Thank you Pixel 7. Thank you for helping to end 2022 on a fun note that would have otherwise left me asleep, tossing and turning while trying to switch my brain to the idea that maybe 2023 will be more exciting and less disappointing. .
As 2022 began, things kicked off on an unusual note, possibly setting the tone for the rest of the year. You may recall that OnePlus was quick to announce the OnePlus 10 Pro, only did it only for china not knowing when it might show up in the US. Since OnePlus was primarily known as a US-focused brand, this was strange.
The phone was finally launched in the US in April and I quite liked. It was one of my early favorites of the year, but OnePlus initially only released the lowest-spec model, leaving us with question after question about software plans. We now know that OnePlus phones will only run OPPO’s ColorOS and are nothing like the experience that once helped us truly enjoy the brand.
As much as I liked the 10 Pro, when we write about OnePlus phones our readers are quick to express their displeasure at the slide the brand has made from a small, struggling Android player catering to a niche enthusiast audience, to a phone company that has fully embraced a larger, Samsung-esque persona.
I’m still going to push for OnePlus to put it together because they make some great performance hardware and there are very few players like this. But man, they have to change direction quickly.
But backing up for a second, Samsung was not far behind OnePlus in announcing its first phone of the year, the Galaxy S22. This was almost a big deal, thanks to the Galaxy S22 Ultra reviving the Galaxy Note brand. Y as good as the S22 UltraIt really was just another Note phone, with nothing groundbreaking and few differences from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a phone that had been launched a year earlier.
Look, I know that’s going to upset some people, because people love the S22 Ultra and the old Note series, too. I’m just saying it wasn’t interesting, it was a rebrand from an old brand to the brand still alive.
As for the S22 and S22+, they were nice. The S22 was a flop because had the worst battery life of a phone since the Pixel 4. The S22+ was really solid, and I used one for a while before the Pixel 7 launched. But let’s be honest, none of the S22 phones were “new,” different, or exciting. This was the second year in a row for this design.
If we stay with Samsung, everyone knows the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4, two other really impressive folding phones. They are the best flips in the business and I even convinced my wife to turn off her Galaxy Note 20 Ultra and switch to the Flip 4. She loves it (I think) and tells me all the time about the comments people make about how great en But like the S22 series, there weren’t many new features. If I had to tell you to list the big differences between the Fold 3 and Flip 3 and this year’s models, that list wouldn’t be long.
Basically, what I mean by Samsung’s 2022 lineup is that we got a lot of refinement and not a lot of excitement.
Moving on from Samsung now, we have to talk about the biggest disappointments of 2022. There are two and they also turned out to be devices that I was looking forward to the most because they were new. I’m talking about Nada and OSOM.
2022 was going to be a year that included two new phone makers, which is a big deal in an industry that rarely sees a new name pop up. He was really excited about these two companies. He really wanted to try out a new phone from a company that wasn’t called Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Apple, or Motorola. And then, well, you know what happened.
Nothing released the Phone (1), a mid-ranger that was less mid-range than other mid-rangers and would never make it to the US. The phone’s launch was filled with a nasty level of trollout hype and then landed with a light trick on the back panel that no normal person will see, because normal non-crazy people don’t put their phones upside down on any surface. Their software was missing, the camera was sub-tier, and again you couldn’t buy one in the US.
When it comes to OSOM, the story is even sadder. For those unfamiliar, OSOM is a phone company run by a bunch of members of the old Essential team, who made one of those rare phones, flawed as they were, that we mysteriously love. But since OSOM said all the right things for a couple of years before the release of its first phone, we had high hopes. We think this could be the rebirth of an Essential Phone 2 without all the Essential Phone issues.
When OSOM really started unveiling its next phone with a focus on privacy, we were concerned that it might go crypto. I half-jokingly said in an article that if I switched to crypto, we would never talk about it again. I guess I’m breaking my rule, but this part of the 2022 story needed to be mentioned again.
In case you missed it, because we haven’t mentioned it since the news broke, OSOM went crypto bro with its first phone and let a company called Solana brand it. It is now known as the Solana Saga.. The phone is slated to launch for $1,000 in 2023, and yeah, we don’t have much to say about that anymore.
We also have a Pixel 6a, a couple of new Motorola phones, another OnePlus phone, and that’s about it. None of that was a big deal. 2022 almost ends up putting us to bed.
Fortunately, as you know from the opening, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro saved everything. For me personally, it’s the Pixel 7 specifically that made 2022 end on a high note. I love this phone. It comes at a price that no other phone can currently match. It has an amazing camera and performance and software experience that beats them all. Its design is also much more refined this year, in a way that makes it feel premium beyond the price you paid for it. If you want more details about all that, you should read my review.
But how I knew this Pixel 7 had really sold me was the moment I hit “Publish” on that review. For most of the year, whenever I was done testing a phone, I almost always immediately put it down and looked for something else. Nothing this year could catch my eye.
For example, when I was done with the S22 Ultra I switched to an iPhone 13 Pro. When I was done with the OnePlus 10 Pro, I turned it off, back on, and then moved to a Galaxy S22+. I then tried a Motorola phone before going back to the iPhone, same for the Pixel 6a. With the Flip 4, I actually thought it might be the phone of the future, but then the iPhone 14 Pro dropped and I made the trade to give it a bit of a run. I haven’t touched the Flip 4 since.
The Pixel 7 landed on my front porch for review in early October and I haven’t put it down. I finished my review a week ago, after trying it for almost a month, and briefly looked for something else before going back to 7 in a couple of hours. I am addicted to it. I am addicted to the camera and the softness. It also probably helps that I love the attached Pixel Watch, but it’s also the size and its ridiculous yellow color and the fact that a Pixel Feature Drop is just around the corner. I have no complaints about the Pixel 7 today.
I hope I didn’t offend every Samsung fan in the building, because the phones they released in 2022 were great phones, they just didn’t do anything new. I don’t know if 2023 will be any different, but what I do know is that the Pixel 7 has stolen the show and I’m not sure anything on the horizon can bring it back.