It’s high season for new phones, and a fresh crop of new devices — including iPhones — has a lot of people wondering whether it’s time to upgrade. Whether you’re in the market for a new Apple or Android phone, there’s no shortage of great choices right now. Generally speaking, it’s been a year of modest mobile tech updates, but they’ve been important ones.
Foldable phones are getting more useful with bigger cover screens as on the Galaxy Z Flip 5, smartphone camera zoom has reached new heights on Samsung’s top-tier flagship, and the iPhone finally made the jump from Lightning to USB-C. And if you’re coming from a phone that’s three or four years old, you’ll find that the incremental advances over the past few years will add up for a significantly upgraded experience.
Most phone cameras can handle good lighting conditions well, from the flagship class down to $300 budget phones. The devices listed here offer a little something extra, like a useful telephoto lens, a great portrait mode, or impressive low-light shooting — many include all three. Stabilization for the main camera unit to help in low light is a must in this category.
The very best devices come with robust IP68 ratings, durable glass on the front and back, and sturdy aluminum exterior frames.
In addition to the very best devices at any price, I look for phones that offer the best mix of must-have features for good prices. That might lead to a recommendation of a lower-tier model if it’s particularly feature-rich for its price or last year’s model if it’s still sold new and this year’s device doesn’t offer many upgrades.