The Future Smartphones of 2022

What smartphone are you currently using, and what impresses you the most about it? Whether you got it a month ago or several years ago (or even longer), it was once on the cutting edge of smartphone technology, making the waves on the tech sites as well as at the major trade shows. Even if all of its features weren’t in use yet, it was proof that technology is improving and that there is always something to look forward to.

And with a new year come new releases, and new developments and options for the average consumer. And whether you’re a power user or someone who just wants a smartphone for emergencies and the occasional app, there’s a phone to excite you. It could come from Korea, China, or the United States (at least in design), and some phones might take some time to get here as well.

While we cannot list every phone that’s coming out in 2022 (not all are announced yet, for starters), here are some of the most exciting phones as well as some thoughts as to where the industry is heading:

Apple iPhone SE 3

The regular iPhone line can be rather expensive. Apple knows this, and as a result, has released a line of iPhones called the SE line, the first release was in 2016 and the second in April 2020. And they’re about due for another, likely to be called the Apple iPhone SE 3. Probably costing between $400 and $500 if previous releases are anything to go by, it will still be a competitive budget smartphone and look much like other iPhone models from the past. 

Yet despite being an affordable choice, it won’t be a weakling of a phone. We can expect an increase in both RAM and processing power and have an adequate rear camera and selfie camera. Unfortunately, Apple is tight-lipped about other details, and information leaks are not reliable, so we will have to wait for more information.

We do not have an exact release date yet, though we can probably expect to hear more within the first half of the year.

Apple iPhone 14/14 Max

It is a new year, and with a new year comes a new iPhone, with millions of sales to follow in its wake and some new features we all can appreciate. Yet what can we expect from the iPhone 14? In truth, we aren’t entirely sure yet, as concrete details have not been released. There are rumors, however, of a pretty major redesign of the phone. Some of the major rumors include a notched display, flush rear cameras, and a more scratch and damage-resistant design.

We are confident that the new iPhone will feature a new chip unless they ran into supply issues, and this would likely be the A16 chip. RAM will like by 6GB for all models, which will be a pretty big boost over previous iPhones.

We can also expect the Apple iPhone 14 Max (or some equivalent “pro” version), which historically has had a bigger screen, sometimes a bit more processing power, and some other small improvements. Both models will likely be incredibly popular and be trendsetters for the rest of the industry. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung has been one of the leading companies when it comes to smartphones, and 2022 will not be much different in that regard. Why? We expect the release of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the follow-up to the S21 Ultra (indisputably one of the best and most advanced phones of last year).

We might see something of a combination of features of the Galaxy Note, given that one was not released last year as many expected. Other potential features include a bright and better camera for better photos at all times of the day, a new processor given that they announced one recently, and better stylus support much like the Note had.

The S22 Ultra is expected to come out soon in February. You can go ahead and pre-order one if you’re interested, though doing so for a technically unannounced phone is interesting, to say the least. There will also be the S22 and the S22 Plus, but they will be much the same as the Ultra, which will be cutting edge.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

For those who don’t want to wait to afford the flagship S22 Ultra, there is the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, which was released in early January of 2022 and is just getting full reviews. And for a starting price of $699, it is an advancement in inefficiency and how far the consumer’s smartphone dollar can go. With an excellent Snapdragon 888 processor, a great set of cameras, and Android 12 shipping with it, it’s a strong competitor for those who don’t necessarily want the latest and greatest. And while there are compromises from the original S21 (RAM and battery life), many won’t be bothered by this.

It will be interesting to see how many people get this model and whether other companies will put more effort into their own budget models.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

We are starting to see something of a return of the flip phone, and the fact that Samsung is devoting a slot on the Galaxy line to it is proof that they are committed to the idea. And compared to the fold line which was profoundly expensive and in some cases experimental (there were durability issues with earlier models), the flip line was more affordable (for such a phone, it was still expensive in general), more compact, and handy for many, and the more practical option. We expect no different this year, though from what we can tell there may be a further price reduction as these types of flip phones become easier to manufacture.

It may be lighter, more resistant to damage, and get a processor upgrade, depending on parts availability.

There’s no official release date as of this writing, but we can probably expect it to release summer of this year.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4

As opposed to the Flip, the Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 is going to be a more expensive and expansive proposition for Samsung and will be a specialist flagship that some people will love and far many more will not be able to get their hands on, whether for lack of availability or for lack of money (these phones are incredibly expensive). At least that will be the case if it's anything like previous launches in this life. What we can be hopeful for is that the Fold 4 will once again push the envelope when it comes to foldable screen technology, battery life for such a phone, and an improved overall design.

When the screen is unfolded and users are enjoying it fully, they will get an amazing picture and plenty of room to work with. When it isn’t, it will be able to fit in a pocket like any other phone. Depending on which leaks you want to believe, you may also be able to get an under-display fingerprint scanner and another snapper on the phone, as well as stylus support.

While we do not have a release date yet if Samsung follows its previous trend it will release alongside the Flip 4.

OnePlus 10 Pro/10 Pro 5G

From what we can tell, the OnePlus 10 Pro, a counterpart to the soon-to-be popular OnePlus 10, will be a huge deal for the phone market and a player for one of the best phones of 2022. We do have some information from the company themselves, although the technical knowledge is somewhat limited at this time.

The OnePlus 10 Pro will have a 6.7-inch 1440 x 3216 AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refresh rate, which will provide an amazing viewing experience and even be good for gaming. Also helping with games and running plenty of apps is a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. In terms of the camera, there will be a 2nd Generation Hasselblad Camera.

Strangely enough, we don’t know as much for sure about the standard model, though it will likely not be as impressive and cut a few corners to be more affordable for people. 

There may also be the OnePlus 10 Pro 5G (assuming the regular model doesn’t come with 5G support by default), which will be one step forward and allow for more media and better downloads on the phone. 

The OnePlus 10 Pro is expected to come out in the Spring of 2022, so it won’t be a long wait for fans.

Google Pixel 6a

The Google Pixel 6a is a variation of the extremely popular Google Pixel 6, last year’s flagship from the tech giant. And while the 6 is an impressive phone, we think that the 6a will be the mainline option moving forward for people who cannot afford or get ahold of a 7 yet are still looking for a medium price-range option for a smartphone. It will look very much like a Pixel 6 or 6 Pro, and in many ways have the same chipset. The camera setup, however, does not appear to be as strong, though more than sufficient for the average person. And with it likely running Android 12 out of the box and featuring a healthy amount of RAM, the Google Pixel 6a will be a hit with many, and proof that there’s a strong market for mid-range phones.

The Google Pixel 6a is expected to release sometime in mid-2022, based on previous releases.

Google Pixel 7

Outside of the Google Pixel 6a, we will likely see the much anticipated Google Pixel 7 as Google’s main smartphone release in 2022.

What can we expect? The Google Pixel line has been known for absolutely amazing cameras in otherwise more affordable (compared to other flagships) phones, and we expect nothing different here. At the very least, there should be a slight improvement over the 6 camera setup, which was already impressive and remains so. There are also rumors of a new chipset for the Pixel 7, which will allow it to compete with other upcoming flagships. Outside of this, it’s too early to say, and even new patents may or may not be included.

As far as a pro model for the Pixel 7 is concerned, there are no rumors or notes of one. Google might be wanting to focus all its production efforts on one model, given the state of the economy and the world at the moment. It will likely be released later in the year, perhaps in Autumn.

Google Pixel Fold

Samsung isn’t the only company interested in the folding phone idea. Google is also rumored to be making a model as part of their Pixel line. And this one, according to the information that we could get ahold of, is a bit bendier than the other models, featuring folding technology that we haven’t seen before on the phone. It will likely aim to be cheaper than the Samsung Z Fold line, and still have the excellent camera setup the Pixel line is known for.

This might be one of the phones least likely to come out this year, but it will be one that possibly changes how we look at phones, and for that reason, it deserves your close attention. It could go the way of many of other Google’s semi-secret projects, but depending on the investment made, we will likely see more of this device.

Nokia 10

Nokia is one of the biggest names in mobile phones, but we haven’t heard too much about them in the last few years. It seemed as though they were reduced to second-tier with the wide array of highly competitive smartphones. That is why we are interested in seeing what the Nokia 10 and HMD Global, which makes them, are capable of.

The Nokia 10 is planned to be a flagship for the company and has 5G compatibility, and perhaps the Snapdragon 888 chipset, which would be a huge improvement for them. Cameras also seem to be a priority, so an improved camera set in several regards is a strong possibility.

If the Nokia 10 is released and not just an experiment or rumor, we will likely see it in 2022, albeit at an unknown date.

Huawei Mate P50

From Huawei, we will have their next phone, the Huawei P50. And while there were rumors of cancellation of this set, it seems these were exaggerations, and sets are being made and marketed as normal. It proves to be a strong set with a good battery and charging and a dual-camera design. There are already rumors of their next set, but there isn’t enough information to speculate further at this time.

Even though it came out last year, globally it hasn’t been so easily available, which is why we included it on this list. It is indicative of the trend that some phones might be region-specific for some time due to supply, and that consumers might have to wait for their phone of choice. Whether this will change when supply lines are better remains to be seen.

Blackberry 5G

Blackberry is back, in a way. With the Blackberry 5G, OnwardMobility has made clear they want to carry that torch. There have been delays, but there is confirmation that the phone is still being made and the project has not been abandoned. We do know that it will feature a strong camera setup and run Android, albeit likely with some proprietary apps and features for security reasons.

Blackberry was known for making business-oriented smartphones that were extremely secure, and this model does not appear to be too different from that mold. And while this Blackberry might not be made by the same teams that built the Blackberries you remember and love from years ago, the Blackberry 5G will follow in the spirit of the previous models. How successful they are on the follow-through is something we and reviewers are eagerly awaiting to find out.

We still do not have an exact release date, though given the delays the phone could ship or get a major announcement at any time.

Xiaomi 12

Chinese companies are starting to seriously compete in the smartphone market, and one of the best examples of that is the Xiaomi 12, a strong smartphone contender for the year that has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor and yet despite this is going for a reasonable price in China, though there may be a markup when it comes to the West.

It was technically released on December 31, 2021, but in reality, it’s a 2022 phone that you probably haven’t heard about yet. You can learn more about the specifications here, but overall you can be confident that this phone is trying to seriously compete with the major players in the market. It may take some time for them to arrive in western countries, but they’ll likely find a market given their specifications.

Oppo Find N

Another foldable phone, this time from Oppo, is the Oppo Find N. Compared to other options this is a smaller and practical phone, and for that reason, it will find an audience and perhaps influence development to come. 

The biggest claim to fame here, outside of its smaller size, is that the fold shows its creaseless than similar foldable phones, allowing for a more immersive viewing experience. 

Of course, folding only goes so far. We can expect the phone to also have a selfie cam on each screen and three cameras on the back, and enough processing power for most standard tasks. Whether it stands the test of time, however, in regards to the durability of its folding mechanisms and screen, will possibly take years to find out.

Interestingly, the Oppo Find N will only be available in China from its release, but fans are holding out hope that there will be a release outside of the country in 2022. This will likely depend on stock levels and a series of other agreements.

Sony Xperia 1 IV

Sony has been on the phone market for some time, albeit getting outshined by competitors for several releases at this point. Yet the Sony Xperia 1 IV is likely to be Sony’s best phone in some time, and a major competitor to the big releases we already know about. 

On the phone, we can expect a much better camera (perhaps 50MP), a potentially much better 4K display that’s great for streaming and general usage. A better chipset is also to be expected. Following up the other Xperia models, Sony could use a win here, so we anticipate a significant investment in this model.

We do not have much information regarding a release yet, but there will likely be more information to come in the spring of 2022.

General Topics and Improvements

All of the above phones sound great, but looking at them might not give a clear picture of what to expect from the industry in general in 2022. Here are some topics we think you should follow, and the main items to know for each of them:

The Expansion of 5G: 5G is one of those topics that seems to be talked about (and joked about) everywhere, but we are uncertain as to whether there is actually a rollout happening anytime soon, and in your area to begin with. There are currently concerns over interference with flights as of this writing, but we are confident that such issues will be worked out and that people will have improved download speeds in 2022. 

Regardless of the rollout timeline, we are seeing more phones in 2022 that have 5G reception and are built to make the most of it. By 2023, we are confident that it will be the standard for new phones, even if it isn’t entirely in use. And with that, more apps will be optimized for their usage, and we may even gain new uses for smartphones that were previously impossible.

Improved Cameras: We don’t talk about digital cameras all that much anymore, simply because our phones do most of the job for them. And while a dedicated camera of the same price will certainly be better, most people don’t need that. Yet they will want better cameras on their phones nonetheless, and more functionality for them. 

Whether we are going to see a bunch of additional cameras on a phone become standard on phones remains to be seen. We might see straight improvements to the cameras in terms of Megapixels, options,

Improved Durability: A broken phone equals a broken heart and a major expense. Even if you just break your screen, you will have to have it replaced, which means an extra errand at best and several hundred dollars at worst. If the phone is totaled, the cost of a flagship model can easily reach $1000. Making sure a phone can take a drop or two is a huge concern for most people, and protective cases aren’t the only side of the equation.

In the future, we can expect phones to be made from more durable materials and more durable designs. This will have to be balanced with other concerns, but our best developers and scientists will be working on the task in 2022 and beyond.

Flip Phones and Foldable Phones: There are regular reports of flip phones coming back, but this time we mean it. Perhaps not the flip phones of old with tiny screens, hard to use keyboards, and occasionally reception. Instead, we will have flip phones that are built to have both the compactness of the old phones (phones today are getting larger and larger), and the screen size and functionality of new smartphones. The added convenience will come at a premium to many, while others will seek nostalgia.

Yet as you can see above, we also have the trend of phones with foldable screens, allowing for relatively massive screen space while still taking up the same or less space as other smartphones. There are durability concerns with many of these phones, but the future looks bright for the idea, and the race is on to find the perfect design.

Better Apps: As always, apps update, and new apps come out every day. Most of them are completely worthless, or niche to one use or industry. And that’s fine. There are so many of them we couldn’t possibly hope to keep track of them anyhow. We cannot predict which ones will take off and which ones will fade away. That’s for users to decide. What we can be certain of is that apps will take advantage of better features and specifications on smartphones and that smartphones will resemble computers even further as a result.

What makes an app better is subjective in many respects, but developers will have more power and tools to work with, making a better experience for users across the board.

More Internet of Things (IoT) Connections: A huge story in the tech world that doesn’t always get enough attention is the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). This is effectively the fact that every appliance and device in our home seems to have some form of connectivity nowadays. Does your coffee maker have an app? Then it is an IoT device. And your phone will likely be the way to work with and connect to all of these devices.

Whether this is reflected in the phones themselves more or the apps on them is not yet entirely clear. It will likely be a little of both. And with these additional use cases for phones, we will see more usage in general. UIs will change to accommodate that.

Some Additional Notes

To keep you informed and to provide more context, here are a few more things you should keep in mind:

Out of the phones listed above, some of them might not come out, or come out with different specifications or features than what we can report right now. Most of these phones are still in some form of development, and that means that things can change.

Similarly, there might be smartphones that come out that we had no idea about. While unlikely, there could be a surprise release or one with a short marketing period.

Remember that much of phone development and production is secretive, to prevent the competition from getting an edge. There could be a revolutionary technology right around the corner, with them working the bugs out before release.

Any release dates are also still in question. While we anticipate most if not all of these phones will come out this year, we can never know about the unexpected. Additionally, we are still in a pandemic and a chip shortage, both of which can affect shipping and manufacturing.

There may also be limited-run phones that only a privileged few get their hands on. Custom phones or custom apps are certainly an option for those with the cash to spare, and sometimes it is needed for security or industry reasons. For the most part, we didn’t list such items here.

Finally, note that while the hardware above might change, the software is nearly guaranteed to get patches and updates, both to fine-tune the standard processes and add new features and options. A phone near the end of its life might not always resemble it at the beginning, as far as the operation is concerned.

Conclusion

Naturally, you aren’t going to get all of the smartphones on this list, or even necessarily get a new smartphone this year. Yet regardless of your plans, we hope this information has given you a better idea of what to expect from the market this year, where the innovation is happening, and what you might want to recommend to your friends when their turn to get a replacement comes along. We wish you the best of luck with your future research and may your curiosity never be extinguished.