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The Google Pixel 7 Pro is Android Authority's pick for best phone of 2022
Every now and again a year passes in the mobile world where a clear, overarching theme emerges. In 2022, that theme was consolidation. While there were a handful of exceptions — be it brash upstart OEMs or established names trying to stand out from the pack — most of the industry’s heaviest hitters and familiar names spent the last 12 months iterating on previous successes. With the reality of global inflation leading to rising costs for brands and consumers, it’s not hard to see why many brands stuck with a tried and tested formula in an attempt to weather the storm.
The knock-on effect was a calendar year of phones that, on the whole, looked a lot like the previous year’s crop of contenders. The margins that separate good phones from great ones have become thinner than ever, but there are nevertheless some clear highlights to be found from the class of 2022.
But what was the very best phone of 2022? You’ve had your say in our Reader’s Choice award, but now it’s time to crown Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice winner for the best phone of 2022 (as well as our top five), as chosen by our editorial and reviews teams.
How we chose our winner
“Best” is a loaded descriptor. How do you decide what is the “best” at anything, especially when talking about things as complex as smartphones? After all, these are devices we carry with us for almost every minute of the waking day; we’re all sure to have our own biases. Phones can also be assessed in myriad ways — from their raw specs to their perceived value for money, their objective benchmark numbers to personal preferences for how a particular UI looks and operates.
This is a dilemma we constantly grapple with as our experts tackle all of the biggest consumer tech releases each and every year. Stamping the authority into Android Authority is important to us. The hundreds, if not thousands of hours we pour into testing and analyzing the increasingly subtle changes between rival phones, or from generation to generation, gives us a rigorous baseline of expectation when anointing a particular device as the absolute best any given year has to offer. And it’s not just hardware testing either, we’re always sure to factor in the more intangible metrics like long-term software support promises and track records, price and value (two very different things!), market availability, and much, much more.
Only the very best phone of the year can take home our grand prize.
Our process for picking the Editor’s Choice for phone of the year dials all of this up to the max. Our shortlist combines the most prestigious and highest-reviewed phones of the year, with due diligence paid to ensure that every major brand is represented across multiple price segments. This includes devices sold only in the US, as well as globally. From there, our experienced leadership team and our trusted product reviewers each assign votes to their choice for the top five phones, ranking them from fifth to first as part of a point-scoring system. The phone with the most points wins.
Now, let’s get to the winner (and our runners-up!).
Android Authority‘s Editor’s Choice phone of the year: Google Pixel 7 Pro
For the second year running, a Google Pixel flagship claims our grandest prize — but this time, it’s not just a Pixel flagship, it’s the Google flagship. In 2021, we found the vanilla Pixel 6’s delicate balance of specs, overall quality, and affordable pricing to be an undeniable combo. But in 2022, our hearts — and yours, it turns out! — were with the Big G’s “Pro” offering.
And it’s not hard to see why when you run through all of the Pixel 7 Pro‘s best qualities. It all starts with the refined design, which improves on the Pixel 6 series’ immediately iconic camera bar by applying an aluminum casing and elegant cutouts for each shooter. That attention to detail extends to the ever-excellent camera suite, as Google’s computational photography smarts combine with expanded zoom capabilities, as well as new photography tricks like Photo Unblur. The latter is just one of many perks provided by Google’s second shot at its own custom silicon, the Tensor G2 — a machine learning-focused chipset that eschews CPU and GPU power for brainpower, yet still manages to impress with its sustained performance capabilities.
The Pixel 7 Pro is a sublime centerpiece for Google's burgeoning ecosystem ambitions.
All of this, plus the return of Face Unlock, a plethora of Pixel-only features, long-term software support, the best haptics in the game, much-needed fixes to the fingerprint reader and network reception, and solid battery life all come together to create what is arguably Google’s greatest smartphone to date. And yet somehow, it still undercut its direct competition by $100!
In 2022, Google looked to expand its horizons with a brand-new portfolio of devices to take on Apple’s dominance as the go-to ecosystem. To even get the ball rolling, however, it needed to deliver a top-class phone to bring its ambitions to life. The phone was the Pixel 7 Pro, and what a phone it turned out to be.
Second place: Google Pixel 7
The Pixel 7 Pro was the runaway winner, amassing just over a quarter of the total points in our vote from a shortlist of 20 phones. But that doesn’t mean we forgot about its smaller, flatter, and even more affordable sibling.
Matching its predecessor’s sub-$600 price tag — a feat that still seems too good to be true — makes the Pixel 7 perhaps the easiest phone to recommend of any handset that hit shelves in 2022. It lacks the bells and whistles of the Pixel 7 Pro, and the missing telephoto lens, lower-res, 90Hz-capped display, and even slower charging (seriously, Google, sort this out in 2023), but the Pixel 7 otherwise packs in the best of the contemporary Pixel experience, all while saving you a hefty $300. You can’t argue with that.
Third place: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
What happens when the most successful smartphone maker in the world combines two of its elite devices into one? That’ll be the Galaxy S22 Ultra — a Galaxy Note/Galaxy S Ultra-hybrid that looked and felt immediately familiar, but in the best way possible. If the Galaxy S21 Ultra was “peak smartphone,” the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the celebratory flag planted on top of that peak.
Yet, despite reigning as the best camera phone, offering all the additional functionality of the S Pen, and having the very best software support outside of Cupertino, the indomitable Galaxy S22 Ultra nevertheless fell short of Google’s more reasonably priced alternatives in our voting. However, for those with no limits to their budget, Samsung’s powerhouse is still a clear winner.
Fourth place: Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
The Plus member of each Galaxy S generation faces a difficult conundrum: How can it strike the right balance between the Ultra’s overkill spec sheet and the entry model’s cheaper price tag to offer something of genuine value? Too often, the answer has been “it doesn’t,” with the Plus variant becoming the awkward middle child. This year, though, the Galaxy S22 Plus was a true all-rounder that made that balancing act look effortless.
Fifth place: Oppo Find X5 Pro
It took an extra year for Oppo to crack our top five again after riding high in fourth back in 2020, but the Find X5 Pro deserves its place in the upper echelons of 2022’s smartphone hall of fame. With an exquisite, flowing design, bonkers-fast charging (both wired and wirelessly), and a world-class display, the Find X5 Pro wasn’t the most polished handset of 2022, but it was one of the phones with the most personality.
Reader’s Choice award: Google Pixel 7 Pro
From a bumper list of 32 phones, the Pixel 7 Pro emerged victorious. Congrats to the Mountain View giant which not only takes home our Editor’s Choice award, but also your Reader’s Choice award for the best phone of 2022.
Check out our Reader’s Choice rundown for an overview of how the Pixel 7 Pro’s hotly-contested battle against a certain Samsung phone played out over several rounds of voting and over 17,000 responses. It was closer than you might expect!
While our phone of the year is all wrapped up, be sure to keep it locked to Android Authority throughout the holiday season as we’ll have tons more 2022 retrospective content, fun end-of-year pieces, and even more articles looking forward to 2023 as we consider what lies ahead in the tech world.
Until then, from our families to yours, have a truly happy holidays!