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 industrys 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, its 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 years 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? Youve had your say in our Readers Choice award, but now its time to crown Android Authoritys Editors 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
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
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; were 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 its not just hardware testing either, were 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 Editors 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, lets get to the winner (and our runners-up!).
Android Authoritys Editors Choice phone of the year: Google Pixel 7 Pro
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
For the second year running, a Google Pixel flagship claims our grandest prize but this time, its not just a Pixel flagship, its the Google flagship. In 2021, we found the vanilla Pixel 6s 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 Gs Pro offering.
And its not hard to see why when you run through all of the Pixel 7 Pros 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 Googles 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 Googles 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.
In 2022, Google looked to expand its horizons with a brand-new portfolio of devices to take on Apples 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.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Best Google camera High-quality display Big battery
The Pixel 7 Pro is the top-of-the-line phone on Google’s roster.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro takes the best features from the Pixel 6 Pro, and makes them even better. Enjoy numerous camera upgrades and some fun new software tricks, all for the same cost as the last-gen Pixel phone.
Second place: Google Pixel 7
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
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 doesnt mean we forgot about its smaller, flatter, and even more affordable sibling.
Matching its predecessors 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 cant argue with that.
Third place: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Zarif Ali / Android Authority
What happens when the most successful smartphone maker in the world combines two of its elite devices into one? Thatll 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 Googles more reasonably priced alternatives in our voting. However, for those with no limits to their budget, Samsungs powerhouse is still a clear winner.