Well, 2022 is coming to a close and I can say it’s been a very… old year. Of course, we can’t always have exciting years, but my return to using a phone from last year, the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, speaks for itself.
That’s not to say I didn’t have my favorites from this year’s crop, and here they are in no particular order.
Asus Zenfone 9
Like last year, I’d like to start this list with an Asus phone. This year, of course, it’s the Zenfone 9. I’ve always had a soft spot for compact flagships, and I think Asus has nailed it again. In fact, I think the new Zenfone 9 is the best looking phone of 2022. The design is very simple but super sleek and premium.
It also ticks almost all the boxes for a 2022 flagship phone, except telephoto. But it’s hard to ask for one at 5.9 inches. But at least it offers a great photo experience with what it has.
Plus, I’m a big fan of clean Android software, and Asus’s ZenUI is probably one of the best for it. It looks stock but still provides advanced and unusual proprietary features. Battery life is surprisingly good and even beats some larger devices with larger batteries.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Clean Android is just one of the reasons I like the Pixel 7 Pro. The camera, of course, is another thing – I loved the processing of the shots. There are things I can’t quite put my finger on, but Pixel Photos has a different vibe. And I like it very much.
I also love how smart this phone is. Google’s AI-powered features like call screening, speech-to-text and vice versa are great, and it also extracts images and text from photos. The Pixel 7 Pro is the true definition of a smartphone. Or at least I think it’s the closest thing to a smarttelephone.
If it weren’t for its limited market availability, I’d probably be rocking the Pixel 7 Pro right now. Also, many smart features are not available in my country. After all, speech recognition software has its limitations.
Although unusual, I really like this year’s design, although it is almost identical to the 6 series. Finally, this year’s Pixel version doesn’t suffer from many of the hardware and/or software issues that are standard for Google phones.
The tiny Pixel 7 gets the nod for being a compact flagship with a solid feature set and a surprisingly competitive price.
I’m not a Pixel fanboy, don’t get me wrong. Still, it’s hard to deny that the Pixels are very good phones this year. I really can’t think of a midranger that stands out from the crowd this year, except for the Pixel 6a.
It’s affordable, runs on last year’s flagship Google SoC, offers an advanced camera experience, has all the perks of being a Google phone in terms of software updates, and is overall a well-balanced phone. If it is available in your country, you should definitely consider it.
Xiaomi 12S Ultra
I’m currently using a Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and I’m totally disappointed that the 12S Ultra is unusable outside of China. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the 12S Ultra and it’s a great phone.
It has all the bells and whistles and is undoubtedly the best camera phone on the market. The telephoto performance is unmatched in my opinion.
Also, I’m a big fan of the design. I find the faux leather and circular camera module quite unique, while the surface feels nice to the touch. It offers excellent grip and possibly better durability than your standard glass sandwich construction.
I’ve also been loving Xiaomi’s MIUI recently. It’s feature-rich, polished, customizable, and lightning fast.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Like most of my colleagues, I pick the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra as one of my favorite phones of 2022, and not because we’re getting free Bugattis from the Korean tech giant, but mostly because the S22 Ultra is the closest thing we’ve got. to the flagship without any compromises this year. This is finally a phone that combines the Note and S ranges and delivers a perfect overall product.
It’s so feature-rich that it’s hard not to attract the masses. Hell, it even has two telephoto focal lengths, which is one of the best things about this phone.
The software is one of the main reasons I like this year’s Ultra. The UI is more polished than ever, it has a ton of really useful features, and it’s possibly the best custom Android skin made for one-handed use. This was the original main selling point of One UI a few years ago and has stayed true to its roots.
One criticism I have of One UI 5.0 is that while it looks a lot smoother than its predecessor, it’s still a bit sluggish compared to its competitors. I’ve spent most of this year with the S22+, and I can say that most, if not all, other Android iterations are faster and more responsive.
Still, I believe most people won’t notice the difference and won’t be as concerned about it as I am.
Hopefully 2023 will bring more innovative and exciting phones, but most importantly, a worldwide release of my favorites.