Mobile Phones

Pocketnow Awards: Best Smartphones of 2022

2022 is almost behind us, but unlike last year we’ve seen a lot more kick in the smartphone market. Foldable devices are becoming more prevalent, with new OEMs joining the fray. The iPhone now features new hardware components. And we have a brand-new company pushing to offer great value. Overall, this year’s been great for smartphones, and here we look at the ones that stood out, earning them a place in Pocketnow Awards 2022.


Contents

Best Budget Phone: Google Pixel 6a

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Budget Phone

The Pixel A-series has touted two advantages since its introduction in 2019. First, it’s a device that quickly receives software updates. Second, it punches above its weight class when it comes to camera performance. The phones also looked great, as their flagship siblings heavily inspired them. But despite the optics, software, and design, the device always came with a warning due to weak processing prowess.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

But this year saw the equation change. The Google Pixel 6a — which became available in July 2022 — is a budget device that’s only a few paces short of the Google Pixel 6. It ships with the 1st-generation Tensor processor — also found in the flagship Google Pixel 6 Pro — and comes with all the unique software features that are part of the Pixel experience.

In day-to-day use, the device feels snappy, and when you begin using the camera, the images you get will put many premium devices to shame. This core change and aggressive pricing make it the Best Budget Phone award winner.

PBI-Pixel-6a-2-1

Google Pixel 6a

Pixel 6a does away with features like high refresh rate, wireless charging, and a few other tidbits, to create a budget package that still delivers on many fronts with clean software at the forefront. It’s a Pixel, but less expensive.

Honorable Mentions

  • Samsung Galaxy A53 5G

    Samsung Galaxy A53

    The Samsung Galaxy A53 follows as an honorable mention due to its well-rounded hardware offering. If you’re comfortable with Samsung’s software experience, it’s one of the best bang for the buck devices.

  • OnePlus Nord N300 5G

    OnePlus Nord N300 5G

    The OnePlus Nord N300 5G joins OnePlus’ budget lineup, offering a combination that prioritizes on delivering a great display and design that feels premium. Other notable specifications on this device are its ability to use 33W fast charging and the 48-megapixel rear camera.

Best Camera: Apple iPhone 14 Pro

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Best Camera

After letting the iPhone make its way into the market with 12-megapixel sensors for over half a decade, Apple finally changed its hardware, bringing a 48-megapixel primary camera into the fray alongside additional improvements to its optics.

Our decision to give the iPhone 14 Pro the Best Camera award comes due to the well-rounded nature of its camera array. The photos’ neutral nature allows for edits until you’re happy with the end product; this is more noticeable if you’re shooting in Apple’s ProRAW format. Yes, occasionally, Apple’s image processing can be too sharp, but nine out of ten times, the images coming out of this device are really good.

Nevertheless, still-image photography is only one of many things that make a good smartphone camera; video capture is another huge component. Here, Apple continues to outdo its competition in every aspect. There’s a seamless transition between one lens to the other, while rival devices showcase significant jitter. Plus, new features like Action Mode and the bump to 4K recording on Cinematic Mode are welcome improvements that further increase this device’s capability as a recording tool — even for professionals.

PBI-iPhone-14-Pro-Gold-1

iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 14 Pro is the latest premium smartphone from the brand. It features a new pill-shaped ‘Dynamic Island’ notch, 48MP primary camera sensors, an A16 Bionic chipset, and much more.

Honorable Mentions

  • Google Pixel 7 Pro

    Google Pixel 7 Pro

    Powered by the Google Tensor G2, the Google Pixel 7 Pro continues its trend of being a great pocket camera. While it shares a lot of its hardware with last year’s Pixel 6 Pro, the processing improvements help it capture great-looking images with rich contrast. Google’s Real Tone improvements and other machine learning smarts also make this a great camera to use.

  • PBI PNG Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

    $878.99 $1199.99 Save $321

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra continues to impress with its quad-camera setup that’s headlined by a 108-megapixel camera. Its ability to swap between multiple zoom levels, capturing details you never imagined you could with a smartphone, is deserving of high praise.

Best Conventional Smartphone: OPPO Find X5 Pro

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Conventional

The OPPO Find X5 Pro is the winner of our Best Conventional Smartphone award due to its excellent all-around nature and combination of hardware. It ships with a refined design and is one of the most comfortable phones to hold and use. This year there’s even an in-house image processor that results in great shots from every lens part of the camera array.

The display is a gorgeous 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED panel, which barring brightness, matches Samsung’s displays in a toe-to-toe manner. As for processing and endurance, OPPO has bundled Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 alongside a 5000 mAh battery; these work together, providing above-par battery life and high-level performance. But what ties it all together for this phone is its design which uses a ceramic back, giving it a heft that’s more pleasing than a burden and an in-hand feel that’s second to none.

PBI OPPO Find X5 Pro

Oppo Find X5 Pro

OPPO Find X5 Pro ships with a 6.7-inch QHD+ OLED display and is powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. It houses a triple camera array that uses the in-house MariSilicon X image processor to capture some of the best photos you’ll see from a smartphone camera.

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI-iPhone-14-Plus-Blue-1

    Apple iPhone 14 Plus

    iPhone 14 Plus enters as the device to pick over iPhone 14 if you want the same high-tier performance and great cameras but with a larger canvas. It’s an honorable mention in our conventional category because it gets many smartphone basics right. Need a good display? Check! A great set of cameras? Check! Impeccable battery endurance? Check!

  • Google Pixel 7 Pro

    Google Pixel 7 Pro

    The Google Pixel 7 Pro came to market in 2022 as a polished device without the unfinished essence of its predecessor. The experience it offers is seamless, and its cameras are top-notch. Like the other options in this category, it gets many things right, and if you’re looking for a no-frills experience, it’s one of the best.

Best Design: Samsung Galaxy Flip 4

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Design

Need a phone to stand up by itself or one that’s easy to carry around in a small pocket? Like its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip 4 checks all the right boxes for design and grabs this award for the second year running.

While the concept of this device isn’t any different, Samsung improved on the overall in-hand feel of its hardware. It now has more squared-off edges and chooses a polished aluminum finish instead of the matte we’ve seen previously. These changes combine to give it an overhaul that makes it look more premium and worth its $999 price tag.

PBI Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 Background Removed

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

$759.99 $1059.99 Save $300

The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, a better hinge mechanism, and a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover display. 

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

    Xiaomi Mix Fold 2

    The Xiaomi Mix Fold 2 features significant upgrades over its predecessor, bringing design improvements that are more than just incremental jumps. The device measures only 5.4mm when unfolded, making it thinner than almost every conventional flagship.

  • HUAWEI Mate 50 Pro

    HUAWEI Mate 50 Pro

    The new HUAWEI Mate 50 Pro makes its way back to the market after a 2-year hiatus with a polarizing design in more ways than one. While its display chooses to maintain a notch, the curved front is a pleasure to look at, and upon flipping around to its back, you will notice a camera array with lots of symmetry in play, adding to the overall aesthetic. The variety of premium finishes also adds to the allure of this smartphone.

Best Mid-range: Nothing Phone 1

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Mid-range

Our Nothing Phone 1 review called the device a jack of all trades, and this was without any negative sentiment. To earn the praise that it did, despite being the first iteration, is quite impeccable. It comes with choice hardware and a unique design that puts it above every mid-range smartphone. Combined with its pricing, it became a guaranteed recipe for success. And since launch, its software experience, while quite barebones and Pixel-esque, has also been pleasant.

The display exudes premium with even bezels all around, and the overall panel brightness wasn’t a sore point too. The camera array features only two sensors, wide and ultrawide, with no frills and above-par performance. And the processor packaged inside handles every task thrown at it with ease. Battery endurance on Nothing Phone 1 is also reasonable.

Product Image of Nothing Phone 1 in Black

Nothing Phone 1

Nothing Phone 1 comes with a 6.55-inch 120Hz OLED display with slim bezels, a custom Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G+ processor, 900 LEDs on the back, dual 50MP shooters, wireless charging, and more.

Honorable Mentions

  • Motorola Edge 2022

    Motorola Edge (2022)

    The Motorola Edge 2022 is a decent phone that’s highly competitive in the mid-range market when purchased at a discounted price. Its key selling points include the high quality 144Hz refresh rate panel and 8GB of RAM coupled with 256GB of storage.

  • iPhone SE 2022 RED

    Apple iPhone SE (2022)

    The latest iPhone SE 2022 comes with 5G and the A15 Bionic Chip, the same SoC that powers the iPhone 13 series of flagship devices. The new iPhone SE is the most affordable iPhone in Apple’s lineup, and it comes with new camera features and improved battery life.

Best Value: Google Pixel 7 Pro

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Value-1

When the Pixel 6 Pro entered the market in 2021, it turned many heads because of its unique design and $899 price tag. Everyone, including us at Pocketnow, had great hopes for the smartphone, but unfortunately, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. While Google’s first attempt at making a processor wasn’t a bust, some of its hardware choices could have been better. The device’s fingerprint sensor performance was abysmal, and bugs riddled the user experience.

With Pixel 7 Pro, Google has seemingly clamped down on quality control on all fronts. The device feels premium and more polished, plus the software experience has been pleasant. The Tensor G2 is also a step up in terms of performance. The issue-free QHD+ display, capable triple camera array, and decent battery endurance are all hallmarks of what a good device the Pixel 7 Pro is; so, in a market where flagships normally cost upwards of $1000, this device offers great value, making it worthy of this award.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

Google Pixel 7 Pro

The Google Pixel 7 Pro, powered by the new Google Pixel Tensor sensor, provides great graphics performance and computing power to let you easily play all of your favorite games and multitask. The device also has a highly capable camera setup that’s backed by a unique post-processing algorithm that helps achieve great results.

Honorable Mentions

  • OnePlus 10 Pro Volcanic Black Product Image

    OnePlus 10 Pro

    OnePlus 10 Pro ships with a 6.7-inch QHD+ display that uses a 2nd generation LTPO panel. It also features the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and aims to deliver a unique camera experience with a 150-degree Ultrawide camera and implementations from the second year of the Hasselblad partnership.

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

    Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

    The latest Galaxy S21 FE comes with the Snapdragon 888 powerful chipset, a large 6.4-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rate, a 12MP primary, a 12MP ultrawide, and an 8MP telephoto sensor on the back to capture your moments.

Best Compact: Samsung Galaxy S22

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Compact

Compact smartphones are a dying breed, and in 2022 we saw the end of the iPhone 13 mini, which was last year’s winner in this category. The device was an industry favorite, offering top-of-the-line performance, a well-rounded camera experience, and battery endurance that paralleled some large phones.

But with it no longer in the picture, the definition of “compact” does change for 2022, but only in terms of size. Great performance — camera and processor — and battery endurance still hold weight. And we feel the Samsung Galaxy S22 fits in this space perfectly. It isn’t absurdly tall and is quite slim, measuring only 7.6mm, plus it only weighs 168 grams. Other aspects that make the device attractive are its 6.1-inch display with evenly distributed bezels and powerful internal hardware, which ensures you’re not left wanting more.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Green

Samsung Galaxy S22

$645.99 $799.99 Save $154

The Samsung Galaxy S22 comes with a flagship 4nm chipset, a three-camera setup on the back that is capable of capturing important memories both day and night, and a long battery life that can last a full day on a single charge. If you want a compact and stylish device, the Galaxy S22 is one of the best devices to get in 2022.

Honorable Mentions

  • Product Image of Zenfone 9 in Black

    Asus Zenfone 9

    The Zenfone 9 features internal hardware comparable to any flagship launched in 2022, but it features the key-selling point of being a compact device. If you were looking for a small phone that does things better or equal to most options on the market, this is a phone to keep your eyes on.

  • PBI iPhone 14 Midnight

    Apple iPhone 14

    iPhone 14 joins the market as the smartphone to pick if you want a high-tier of performance, great cameras, and battery life that will ease you through a day of use. With a screen size of 6.1 inches and squared edges, this device is one of the easiest to handle out there!

Best All-Rounder: Google Pixel 7

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones All Rounder

While the Pixel 7 Pro offers the best value when considering its price point, some of its components are add-ons that only some need. Hence, when you factor in cost, with its $599 price, the Pixel 7 is a well-rounded device that will provide a pleasing experience to every buyer.

It ships with a 90Hz 1080p screen, the Tensor G2 chipset, and top-of-the-line cameras. The optics on it are great for still photos and show a marked improvement in video recording capability. The processor doesn’t trade blows with Qualcomm and Apple’s latest processing hardware but achieves more than par for the course, even when looking at flagship devices.

Google Pixel 7

Google Pixel 7

The new Google Pixel 7 is powered by the all-new Google Tensor G2 chipset. The device is coupled with 8GB of memory, and it has 128/256GB storage tiers. The phone comes with a significantly improved camera system, and it’s more portable than the last generation.  The Pixel 7 is available in Obsidian, Lemongrass, and Snow colors. 

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI Samsung Galaxy S22 Pink Gold

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

    $799.99 $999.99 Save $200

    Need a device from Samsung that isn’t too hard on the wallet but provides one of the best user experiences? The Galaxy S22 Plus is likely to be your best bet. The device does everything the standard S22 is known for but improves upon it with a larger canvas and battery. It’s a package with all the essentials and some more for good measure.

  • OnePlus 10T

    OnePlus 10T 5G

    The 10T is the latest affordable flagship from OnePlus, which covers the essential bases of display and performance with top-of-the-line hardware. It then adds on par for the course optics that, while not the best, will ensure you’re able to capture some great moments. The device also ships with 150W fast charging capability.

Best Innovation: HONOR Magic Vs

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Innovation

The HONOR Magic Vs follows a story told by many devices with Asian origins, that is, offering bang for the buck hardware and performance. The device is one of the folding phones which will make it out of China and around the globe. But why does this device win our Best Innovation award? That is thanks to its new hinge, which drastically reduces the number of components inside.

It now has a “gearless hinge,” described to function similarly to the one we see on doors. It moves from a 92-component iteration on the Magic V to one with four parts. The change allows this foldable to be lighter and thinner while leaving more internal space for essentials like battery and camera hardware.

PBI Honor Magic Vs

Honor Magic Vs

Honor Magic Vs comes with the flagship level specifications and a design that makes it easier to use — be it folded or unfolded. Its price tag also makes it an exciting alternative for those who want to try their hand at foldable phones without spending upwards of $1500.

Honorable Mentions

  • OPPO MariSilicon X

    OPPO MariSilicon X

    According to OPPO, the MariSilicon X is a processor that combines key components utilized in smartphone cameras to deliver high-level image processing while maintaining power efficiency. It makes it possible for OPPO’s devices to capture 4K Night Video with live preview. The unit is even capable of achieving an 8db signal-to-noise ratio, meaning more data to work with to get clearer pictures and textures.

  • PBI Samsung Logo

    Samsung

    Ultra Thin Glass from Samsung first made its appearance with the Galaxy Z Flip. Since then, the technology has expanded to the Galaxy Z Fold lineup and shown improvements year after year. This year, the displays on Samsung’s folding phones took another step towards feeling natural and improved durability.

Best of the Best: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Best of the Best

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 picks up right where its predecessor left last year and receives our Best of the Best award. While many expected 2022 to be a big year for Samsung, where it made drastic design changes and brought in significantly improved components, the OEM chose to make it another one for refinement. But the updates now make this device more “conventional” than ever.

The Z Fold 4 improves its in-hand feel by going for a wider aspect ratio for its front display and, consequently, its inner panel. The change means it’s now more comfortable to type on when you’re using it folded, as there’s more space to tap around, and when opened up, you can now use three applications with relative ease.

The device also packs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, which boasts improved performance and efficiency, and is a considerable step up over the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Camera hardware also saw a bump, putting the Fold 4 on par with the standard Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.

But Samsung focused on more than just hardware this year. It introduced new software features, notably a taskbar for its inner screen, which makes it easier to navigate between open and frequently used applications and get through work quicker. All these improvements combine and give us a device worthy of being crowned the best of the best for 2022.

PBI Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

$1419.99 $1919.99 Save $500

The latest Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 comes with the most powerful Qualcomm SoC, a wider display, a better hinge mechanism, and many significant upgrades over its predecessor.

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI PNG Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

    $878.99 $1199.99 Save $321

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best Android devices available on the market. It features top-of-the-line specs, tons of power, an extraordinary camera, S Pen stylus support, and other great features. If you’re looking for an absolute beast and something that can do it all without breaking a sweat, the Galaxy S22 Ultra got it all. 

  • PBI-iPhone-14-Deep-Purple-1

    iPhone 14 Pro Max

    iPhone 14 Pro is the latest large-screen premium smartphone from the brand. It features a new pill-shaped ‘Dynamic Island’ notch, 48MP primary camera sensors, an A16 Bionic chipset, and much more. 

Best Company: Google

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Company

Refining a product to the point that Google has done with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, all while working in the background on additional hardware and software elements that will further improve a user’s experience, requires special appreciation.

The predecessors to the two phones were quite messy for Google, and for it to go back to the drawing board and come back with these stable devices is a huge positive. Throughout the year, we also got to see and learn about some of Google’s new Pixel-exclusive software perks and camera improvements. The launch of the Pixel Watch and the showcase of the upcoming Pixel Tablet, which has some modular functionality, are also signs of positive changes at Google.

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI Apple Logo

    Apple

    While we have Google taking the crown for its improved hardware, Apple is just a little behind. 2022 saw it reimagine its iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models from the inside, making them more repairable than ever before. The OEM also took some brave steps forward, eliminating the notch on its devices and creating Dynamic Island, a cutout on its Pro models that it’s embracing as a combination of hardware and software. Other avenues of its business also saw some great new additions. We saw a redesigned MacBook Air and the second generation of AirPods Pro; both marked improvements over their previous generation.

  • PBI Samsung Logo

    Samsung

    Samsung has also had a great 2022 as its foldables division continues to ride the wave of increasing sales. And its S22 lineup, which made its way to market early in the year, offered some great hardware choices for users who were in the market for an upgrade and were looking for a great conventional device. The OEM also showcased improved laptops in the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360 and its standard variant, bringing new internals from Intel and combining them with other great hardware.

Best Advancement: Foldables for All

Pocketnow Awards Best of 2022 Smartphones Advancement

2021 saw the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 receive a lot of praise because of its price tag, which aligned the device with conventional flagships. In addition, the impressive sales numbers that Samsung’s folding phones achieved continued to show the foldable market had some real promise.

Fast forward a year since then, and more competitors have now taken notice of the opportunity as we see and expect devices from Vivo, Xiaomi, HONOR, and even OPPO to make their way to major global locations. Foldables for all is something we’re excited about as it will only lead to meaningful competition, which we all know results in better devices for us to use and improve our lives.

Honorable Mentions

  • AI Logo

    AI Innovation

    AI Innovation is on a constant rise worldwide, and 2022 saw some unique use cases make their way to the forefront. We’ve seen AI come into the picture with security measures and image processing when using smartphones. And in the last couple of years, Google Assistant and its Call Screening feature have also gained popularity. AI is also making its way into the public — in a more general sense — with tools like DALL-E and ChatGPT that generate intelligible content based on a few user inputs. We’re excited to see where this leads in the coming years.

  • PBI Xiaomi Logo

    Xiaomi

    1-inch sensors aren’t uncommon; we heard about them last year too, but what makes Xiaomi’s iteration different? Its collaboration with Sony has resulted in a smartphone camera that produces images with more light, dynamic range, and details. There’s also a natural bokeh introduced, creating depth-of-field that smoothly transitions from one part in an image to another.

Biggest Let Down: Sony’s Smartphones

LI Sony Xperia 5 IV

Over the last few years, smartphones that have come out of Sony’s stable have one thing in common: high price tags that are hard to digest for many, especially when phones with similar or better hardware cost significantly less. In addition, these devices tend to lack polish. So, if you’re an average consumer, it makes them an immediate no-go.

The Xperia 1 IV is known to have fingerprint scanner-related problems, while the Xperia 5 IV suffers from overheating when stressed. The heating issues are known to appear when using the camera application, which means recommending this device to professionals — the intended market — isn’t possible.

Sony’s smartphones are, unfortunately, our letdowns for 2022 despite having great potential. The high price tags combined with issues hampering the core experience are things we shouldn’t excuse.

Honorable Mentions

  • PBI Moto RAZR 2022

    Moto RAZR (2022)

    The Moto RAZR is also a letdown for us this year as it gives up the essence of what made it unique. The smartphone by itself isn’t poor, but its limited launch and step away from the iconic design language are changes we aren’t on board with, as the device is now just another foldable.

  • 5G Graphic

    5G

    Limited mmWave Prevalence

    5G, as we know it, was supposed to give us blazing-fast internet across the world, but a key component of this experience is mmWave. Unfortunately, two years after the technology became mainstream, the limitations on this still exist. Not every smartphone supports it, and not every region has access. We hope to see mmWave make broader strokes soon and show us the impact it can have on the mobile world.

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Makes Noise is a blog where you can find all the juicy details on a variety of topics including health and fitness, technology, lifestyle, entertainment, love and relationships, beauty and makeup, sports and so much more. The blog is updated regularly to make sure you have all the latest and greatest information on the topics that matter most to you.

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