Smartphone Awards 2022!
(steady music) - All right. Welcome to the Smartphone Awards 2022. It's one of my favorite videos. Y'all knew it was coming. It's a bit of a tradition around here to revisit the smartphones that came out during the calendar year 2022.
And then I like to recognize and reward some of the best and some of the worst that came out and some of the interesting stuff that happened during this calendar year. There's a lot, usually we forget about a lot of this stuff, but this is one of my favorite videos to make. We even have, of course, no spoilers, but we've got some trophies for the winners as well.
They're super nice. So, from flagships to midranges to budget phones to specialty phones to folding phones, I got to use 'em all. I got, I have my own opinions about them, and you know, some of you may agree with some of these awards. Some of you may disagree, but one thing is for sure is they're my awards.
So without any further ado, let's start giving 'em out. So, the first category is best big phone. Now, I mean, look at this table.
Obviously, phones have gotten bigger and bigger over time, to the point where pretty much every phone is big. But I still like to reward a phone that had a great use of that space because you still want a big screen but also a big battery, maybe big speakers, some nice cameras, and the whole thing, just being a good use of all that extra space. And so, my winner for the best big phone of the year actually came out right near the beginning of it. And that is Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra.
(gentle music) So hardware-wise, I feel like this one just pretty much did it all here. It's got the big 6.8 inch display, one of the absolute best in the business.
It added a stylus but still included a 5,000 milliamp hour battery which is the same as the year before. Multiple great cameras on the back, a pair of great telephotos, good speakers, good software, really no hardware flaws to speak of, to the point where maybe you'd say it was kind of boring which I think is actually a good thing. If you're looking to spend this much on a phone, you don't want anything to be too weird about it. And so, yeah, this one's the category in a way that I think the Notes usually did in the past. So, it's sort of a return of the Note.
But I do also give some runner-ups and honorable mentions in some of these categories too. And that's what I'm gonna do in best big phone, which means the runner-up is the ASUS ROG Phone 6. Really similar actually in a lot of ways to Samsung's flagships, just missing a couple little things.
It's a little more specialized, no wireless charging, but it's got a screen on the back and it's much more gaming centric. But I got shout it out for the incredible, massive stereo front facing speakers and also the headphone jack. Big phone, it should have room for a headphones jack. And then also a little shout out, a little honorable mention to the Xiaomi Mix Fold 2. This, it didn't have an IP rating, it wasn't quite, you know, available for everyone worldwide. But this is one of those folding phones where it folded just to about the same thickness as a normal phone, which is sort of like one of those breakthrough moments in folding phones, I think.
And now we can start to feel like they're on their way towards being usable. Big phone, smaller package. (phone clicking) All right, next category, best small phone. So now, we're on the other end of the spectrum, right? There are not a lot of small phones and this is a rare category.
And I'll be honest, this one wasn't close. So, last year's winner, as you might recall, was the iPhone Mini. They killed that this year, so that wasn't even gonna qualify. So, what would be the best small phone of the year? It's the best small phone I've ever seen.
And that is ASUS Zenfone 9. This phone is so nice (gentle music) and they made a lot of great decisions across the board here. So, small, it's relative, but it's a 5.9 inch display, relatively compact, flagship specs, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, a 1080p, higher refresh rate, OLED, great software, tons of ram, really fast, and a surprisingly great camera. And if this phone this small can have a headphone jack, then what's everybody else's excuse? Right? There are a lot of great things I liked about it.
It did have a couple weird flaws, like this weird soft touchback that ended up discoloring a lot. I talked about that in the main review. But like, man, I was very surprised by the battery life on this phone. There's not a lot of things I get genuinely surprised about in the smartphone world now, but a phone in this small having such a great battery life, this is easily, easy, best smartphone in this size.
But I will give a little honorable mention, a little runner up though, because there was a certain phone that came out right at the very end of the year. You guys might have wondered why this video was so late. I'll give partial credit to this one.
Oppo Find N2, this is that little passport sized phone. It's got these flat edges and it's still a folding phone which has got a pretty solid display on the inside. I haven't done a full review about it yet but it feels like (phone clicking) this is a bit of a preview to what a folding Pixel might look like which is really interesting. But all right, let's get to the next category which is best camera, or should I say, best camera system across the board? Because there is a lot to a good camera from photo quality to video quality but also speed of capture and auto-focus reliability and ease of use and file formats and all this other stuff. So, we did something really interesting this year.
We did a blind smartphone camera test in the form of a website that we built where we gave everyone the ability to vote on whatever photos they like in three different categories. And we had 16 different phones from the year all competing against each other. And the overall winner across all three categories was the Pixel 6A, incredibly.
And actually, runner up to it was the Pixel 7. So, these are clearly some really good photo quality phones but I'm not giving them the trophy for best camera system. I'm also not giving it to the vivo X80 Pro+ or X90 Pro+, which were low light kings. They had a really great combination of software and a really impressive sensor. The hardware stack is great, but no, my winner for best overall camera system in 2022 is going to the iPhone 14 Pros. (gentle music) So, this has now become the longest defending champion of a single category ever.
This is the fourth year in a row the iPhone has taken down the camera category, because again, it's great across the board. So, image quality as we know is solid, right? We knew that. But the time to open the camera to actually snap a photo is extremely quick. The auto focus is fast. I'd say, you could fairly give the Pro iPhones like an A minus to a B plus for photos. But then in the video department, it's a whole different dimension and it's not really even close.
I've been running the auto-focus YouTube channel now for a couple months, doing a lot of videos on cars, shot entirely on smartphones. And you can tell the difference when I shot a video on the iPhone's camera versus the other smartphone cameras. It's how good it looks.
It's the audio quality. It's the consistency of color. It's the pro res, the sharpness.
I much prefer shooting videos on iPhones and I think I'm not alone there. And I'll say, it still takes a long time to get the files off of the iPhone and I hope they fix that. But it's the winner for best camera system. Okay, so next up, let's do the battery.
This is the best battery overall. I think this is one of the more objective categories probably, but it's including a little more, obviously, than just the battery size. I wanna include just the battery experience, how long it takes to charge, how long it lasts on a charge, battery flexibility of features and things like that, how long the battery health does.
And so, my winner for best battery in a 2022 phone, it is a defending champ. It is the ASUS ROG Phone 6. (gentle music) This one has not a 4,000, not a 5,000, but a 6,000 milliamp hour battery.
It's got 65 watt fast charging, so you can go from zero to full in under an hour. And on top of that, there is a bevy of battery management features. So obviously, you can turn the 165 hertz display down all the way to 60 hertz if you want to and get a ton of battery.
But then there's also like charge limit features, pass through charging, things like that. This phone is a king as far as battery life experience and it actually charges fast. Probably the only knock against it is that it doesn't have wireless charging, which most other phones in its price range do have.
But as far as just worry-free battery, that's the winner. And I will give a runner up in this category to the iPhone 14 Plus. So, a lot of us kind of saw this coming when Apple killed the Mini iPhone in favor of a plus-sized iPhone that doesn't have the promotion OLED display. So, this is a big, simple 60 hertz display that is just powered by a massive battery in the iPhone, massive four in iPhone.
And so, with wireless charging and with all the other things that Apple does to prevent batteries from having problems, I'd say that's a pretty great battery experience. And I'll also give a quick shout out, an honorable mention, because the ASUS Zenfone 9, I gotta, I keep coming back to this, the way it surprised me with battery life. This is a 4,300 milliamp battery in this phone. It also doesn't have wireless charging. The charging speed is decent, but I was genuinely shocked by how well this phone held up on battery. It's, who would've thought that a phone small like this would've one of the best batteries of any phone that came out during the calendar year? But anyway, okay, next up is the design award.
I feel like this is the hardest one every year to think of or to give out, just because it is the most subjective now. This is, it's actually changed over the years. It used to be, I think I called it best build quality or just best overall build or materials or industrial design. But it's eventually just evolved into like, who can step outside of the box and do things a little different design-wise? 'Cause that honestly does not happen very much in smartphones these days.
And sometimes, it kind of feels like a process of elimination, like, oh, I can't give this to a phone that played it too safe, right? Lots of phones look basically the same as last year. I definitely can't give it to a phone that made like an obvious regression from the year before or has like a glaring issue with build or materials or failed, jerry rig, everything's test or something. I can't give it to an iPhone either, can I? I mean, they still have the biggest notch, but, oh there's the Dynamic Island though too. Maybe, no.
The design award for 2022 is gonna go to the Nothing phone. The Nothing Phone won. Get it? (gentle music) The design I think is literally the best thing about this phone, maybe second best. So, it's got this sort of transparent look which is definitely trying something new.
And then the glyph interface with these lights on the back, they light up for notifications. They can also light up as a fill flash for video if you want. It also has a wireless charging indicator on the back. It definitely skirts the line right between gimmick and feature.
Like, a lot of people will get this phone and have fun with it for a week and then never use it again. But I find it really neat. I think it's cool that you can see how much battery is as you're charging. I don't know, little things like that. You don't see a lot of phones trying new stuff. The rest of the phone happens to be pretty good too.
So, I have no problem giving the Nothing Phone the design award for 2022. And then I do also want to give an honorable mention in design to that Xiaomi Mix Fold 2. There were a number of folding phones that came out during this year, but as I mentioned earlier, this is the first one that sort of passed that barrier of actually being the same thickness as a normal phone. I mean, look at, this is another phone that came out during this year.
It's very close in overall thickness. So, a lot of phones you pick up, like this is Samsung's folding, you, it just feel, it's thicker than a normal phone. And you'd think about that all the time when you're using it. So, I wanted to reward this one for actually getting to that point where now, there's other things to fix still about folding phones, but this feels very usable and pocketable and gives you the benefits of unfolding to a huge screen. (phone clicking) Shout out to Xiaomi.
All right, let's give out a value award. I like this one. This is, this was actually pretty close as well this year too. Notice it's one of the more controversial awards.
It used to be best budget phone but budget means something different for everyone. So, I'm just calling this like best bang for the buck. You can kind of picture the pyramid of phones, and when you see a good one, you know what I'm talking about. When you see a phone that has a great price, I'm going by launch price, MSRP. So, the winner, my, I'm giving my winning by a little bit, best value award to the Pixel 7. This phone came out at 599 (gentle music) and it's one of the best 599 phones I have ever seen.
I mean it's pretty clear. It's the whole Google flagship experience. It's also got the tensor chip flagship, same as the more expensive one. It's also got the same main sensor, the same flagship camera as the more expensive one. It has a great 90 hertz OLED flat display.
It's so good that it made the 7 Pro kind of feel like not that good of a deal 'cause 599, there is not a lot that you can get for this price that does this well. In fact, I'd argue nothing. So, this is one of my favorite phones that came out this year, but it just barely beats out another one of my favorite phones that came out this year which is ASUS Zenfone 9, really unique combo for this one which launched at 699.
It also now has the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1. It's got a ton of ram, 120 Hertz display, a flat OLED again, but also like the fingerprint reader on the side, a headphone jack and incredible battery life. I mean these two phones could go back and forth head to head. I could easily be swayed here. But those two were awesome to see.
That's probably the best 699 phone I've ever seen. And among the myriad of other really good sub $400 phones that came out, I want to give an honorable mention to the Realme 10 Pro+. This had a big 6.7 inch display.
You can see the cameras on the back, 5,000 milliamp hour battery. But this camera performed surprisingly well to a lot of people. It ended up beating thousand dollar phones and it was second place in votes per dollar in our blind smartphone camera test. Really good overall package for about 350 bucks. I like the way this launched and I think if you can get over the way it shines, it's a really good one.
All right, bust of the year. You know, we give it out every year. You don't like giving it out, but it's the one you hate to have to give. You know, there's a lot of phones that played it really safe, which is interesting. And you could argue for a lot of boring phones to just have been too boring, bust of the year, I wish they did something more exciting or interesting but I don't know. A lot of phones these days are very similar to their previous years and I won't penalize 'em for that if the previous phone is good.
I really only had one pick for bust of the year and that's the OnePlus 10T, (gentle music) not a whole ton to say here. It wins this award for having a pretty big delta between expectations and possibilities versus actual result. Not all of that is OnePlus's fault, but I mean they've been on this slight downward trend of value and reputation and software experience and cameras and a whole bunch of other things like that. There's just not a whole lot to like, and it also just feels like the identity has sort of been eroded very quickly over time.
We just had the Hasselblad thing added to the previous OnePlus flagship phone and then the 10T comes out and they don't even bother with it. I don't know if they're saving it for the pro phones, but it's like, what do you, what is this? What do you even say about OnePlus phones anymore? There's no, you can't even describe a OnePlus phone without feeling really generic. So anyway, yeah, congrats on your award, bust of the year.
So that brings us to the MVP, the most valuable phone? Nah, it's not the value award, it's the, it's my favorites list. That's kind of what this has turned into. Like, the best overall phone combined with the best overall experience, the best impact on the industry. There's a bunch of different things that can float you to the top of my favorites list from the smartphones that came out this year. And there are a lot of really good ones.
You've just heard about great cameras, great big phones, great battery lives, great value, some surprises. This was a really close one for me, really tough. Again, I could be swayed. I don't even wanna say that about the MVP, but I really think it's that close.
I have two MVPs, okay? But I'm giving my top dog, my number one MVP award for 2022 to the Pixel 7. (gentle music) This phone, it deserves it for sure. Like you heard about in its previous win, great value, okay? Incredible cameras, great display, flagship software experience, really good battery life, not a whole lot missing. And that's kind of what you get with a phone like this, which is like, all right, the 7 Pro came out for 300 more dollars. And that's actually a phone that I've used a lot to this day. But what do you really get more for that? The telephoto camera, the extra 30 hertz on the display, like this phone is such a good deal that it's hard to recommend the 7 Pro.
I love recommending the 7. It's just an overall excellent phone and I'm glad that Google found their groove 'cause I actually just forgot, I haven't given out the most improved award yet either. And that's also the Pixel 7. (gentle music) Google really found their groove with this phone.
And to be fair, there are a lot of people who might criticize the design. They don't like, you know, the visor as much. I kind of like the glass visor of the 6 a little bit more to be perfectly honest. But I actually like that it's unique. If you look at a phone from far away, you know exactly what a Pixel phone looks like.
From across the street, you know what a pixel looks like, right? They're doing this advertising thing. They're actually getting into people's hands. I just did my assistant battle, and like, the assistant that runs on this phone, especially on the Pixel, is excellent.
The voice recorder app, all the smart features, hold for me, the screen call feature. I just, I can't say enough good things. Pixel 7, great package, overall, love this phone. So, why am I so torn? What is the other phone that is such a good year that I have a hard time only picking one MVP? Well, it's the Zenfone 9, baby.
This phone, this had a lot of good things going for it, and it was one of my favorite phones, one of my biggest surprises of the year. Where do I start? The design I really liked, despite not having the best wear and tear experience. I'm not a big case person, so I gotta give it a knock for that. No wireless charging.
But the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 had amazing performance. This phone's battery life was incredible. It didn't charge fast, but like I was just amazed by that.
It has a headphone jack. It has the fingerprint reader on the side which was very fast but also had gestures and surprisingly good cameras. I mean, these things ended up top five, top four, maybe top three in our blind smartphone camera test, voted by the masses. So, ASUS has had great cameras for years. I just really liked this phone. It's more expensive.
It was 699 on launch. I think they did this weird thing in the US where it launched for more. But like, if you can get your hands on this phone and pop a sim card tray in it and it actually will work well with your carrier, the Zenfone 9 was a very close second for my MVP for 2022.
But then one more, I want to give an honorable mention to the old boring Galaxy S22 Ultra. It's an expensive phone, it has all the hardware features. It didn't really do anything wrong. It just happens to have one of the biggest batteries and the best display in the business and one of the best camera suites in the business and one of the best processors. I mean, it's a boring, really solid overall phone and that's why it won best big phone. And so, I'll give it that honorable mention because a lot of us wanna see the, just the best overall phone of the year highlighted and specs-wise and what it does for people, I think that's a really good phone to pick, of course, right alongside the ROG phone, I could go on.
Lots of great phones came out this year, but that's been it for the Smartphone Awards of 2022. Feel free to leave all the notes in the comment sections below. I know all of you guys will have thoughts on this, as we do every year.
We'll talk about it. But of course, if you're a company seeing this and you want your trophy, let me know. Hit me up on Twitter or something. I'll literally ship it out to you. I've done that before. Okay, that's been it.
Thanks for watching. ♪ Talk to me ♪ - Alicia Keys said she liked my jacket one time. All right, see you later. Peace.