Thank you, Pixel 7. Thank you for helping end 2022 on a fun note that would have put me to sleep, tossing and turning in bed as I tried to rack my brains at the idea that perhaps 2023 would be more exciting and less frustrating.
When 2022 kicked off, things started out on an unusual note, and will likely set the tone for the rest of the year. You may remember that OnePlus was quick to announce the OnePlus 10 Pro, but it only did so for China with no word on when it might appear in the US. Since OnePlus was mostly known as a US-focused brand, this was odd.
The phone was finally launched in the US in April and I liked it a lot. It was one of my early favorites of the year, but OnePlus initially only launched the lowest-spec model and left us with a question when asked about software plans. We now know OnePlus phones will only run OPPO’s ColorOS and it’s nothing like the experience that once helped us truly enjoy the brand.
As much as I like the 10 Pro, when we write about OnePlus phones, our readers are quick to lament the slice the brand has carved out from a small, compact Android launcher that caters to a niche enthusiast crowd, to a phone company that’s fully embraced a more Samsung-esque persona.
I’d still get OnePlus to put it together because they make great performing devices and there are very few gamers like it. But man, they must change directions quickly.
But with a second back up, Samsung wasn’t far behind OnePlus in announcing its first phone of the year, the Galaxy S22. That was almost a big deal, thanks to the Galaxy S22 Ultra reviving the Galaxy Note brand. As good as the S22 Ultra was, it was really just another Note phone without anything groundbreaking and with few differences from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, a phone that launched a year ago.
Look, I know this is going to upset some people, because people love the S22 Ultra and also the old Note series. I’m just saying it wasn’t very interesting – it was a rebranding of an old brand into one that’s still alive.
As for the S22 and S22+, they were nice. The S22 was a no-goer because it had the worst battery life for a phone since the Pixel 4. The S22+ was really solid and I used it 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 stick with Samsung, you will all know about the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4, two other really impressive foldable phones. It’s the best foldable out there, and I convinced my wife to put her Galaxy Note 20 Ultra off and onto the Flip 4. She loves it (I think) and tells me all the time about the comments people make about how cool it is. But like the S22 series, there wasn’t much new. If I were to tell you to list the big differences from the Fold 3 and Flip 3 to this year’s models, the list wouldn’t be that long.
Basically what I’m getting at with Samsung’s 2022 lineup is that we got a lot of improvements and not a lot of excitement.
Moving on from Samsung now, we have to talk about the biggest disappointments of 2022. There are two devices that I was most looking forward to because they were new. I am talking about nothing and osom.
2022 was a year of two new phone makers, which is a big deal in an industry that rarely sees a new name pop up. I was really excited about these two companies. I was dying to try a new phone from a company that wasn’t Samsung, Google, OnePlus, Apple or Motorola. And then, well, you know what happened.
Nothing released the phone (1), a mid-ranger that was lower-end than other mid-ranges and would never make its way to the US. The phone’s launch was filled with an obnoxious level of hype related to a phishing feature, and then landed a circumvention feature on the back panel that no normal person would ever see, because normal, non-crazy people don’t put their phones on any surface. Its software was missing, the camera was bottom-tier, and again, you can’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 entirely from the former Essential crew, which made one of those rare, as flawed, phones that we vaguely liked it. But since OSOM had been saying all the right things for a few years in the lead-up to its first phone, we had high hopes. We thought this might be a revival of the Essential Phone 2 without all of the Essential Phone woes.
When OSOM actually started touting its upcoming phone as privacy-focused, we were worried it might turn to encryption. I said semi-jokingly in one of the articles that if it turns into cryptocurrency, we will never talk about it again. I think I broke my rule, but that part of the 2022 story should have been mentioned again.
In case you missed it, because we haven’t mentioned it since the news broke, OSOM has gone into cryptocurrency with its first phone and allowed a company called Solana to trademark it. It is now known as Solana Saga. The $1,000 phone is slated to be released in 2023, and yeah, we don’t have much to say about it anymore.
We also have a Pixel 6a there, a couple of new Motorola phones, another OnePlus phone, and that’s kind of the case. None of them was a big problem. The year 2022 almost ended by putting us to bed.
Fortunately, as you learned in the opening, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro have it all saved. For me personally, the Pixel 7 is precisely what made the end of 2022. I love this phone. It’s priced in a way that no other phone can currently match. It has an amazing camera, great performance, and a software experience that tops it all. Its design has been improved this year as well, in a way that makes it feel premium over the price you paid for it. If you want more details on all of that, you should read my review.
But how I knew the Pixel 7 had really won me over was the moment I hit “publish” on that review. For most of the year, when I was done testing the phone, I always put it down right away and came up with something else. Nothing this year could catch my eye.
For example, when I finished using the S22 Ultra, I switched to the iPhone 13 Pro. When I finished my OnePlus 10 Pro I turned it off and back on and then to the Galaxy S22+. Then I tested a Motorola phone before switching back to the iPhone — same for the Pixel 6a. With the Flip 4, I already thought it might be the phone moving forward, but then the iPhone 14 Pro dropped and I swapped to give it some time. I have not touched FLIP 4 since then.
The Pixel 7 landed on our front porch for review in early October and I didn’t even put it down. I finished my review a week ago, after testing it out for about a month, and briefly reached for something else before returning in 2-7 hours. I’m addicted to it. I am addicted to the camera and the smoothness. It also probably helps that I love the Pixel Watch that came with it, but it’s also the size, the cute yellow color, and the fact that the Pixel Feature Drop is coming soon. I have no complaints about the Pixel 7 today.
You might ask, “Well, what’s so exciting about this, though? Isn’t it like the Pixel 6?” You’re right in thinking that. The Pixel 7 doesn’t reinvent the smartphone or change dramatically over last year’s Pixel line. But what Google has done is finally get it right. They have finally made The The phone we hoped they could. This is why it is exciting. Finally, we got to where The The phone could go Google instead of worrying so much about what went wrong (again).
I hope I’m not offending all the Samsung fans in the building, because the phones they released in 2022 were excellent phones, and they didn’t do anything new. I don’t know if 2023 will be different, but what I do know is that the Pixel 7 stole the show and I’m not sure anything on the horizon can steal it again.