My Top 5 Phones of 2022 – Yordan
The year is finally coming to an end, and we look back and reflect on what was served to us during those eventful 12 months. In the world of smartphones, we’ve seen over 500 new models, many of which are excellent in one way or another.
As my colleagues share their top five picks for 2022, we can normally identify some trends – some like foldables, others opted for cameraphones. I just like high end devices in general.
I’ve been writing about mobile technology for over ten years, the last six being part of GSMArena. I’ve seen a lot of innovation and evolution, but I honestly believe 2022 was the best year to have a flagship. And that’s why my Top 5 list consists of real top products from 5 top manufacturers. They’re in no particular order, mind you, I like them all the same.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
This smartphone has been around since February. It was launched as a replacement for the now discontinued Galaxy Note series, and I was skeptical if users were ready for the change. It was weird having a Samsung Galaxy S phone with an S Pen, and the distinct Note design with the sharp edges didn’t sit well with me.
My worries quickly died down when I was able to use the phone for a while. The camera was slightly improved over the already very capable Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the user interface was a joy to work with. The S Pen is a great addition that brings all the cool features originally reserved for the Galaxy Note series.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a chonky boy. It’s incredibly tall and wide, and its sharp edges make it difficult to handle. Fortunately, humans are adaptive creatures, and size wasn’t an issue after the first few days. The trade-off for such a big device is that the screen is big, the battery is big and long-lasting, and it can pack everything needed to be a powerhouse.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
I love taking photos, and naturally people would think I would have a smartphone with a powerful telephoto lens. I love taking pictures of animals from a distance without disturbing them, and for that you need a long zoom.
The Pixel 7 Pro comes with 5x optical zoom, although the sensor is smaller than the predecessor. It also has OIS, but most importantly, it comes with Google’s unparalleled algorithm to deliver clear photos.
Unlike Samsung, I love Google’s concept of bringing in vibrant colors without oversaturating the image, where contrast goes through the roof. I also like the night photos algorithm – in my opinion Google provides the best and most accurate details. They don’t seem overly processed and the camera seems to know what it’s seeing instead of trying to figure it out through computer science.
Huawei Mate 50 Pro
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I still think Huawei can get back on track. I have met many high-level company executives, based in all corners of the world, and one thing unites them all: their determination to ensure that Huawei remains one thing despite geopolitical challenges.
The Huawei Mate 50 Pro is its latest testament. Yes, the phone lacks the obvious services many of us use on a daily basis, but it does remarkably well with the company’s suite of apps. Petal Search works great, Petal Maps has all the essential features we need from other navigation apps, and the way AppGallery looks beyond its app store is a neat approach to circumventing current restrictions.
Of course, this is a list of phones, so here’s why I think the Huawei Mate 50 Pro is worth it – it looks good and works well, and the screen and battery life of the battery are simply amazing; I love just about everything about it. It’s a little more expensive than I’d like, and it lacks 5G for the same reasons it doesn’t have GMS, but those aren’t deal breakers in my world. I want a phone that grabs attention, performs well and captures amazing photos from a distance – and the Mate 50 Pro does all that and more.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra
While we’re talking about phones with major flaws, I’m extremely disappointed with Xiaomi and how it handled the 12S Ultra launch. Yes, we had the phone with us, but our team did the review with the elephant in the room looking over our shoulder the whole time. The phone is limited to China, which surely puts a damper on Xiaomi’s claim to be a top-notch manufacturer.
That said, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, and loved the device as soon as it fell into my hands. The camera design is delightful – instead of having a mess of sensors and a screen, like the Mi 11 Ultra, we have a big circle and a leather back – it’s all more clean and minimalist, this which is a victory in my world.
As stated in this article, I want the phone to work well. And this Xiaomi flagship does just that. It comes with the latest chipset, a large QHD+ screen, and a powerful battery with fast wireless charging. Of course, the 1″ type camera with PDAF and OIS is the main talking point.
Xiaomi has tuned the camera processing with Leica, which means we have a mode called “Leica Authentic”. It reproduces true-to-life colors, which many other smartphones lack with their oversaturation in favor of the images that appear. I want to remember the moments as they are, with all their dark nuances, shadows and imperfections, and thankfully Leica delivers that in the 12S Ultra.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max
I have never hidden my admiration for Apple hardware. I have a major issue with Tim Cook’s team, and that’s the Apple tax they charge on all of their products. Still, I think the iPhone 14 Pro Max is one of the best smartphones launching in 2022, if ever.
As some may have noticed, I’m a fan of big phones – I just want to enjoy my content on big, bright screens. I love taking photos too, and the upgrade Apple made to the iPhone 14 Pro Max is worth mentioning. The new 48 MP camera with quad-Bayer pixel array and the new 12 MP ultra-wide sensor with dual pixel phase detection autofocus are amazing.
Image processing remains specific to Apple. Yes, HDR goes a bit too far, which I don’t really like, but the photos still look great. One thing Apple does better than any other company is people photos – it retains all the details and little imperfections that make our faces unique and beautiful. There is not as much applied computer science as in other scenarios.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, this Top 5 in no way seeks to rank one device above the other. All five are extremely capable smartphones that are worth their place in the 2022 smartphone pantheon, even if some of them are a bit more expensive than I would have liked.