My top 5 phones of 2022 – Victor
Another year has passed, and with it, a slew of devices. One of the best parts of our job here at GSMArena is discovering new technologies all the time. Over the past twelve months, I’ve spent a lot of time with the best smartphones. Still, the list you’re about to read is about phones that have made a lasting impression on me, personally.
That doesn’t mean the phones are the best of the past year, nor should it serve as buying advice to anyone in particular. Personally, I like a phone with a clear purpose and I think that will come out of the rationale for each phone selected.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
This has been my personal daily driver since its launch in February. I booked one as soon as pre-orders went live and got it quickly. It’s been my faithful companion for ten months now and while I wouldn’t call myself a Samsung fanboy, I’ve really gotten used to the Samsung way and One UI over the years. The S22 Ultra was a direct replacement for the Galaxy Note20 Ultra, which in turn replaced my beloved Galaxy Note9 once it finally died on me.
Going from phone to phone for reviews can get really hectic, so I like to keep things very simple on a personal level. My app load, while very large and varied, is generally the same from phone to phone, as are my shortcuts, including things like smart home automation in Samsung SmartThings. Heck, I haven’t even changed my wallpaper on three or even four home phones. Thing is, I like consistency, and the S22 Ultra delivers on that front.
I basically see it as a familiar tool that’s always in my pocket and always reliable and works as expected so I can get things done quickly and efficiently. While calling a glorious piece of engineering like the S22 Ultra a “tool” might sound demeaning, it’s really quite the opposite and the highest form of praise in my world. Even since I switched from my previous “tool” – the Note20 Ultra, the S22 Ultra has just managed to establish itself while offering better battery life and a better camera experience.
I have nothing but praise for the S22 Ultra. It just disappeared into the background for me, quietly, reliably and consistently doing its job without a hitch. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I got.
Samsung Galaxy A33 5G
Let’s be real here, it’s easy to praise devices like the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s the crème de la crème that Samsung has to offer. In reality, however, few people need or even should spend so much on a phone. Flagships grab the headlines, but the right middlemen get the job done for most people, and in my humble opinion, the Galaxy A33 5G fits that bill perfectly. So much so that I bought one for each of my parents this year.
It’s hard to argue with the value proposition here. Currently selling for under $300, the A33 5G features IP67 protection, stereo speakers, a 90Hz AMOLED display, a 5,000mAh battery, and a powerful camera setup with a 48 MP OIS-capable main snapper.
The fact that my relatives use One UI also simplifies troubleshooting. I’ve found that in my experience most things seem to work out of the box with Samsung’s custom UX and hardware better than average. My mom recently needed to do file transfers to a flash drive, and I knew without checking that she had OTG support. The same goes for my dad, who recently bought an Android Auto compatible media unit for his car. I assured him without hesitation that his phone would work fine with it.
These are the types of personal experiences that can make or break a phone for me and, in this case, easily land the Galaxy A33 5G on my personal top 5 list.
Asus Zenfone 9
I have personally come to love and admire Asus for its great products over the years. While few in number, the Taiwanese giant’s lineup of phones is exquisite, in my opinion. Every time a new ROG phone comes through the door, I’m all over the place for a full in-depth review and each time I immediately wonder whether to adopt it as my daily driver. And that’s not something that happens to me with many phones these days.
So in a way, this stop here is about Asus phones in general. However, I decided to highlight the Zenfone 9 in particular. I really don’t know what caused the compact flagship concept’s effective death, but Asus is one of the few keeping it alive. And in a big way with very few real compromises.
The Zenfone 9 is suitable to the teeth. You get the stereo speakers, IP68 rating, 120Hz AMOLED panel, HDR10+, flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and a powerful dual camera setup on the back and autofocus selfie on the back. ‘before. Basically works, in a really compact body.
I’ve personally recommended the Zenfone 9 at least three times this year. It’s definitely my favorite for a compact flagship, and for that alone it deserves a spot on the list.
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
You can bitch about the iPhone SE (2022) all you want for its old design, but its popularity speaks for itself. I love a phone with a purpose, and the iPhone SE is a great example of that. It offers a relatively inexpensive entry into the Apple and iOS realm. Whether it’s for your parents, your kids, or even yourself, there’s no shame in enjoying what the SE brings to the table. And once you get over its retro design, it does indeed offer a lot.
First of all – it’s compact. Like really compact, not in the modern sense. This may be a plus or minus for some, but it definitely makes the SE unique in today’s landscape. Also, in no particular order, crammed inside this little IP67-rated body are stereo speakers, a Retina-grade IPS display, a fairly recent Apple A15 bionic chipset, and a surprisingly good 12MP OIS camera. Honestly, I just wish there was a way to get a bigger battery inside the little SE (2022).
Motorola Edge 30 Fusion
Motorola’s Edge 30 range has proven particularly strong. While the Edge 30 Ultra would have been the obvious and easy choice to include in the list, I got to personally experience the Edge 30 Fusion during its review and found it to be a real joy in person.
From its looks, the Edge 30 Fusion has a certain understated sophistication that I love. It is also very well built. Its screen is also gorgeous, with a smooth 144Hz refresh rate and excellent dynamic adaptation by software. I also personally appreciate Motorola’s choice of a higher default DPI for the UI. It’s a small detail, but one that makes things a little clearer in my mind.
I’m also a big proponent of using USB Type-C in a standardized way, and with direct power delivery support, the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion delivers that aspect. Also, despite its silly branding, “ready for” is a cool feature that I might use once in a while, just like I use DeX on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Although personally it’s not a high priority for me, I can only praise the camera setup for its quality and versatility. Of course, a telephoto lens would have been appreciated, but it is not expected at this price either. Getting autofocus on all cameras, however, is pretty awesome.
Honestly, if for some reason I had to ditch my everyday Samsung driver, the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion or Ultra would be top of the line as replacement devices.
Honorable Mentions – Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Motorola Razr 2022
Personally, I like what Samsung is doing with its FE models. In fact, I think for most people, an “FE-class” device or something like a “flagship killer” is about as high-end as they need in their buying decisions. A full-fledged flagship is shiny and cool and all that, but the prices have gotten ridiculous these days, and it’s no secret that you don’t really get twice the user experience for twice the price.
The Galaxy S21 FE is an excellent high-end device. It looks and feels great, rocking that slightly older but iconic S21 look. It’s also very well built, with an IP68 rating. It features an excellent 120Hz AMOLED HDR10 display with superb color accuracy, a solid stereo speaker setup, flagship-grade Snapdragon 888 chipset, and outstanding camera performance. This is a device that I would be more than happy to use on a daily basis.
My reason for mentioning the Motorola Razr 2022 on the list is a bit more niche. Simply put, its hinge mechanism left a lasting impression on me upon review. It closes the screen almost perfectly with almost no gaps and no display switching tricks this time around. Additionally, the Razr 2022’s screen crease is truly minimal and barely noticeable both visually and to the touch.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot more to like about the 2022 Razr, but my appreciation centers on the advancements in foldable display technology it represents.
Slight disappointment – Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
This is going to be a hot take for sure, but hear me out. I’m not going against what is probably Samsung’s most popular phone because I don’t like it. On the contrary, it offers an excellent overall experience with very few flaws and is an excellent choice for most users looking to buy a Galaxy.
My beef with the A53 5G is that it’s arguably not as good as the phone it replaces – the Galaxy A52s 5G. The Galaxy A53 5G has lost a 3.5mm jack and downgraded its chipset from the Snapdragon 778G to the Exynos 1280. Clearly Samsung has decided to optimize costs and cut some corners where it will really make a difference – in a phone that ships huge volumes. And it just rubs me the wrong way.
That pretty much wraps up my 2022 highlights. I hope you found my thoughts interesting and if you want to discuss any of the points raised, I’ll hide in the comments.