iPhone 14 Pro, Pixel 7 and Other Phones We're Excited to See
Apple, Google and Samsung may have major upgrades in store for this year.
Lisa EadiciccoSenior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Apple, Samsung, Google and OnePlus have already launched new phones in 2022, but the most exciting devices are rumored to debut in the fall. Apple is expected to announce a giant version of its standard, non-Pro iPhone, while the Pixel 7 will be powered by a new version of Google's Tensor chip. Samsung reportedly has new foldables in the works, too.
Here's are the phones we're most excited to see in 2022 based on rumors and reports that have surfaced so far. We've also included a section at the bottom for phones that were previously on this list but have since been announced, such as Samsung's Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Google Pixel 6A.
Apple iPhone 14 Pro
The iPhone 14 Pro will likely have the standard updates you'd expect from a next-generation iPhone, such as a new Apple processor and maybe some design tweaks. But it's the new camera that seems to be the most exciting potential update. If the rumors are to be believed, the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max could have a 48-megapixel main camera. That's according to two reports from well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as 9to5Mac and MacRumors reported.
Apple has improved the iPhone Pro's camera in many ways over the years, adding a third ultrawide camera lens in 2019 with the iPhone 11 Pro and improving the telephoto camera's zoom range in 2020 with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But the resolution has remained at 12 megapixels for years, even as far back as the iPhone 7.
Resolution isn't everything. There's a lot more that goes into producing a great photo. Factors such as the size of the sensor and the camera's aperture, which is the opening that allows it to take in light, both play a big role in determining image quality. Other internal upgrades, like the improvements Apple's new chips bring to image processing algorithms and machine learning, also affect camera performance. But a major jump like this would still suggest that significant camera upgrades are in store for Apple's next pro-grade iPhone.
The iPhone 14 Pro and larger Pro Max are also expected to be the only models with a new A16 processor from Apple, according to Kuo. Non-Pro versions of the iPhone 14 will reportedly run on the same A15 chip found inside the iPhone 13 lineup, signaling a notable departure from Apple's typical approach.
We're expecting the iPhone 14 Pro to debut in September, in line with Apple's usual launch cycle. The phone is also expected to get a new hole-punch shaped cutout for the front camera to replace the notch, according to Kuo.
Apple iPhone 14 Max
The biggest upgrades we're expecting to see from next year's flagship iPhone come down to the camera, design and screen size. But it's the reported iPhone 14 Max that I'm most excited about, which is said to be a supersize version of Apple's standard next-gen iPhone.
Apple will ditch the iPhone Mini and instead add another 6.7-inch iPhone to the mix next year, according to Nikkei Asian Review. That means the iPhone 14 lineup may consist of two 6.1-inch models (the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro), and two 6.7-inch versions (the iPhone 14 Max and iPhone 14 Pro Max).
Watch this: Top 5 iPhone 14 Rumors
Apple's iPhone 14 Max will seemingly be aimed at those who want a larger screen but don't necessarily care about the other upgrades that come with Apple's Pro line, like a triple-lens camera and lidar sensor. It could be a great choice for iPhone fans who've been waiting for a gigantic display but don't want to splurge on the $1,099 iPhone 13 Pro Max.
We'll probably have to wait until the fall to learn more about Apple's future plans for the iPhone.
Google Pixel 7
Google's Pixel phone is getting a big upgrade this fall. The company teased the Pixel 7 during Google I/O in May, revealing that it will have a second-generation Tensor processor, a glass design with a new aluminum camera bar and a triple-lens camera on the Pro model. That's basically all Google has told us for now, but the company promised to share more details later in the year.
The Pixel 6 was the first phone to come with Google's own Tensor chip, signaling a turning point for the Pixel series. The chip brought improvements to tasks that rely on machine learning, like translation, image processing and speech recognition. Although the Pixel 7 likely won't be as dramatic of an update as the Pixel 6, I'm looking forward to seeing what the next generation of Google's Tensor chip has in store.
Google Pixel Fold (or Pixel Notepad)
Google hasn't said a word about plans to launch a foldable Pixel phone, but rumors have been picking up steam lately. The most recent leak comes from 9to5Google, which reports that Google's first flexible phone could be called the Pixel Notepad. Perhaps more interestingly, the report also suggests this so-called Pixel Notepad could be cheaper than Samsung's $1,800 Galaxy Z Fold 3. That's a big deal, because high prices have been one of the biggest setbacks for today's foldables.
In terms of design, Google's foldable phone will likely be similar in shape to Oppo's Find N rather than to Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3. That's according to animations that 9to5Google found in Android 12L, Google's Android software designed for larger-screened devices like tablets.
But the camera could be a step down from the Pixel 6's, as 9to5Google reports that Google's foldable may have the same camera sensors as the Pixel 5. The publication reportedly found references to the Pixel Fold's camera sensor in the Android package kit files (which are used to distribute and install Android apps) for Google's camera app.
If Google's foldable does end up having a lesser camera than the Pixel 6, it's possible that Google may have made this compromise to achieve a competitive price and keep the device slim. Other files associated with Google's camera app also include code that references a potential 2022 launch date, according to 9to5Google, suggesting that the search giant may indeed announce its first foldable this year. However, a more recent report from The Elec says Google has delayed the project, which was previously supposed to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Foldable phones are still expensive and come with many limitations. But Google's current approach to smartphones has made me hopeful that it'll bring something useful (or at least interesting) to this space.
Take the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, both of which include Google Assistant exclusive features. These include Wait Times, which displays projected wait times before calling a toll-free number, and Direct My Call, a tool for transcribing automated menus when dialing toll-free businesses. Both of those additions prove Google is thinking about ways to improve the core functionality of smartphones. I'm hoping it will take a similar strategy toward foldable devices, especially now that Google has started making its own phone chips.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4
Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most polished foldable phone I've used, and it's close to being the first foldable phone I'd recommend. But it's still much more expensive than the average phone, and the Z Fold 3's unconventional design still makes it feel awkward to use as a regular phone.
Given the progress Samsung has made in foldable phones so far, I'm excited to see how it addresses these shortcomings moving forward. We'll likely learn more about that on August 10 when Samsung holds its next Unpacked event. Although the company hasn't explicitly said the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is coming, Samsung's TM Roh said he "can't wait to show you the potential of our new Samsung Galaxy foldables," in a recent blog post.
Samsung also said it sold four times as many units of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 than it did of its previous foldable phones throughout 2020. That alone suggests demand for the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 has been solid at the very least, giving Samsung reason to push full steam ahead.
Based on rumors that have been circulating, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will likely come with a new hinge and upgraded cameras that match the Galaxy S22's. But I'd also like to see longer battery life, a lower price, more software features that put the Z Fold's larger screen to better use and an updated design that makes the device less cumbersome when folded. It would also be great to see Samsung include the S-Pen stylus with future versions of the Fold rather than selling it separately.
Phones we were excited about that have launched in 2022
Apple iPhone SE (2022)
Apple announced the third-gen iPhone SE during a March product launch event, its first of the year. As the rumors had predicted, the 2022 iPhone SE has 5G support and the same A15 Bionic processor found in the iPhone 13. Apple also says it's improved the phone's battery life and camera quality, although it has a single 12-megapixel lens similar to its predecessor. The company also slightly increased the price to $429 compared to the 2020 version which started at $400.
The second-gen iPhone SE stood out for its balance of great performance, affordability and portability. Apple has maintained that strategy with the latest model, as my colleague Patrick Holland wrote in his review.
Google Pixel 6A
Google's Pixel 6 is already a great value at $600. But the $449 Pixel 6A, which Google announced during its I/O conference in May, is inheriting some of the Pixel 6's best features for a lower price.
The Pixel 6A, which launches on July 28, runs on Google's Tensor processor and largely maintains the Pixel 6's look and feel. It has a 6.1-inch screen and a 12-megapixel camera system with ultrawide and standard lenses. Google's cheaper new phone also maintains some of the search giant's signature photography features, like Night Sight, Real Tone and Magic Eraser. It supports 5G and will get three years of Android software updates and five years of security updates.
Google isn't new to the budget smartphone space. But the Pixel 6A's premium build and great camera might make it Google's best low-cost Pixel phone yet. As I wrote in my review, it's the best Android phone under $500 for most people right now.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Fans of Samsung's Galaxy Note lineup have something new to be excited about. With an included stylus that you can store inside the phone, a fresh design with more pronounced corners and a quadruple-lens camera, The $1,200 Galaxy S22 Ultra is essentially Samsung's Galaxy Note successor.
It has a spacious 6.8-inch screen just like Samsung's previous Galaxy S21 Ultra, making it ideal for those who do a lot of reading, watching movies or taking notes on their mobile device. Samsung has also improved the way all three of its Galaxy S22 phones take photos in the dark. But at $1,200, it's one of the most expensive phones that Samsung sells. The battery life could also be better, especially for such an expensive phone. But we still recommend it for those who want the one of the best cameras and biggest screens available on a phone.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Samsung's $700 Galaxy S21 FE, which launched in January, is basically a diet version of the Galaxy S21. It has the same processor as the Galaxy S21 along with a larger screen and battery, but comes with a less sharp telephoto lens. There's also a 32-megapixel selfie camera on the front, which takes more detailed images than the Galaxy S22's 10-megapixel front camera.
Samsung launched the device just before introducing the Galaxy S22 lineup in February, which made for awkward timing. If you're trying to decide between the two, the Galaxy S21 FE is the better choice if you want a larger screen and don't mind sacrificing camera quality to save $100. But the Galaxy S22 has a newer processor, much improved camera that can also take better photos in the dark and a more elegant design.
OnePlus 10 Pro
The OnePlus 10 Pro is the company's best phone yet, and it "ticks pretty much every box you should expect from a high-end Android phone in 2022," writes CNET's Andrew Lanxon.
It runs on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, has a crisp 6.7-inch OLED screen that can boost its refresh rate up to 120Hz and supports 80-watt wired charging. (The US model only has 65-watt fast charging.) The OnePlus 10 Pro also has a triple-lens main camera with a 48-megapixel main camera, 8-megapixel telephoto camera and 50-megapixel main camera. However, the low-light camera performance could be better and most versions of the phone lack official water resistance.