1 – Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
from R26,000 | samsung.com/za
That Samsung’s new Galaxy S22 Ultra is currently Stuff‘s top smartphone shouldn’t be all that surprising. The lineup leader has snatched the crown from Samsung’s defunct Note range. And there was already loads to love about that phone. Here’s more to love — there’s a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 inside, as opposed to the Exynos we might have expected. RAM is a little lower than last year, but last year was overkill anyway.
And then there’s the usual run of interesting skills. Samsung’s cameras, thanks to lens quality and some software trickery, are better than ever. The obscene zoom functions actually function (up to a point) and the S Pen lives here now. We barely have to touch on the 6.8in LPTO OLED screen. Samsung’s had the crown for phone displays stashed in its basement for years. It’ll take something special to dethrone it this year.
2 – Apple iPhone 13 Pro
from R23,500 | incredible.co.za
The thing about the iPhone is that it’s always going to be good. The iPhone 13 Pro is the current prize winner of the lineup. It’s a little pricey, yes, but you’re getting almost all of Apple’s best smartphone tech in one place. A15 Bionic, actual 5G support, and an impressive camera round this one out. The only way to do any better is to give Apple more money. Speaking of which…
3 – Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
from R25,900 | incredible.co.za
You can more or less flip a coin when it comes to buying Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max. Just be aware that landing on the Max will cost you several grand more, at least. But there’s a reason for all of that. There’s a better battery, an improved display, Apple’s best smartphone camera yet (and that’s saying something), and a larger phone overall. It’s Apple’s answer to Samsung’s Ultra handsets, but without the stylus. Also, a fair chunk more expensive, once you start ranking up the storage space.
4 – Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
from R20,500 | samsung.com/za
Can’t quite swing the cost of the S22 Ultra, even after the post-launch price drop? That’s okay, the Galaxy S22 Plus will do more or less the same thing. And, since the Ultra has taken over for the Note, it’s the standard smartphone headliner for Samsung. Spec for spec, this is very nearly the same smartphone anyway. It’s just the size difference (this one’s rocking a 6.6in 120Hz OLED screen) and some of the camera skills that differ. Basically, if you need the S Pen, get the Ultra. Everyone else, except maybe influencer wannabes, will be just as happy here.
5 – Xiaomi 11T Pro
R14,000 | cellucity.co.za
What’s a Xiaomi device doing on this list? If you’re asking that question, obviously you missed our Gadget Awards issue for 2021. This was our Gadget of the Year, last year. There’s a serious reason for this, too. This phone, which is priced more affordably depending on where you look in South Africa, cut about R10,000 off the cost of a typical flagship phone at launch. It’s still hugely affordable. But, somehow, there’s a Snapdragon 888 5G processor, a 6.67in 120Hz OLED screen, 8GB od RAM, a huge 108MP camera, and a 5,000mAh battery. We know what Xiaomi did here. We just don’t know how they did it at this price.