Best phones of CES 2022: the year of value-driven phones

Surprisingly, CES 2022 was not a total disaster, despite the withdrawal of many big names from the glitzy show and the threat of an impending pandemic. We got a glimpse of a color-changing car, an eerily cute robot, tablets that put a gaming laptop to shame, super-fast silicon from Intel, and a router-like router. a spaceship with motorized antennas, among other wonders. But CES 2022 was also about phones. In fact, great phones, which offer great hardware without damaging your wallet.

Yes, flagships with outrageous amounts of RAM and extremely high megapixel cameras were missed, but CES 2022 was the spectacle of value-driven phones. The kind of phones that sell in bundles without having a flashy launch event and wacky claims. Samsung, TCL and Nokia were the brands that delivered such phones, and they will soon be hitting the shelves without an outrageous price tag attached to them.

Here are a few that stood out the most.

Best overall: OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro in black

Technically, the OnePlus 10 Pro didn’t make a public appearance at CES 2022. But OnePlus provided enough drip detail that we now know almost everything about the phone, from its divisive design to its internal components. leading. Specs are your usual 2022 flagship ingredients – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system on a chip, 120Hz OLED display, and big battery. Some notable aspects include support for 80W fast charging and 50W wireless charging, both under the Oppo brand now.

The camera setup (48-megapixel main + 50MP ultra-wide + 8MP) is unchanged, but it now comes with a few imaging tricks. The ultra-wide camera now covers a 150-degree field of view, while a new RAW Plus mode will deliver the magic new iPhones serve with the Apple ProRAW format. A manual video capture mode has been added, while Hasselblad mode now works on all three rear cameras with 10-bit color capture.

It’s pretty obvious that the focus is more on cameras and the handy features that really make a difference. Rivals are planning 200-megapixel cameras and 120W charging has already arrived, but OnePlus is looking for a balanced experience. Hopefully the price is right and the OnePlus 10 Pro delivers on its promises. It must, especially against venerable rivals like the Google Pixel 6 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro. The OnePlus flagship will be released on January 11 in China, with a world premiere to follow shortly thereafter.

Best Mid-Range Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Screen Protector.

No phone in recent memory has been leaked as thoroughly as the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, and even the company has apparently given up on that as well. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad phone. In fact, far from it. The Galaxy S21 FE aka Fan Edition adheres to the flagship budget formula, and for the second year in a row, Samsung appears to have done a great job.

The design is clean and reminiscent of the standard Galaxy S21, with a choice of neat colors. Up front is a 120Hz display, while last year’s flagship Qualcomm chip runs the business inside. The tri-camera array is a familiar 12MP wide + 12MP ultra-wide + 8MP telephoto affair, while a 4,500mAh battery with wireless charging prowess keeps things going. But the asking price is the real MVP here. For $ 699, Samsung offers a near-flagship experience with four years of updates guaranteed.

The $ 599 Google Pixel 6 may seem like a better deal, but it’s only available in a few markets. The $ 799 iPhone 13 is also a competitive package, but costs a lot more elsewhere. For Android fans looking for a reliable phone without incinerating their bank account, the Galaxy S21 FE will always be part of the conversation, and the value of the Samsung brand has made it a favorite as well.

Best unlocked phone: Nokia G400

HMD Global Nokia G400.

Nokia has seen better days, and is far from being a mainstream player, but the company continues to make compelling budget phones. The new Nokia G400, with an asking price of $ 240, has a few specific features in its favor. The latest Nokia-branded phone has a 6.6-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate, which is something you typically don’t see on a budget phone.

Qualcomm’s decidedly mid-range (and older) Snapdragon 615 chip makes the show, while the rear triple camera system is showcased by a 48MP snapper. Another notable aspect here is the software of the phone. We’re talking about a pristine Android experience, much like Google Pixel phones minus all the exclusive features. There is no bloatware and at least two Android updates are guaranteed. HMD Global sells these Nokia branded phones without any carrier issues, so there’s the unlocked convenience as well.

Best VZW Budget Phone: TCL 30V 5G

TCL 30V 5G smartphone.

The Verizon-exclusive TCL 30V 5G is a rather odd mix of surprisingly good and meh hardware. It features 6.67 inch FHD + display without high refresh rate trick. The triple-lens array on the back includes a 50 MP main sensor, but the other two cameras offer paltry 5-megapixel and 2-megapixel output. A sizable 4,500mAh battery keeps the lights on, but unfortunately it runs Android 11 out of the box.

Qualcomm’s entry-level Snapdragon 480 chip is in charge here. But the phone apparently focuses less on power and more on connectivity. This budget TCL phone supports the faster mmWave flavor of 5G, a feature usually reserved for high-end phones. TCL won’t say anything about the price, but it will be affordable and hit shelves soon with a few offers from carriers.

Best budget T-Mobile phone: TCL 30XE ​​5G

TCL 30XE ​​5G smart phone.

Another TCL phone that’s a mix of surprises and disappointments, the TCL 30XE ​​5G offers tricks like a 90Hz refresh rate panel without a hefty asking price. On the flip side, the 6.52-inch screen is capped at a modest HD + resolution. The camera hardware (13MP primary + 2MP depth + 2MP macro) is strictly a budget affair, but an 18W charger included in the box sweetens the deal somewhat.

And 5G support is part of the package. The quick-disappear 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card slot are also present. Android 11 is once again a disappointing aspect, but an Android 12 upgrade probably isn’t too far down the road. Pricing and availability remain a mystery, but an early T-Mobile exclusivity is a clear sign that this one will be priced rather attractively to shoppers on a budget.


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