Now that 2022 is drawing to a close, the Android Police team has been looking back over the year of gadgets to consider the very best tech we got our hands on this year. We’ve been lucky enough to try hundreds of impressive new devices over the last 12 months, and we’ve put together our favorites across a bunch of different categories.
The first half of the year saw some of the biggest tech reveals, with OnePlus surprising us with the first big phone intro of the year, closely followed by the Samsung Galaxy S22 series at the end of February. Google I/O then shocked us with an early taste of the Google Pixel 7 series and the Pixel Watch, but we didn’t get to try those devices until much further into the year. Foldable phones were blowing up in popularity all around the world, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Z Flip 4 dominating in the US, and foldable options from Honor, Xiaomi, Motorola, and other brands appearing in other countries.
We’ve spent thousands of hours trying out the best, and to be honest, the worst, consumer tech gadgets money can buy, so we’ve put together our top 12 picks over a variety of categories including smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, wearables, headphones, and more. Let’s get started with our biggest award of the year: smartphones.
Best smartphone: Google Pixel 7 Pro
Our pick for the best smartphone of 2022 is the absolute best Pixel money can buy. Last year, we chose the Pixel 6 over the Pixel 6 Pro, but this year we deemed the top-end handset to be worthy of our most prestigious award. The design hasn’t changed much since the Pixel 6 series, but those refinements we do get are part of what makes the Pixel 7 Pro stand out. As ever, the camera is phenomenal, this time there’s a new Tensor G2 chipset powering the whole thing, and we love the fact the Pro model comes packing 12GB of RAM. If you’re after the absolute best Android phone in 2022, you’ll want to opt for the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
Google Pixel 7 Pro
Google’s Pixel 7 Pro refines the Pixel experience after the 6 Pro’s initial stumbles last year, improving stability and taking the camera prowess to new levels with image fusing and 4K60fps video on all cameras. 30W fast charging and Pixel’s addictive features like automatic Call screening and Pixel recorder help make the Pixel 7 Pro an alluring phone even as an iterative update.
Runner-up: Google Pixel 7
Google didn’t reinvent the wheel with the Pixel 7, but it didn’t need to. With improved cameras, the next-gen Tensor G2 chipset, and Google’s wonderfully feature-filled software, the Pixel 7 earns its price tag handily again this year.
Best budget phone: Google Pixel 6a
The Google Pixel 6a is the undisputed king of the budget phone in 2022 with it securing a 9 out of 10 rating in our review. It’s remarkable the sheer value Google has managed to provide with a cheaper alternative to its main Pixel series, and if you’re not after one of the absolute top-end smartphones on the market you’ll likely be happy with the Pixel 6a. The Google Tensor chipset and 6GB of RAM mean you’ve got a powerful device, the 6.1-inch screen is bright and beautiful, the camera is genuinely great, and it has pretty good battery life, too. If you’re after a new cheaper smartphone, the Pixel 6a is our top pick.
Google Pixel 6a
The Pixel 6a is not just the best smartphone you can get for $450; it is probably the best-valued Android phone with a great camera, good performance, and fantastic software features.
Runner-up: OnePlus N20 5G
OnePlus N20 5G
OnePlus might have lost some goodwill among Android die-hards in recent years, but the company still makes a mean budget phone. The Nord N20 5G costs all of $299, but it still has decent performance thanks to its Snapdragon 695 chipset and six gigs of RAM. Battery life is out of this world: in our review, Ryne managed to get 10 hours of screen time over three days between charges.
Best gaming phone: Asus ROG Phone 6
If you’re looking for a gaming phone in the US in 2022, your options are sadly quite limited. Luckily, you don’t need those others when the best of the bunch is available to you, and it just so happens that’s the Asus ROG Phone 6. Long battery life, great power, and phenomenal stereo front-facing speakers are the highlights that took it to the top of our rankings this year. It’s not a cheap option, but if you’re looking for the best mobile gaming experience to play Apex Legends: Mobile or League of Legends: Wild Rift, you’ll want to consider the Asus ROG Phone 6.
ASUS ROG Phone 6
The Asus ROG Phone 6 Pro is one of best gaming phones money can buy, and it’s built to handle all the intensive tasks you can throw at it. Of course, the super-speedy Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chipset gives it the power and performance you need to take on your friend, and the massive 6.78″ 1080p 165Hz display ensures that your gaming experience is as smooth, sharp, and crisp as possible.
Runner-up: Redmagic 7
If you’re not looking to spend top dollar on your next gaming phone, then you’ll want to check out the RedMagic 7. Sure, it might be slightly older than the 7s Pro, packing the standard version of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but this is still an incredibly powerful chip, which means the RedMagic 7 plays games wonderfully, with no performance woes.
Best tablet: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus
After some sparse years for Android tablets, 2022 brought us a variety of new options. Mostly those were from Samsung, the go-to brand for Android slates lately, and the company’s Galaxy Tab S8 Plus has managed to secure our award for the best tablet of the year. Its gorgeous 12.4-inch OLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate makes watching films or streaming YouTube a joy, and the design is even more elegant than previous iterations of Samsung’s top-end tablet. It isn’t cheap, but it can do a lot more than most other Android tablets on the market, so it takes our title for the best tablet in 2022.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is among the best picks for an Android tablet, with a top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 doing all the heavy lifting and a 12.4-inch display with a resolution of 2800 x 1752 and a 120Hz refresh rate to enjoy watching films and more. The design is elegant, and you also get an S Pen stylus included alongside the tablet. If you’re after a big-screen tablet, the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is among the top picks.
Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
The main attraction is the Ultra’s display: it’s a huge 14.6-inch OLED panel at 1,848 by 2,960 pixels, with a refresh rate that goes all the way up to 120Hz. It’s got thin bezels on all sides, but there’s a notch at the top (in landscape) to accommodate dual front-facing cameras. If you’re out to get the most Android tablet possible, the Tab S8 Ultra should be your go-to in 2022.
Best smartwatch: Samsung Galaxy Watch 5
In the year that finally brought us the long-awaited Pixel Watch, we sure didn’t initially expect to be giving this title to the Galaxy Watch 5. Although this smartwatch is largely more of the same that we saw on the Galaxy Watch 4, the improvements Samsung did deliver are some pretty important ones, especially if you’re upgrading from an older smartwatch. The Watch 5 features sapphire glass that’s much more damage-resistant than the glass on previous models and the battery is bigger. Little improvements like these add up to make for one of the best smartwatch experiences we’ve ever had.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 is a refined upgrade to the phenomenal Watch 4. Sapphire Glass makes Samsung’s newest wearable more durable, and its larger battery makes it easier to get through the day without charging.
Runner-up: Google Pixel Watch
We’ve been waiting for Google to make a watch for the better part of a decade, and the Google Pixel Watch has finally arrived. The first Android smartwatch with Fitbit health tracking, the Pixel Watch aims to help you stay fit or get fit easily while Wear OS 3.5 brings us Google’s vision for a wearable UI and exclusive Wear OS apps for Google services like Google Home.
Best headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony has been the brand to beat in the ANC headphones market, and it remains on top with its latest release. The Sony WH-1000XM5 don’t change the game from the company’s last set of headphones, but a tweaked design and additional features enhance what Sony’s able to offer. In his review, Android Police’s Gadgets Editor Taylor Kerns said, “With tight audio, industry-leading ANC, and battery life that stretches up to 30 hours with ANC on, they’re a fantastic pick for anyone in the market for high-end noise-canceling headphones.” Our main criticism is the fact this new design doesn’t fold, but if that’s not a concern for you, these are a top pick.
The reigning champ of active noise cancellation is in no hurry to relinquish the crown. Sony’s most recent over-ear headphones, the WH-1000XM5, bring back that top-of-the-line ANC that many have tried, and failed, to match. The headphones also offer fantastic sound quality that, like the Bose, aren’t too hyped or colored, so you can enjoy your favorite concerto or 98 Degrees track the way it was meant to be heard.
Runner-up: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are a great option for anyone who doesn’t mind paying a premium for high-end wireless audio; they sound utterly great. Battery life is also phenomenal at up to 60 hours per charge with ANC on. That ANC isn’t particularly impressive, though — especially compared to similarly priced options from Bose or Sony.
Best earbuds: Google Pixel Buds Pro
The Google Pixel Buds Pro are the best choice of earbuds to pair with your Android phone. Google has had a turbulent history with earbuds, but 2022 was the year when the company finally nailed it. As we put it in our review, “Fourth time’s the charm”, which we think sums up Google’s history in this space quite well. The Pixel Buds Pro feature competent ANC, a great transparency mode, far improved touch controls, and, on top of everything else, good audio quality.
Google Pixel Buds Pro
With great audio, ANC, and a fantastic transparency mode, the Pixel Buds Pro deliver a premium earbud experience in ways Google’s past attempts couldn’t. If you’re an Android user with $200 to spend on earbuds, these are a great pick.
Runner-ups: Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Image source: Samsung.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are Samsung’s smallest, lightest, and best wireless earbuds yet. They improve on the Galaxy Buds Pro in every way, with better sound quality, more fulsome active noise cancellation, and support for 24-bit audio. They’re also IPX7 water and dust resistant.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II don’t come cheap at $299, but they feature excellent audio quality and ANC that can go toe-to-toe with what you’ll get in leading over-ear headphones. If you’re in the market for premium earbuds, the QC Earbuds II need to be on your radar.
Best Chromebook: HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Dragonfly is a name that exudes speed, a light profile, and tenacity — three things HP’s Elite Dragonfly Chromebook nails. Google may never make a Pixelbook again, but the Dragonfly is as close as we’re likely to come for a long, long time. It’s wonderfully slim, the keyboard is comfortable, and you can get some fantastic screens on it. Both 2K-resolution 450-nit and 1080p 1000-nit touchscreens are available, giving us a Chromebook you can well and truly use outdoors in full sunlight, if you have to. While it can be painfully difficult to get past its list pricing, HP has slowly started to give it the discounts it deserves. So long as you can wait for those deals, this is the ultimate Chromebook on the market right now.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
Slim, beautiful, and powerful, the first Chromebook to bear HP’s Dragonfly name can come with up to an Intel i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, and a beautiful 13.5-inch touchscreen. While this laptop can get pricey, when a sale pops up, it’s the best damn Chromebook money can buy.
Runner-up: Acer Chromebook Spin 714
Acer Chromebook Spin 714
Improving upon its already-impressive predecessor even further, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 714 is a top-of-the-line convertible that’s every bit worth its high asking price. Under the hood, the Spin 714 features Intel’s newest 12th-generation Core i5 processor and 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Combine that with 256GB of high-speed storage, and you’ve got a machine that can handle everything you throw at it without breaking a sweat.
Best smart home camera: Nest Doorbell (wired)
The Nest Doorbell (wired, 2nd gen) really represents a refinement of the Nest Doorbell (battery) from last year. It brings back the option for 24/7 video recording, for peace of mind of knowing who’s at your door throughout the day and night. It’s also smaller than the previous generation, taking up less space around your porch. If you’re looking for a new smart home doorbell this year, the Nest Doorbell is our top pick.
Nest Doorbell (wired, 2nd gen)
The Nest Doorbell (wired, 2nd gen) is Google’s 2022 smart camera doorbell for those who want the best possible quality and reliability in a Google Nest video product.
Runner-up: Wyze Cam v3 Pro
Wyze Cam v3 Pro
The Wyze Cam v3 Pro costs $50 gives users 1440p continuous capture via a microSD card or the cloud through a Wyze Cam Plus subscription. On-board Edge AI processing speeds up subject detection, infrared-powered night vision is improved from the Cam v3, and there’s two-way audio here, too. It’s a versatile, affordable camera whether you’re looking to mount it inside or outside.
Best gaming accessory: Razer Kishi V2
The Razer Kishi V2 takes everything that was great about the first iteration of the Android controller and drastically improves the formula for 2022. You still get a side-by-side controller you can slap your favorite phone into, but now there’s more room to accommodate larger devices, and you can even fit phones with their case still on, for a nice ease-of-use boost. Borrowing from Backbone’s design, the rear sliding mechanism is now much thinner, cutting down on weight, with micro switches for all buttons, ensuring reliable input that’s plenty tactile. The whole thing feels great in hand, thanks to improved ergonomics with its rear grips. Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for the best controller released in 2022, even despite some tight competition, Razer has come out ahead with the Kishi V2.
Razer Kishi V2
The Razer Kishi V2 replaces the Razer Kishi, bringing a slew of new features that will appeal to mobile gaming fans. The most significant addition is that Razer has switched from membranes to micro switches, offering better direct tactility while being more responsive. This responsiveness is key since the controller connects over USB-C (no wireless), which is ideal for low latency, making the controller an excellent choice for those who play competitive games or enjoy game streaming services like GeForce Now.
Runner-up: Gamevice Flex
The Gamevice Flex takes our runner-up award for best gaming accessory of 2022. For a solid price, you get a comfortable and easy-to-use controller that can fit most modern Android phones.
Best product Google killed this year: Google Stadia
YouTube Originals, Google Hangouts, YouTube Go, Assistant Driving Mode, Google Surveys… Google has had a pretty prolific year for cutting products. Nothing compared to its shutdown of Google Stadia, though, which we first learned about in late September. The game streaming service was less than three years old, but it’s set to shut down in early 2023. If you’re a Google Stadia diehard fan, we’ve got a guide on how you can get refunds for your Stadia purchases.
Runner-up: Android Auto for phone screens
Android Police Reader’s Choice Award: Coming soon
We’re still looking for our winner of the Android Police Reader’s Choice Award 2022, and we’ll be announcing your top pick on December 19th. You’ve still got time to vote, so head to our poll now to have your say on the best smartphone of the year.