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Google Pixel 7 was the best smartphone of 2022

Google Pixel 7 was the best smartphone of 2022
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Smartphones have reached a point of stagnation, with year-over-year upgrades typically being quite small. There wasn’t much exciting going on in 2022, but two devices really stood out. Google’s Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro were the best smartphones of 2022 for several reasons.

Google has always struggled with its smartphone efforts. Until now, every Pixel device has usually had one major flaw somewhere That detracts from the experience and, frankly, usually keeps this device from being considered the ‘best’ smartphone of the year.

2021, Google’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro showed solid performance, but signal strength issues, buggy features in updates, and the continued excellence of Apple and Samsung’s flagship phones kept Google from really shining. Last year I would have considered the iPhone 13 or the Galaxy S21 series to be the best smartphone of the year, although I really liked the Pixel 6 Pro.

In 2022, however, things felt drastically different. Finally, Google seems to be figuring out how to build a flagship smartphone. And our readers agree. In a recent poll, the Pixel 7 Pro took a spot a whopping 40% of the votes for the “Best Smartphone of the Year 2022”.

Why the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are so great

To me, there are a few key reasons why the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro stood out this year, and that starts with their value. The Pixel 7 starts at $599, which is a lot cheaper than comparable devices from Apple and Samsung. Since its debut, that metric has made the Pixel 7 my top pick for virtually anyone looking for a new phone. It’s just such a good deal.

And this value keeps up with 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 might not get the same raw horsepower punch on Google’s phone, but the overall experience is pretty damn similar for up to $300 less. The only real issue with the Pro’s price is that the standard Pixel 7 is so much cheaper. When all you get on the Pro is a telephoto camera, macro shooting, a slightly faster display, and some extra RAM, it can be a little difficult to justify the $300 upgrade.

However, the Pixel 7’s excellent overall value only matters if the underlying functionality is just as good, and this year it was.

Pixel 7 Pro display

With the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, Google ironed out many of the problems of the previous generation. One of the biggest problems of the Pixel 6 series was with signal strengthbut the cellular modem in Pixel 7 is greatly improved this time, resulting in better signal strength and speed.

Related: Google Tensor G2: How has signal strength and speed improved on Pixel 7?

Additionally, Google didn’t have the same major issues with updates to the Pixel 7 as it did when the Pixel 6 debuted. Where the 2021 release was seen depleted signal strength caused by updates and other key issues, the first few months of the Pixel 7 series have been pretty rock solid for the most part. There were no major bugs, problems or complaints. all off user it reviewers seems quite happy with the Pixel 7 series. That’s not to say they’re perfect – there are always individual issues that affect a few people – but by and large these are the first Google phones in a long time to be pretty much problem-free.

And it’s all on top of the usual benefits that come from using a Pixel phone. The excellent photos, fast software, and helpful features like the call screen finally have a chance to be what makes a Pixel phone great, rather than what makes you ignore its flaws.

Apple and Samsung kind of dropped the ball

However, what could really give Google a chance in the spotlight with the Pixel 7 is the disappointment that is coming from its rivals in 2022.

If you first look at the Android side, there really haven’t been any so much this year has been so exciting, at least in the United States. OnePlus clearly has much shifted from its focus to other markets, and Samsung pretty much maintained the status quo.

The Galaxy S22 and S22+ were very solid devices overall, but other than a slightly improved camera setup, there was nothing particularly exciting or real improvements over the last generation. The Galaxy S22 Ultra revived the legacy of the Galaxy Note, which was great to see, but the device on the whole didn’t break new ground. And the difficult part was that everything was offered at the same high prices. The base model Galaxy S22 is $799, and the series ended with $1,199 for the S22 Ultra. Those prices are a little hard to swallow when you’re getting 95% of the same features and quality with Google’s devices for $200-$300 less.

Samsung Galaxy S22 plus

And on Apple’s side, the big fiddle this year has been, at least in part, the camera situation.

The company’s flagship iPhone 14 Pro switched to a new 48-megapixel main camera in what turned out to be a rough transition. It was widely discussed in iPhone 14 Pro reviews that in many cases the camera wasn’t as reliable or predictable as previous iPhones, often lagging significantly behind the Pixel series and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra. In a blind test User reviews left the iPhone 14 Pro way down the list.

At least that’s in stills. The iPhone still dominates the smartphone market when it comes to video quality. While Google has made some upgrades there, Apple still leads by a wide margin.

But that gap is hard to lament when considering the value proposition. The iPhone 14 Pro starts at $999 and the comparable-sized iPhone 14 Pro Max starts at $1,099, $200 more than Google’s Pixel 7 Pro. There are countless good reasons to choose an iPhone over a Pixel, but if you’re just looking to buy a phone without grappling with all the drama that surrounds the Android vs iPhone debate, it’s difficult to argue here.

What can be improved on Pixel 8?

How can Google repeat that in 2023? That’s really hard to say. Apple is sure to bounce back on the camera side with the iPhone 15 series next year, and Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series will benefit heavily from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Google and its Tensor chips won’t be able to replicate the upgrades Qualcomm will deliver.

But Google is rumored to be making some camera upgrades on the Pixel 8 series, as well as making it affordable flagship slightly smaller. We don’t know much about it Tensor G3, but we know Google’s strategy. The enterprise doesn’t really care about having “the best” chip in play. It’s about building something that serves the Pixel’s goals of being helpful. Raw horsepower probably won’t see any major upgrades, but we could rather see better overall efficiency, much like we did with the move from Tensor to Tensor G2.

Personally, I doubt 2023 will see a Google Pixel phone considered “the best” of the year, but in 2022, Google gave it its chance to shine. The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are perhaps the best Pixel phones since the original, and they’ve been a bright spot in an otherwise uneventful year in smartphones.

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