We look back at the year gone by and pick the best flagship smartphones across various budgets ranging from Rs 50,000 to infinity. Here’s the best that 2022 has to offer in the smartphone segment.

Best flagship smartphones of 2022

Budget: I am too rich to bother

Apple iPhone 14 Pro/ Pro Max
No surprises here. If you have the money to splurge, the premium-most models from the latest iPhone 14 series are the ones to get. The Apple iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max are identical phones in different sizes. By exact, we mean with similar processing hardware, storage, cameras, design, and everything else except screen size and battery capacity. I like the Pro for its compact size, but if you prefer a larger screen, by all means, go for the Max by paying a small 10K premium.

Both phones are powered by Apple’s A16 Bionic chip, which is more powerful yet energy efficient than its predecessor. You have storage options ranging from 128 GB to 1 TB. You get a 6.1-inch or 6.7-inch LTPO Super Retina XDR OLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and compliance with Dolby Vision. The displays are sharp, courtesy of 460 PPI pixel density, and can get up to 2000 nits bright. The outdated notch on top of the screen is finally replaced by a… let’s call it Dynamic Island. Only Apple can make an aberration sound cool.

The photography department at the back is loaded starting with a 48MP primary camera with dual-pixel PDAF and sensor-shift optical image stabilization (OIS), a 12MP telephoto camera with OIS for up to 3X optical zoom, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with dual-pixel PDAF and 120-degrees FOV. Collectively they capture some great shots in different modes and lighting. As for video recording, the iPhone 14 Pro phones take the pole position, capturing extremely high quality and stabilizing 4K footage up to 60 fps. You also get support for 10-bit HDR and Dolby Vision. We can go on, but you get the point.

Budget: Can we have something closer to a Lakh Rupees?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G
Can we ever have a list of the best flagship phones of the year without a Samsung? The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G is the new Samsung Galaxy Note, unofficially. But what’s in the name when it has all the traits of the legendary Note series, including the S Pen? Add a large 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2x display with HDR10+ compliance and a 120 Hz refresh rate. It is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip and offers a generous 12 GB RAM and either 256 GB or 512 GB storage options.

The photography department here is even more packed than the iPhone 14 Pro phones, helmed by a 108MP camera with laser auto-focus and OIS. Giving it, the company is a couple of 10MP telephoto cameras with OIS, one with 3X optical zoom and the other with a periscope telephoto lens for 10X optical zoom. And lastly, there’s a 12MP ultra-wide camera with dual-pixel PDAF. The cameras do a stellar job across the board. Though quite a large device, it is a one-stop shop for most of your needs.

Budget: Is there something as extraordinary as around Rs 75,000?

Google Pixel 7 Pro
Google’s current flagship smartphone can be purchased for Rs 74,999 using HDFC cards on Flipkart. We aren’t here to talk about deals. The Pixel 7 Pro walks into this list mainly for two reasons – the best Android experience on smartphones and the renowned Pixel cameras. The pure, unadulterated Android 13 OS on this device and the Material You design language are fluid and free of bloatware. On top of that, you get useful utilities like object recognition using Google Lens or speech recognition/ voice typing. Let’s not forget some excellent image editing tools like Magic Eraser.

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is excellent at photography courtesy of three cameras at the back. You get a 50MP primary camera with OIS, a 48MP telephoto camera with OIS for up to 5X optical zoom, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera with auto-focus that doubles up as a macro camera. They do a great job in different lighting and modes. The 10.8MP front camera does a neat job with selfies and can even click portrait shots.

Suppose that wasn’t good enough; the phone has a premium design and IP68-rated ingress protection. The Pixel 7 Pro is powered by Google’s next-gen Tensor G2 processor and offers 12 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage. It sports a 6.7-inch HDR10+ compliant QHD+ AMOLED display with 1a 20 Hz refresh rate and 1500 nits peak brightness. Long story short, this Google flagship is a great all-around device that’s also much more affordable than its competitors.

Budget: How about something closer to 60K?

iQOO 9 Pro 5G
The Vivo sub-brand has been in great form this year, and the iQOO 9 Pro 5G is arguably the best all-around phone priced at around Rs 60,000 this year. Like the S22 Ultra, this phone is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, and you get up to 12 GB RAM and 256 GB internal storage. The phone has a lively 6.78-inch QHD+ HDR10+ compliant AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and the capability to display over a billion color shades.

The rear camera department here is quite versatile too. You get a 50MP primary camera with Gimbal OIS and another 50MP ultra-wide camera with auto-focus and 150-degrees FOV. And lastly, there’s a 16MP telephoto camera with OIS for 2.5X optical zoom. Unlike the super-premium phones above, the iQOO 9 Pro is not hamstrung by slow charging. The bundled 120W fast charger claims to charge its 4700 mAh battery in just 20 minutes fully. The phone supports 50W fast wireless charging too.

Budget: Do we get good flagship phones around 50K too?

Realme GT 2 Pro

Of course, you do, and 2022 did present us with a great option in this budget. The Realme GT 2 Pro has features comparable to the more expensive OnePlus 10 Pro at a significantly lower price tag, which translates into great value for money. This phone, too, is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC and is accompanied by 8 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage. The design is different and soothing, thanks to its paper-like biopolymer back. The battery life here is pretty good and the bundled 65W SuperDart charger juices up the 5000 mAh battery entirely in just 37 minutes.

Another striking feature of this phone is its 6.7-inch QHD+ 10-bit LTPO 2.0 AMOLED display with an adaptive refresh rate ranging between 1 to 120 Hz, up to 1400 nits brightness, and HDR10+ compliance. The rear camera combination is quite interesting here with two 50MP cameras – the primary with OIS and an ultra-wide shooter with 150-degree FOV. They do an excellent job in different modes and lighting. One exciting addition is a 3MP micro camera that provides 20X to 40X magnification, which is unique. The 32MP front camera is good enough to impress the selfie crowd.

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