However, there’s more to the Realme GT Neo 3 than just the super-fast charging
For Realme, the GT Neo 3 represents a more affordable yet sportier alternative to its top-end GT 2 Pro. While the phone does make a few trade-offs to get to the sub-₹40,000 price bracket, it also gets one feature that you probably haven’t even seen on a flagship phone. The GT Neo 3 can charge at an astonishing 150 watts, which can juice up half the battery in merely 5 minutes! This insane charging speed may be the highlight of this phone, but there’s much more that it gets right for its price.
The stylus feels great, but the software does not
It's a post-LG Mobile world. For a while now, the only option you had for a budget-friendly phone with a stylus was the Motorola G Stylus series. With two versions at disparate price points, Motorola was well-positioned to be the only game in this niche. The T-Mobile-bound TCL Stylus 5G shakes that up a bit by bringing some premium specs and features down to a lower price.
The OnePlus Nord 2T doesn’t change much, but it’s a great mid-range smartphone
The OnePlus Nord 2T isn’t the most exciting phone of 2022, but it’s hard for a mid-range handset to be that. Instead, this is a smartphone with various tweaks and improvements compared to its predecessor, and that makes for one of the best options if you don’t want to spend a lot on a phone. The Nord 2T can give the Google Pixel 5a a run for its money, and it’ll be exciting to see if it can do the same with the upcoming Pixel 6a that we’ll see in the next few months.
Vivo’s latest offering plays in the big league
Vivo phones probably haven’t been on your radar much, but that could change. Vivo is slowly expanding into more and more international markets, having just made the jump to Europe with its excellent X70 series last year. The company has even struck a deal with FIFA to become one of the 2022 World Cup sponsors, making clear that the BBK Electronics subsidiary has big plans for the future. The X80 Pro that just launched in India for roughly $1,100 represents just that — it’s the X series’ most expensive conventional flagship to date, and a bet that Vivo can play in the big league alongside the best phones from the Samsungs, Googles, and Apples of this world.
For the price, this stylus-equipped smartphone offers a lot, but it falls short of being a good value
Mid-tier phones are notorious for missing out on some key features that average users love. The Moto G Stylus 5G, however, doesn’t sacrifice much to hit its accessible price point. It feels sturdy enough, looks great, and performs admirably, even under the most strenuous of circumstances. It isn’t perfect, but for $500 it’s one of the more competitive devices in its price range.
A solid budget phone that falls short in the usual places
Honor managed to break away from its former parent company Huawei, which has largely been forced out of Western markets due to US sanctions. The ex-subsidiary now stands on its own two feet and has big plans for the future, hoping to conquer the high-end market with upcoming flagships like the Honor Magic4 Pro. However, to become broadly successful, the company needs to offer enticing products across all price points, and the Honor X9 5G (or Magic4 Lite, as it’s called in the EU) could hit the sweet sub-$300 spot.
This would be an amazing phone, if only it didn't run Honor’s Magic UI
Honor began life as Huawei’s budget sub-brand, but the company has successfully emancipated itself from its heavily sanctioned former parent. This means that Honor now has the chance to create proper flagship phones with Google services, and following up on the Magic3 Pro, the Honor Magic4 Pro might just be the headlining handset the company wants to use to make clear that it is now playing with the big boys. The ~$1,000 Magic4 Pro is certainly a phone of superlatives, but does it have everything it takes to break into the market?
The A53 isn't much of a year-over-year upgrade
Samsung makes a ton of competent mid-range phones, but 2021's Galaxy A52 5G was a particularly good value. At $500, it offered a better-than-it-needed-to-be 120Hz display, plus decent performance and cameras. This year's Galaxy A53 looks to strike a similar sweet spot: it's very similar to last year's phone, but it costs $50 less. That'd make for a pretty compelling package — if it weren't also a slightly worse phone.
Oppo’s ultimate refinement of what makes its phones great
The Oppo Find X5 Pro is a refinement of what made its last few flagship devices great, and it can compete with some of the best Android phones. The hardware, in particular, is top-tier, showing how this company can compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or Google Pixel 6 Pro.
This is how we imagined future smartphones back in 2005, and no, it’s not beautiful
Unihertz is known for its quirky, special interest phones that it builds to please a small target audience. Just look at the prohibitively small Jelly 2 or the ruggedized keyboard warrior Titan Pocket. If these kinds of products are up your alley, you might also be interested in the company’s latest contender, the Unihertz Titan Slim. It comes with its fair share of issues and compromises, but if you absolutely need a physical keyboard paired with a somewhat decently sized screen, the ~$250 Slim might just be for you—in fact, it might be pretty much the only option left on the market.
This phone could have hit the sweet spot
Xiaomi’s latest flagship series consists of three phones: The Xiaomi 12 Pro, the Xiaomi 12, and the Xiaomi 12X. While the difference between the Xiaomi 12 and the 12X is marginal, the X variant still stands out as the most affordable of the bunch — if you want to call $650 affordable. However, the 12X cuts a few corners too many, launching with an outdated Android version and processor, making it feel like an unnecessary entry to the lineup, just existing to hit that price spot.
After a rocky start, the Pixel 6 is back on track
The Pixel 6 has had a tumultuous early life. Unanimously praised in initial reviews for its price, performance, and photo prowess, wider use of the phone uncovered a number of serious bugs and other issues. To make matters worse, its first handful of updates arrived late — and some units missed December's update entirely. Problems have been far from universal, but for a time, they were common enough to dominate the conversation around the phone.
Not burdened by 5G, the Realme 9 4G makes for a ‘better’ phone, but it still can't keep up
Realme adheres to one primary strategy: bombarding the budget segment with tons of phones. Sure, it gives buyers plenty of options to choose from, but not without added confusion. That is the case with Realme’s 9 series, which has already seen six handsets in just a couple of months (all closely priced), including the newly launched Realme 9 — a 4G-only variant of its 5G sibling. Without the 5G tax, Realme is able to beef up several other aspects of the phone, from display quality to the charging speed. However, these improvements don’t necessarily stand up to other phones from Xiaomi, Samsung, and even from Realme itself.
But there are better mid-range Android phones than the new iPhone SE for the same price (or less)
The new 2022 iPhone SE 5G may fill a necessary niche on carrier shelves, but throws the concept of mid-range value out of whack. With a decade-old design, too little base storage, proprietary charging, and a limiting camera, iOS isn't even its biggest problem for customers coming from an Android phone. At the right price, the new SE would be easier to recommend, but there are better Android phones out there for your money.
A reliable device sporting fun BMW M branding
You may not have heard of iQOO just yet. It’s a subsidiary of Vivo, one of the many companies under the BBK Electronics umbrella (which also includes OnePlus, Oppo, and Realme). It was founded in 2019 with an explicit focus on gaming and other performance-focused tasks, but without all that RGB lighting galore ornamenting most gaming hardware. The latest flagship phone in its lineup, the iQOO 9 Pro, isn’t any different in that regard.
Xiaomi is coming for Samsung
The theme of phones so far this year has been iteration. Most phone manufacturers takes what worked last year and improved upon it with the latest parts and specs. That is exactly what Xiaomi did with the Xiaomi 12 Pro, a phone which is an iterative but still meaningful upgrade over the Mi 11, which the company launched as part of the Xiaomi 12 series on March 15.
It's worth lugging around
If I had to bet, I'd put my money on foldables being the future. Increasingly, the high-end of the market is going to shift to these devices as mobile enthusiasts warm up to the idea and prices come down. But we're not there yet—foldables still have unavoidable drawbacks that you won't have to worry about with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. This phone doesn't fold, but it does just about everything else you could ask of a flagship device in 2022.
Super-fast charging isn't enough anymore
Xiaomi's first smartphone launch of 2022 is here, and it's called the Xiaomi 11i 5G. It has a lot in common with the Redmi Note 11 Pro, which was introduced in China back in October 2021, but the 11i 5G is destined for India. Its biggest highlight is the blazing-fast charging technology that fully juices up the battery in just a few minutes. As has always been the case with smartphones in the Redmi series, you also get a lot of other goodies - including a 120Hz AMOLED display and multi-band 5G connectivity - all at a very reasonable base price of INR 24,999 (about $335). But even though Xiaomi's latest offering stands quite well on its own, it doesn't exactly stand out.
The under-display camera is invisible, but the results aren't great
Innovative features don’t make or break a smartphone, but they certainly make the ZTE Axon 30 a more attractive option. With an invisible under-display camera and in-display fingerprint sensor, this almost-flagship device from ZTE does have a wow factor, which is hard to come by nowadays. Unfortunately, some of the device’s more glaring faults are hard to ignore, even at the reasonable mid-tier $500 starting price, which is a good bit cheaper than the Axon 30 Ultra at $750.
One of the best phones no one talks about
The Pixel 5a is almost a swan-song for an older smartphone era. Released three years ago, this would be a flagship phone, with billboards and TV spots promoting it. Enthusiasts would even have loved the logic that went into designing it: Finally, someone is making the battery bigger and the camera bump smaller! But now, in 2022, it cruises under the radar as a sleeper hit, cult favorite, and one of the best phones no one is talking about.