want to splurge, get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Date Of Publish

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