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To kick off the year, Samsung and OnePlus revealed the first phones of 2022 at CES in Las Vegas. We also expect the typical annual updates from Samsung, Apple, Google, and others in 2022. However, we will not see any more unique LG phones now that it is out of the smartphone market.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is available to purchase, with the OnePlus 10 Pro first launching in China and a broader release not yet announced. Samsung also revealed the Galaxy S22 series in February with the phone now available to purchase. We may see the next Motorola Razr flip phone and likely some Chinese flavored phones at MWC. Other rumors indicate that a Pixel 6a is possible in the next couple of months. Samsung will likely reveal a Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 later in the year, along with Apple's iPhone 14 and Google's Pixel 7 series.
No matter when they may launch, we can expect to see the following phones in 2022. There also remain rumors of a foldable Google Pixel, as well as several flagship phones from Chinese manufacturers (Huawei, Xiaomi, Honor, and Oppo). In the time being, you can check out our list of the best phones available today if you're in the market now.
The Galaxy S21 FE was announced the first week of January at CES in Las Vegas. It was designed to bring most of the flagship features from the S21 series to a less premium package at a more affordable price. The S21 Plus has similar specifications and a price of $999.99. The S21 FE 5G starts at $699.99 so it is more affordable at first glance.
A Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor powers the S21 FE 5G with a lovely display, Android 12, 6/8GB or RAM, 128/256GB of internal storage, three rear cameras, a 32MP front-facing camera, and a large 4,500 mAh battery. It is a very capable phone, but there is also stiff competition from the likes of Google, TCL, and Motorola in the mid-range market segment so even $699.99 may be too high of a price, but let's see how things shake out.
We spent about three weeks with the phone and posted our full review before sending it back to Samsung. It's a solid phone, but it's only worth it if you must save a couple of hundred dollars. Otherwise, the S22 is a better option. The Pixel 6 would be a good option, but Google can't seem to get out of its own way with monthly updates breaking things while there is continued unreliable cellular performance.
OnePlus released the 9 Pro last year as its first phone with its Hasselblad camera partnership. At that time, the partnership was primarily focused on the camera software with no Hasselblad influence in the hardware. It was a fantastic smartphone in 2021 and offered an experience similar to the Galaxy S21, but without all of the Samsung bloatware and UI tweaks.
At CES 2022, OnePlus revealed the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G with an initial launch scheduled for the Chinese market. Timing and pricing for a North American release have not yet been revealed but will be later in 2022.
Also: OnePlus 9 Pro review: One of the fastest Androids yet
The OnePlus 10 Pro will have a second-generation Hasselblad camera app for the device with an improved Pro mode, 150-degree ultra-wide camera, and more. It will sport the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, with 12GB of RAM and up to 256GB of internal storage. A 6.7-inch 120Hz display will be present with OxygenOS 12 based on Android 12.
Fast charging is a staple of OnePlus and this new model will support 80W fast charging where its 5,000 mAh battery can be charged from 1-100% in just 32 minutes. It will also be available in Volcanic Black and Emerald Forest.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra was arguably one of the best phones of 2021 and remains one of the best smartphones available today. No other phone matched its telephoto capabilities, but Samsung topped it this year with the S22 Ultra.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra not only supports the S Pen, but includes a silo for it on the device and is truly the successor to the Note 20 Ultra. There is a lot to like in this phone and it is clearly the best Android phone of 2022 at this time. The camera hardware is the same as last year, but performance has been improved by Samsung. The $1,199.99 starting price is tough to swallow, but Samsung is pretty generous with trade-in offers.
Also: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The Note is back
The Samsung S22 Plus, see our full review, is also back with a $999.99 starting price and plenty of color options. It's design is similar to the S21 series with everything offered by the S22 Ultra, except for the S Pen capability.
A couple of years ago Apple released its second-generation Apple iPhone SE and this phone seems to be on a less frequent two-year upgrade cycle. The iPhone SE is Apple's most affordable option and a great way to get people into the Apple ecosystem with a smaller version that uses older technology.
Also: Apple iPhone SE (2020) review
The Apple iPhone SE (2020) model started at just $399 and with an Apple Watch SE a person can enjoy the fruits of the Apple ecosystem for an affordable price. Rumors indicate the 2022 version of the iPhone SE may support 5G, have the iPhone 13 processor, and possibly support Face ID. Apple also now has the iPhone 13 Mini in the lineup so the iPhone SE may not have all of the latest features to keep price and feature differentiation between it and the mini version.
Samsung is the leader in foldable phone tech and hit it out of the ballpark with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 last year. S Pen support, IPx8 water resistance, and more made it the perfect productivity device. The cameras were the same as the Z Fold 2 so we expect significant improvements in the cameras in the Z Fold 4. S Pen support for the outside cover display would also be a welcome addition.
While the Z Fold 3 is my daily driver and a fantastic phone, the star of the foldable show in 2021 was clearly the Z Flip 3. Samsung significantly improved the cover display and hardware while adding water resistance. In addition, a launch price of just under $1,000 saw people jump at the chance to own the Z Flip 3. Continued hardware tweaks and possibly a slightly lower price should see heavy adoption of the Z Flip 4 in 2022.
Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: Our top pick for innovation
Samsung is clearly the leader in foldable and continues to set the bar for any manufacturers considering foldables in 2022.
Google released its Pixel 6 and 6 Pro phones in late 2021 with its own Tensor processor and advanced imaging algorithms. The phones were competitively priced, but Google continues to respond to some issues with cellular radios and updates.
Rumors indicate that Google will follow up its Pixel 5a with the 6a that is modeled after the Pixel 6 new form factor and cylon-esque back camera bar. If it is released, the 6a will likely have a mid-range processor with fewer premium materials and a price in the sub-$500 range.
Also: Google Pixel 6 Pro review: The most premium Google phone yet
It's too early for much speculation on the Pixel 7 running Android 13, but Google will most likely stick with its own Tensor processor and other Android optimized experiences.
Apple released four new phones, with its iPhone 13 series in September 2021. Thankfully, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max had the same incredible camera systems with the display and battery size being the only differences between these premium iPhones. The iPhone 13 and 13 mini were also released in 2021.
In typical Apple fashion, we will see the iPhone 14 series appear at the end of the summer with current rumors indicating a possible change to the front-facing camera and large block of sensors that has always taken away some of the viewable display areas on the iPhone. A possible hole-punch design, similar to Samsung's approach to the front-facing camera, is possible.
Also: iPhone 13 Pro full review: A refinement that's well worth the price
The processor will be the Apple A16 Bionic with hopefully a similarly long battery life that we see with the iPhone 13. It is also possible that Apple will finally make the move to USB-C for charging the iPhone, but I think it is still too early for Apple to shift to a fully wireless charging solution.