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What does my perfect 2022 smartphone look like?

From performance and camera hardware to the Android skin and beyond, here's what I want to see.

Published onDecember 19, 2022

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Pixel 7 Pro close up
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

This year, we saw plenty of great smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S22 series, the Pixel 7 range, the OPPO Find X5 Pro, and the iPhone 14 Pro family, to name just a few. But no matter which handset you choose, there’s no such thing as a perfect smartphone.

Each one of these phones has a compromise or not quite-perfect feature. For example, the standard Galaxy S22 has a tiny battery, the Pixel 7 range offers slow charging speeds, the Find X5 Pro has disappointing zoom capabilities, and the iPhone 14 Pro range still uses a Lightning port and offers slow charging.

What if we could make the perfect 2022 smartphone though? I decided to do just that by picking and choosing my favorite features from various flagship phones released this year.

Display — OPPO Find X5 Pro

OPPO Find X5 Pro homescreen in stand
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

You only need to look at the spec sheet to see why I chose the OPPO Find X5 Pro’s display. The flagship phone packs a 6.7-inch QHD+ 120Hz OLED screen, delivering a proper variable refresh rate and a maximum brightness of 1,300 nits.

We called the screen “the best in the business” in our Find X5 Pro review. We also praised the seamless refresh rate switching, which isn’t always a given on some 2022 flagships.

The Find X5 Pro delivered a premium display, offering smart refresh rate switching and high brightness.

The only real downside to the Find X5 Pro’s screen is the 6.7-inch size, which is a little too big for me. But I’d need to go bigger anyway if I wanted to fit all these listed features into my fantasy smartphone.

Camera hardware — Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera module close up angled
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung’s latest Ultra phone arguably brings the best camera hardware in 2022. Sure, some phones offer bigger main sensors or better ultrawide cameras, but it’s clear that the S22 Ultra brings the most flexible setup of the year.

The Ultra serves up a 108MP Isocell HM3 main camera, a 12MP ultrawide lens, a 3x 10MP telephoto camera, and a 10x 10MP periscope shooter. The latter is on the cutting edge for zoom capabilities, enabling better long-range zoom than devices like the Pixel 7 Pro.

Camera software — Google Pixel 7 series

Shooting the exterior of a house with the Google pixel 7 pro camera app.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Camera hardware is only part of the equation when it comes to taking great photos, as you need software too. I’m going with Google’s camera software, as it’s long been at or near the front of the pack. The company’s use of HDR+ and associated computational photography techniques has resulted in fantastic daytime snaps and high-quality night mode images.

More camera coverage: Want a phone with a great camera? Here’s what to look for

Aside from the image processing itself, the Pixel line also boasts nifty camera software features. This includes Magic Eraser, Photo Unblur, Motion Mode, and an astrophotography mode with an astro timelapse option. So you’ve got plenty of tools at your disposal.

Google’s software isn’t without issues, though. The Pixel camera app still lacks a Pro mode, you can’t capture full-resolution 50MP shots, and you miss out on OEM features like Single Take and portrait mode styles. It also doesn’t help that the UI is a little unintuitive for accessing features like macro mode and 10x zoom. Still, it’s the best overall.

Performance — ASUS ROG Phone 6

ASUS Rog Phone 6 front with accessories
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

In a full-fledged fantasy, we’d opt for the Apple A16 Bionic processor for peak performance.  But I’m sticking to Android phones for this article, specifically opting for the ASUS ROG Phone 6.

The ROG Phone 6 brings a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 SoC that touts major efficiency and performance gains over the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. In fact, our benchmarks reflected these performance gains in classic and sustained tests. A win for mobile gamers and those who value a cooler running smartphone. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the ASUS phone offers improved cooling capabilities compared to typical flagship devices, as well as a speedy performance boost toggle.

Otherwise, the ROG Phone 6 also brings at least 12GB of RAM and a minimum of 256GB of storage. That’s a pretty good starting point for a flagship phone in 2022 and even into 2023.

Android skin — One UI

Samsung Galaxy S22 Bora Purple Front With Green Photo Frames
C. Scott Brown / Android Authority
Galaxy S22

I thought about Google’s Pixel UI and OPPO’s Color OS, but ultimately concluded that there’s only one Android skin I’d want on my ideal flagship phone. And that’s Samsung’s One UI.

One UI brings a ton of features, unparalleled customization via Good Lock, and the best update pledge in the game.

It’s not the most lightweight, stock-like overlay out there, but it still brings plenty of goodness to the table. It sports a ton of features (including Dex), exclusive Windows PC integrations, and Samsung’s nifty Good Lock suite. The latter is a library of downloadable apps that enable even greater customization of your lock screen, camera app, launcher, sound settings, and more.

Things only look sweeter if you take the brand’s update pledge into account. Samsung offers four OS updates and five years of security patches, with the OS promise even beating Google’s policy.

Battery and charging — OPPO Find X5 Pro

OPPO Find X5 Pro USB-C port and speakers up close
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

The Find X5 Pro’s 5,000mAh battery is in line with rival handsets such as the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 7 Pro. However, it stands out thanks to OPPO promising 80% battery health after 1,600 charging cycles. That’s a huge improvement over the 80%/800 cycles figure touted by many brands, although questions have admittedly been raised over how companies are calculating charging cycles.

Nevertheless, the Find X5 Pro also offers 80W wired charging speeds. This allows the phone to go from zero to 100% in just 32 minutes. Who needs 100W, 150W, and 200W speeds when this is plenty fast to begin with?

Design — realme GT 2 Pro

realme GT2 Pro close up of realme logo
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

I’m a sucker for phones that use something other than plain plastic or glass. Whether that’s metal, pleather, or something different altogether, it’s always refreshing to see OEMs steer clear of the predictable options.

The realme GT 2 Pro took a refreshingly different approach to design, ditching glass or plastic in favor of a 'bio-polymer' back.

Fortunately, realme went for “different altogether” in early 2022 with the realme GT 2 Pro. This flagship phone offers a so-called bio-polymer back inspired by paper that provides excellent grip. I really hope to see this material and other innovative options on some 2023 phones.

What else do I want?

vivo X80 Pro lockscreen fingerprint scanner edit
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

There’s more to a flagship smartphone than these aforementioned features, and I’ve got a few more things I want to see on my ideal handset in 2022.

For starters, I’d love to see Qualcomm’s 3D Sonic Max in-display fingerprint sensor. This scanner impressed me on the vivo X80 Pro, offering one-tap registration, a massive reading area, and faster, more accurate results than conventional scanners.

Another must-have in my book is an IP67 or IP68 rating, as a high-end phone doesn’t mean much if it isn’t durable. There are a few nice-to-haves as well, such as wireless charging, UWB, and microSD support, but I can do without these if it means a more palatable price tag (and if there’s enough internal storage in the case of microSD support).

That’s just what I want to see from a perfect smartphone in 2022. What about you? Tell us what your perfect 2022 smartphone would look like in the comments section below.

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