My top 5 phones of 2022 – Victor
Another year has passed, and with it a number of devices. One of the best parts of our job here at GSMArena is experiencing new technology all the time. For the last twelve months I have spent a lot of quality on the best smartphones out there. Still, the list you’re about to read is about phones that made a lasting impression on me personally.
This does not mean that the phones are the best of the past year, nor should it serve as buying advice for anyone in particular. I personally like a phone with a clear purpose, and I think that will be evident in the rationale for each phone chosen.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
This has been my personal daily driver ever since its launch back in February. I reserved one as soon as pre-orders went live and got it right away. 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 when it finally died on me.
When I’m jumping from phone to phone for reviews, things can get very hectic, so I like to keep things very simple on the personal front. 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 within Samsung SmartThings. Heck, I haven’t even changed my wallpaper across three or even four personal phones. The point is, I like consistency, and the S22 Ultra delivers on that front.
Basically, I see it as a familiar tool that is always in my pocket and always reliable and works as expected, so I can get my tasks done quickly and efficiently. While it may sound demeaning to call a glorious piece of engineering like the S22 Ultra a “tool”, it’s really the opposite and the highest form of praise in my world. Even since switching from my previous “tool” – the Note20 Ultra, the S22 Ultra has just managed to hit the spot while delivering better battery life and a better camera experience.
I have nothing but praise for the S22 Ultra. It has simply faded into the background for me, silently, reliably and consistently doing its job without a hiccup. That’s what I wanted and I got it.
Samsung Galaxy A33 5G
Let’s be real here, it’s easy to heap praise on devices like the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It is the cream of the crop that Samsung has to offer. In reality, however, very few people need or should spend that much on a phone. Flagships make headlines, but good mid-rangers do the job for most people, and in my humble opinion, the Galaxy A33 5G fits that bill perfectly. So much so that I actually bought one for each of my parents this year.
It’s hard to argue with the value proposition here. The A33 5G currently retails for under €300 and features IP67 ingress protection, stereo speakers, a 90Hz AMOLED display, a 5,000mAh battery, and a potent camera setup with a 48MP OIS-enabled main snapper.
Having my relatives use One UI also simplifies troubleshooting. I’ve found that from my experience, most things just seem to work out of the box with Samsung’s custom UX and better than average hardware. My mom recently had to do some file transfers to a flash drive, and I knew without checking that she could count on OTG support. The same goes for my dad who recently got an Android Auto compatible multimedia device for his car. I assured him without hesitation that his phone will work fine with it.
These are the kind 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 excellent products over the years. Although small in number, the Taiwanese giant’s phone range is exquisite in my opinion. Every time a new ROG phone comes through the door, I’m all over it for a full in-depth review, and every time I immediately wonder if I’ll be using it as a daily driver. And that’s not something that happens to me with many phones these days.
So, in a way, this is the stop here for Asus phones in general. However, I decided to highlight the Zenfone 9 in particular. I really don’t know what led to the effective death of the compact flagship concept, but Asus is one of the few that has kept it alive. And in a masterful way with very few real compromises.
Zenfone 9 is geared to the teeth. You get the stereo speakers, IP68 rating, 120Hz, HDR10+ AMOLED panel, the flagship Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset and a potent dual camera setup on the back and autofocus selfie on the front. Basically, it works in a really compact body.
I have personally recommended the Zenfone 9 on at least three occasions this year. It really is my desire for a compact flagship, and for that alone it deserves a spot on the list.
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
You can bash the iPhone SE (2022) all you want for its old design, but its popularity speaks for itself. I just love a phone with a purpose, and the iPhone SE is a prime example. It provides a relatively inexpensive entry into the realm of Apple and iOS. Whether it’s for your parents, kids, or even yourself, there’s no shame in enjoying what SE brings to the table. And once you get over its retro design, it really has a lot going for it.
First of all – it is compact. Preferably really compact, not in the modern sense. This can either be a plus or a minus for some, but it undoubtedly makes the SE unique in the current landscape. Inside the tiny IP67-rated body are also, in no particular order, stereo speakers, a Retina-grade IPS display, a fairly recent Apple A15 bionic chipset and a surprisingly good 12MP OIS-enabled 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 lineup proved particularly strong. While the Edge 30 Ultra would have been the obvious and easy choice to include on the list, I got to experience the Edge 30 Fusion in person during its review and found it to be a real treat in person.
Based on its looks, the Edge 30 Fusion has a certain understated sophistication that I love. It is also very well built. Its screen is also beautiful, with a smooth 144Hz refresh rate and excellent dynamic adjustment of the software. I also personally appreciate Motorola’s choice of a higher standard DPI for the user interface. It’s a small detail, but one that makes things look a little sharper in my mind.
I’m also a big proponent of using USB Type-C in a standardized way, and with equal power supply support, the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion delivers in that aspect. Despite its silly branding, “ready to” is also a great feature that I could actually use from time to time, just like I use DeX on the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
While it’s not a huge priority for me personally, I can only praise the camera setup for its quality and versatility. Sure, a telephoto would have been appreciated, but neither is expected at this price point. Getting autofocus on all the cameras is really great though.
Honestly, if I were to give up my daily Samsung driver for some reason, the Motorola Edge 30 Fusion or Ultra would be first in line as replacement devices.
Honorable Mentions – Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, Motorola Razr 2022
I personally 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 premium as they need to go in their purchasing decisions. A full-fledged flagship is shiny and cool and all that, but prices have become 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 premium device. It looks and feels great and shakes up the slightly older but iconic S21 look. It’s also built very well, with an IP68 rating. It has an excellent 120Hz HDR10 AMOLED display with exceptional color accuracy, a solid stereo speaker setup, a flagship-grade Snapdragon 888 chipset and exceptional camera performance. It’s a device I’d 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. In short, its hinge mechanism left a lasting impression on me during the review. It closes the screen almost perfectly with almost no gaps and no screen changing tricks this time. In addition, the fold in the screen of the Razr 2022 is really minimal and hardly noticeable both visually and by touch.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot more to like about the Razr 2022, but my appreciation for it centers around the advances in foldable display technology that it represents.
A small disappointment – Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
It’s sure to be a hot bid, 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 a great overall experience with very few flaws and is a good choice for most users looking to pick up a Galaxy.
My beef with the A53 5G is that it’s arguably not as good as the phone it replaces – the Galaxy A52’s 5G. The Galaxy A53 5G lost a 3.5mm jack and downgraded its chipset from the Snapdragon 778G to the Exynos 1280. It’s clear that Samsung decided to optimize costs and cut some corners where it will really make a difference – in a phone that sending huge quantities. And it just rubs me the wrong way.
That about wraps up my 2022 highlights. I hope you found my musings interesting, and if you want to discuss any of the points made, I’ll be lurking in the comments.