Smartphones have reached a plateau, and updates are usually quite minor year after year. In 2022, there wasn’t much to get excited about, but two devices really stood out. Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro were, for various reasons, the best smartphones of 2022.
Google has always had problems with its smartphone efforts. Every Pixel device to date has typically had a major flaw somewhere that hurt the experience and, frankly, generally kept that device from being considered the “best” smartphone of the year.
In 2021, Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro show strong performance, but issues with signal strength, broken features in updates, and the continued excellence of Apple and Samsung’s flagship phones prevented Google from truly shining. Last year, I would have considered the iPhone 13 or the Galaxy S21 series the best smartphone of the year despite how much I liked the Pixel 6 Pro.
However, in 2022, things felt drastically different. Finally, Google seems to be figuring out how to build a flagship smartphone. And our readers agree. In a recent survey, the Pixel 7 Pro took a a whopping 40% of the votes for “Best Smartphone of 2022”.
Why the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are so great
To me, there are a few key reasons the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro stood out this year, and that starts with their value. The Pixel 7 starts at $599, much cheaper than comparable devices from Apple and Samsung. Since its debut, that value has been why the Pixel 7 has been my recommendation for pretty much anyone looking for a new phone. It’s a good offer.
And that value holds true in the Pixel 7 Pro. $899 is a great price for a device that effectively competes with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and iPhone 14 Pro. You may not get quite the same punch with raw power in the phone. from Google, but the overall experience is pretty similar for up to $300 less. The only real problem with the price of the Pro is that the standard Pixel 7 is much cheaper. When all you get extra on the Pro is a telephoto camera, macro shots, a slightly faster screen, and some extra RAM, it can be a little hard to justify the $300 upgrade.
But the excellent overall value of the Pixel 7 only matters if the underlying functionality is just as good, and, this year, it has been.
With the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, Google fixed many of the problems of the previous generation. One of the biggest problems that the Pixel 6 series faced was at signal strengthbut the cellular modem on the Pixel 7 is much improved this time around, leading to better signal strength and speed.
Related: Google Tensor G2: How has signal strength and speed improved on Pixel 7?
Also, Google hasn’t had the same major issues with updates to the Pixel 7 as it did early on with the Pixel 6. Where the 2021 launch was seen Decimated signal strength caused by updates and other major issues, the first few months of the Pixel 7 series have been pretty solid for the most part. There have been no major bugs, issues, or complaints. all of users a reviewers seems pretty happy with the Pixel 7 series. That’s not to say they’re perfect, there are always isolated issues that plague some people, but overall these are the first Google phones in a long time that are virtually problem-free.
And all of that is in addition to the usual benefits that come from using a Pixel phone. Great photos, snappy software, and useful features like Call Screen finally have a chance to be what makes a Pixel phone great, instead of what makes you want to ignore its flaws.
Apple and Samsung dropped the ball
What could really give Google its shot at the spotlight with the Pixel 7, though, is the disappointment of its competitors in 2022.
Looking at the Android side first, there really hasn’t been so much that has been very exciting this year, at least in the United States. OnePlus clearly has moved his focus a lot to other markets, and Samsung pretty much kept the status quo.
The Galaxy S22 and S22+ were very solid devices overall, but there wasn’t anything particularly exciting or any real improvement over the last generation, aside from a slightly improved camera setup. The Galaxy S22 Ultra revived the legacy of the Galaxy Note, which was great to see, but the device overall didn’t break new ground. And the hard part was that everything was at the same high price. The benchmark Galaxy S22 is $799, and the series topped out at $1,199 for the S22 Ultra. Those prices are a bit hard to swallow when you get 95% of the same features and quality with Google devices for $200-$300 less.
And for Apple’s part, the big problem this year was the camera situation, at least in part.
The company’s flagship iPhone 14 Pro switched to a new 48MP main camera which turned out to be a difficult transition. Reviews of the iPhone 14 Pro widely discussed that the camera wasn’t as reliable or predictable as previous iPhones in many cases, and often fell far behind the Pixel series and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra. In a blind test, User votes left the iPhone 14 Pro down the list.
That’s in stills, at least. The iPhone still dominates the smartphone market when it comes to video quality. While Google made some updates there, Apple still leads by a wide margin.
But it’s hard to complain about that gap when you consider the value proposition. The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999, and the similarly sized iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099, $200 more than Google’s Pixel 7 Pro. There are tons of valid reasons to get an iPhone over a Pixel, but if you’re just looking to buy a phone without dealing with all the drama surrounding the Android vs. iPhone debate, it’s hard to argue here.
What can be improved on Pixel 8?
How can Google repeat this in 2023? That’s hard to say, really. Apple will surely pick up on the camera side with next year’s iPhone 15 series, and Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series will benefit greatly from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Google and its Tensor chips will not be able to replicate the updates. . Qualcomm will be delivering.
But Google is rumored to be making some camera upgrades on the Pixel 8 series, as well as doing Slightly smaller affordable flagship. We don’t know much about Tensioner G3, but we know Google’s strategy. The company doesn’t really care about having “the best” chip in the game. It’s about building something that serves Pixel’s goals of being useful. Raw power probably won’t see any major improvements, instead we could see better overall efficiency, like we did on the move. from Tensioner to Tensioner G2.
Personally, I doubt 2023 will see a Google Pixel phone as “the best” of the year, but 2022 gave Google a chance to shine. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro may be the best Pixel phones since the original, and they were a bright spot in an uneventful year for smartphones.
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