Five phones we loved in 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, we want to look back over the past 12 months and over the next few days talk about the devices we’ve captured throughout the year. It’s been a year full of launches, but not necessarily full of significant ‘upgrades’, with the entire tech industry seemingly at a standstill in many ways. However, there were a few devices that caught our attention, and the first category we’re going to talk about is smartphones, by far the most popular devices on the market.

What follows is not a ranking and we will not award the best devices on the market, nor will we create price categories. These are just the smartphones that we liked to remember at the end of the year and that stood out among the other models we tested.

iPhone 14 Pro Max

Apple’s new flagship iPhone 14 Pro Max is an “almost” perfect phone. We say almost, as it has some shortcomings, which we also mentioned in the review, such as the very slow Lightning port for both charging and data transfer. At the same time, it also otherwise has some of the best performing components. We’re talking about one of the best performing chipsets on the market, one of the best performing cameras, delivering consistent results every time and in all types of light, as well as the best video on the market.

iPhone 14 Pro Max portable front

The screen is the big news in 2022, being one of the brightest, and has the first iPhone design change in 5 years: the change of the camera cutout to the “dynamic island”, a new multitasking area for iOS. Plus, Apple finally has the always-on display feature on the Pro models, and the battery is back at an all-time high, offering the best battery life in the flagship range.

There is also some bad news regarding the iPhone 14 Pro: the price, which has increased significantly from last year, and availability. Even if you have the 7000+ for this phone, it’s very difficult to get your hands on it because Apple can’t keep up with the market demand. It also means that a settlement is not on the horizon.

Galaxy S22 Ultra

It would be easy to say that the Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t much different from the S21 and S20 in the Ultra variants if you look strictly at the hardware specs, but this year Samsung launched the phone that the Note preferred line-up sought. The S22 Ultra (review) added on top of the large screen and very powerful cameras and an S-Pen stylus, integrated into the phone, the accessory that distinguishes it the most in the market.

Of course the cameras are excellent, but one of them is definitely more powerful than any other device on the market: 10x optical zoom, with the possibility of very good results up to 30x hybrid zoom. This camera unlocks creative new recording options on the phone that were pretty much missing from all the other phones tested this year.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra s-pen front

There are of course disadvantages to this model, such as the battery life, which is not great, but also the Exynos 2200 processor which is slower and heats up more than the alternatives on the market. Loading is also very slow compared to most flagships. Still, there are few phones in the Android phone market that offer a “complete” package, even if they may be better in certain categories.

Galaxy A53

Of all the mid-range models tested this year, the Galaxy A53 remains a benchmark model. Despite using a weaker processor than other comparable models on the market, it is the easiest to recommend mid-range device of the year for several reasons.

Sure, it has a “plasticky” build and a somewhat “childish” design, but it comes with water resistance and offers the most benefits in its price category. First, it is one of the few mid-range phones on the market that will receive four system updates and five years of security updates. It has already received the Android 13 update, while other €1,000+ models from competitors are still waiting.

Galaxy A53 front

Then it’s a mid-range with 120Hz OLED screen, powerful camera and good battery life. For most smartphone users, this is the phone that will do everything they need. The only major drawback is the lack of charger in the package, something that other brands in this price range offer. Surely many would rather use a charger they already have, or buy one for a few dozen, than buy an inferior phone at a similar price, just because it offers a plug adapter in the package.

Realme GT 2 Pro

Realme’s GT 2 Pro managed to impress us more than the OnePlus 10 Pro and Oppo Find X5 Pro models released around the same time by “related” brands. That’s because for just over half the price of those flagships, you got largely the same experience. We are talking about top screen and processor, good but not perfect cameras, and very good battery life.

Realme GT 2 Pro back

Realme seems to be the brand that can “win” users’ sympathy in regions like Romania, thanks to its very good performance/price ratio. Of course, it can’t boast Hasselblad camera systems or Oppo’s MariSilicon image processor, but it doesn’t need to, as most users won’t know the difference anyway. And the plastic construction is a plus this time, as the back cover has a nice texture that is resistant to scratches and mechanical shocks, which can encourage the use of the phone without a case.

OnePlus 10T

Also from the Oppo “family” we have the OnePlus 10T, a model that has proven that this brand can still produce flagship killers. That’s because the 10T is significantly cheaper than the 10 Pro, but comes with a more powerful and better-cooled processor, much faster charging at 150W, and a number of drawbacks that may upset OnePlus fans.

OnePlus 10T in front

The biggest drawback is the lack of the alert slider, a true “signature” of OnePlus flagships. Then the cameras do not live up to high expectations, but at the same time, the company’s phones have never been at the top of the preferences of phone photography enthusiasts.

OnePlus certainly showed in 2022 that it hasn’t completely given up on the concept of high-performance phones at reasonable prices, but it also doesn’t seem to be promoting it as much as before, preferring to focus its efforts on the significantly more expensive Pro model.

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