samsung phone zoomed in
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Update, 1/18/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have replaced our best mid-range phone pick with the new Galaxy S21 FE.

What to Look for in a Samsung Phone in 2022

It may sound a little silly to need a plan for shopping for phones from just one company. How hard can it really be? Well, Samsung makes a lot of phones. A lot of phones. Which one is best for you?

You may be familiar with some of the common Samsung phone lines, such as the Galaxy S series or the Galaxy Note series. However, those are just a few of Samsung’s smartphone lines. The company has a smartphone at practically every price point.

There’s more than just price to take into consideration, though. How important is size to you? Do you need an excellent camera? Is long battery life a necessity? We’ll give you some options for a few different categories and price points.

One nice thing about Samsung phones is they all run the same software: One UI. Whether you’re looking for the biggest and baddest or something low-key and affordable, the software will look the same across Samsung phones. There aren’t any compromises on that front!

The important thing when buying any smartphone—not just Samsung phones—is the entire package. A big selling point toward that idea is how Samsung provides great software support, even better than Google’s offerings. There’s a Samsung device that fits everyone’s needs, so let’s start finding them.

RELATED: The Best Android Phones of 2022

Best Samsung Phone Overall: Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21
Jack Skeens/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Nice middle-ground size
  • Great display
  • Powerful performance

Cons

  • Not as many cameras as Ultra model
  • A little on the pricey side

If there’s one Samsung phone that will be a good fit for most people, it’s the Samsung Galaxy S21. While it doesn’t have all the flash and pizazz as the Galaxy S21 Ultra, it hits all the sweet spots.

First and foremost, compared to the rest of the S21 series, the regular Galaxy S21 is a nice size. It has a 6.2-inch display—which isn’t as small as it sounds thanks to the minimal bezels, and not as clunky to hold as the Ultra. The display is 1080p, OLED, and has a smooth 120Hz refresh rate. In short, it’s a beautiful screen.

Powering it is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 8GB of RAM. If you like to do a lot of gaming on your phone, the Galaxy S21 is more than powerful enough to handle them. You won’t notice any lag or slowdown either!

The Galaxy S21 isn’t our pick for the best camera phone, but it has great cameras nonetheless. There’s a 12MP camera on the front and a 12MP ultra-wide and 64MP main camera on the rear. The 64MP camera is capable of 8K video recording and allows for pretty good optical zoom for those far away shots.

Another big thing going for the Galaxy S21 is the price. You can usually get it for around $800, which isn’t by any means cheap, but it’s a lot more affordable than the super high-end Galaxy S21 Ultra with a lot of its benefits.

Best Samsung Phone Overall

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung's base flagship device is going to tick all the right boxes for most people, without costing over $1,000 like the Ultra. Take great pictures, play all the games you want, and more with ease!

Best Mid-Range Samsung Phone: Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE phones lined up
Samsung

Pros

  • Same processor as the S21
  • Triple cameras on the rear
  • Big screen with 120Hz refresh rate
  • Large battery

Cons

  • Kind of expensive for a mid-range phone

The “FE” series has become Samsung’s middle-of-the-road series. Not quite high-end, but more powerful than budget devices. The latest is the Galaxy S21 FE and it brings some nice features for a lower price.

For $699, you get 128GB of storage, a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 2340×1080 resolution (bigger than the standard S21), and a 120Hz refresh rate. One area of sacrifice is RAM. The FE version starts with 6GB, while the standard S21 has 8GB.

The Galaxy S21 FE has the same Snapdragon 888 as the other Galaxy S21 devices. Similarly, the S21 FE has a 32MP selfie camera and triple cameras on the rear. Those cameras are a 12MP ultra-wide, 12MP main lens, and an 8MP telephoto shooter. Lastly, it’s packing a beefy 4,500mAh battery.

As mentioned, the Galaxy S21 FE is available at $699 for 128GB. That’s not as cheap as some other mid-range devices, but it does come with Samsung’s great software support and a brand you can trust.

Best Mid-Range Samsung Phone

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

With an AMOLED screen, a 120Hz refresh rate, and a Snapdragon 888, the Galaxy S21 FE is a great mid-range phone to pick up.

Best Budget Samsung Phone: Galaxy A32

Galaxy A32
Ruslan Lytvyn/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Costs less than $300
  • Great battery life
  • Multiple cameras is a bonus at this price

Cons

  • Display is lackluster

Samsung has a phone for every price range, and that includes the budget category. The Galaxy A32 is a phone with all the benefits of a Samsung-made device with a price that comes in under $300.

The Galaxy A32 has a 5,000mAh battery, so it gets great battery life as a result. It’s powered by the Mediatek Helio G80 processor and 4GB of RAM, which is decent at this price point. There’s also a microSD card slot, so you can upgrade your storage if you need to.

Cameras are a big part of smartphones, but budget devices usually suffer in this area. The Galaxy A32 offers a triple camera setup on the back, with 64MP, 8MP wide-angle, and 5MP macro cameras. They aren’t the best out there, but you do get options, which is always a bonus, especially compared to other budget phones.

One area where the Galaxy A32 struggles is in the display. It’s 6.4-inches and Super AMOLED, but the resolution is lower than mid-range and high-end models. For most people, it’s not a problem, but you may notice it if you’re used to something with higher specs.

As mentioned, the Galaxy A32 costs only $280. That’s a great price for a budget phone with 5G connectivity, and the device will still get Samsung’s four years of updates, so it won’t become outdated anytime soon.

Best Budget Samsung Phone

Samsung Galaxy A32

For under $300, you can get a competent Samsung phone! With a 5,000mAh battery and three cameras, this phone will last all day and do what you need it to do.

Best Samsung Phone for Battery Life: Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Mr.Mikla/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Huge, beautiful display
  • Power in excess
  • Big battery lasts all day

Cons

  • Very big, making it hard to hold

If you want great battery life, you need a big device that can hold a big battery. That’s where the Galaxy S21 Ultra comes in. This is the unrestrained version of the Galaxy S21, our favorite Samsung phone overall. It’s bigger, more powerful, and has better battery life.

The good battery life is largely thanks to the 5,000mAh battery. It’s moving a lot of pixels around the 6.8-inch OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, but the battery keeps up.

It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 and 12GB of RAM. That’s a powerful combination that will handle even the most resource-intensive games and multitasking sessions. Nothing is going to slow down this phone or drain the battery more than you’d expect. The cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra are as “ultra” as you’d imagine, but we’ll elaborate on that in the Best Camera section.

All of these premium features come at a cost, though, as the Galaxy S21 Ultra will set you back around $1,200. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but monthly payment plans can ease the pain a bit. If you want the biggest and the boldest, you’ll want the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Best for Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

If you need a phone that can go all day, you'll need to get one that's big and has a big battery in it. The Galaxy S21 Ultra is just that, and more!

Best Samsung Camera Phone: Galaxy S21 Ultra

Galaxy S21 Ultra cameras
Karlis Dambrans/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • Five total cameras give you a lot of flexibility
  • Telephoto lenses for far away subjects
  • Wide-angle lens for zooming out

Cons

  • All these cameras make for a massive camera hump
  • Very expensive

The Galaxy S21 Ultra is our pick for Best Camera as well. Everything in the Best Battery section applies to the Ultra here, but let’s take the time to focus on the five cameras, which sets it apart from the standard Galaxy S21 model.

With the Galaxy S21 Ultra, you have the main 108MP camera, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 10MP 3X telephoto, and a 10MP 10X telephoto.

The dual telephoto cameras mean you’ll be able to get better quality of shots at multiple distances. If you just had one telephoto lens—or none at all—you’d be limited to using low-quality “optical” zoom. You don’t have to worry about that at all when you’re at 3X and 10X zoom with the S21 Ultra.

Ultimately, the key to getting great photos with a smartphone is having a lens for every situation. The Galaxy S21 Ultra allows you to take photos of big groups and landscapes from far away while also having the ability to zoom in real close on things.

Of course, all of these fancy features come at a hefty cost. The Galaxy S21 Ultra goes for around $1,200, but if you want the best Samsung camera experience (and maybe one of the best Android photo experiences in general), it’s worth the price.

Best Samsung Camera Phone

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

You'll get five cameras with this premium flagship! With ultra-wide and dual telephoto cameras on top of the main cameras, you'll get the perfect shot every time.

Best Samsung Foldable Phone: Galaxy Z Fold 2

Galaxy Z Fold 2
Framesira/Shutterstock.com

Pros

  • I mean, it's a phone that turns into a tablet
  • Powerful performance
  • Five total cameras
  • Impressive displays
  • Did we mention it folds?

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • More fragile than a typical smartphone

There aren’t many foldable phones on the market in 2021, but Samsung clearly has the best to offer if you’re interested in this budding new category of smartphones.

There are two Samsung foldable devices to consider, including the Galaxy Z Flip, but we think the Galaxy Z Fold 2 is what most people will want. This device offers the portability of a regular smartphone and the extra screen real estate of a tablet all in one package.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 has a 6.23-inch display on the outside—the display you use when the phone is closed—and a 7.6-inch display when you unfold the device. Essentially, it’s a Galaxy S21 when closed and a tablet when opened. Very neat!

Powering the device is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 and 12GB of RAM. That’s not quite as powerful as the newer Galaxy S21 phones, but still plenty for gaming and your typical daily activities.

On the camera front, you’re getting four total cameras on the outside of the device and one camera on the inside. The traditional “rear” camera set up is a 12MP main camera, a 12MP telephoto, and a 12MP wide-angle.

The fourth outside camera is 10MP, and it’s what you would consider the “selfie” camera on a normal smartphone. The camera inside that you use when the device is unfolded is also 10MP.

Bleeding edge technology like this is not cheap, and the Galaxy Z Fold 2 can be fragile. If you really want to take a step into the future, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 will cost you $1,800 at MSRP, but don’t expect niceties like water resistance. That’s only $600 more than the non-folding Galaxy S21 Ultra, but a hefty chunk of change, no less. Still, if you want something truly unique, this may be worth the cost to you.

Best Samsung Foldable Phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 is a phone and tablet in one! Keep it closed and the outside screen will function similar to a phone, or fold it open for a bigger, tablet-like screen.

The Best Android Phones of 2022

Best Overall
Samsung Galaxy S21
Best Budget
Moto G Play (2021)
Best Mid-Range Android Phone
Google Pixel 5a
Best Premium
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Best Android Gaming Phone
ASUS ROG Phone 5S
Best Android Camera
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Best Battery Life
Moto G Power (2021)
Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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