My Top 5 phones of 2022 – George

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My thirst and curiosity for new smartphones has waned over the years – after reviewing my share of models and using a handful personally, I’ve reached a point where the excitement has mostly left the room. That said, there are still some areas where the development manages to create a spark in this otherwise callous reviewer’s heart – not enough to motivate a purchase, but just enough to keep him going.

Always the one who wants more type, I’m still looking for the right foldable to deliver the most tablet in the smallest amount of smartphone, and we’re getting close to that goal. Meanwhile, a still-burning fascination with photography, despite the now-abandoned pursuit of mastering the craft, means unusual smartphone cameras are also at least a little captivating. And then, ultimately, there are the phones I buy to use, and that group has traditionally had no overlap with the previous two. Let’s try to make a list.

Oppo Find N2

At about 40 grams lighter than the previous generation, the just-announced Find N2 is now at a regular large-smartphone level. The latest of foldable packages includes a small smartphone with a sensible form factor on the front and a compact tablet when you open the Flexion hinge. It’s a game of aspect ratio with these designs, and Fundene brings them closer right than anyone else.

A common trade-off with foldables is sacrificing the latest advances in image capture simply because there isn’t room for the hardware in these necessarily slim bodies. That’s obviously still the case on the Find N2, but this generation’s specs sound a little less lackluster – bigger sensor tele and ultrawide, plus AF on the latter – which boosts the Find’s viability as an all-rounder a notch above the N(1) )’s.

Now all that’s left is an ‘international’ firmware and official availability outside of China. All in due time, I guess.

Xiaomi 12S Ultra

The Xiaomi 12S Ultra is in a similar Western-unavailable limbo, but it makes it onto this list anyway – due to possibly being the overall best camera phone out there. Unlike the Mi 11 Ultra, the 12S is tied to its Chinese home market and we Europeans will have to wait a bit longer for a fully functional phone with a (fully usable) 1.0″ type camera sensor.

My top 5 phones in 2022 - George

But it’s not just the main camera here – the ultra-wide and telephoto, recycled as they may be from the previous generation, are also hard to compete with, making for a truly remarkable trio. Perhaps Xiaomi will only release the odd Ultras to the world – one can only hope for a global 13 Ultra when the time comes.

ZTE Axon 40 Ultra

Which brings us to the ZTE Axon 40 Ultra. A solid phone overall, it’s not here because it’s such a complete package – no, the reason is more specific. In a world of 24-ish mm (equivalent) main cameras, the Axon chooses a 35mm, and it makes a significant difference in the kind of pictures it takes. The changed perspective, the extra bokeh, the natural portraits – the one camera is a unique selling point.

My top 5 phones in 2022 - George

One camera doesn’t make a phone, though, and for all its general okayness, the Axon 40 Ultra can’t quite be everyone’s phone, in the same way that a Galaxy or an iPhone can. All that’s left now is for one of the big guys to make a 35mm (or so) camera with a large sensor – either as the ‘main’ camera or alongside a more conventional 24mm unit .

Tecno Phantom X2 Pro

There is another unique one-trick pony camera phone coming out in 2022 and that is Tecno Phantom X2 Pro. As tough to swallow in terms of user interface as any other Tecno or Infinix (at least from this particular reviewer’s perspective), and not exactly amazing in several other respects, the Phantom X2 Pro has a unique pop-out 65mm portrait camera.

My top 5 phones in 2022 - George

We explored it in detail and found that it delivers unmatched results for today’s smartphones – for quite specific tasks and strictly compared to smartphones, but these are smartphones in your pocket and not the 85/1.4 or some other optical monstrosity, you dream of. off at night.

So yeah, another entry into the ‘simply exciting camera in a phone you ultimately wouldn’t get’ category.

Google Pixel 7 Pro

What I got was the Pixel 7 Pro. A phone without a single particularly impressive camera, the slowest charging, network limitations where I live (since it’s not officially sold), and feature limitations where I live (read above) on top of what’s a slightly bland take on the UI to begin with .

My top 5 phones in 2022 - George

It’s not new… quirks. But despite all of them (and a lot of well-documented hardware issues over the years), the Pixel, as a concept, has had an enduring appeal for me. I still fondly remember the last one I had, the Pixel 3, size small – they don’t make them like they used to. Curiously, no middle model managed to take the elusive attraction (inexplicable too, some colleagues would say) and promote it to a moment that changes hands.

Well, this one did, and some discount can take some of the responsibility. But a lot of it comes down to the fact that the sum of the Pixel 7 Pro’s goodness this year and that #teampixel appeal just finally outweighs its shortcomings (which I’m not blind to and accept). Admittedly a strange way to culminate a Top 5 list, but hey, it is what is.

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