If you want a good phone but you don’t want to break the bank, what’re the best options right now? Here’s our pick of the best value phones money can buy right now…
The phone market is a strange place. You have a myriad of different price brackets from ultra affordable to ultra expensive, topping out at close to $2000 for a 1TB foldable phone. But what if you’re not interested in that kind of stuff? What if you just want a reliable phone that works great, has a decent camera and battery life, and doesn’t cost the earth? Is that too much to ask?
Not at all. In fact, when it comes to value for money and phones, there has never been a better time to be in the market for a new phone. Thanks to things like COVID and rising inflation, phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are practically crawling over one another to offer more bang for your buck – although they’d still prefer you to buy their most expensive models.
A good value phone is a phone that doesn’t cost too much, has all the functionality you’ll need, is relatively future-proofed, has a decent camera and battery life, and gets good software support. If you can get all of these things for less than $700, I’d argue you’ve got yourself a good value phone. But what are the best value phone options on the market right now?
Best Value Phones 2022
Why These Phones?
The simple reason is that they’re all really, really good phones. The second is that they get great support in the form of software and security updates. And third, they all cost less than $700 which is currently the new sweet spot for value for money in the US phone market. Of course, there are much cheaper options out there but what you gain in savings, you often lose in performance and capabilities.
Obviously, $700 for a phone is a lot of money. But the thing with these phones, and modern phones in general, is that they’re immensely powerful, so providing you look after it, the phone should last you a good three years or more. With an iPhone, you’ll get iOS updates for 7-8 years, so you could technically buy the iPhone 13 today and still be running it in 2028. Sadly, you cannot do this with Android phones; Samsung and Google currently only offer three major Android updates and four years of security updates.
If you plan on using your phone for the long run, or simply don’t want to have to think about upgrading it for at least the next five years, Apple’s iPhone is the way to go. You’ll get iOS updates and security updates in a timely and reliable fashion for many, many years to come. This means you can buy today and not have to worry about anything pertaining to support while you’re running the phone.
Are They Future-Proofed?
For the most part, all of the phones included in our Best Value Phones table at the top of this post are future-proofed. They all run 5G, have large batteries, beautiful OLED or AMOLED displays, and enough power under the hood to keep the phone running seamlessly for years to come. In my own experience, Samsung phones and iPhones tend to last longer than Pixel phones. I guess Apple and Samsung’s QC is just better.
I cannot vouch for the Pixel 6, as it is the only Pixel phone to date I haven’t owned. But the reason I do not own one is that all of my other Pixel phones tended to die or get faulty after a couple of years’ worth of usage, so I switched over to an iPhone 13 in 2022 and I will probably run this phone until the iPhone 15 launches in 2023. I could easily hold on until 2024’s iPhone 16, but I’m a sucker for new features.
Updates & Support
We touched on this subject earlier. The short story, with respect to support, is that Apple is currently the market leader by a considerable margin: it supports its iPhones for twice, sometimes three times as long as the best Android phone makers on the market. Google and Samsung both guarantee three years’ worth of Android updates which is decent enough but it still pales in comparison to Apple’s 7-8 years of iOS updates.
Of course, this could change in the coming years. Samsung could push for five years of support, and so too could Google.
But I do not think they will and the reason relates to money: Samsung is not interested in you using one of its phones for five or six years; it wants you to update, ideally, every couple of years – three at the most. It makes all of its money on its hardware sales. Google is different, being more like Apple in how its business works. It could offer better support, matching Apple, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem interested in doing this.
Still, most people only tend to run their phones for 2-3 years, the average length of a phone plan and/or finance agreement, so I guess there is logic to Samsung and Google only doing three years’ worth of Android updates. Why do more when you don’t have to?
Still, for me, Apple’s support is one of the main reasons why people that use iPhones tend to stick to using iPhones over the long haul. They might not be the best or more innovative phones on the market, especially the base models, but you know exactly what to expect with respect to updates and security patches.
Wrapping Up – What’s The Best Value Phone?
Taking all of the above into account, I’d have to say that, right now, the best value phone for most people would be the iPhone 13. It is a solid performer across the board, it is simple to use, it’ll get iOS updates until the late-2020s, it is well priced, and it has a brilliant camera system. For 99.9% of users, it is all the phone you’ll ever need.
If you hate Apple and everything it stands for, the Galaxy S22 or Pixel 6 are just about the best value Android phones you can buy right now. Both pack in a plethora of amazing specs and hardware, gorgeous designs, brilliant camera systems, and you’ll get three major Android updates with both models. Which is the best? Personally, I’d go with the Pixel 6 – but I’m a sucker for Google’s stock Android software.
The Galaxy S22 is arguably the more accomplished phone of the two, so if you’re into your specs, and performance, and want more bells and whistles, it is probably worth paying a little extra and getting the Galaxy S22. For me, though, the Pixel 6 serves up way more value for money – it’s a brilliant phone and it is very aggressively priced. If you want the absolute most bang for your buck, the Pixel 6 is impossible to beat right now…
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.
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