This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2022. For more stories like this, click here.
2022 is about to be in the books. Looking back, there were a bunch of smartphones (both iPhone and Android) announced — as well as a ton of chargers, cables and other mobile accessories. These are the best that 2022 had to offer.
iPhone 14 and 14 Plus
The iPhone 14 is very similar to last year’s iPhone 13. It’s the same size and has a nearly identical 6.1-inch display. It also has the same A15 Bionic chipset. However, Apple did give it a few notable upgrades under the hood. It has improved rear and selfie camera systems for better low-light photography; there’s a new Action Mode for improved image stabilization when shooting video. It has satellite connectivity — which is a first for any iPhone. And maybe most notably, Apple has done away with the “mini” version and instead replaced it with a “plus” version, which has a 6.7-inch display similar to the Pro Max. (Read our review of the iPhone 14 here.)
iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max
The iPhone 14 Pros were probably the biggest standouts from Apple’s big fall event. They have an all-new floating pill-shaped notch, called the Dynamic Island, that’s interactive and designed to more-easily control apps (like Music, Timer or Maps) when they are running in the background. They have a vastly improved rear triple-camera system, including a 48-megapixel main camera with the largest sensor ever put in an iPhone. And they are powered by Apple’s super new powerful chipset, the A16 Bionic. (Read our review of the iPhone 14 Pro here.)
Price: $999+ (Pro); $1,099+ (Pro Max)
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the company’s new “best of the best” flagship smartphone. It has the most top-of-the-line features of any new Samsung smartphone, plus it adds the power and productivity features that were previously reserved for Samsung’s Note line. It comes integrated with a new low-latency S Pen. (This also likely means Samsung is fully abandoning its Note line.) Compared to all of Samsung’s new smartphones, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is decked out the largest AMOLED display (6.8 inches), the biggest battery (5,000mAh), the best and most capable camera system (now with 108-megapixel wide lens, capable of shooting 8K video, 100x zoom and a bunch AI-driven features) and the best built-in speakers, with support for Dolby Atmos.
Samsung Galaxy S22/S22+
The Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22+ are very similar to the Galaxy S22 Ultra in a lot of ways. They have the same 4nm processor, the same AMOLED display (albeit smaller) and most of the same camera capabilities. The main differences are that the Galaxy S22 and S22+ are smaller, have smaller batteries and they don’t come with a built-in S Pen. They have mostly the same camera systems, too, except they lack the Ultra’s 108MP wide-angle lens (theirs is 50MP instead) and they don’t have the same advanced autofocusing capabilities.
As far as the differences between the Galaxy S22 and S22+, it primarily comes down to size, battery life and charging speeds (and price, of course). The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1″ display and a 3,700mAh battery, while the Galaxy S22+ has a 6.6″ display and a 4,500mAh battery. When wired, the S22+ supports 45-watt fast-charging, just like the Ultra, while the S22 only gets up to 25 watts. Both wirelessly charge at a max of 15 watts.
Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro
Google released its latest flagship smartphones, the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. As you’d expect, they Google’s best-ever smartphones with the most advanced camera capabilities of any Pixel smartphone to date. Both are powered the latest Tensor G2 chip, and they are actually more similar than they are different. The main differences are that the Pixel 7 Pro has a bigger display, more advanced camera (specifically for zoom) and a longer lasting battery. Both are pretty affordable for flagship smartphones, too.
Price: $599+ (Pixel 7); $899+ (Pixel 7 Pro)
Google Pixel 6a
Google released its latest midrange smartphone, the Pixel 6a, which is designed to compete against Apple’s iPhone SE (2022) and the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G — all these smartphones cost $449. The Pixel 6a adopts the new design of the Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 Pro, meaning it has a horizontal camera bar, two-tone color scheme and in-screen fingerprint reader. It also will include Google’s fancy Tensor chipset. The big difference is that Pixel 6a has a smaller 6.1 display with a slower 60Hz refresh rate. Also, its camera system isn’t quite as fancy as Google’s flagship smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4
Samsung released the newest versions of its foldable smartphones. Both the new “Flip” and “Fold” look very similar to their third-generation predecessors, but Samsung has made them lighter, stronger and more eco-friendly. Both foldable smartphones also have improved cameras, displays and charging capabilities, too.
Price: $1,000+ (Z Flip 4); $1,800+ (Z Fold 4)
Nothing Phone 1
The Phone 1 is Nothing’s first-ever smartphone. The Android’s most standout feature is the innovative lighting notification system located on its back. A different light pattern (and sound) will play depending on the person calling you or the app sending you the notification. The idea is that you’ll be able to tell who is trying to reach you even if your smartphone is lying face down.
Price: Not available in US
iPhone SE (3rd Generation)
Apple released a new-and-improved version of its affordable iPhone SE. The 2022 model has the same design as its 2020 predecessor — that means you still get the Home button, but no FaceID — but Apple has given it an upgraded A15 Bionic processor (the same processor as the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro), which improves its battery life and gives it a few enhanced camera features. It also supports 5G. The only downside is that Apple bumped the starting price up by $30; the 2020 iPhone SE started at $399.
Samsung Galaxy A53 5G
Samsung added a new mid-range smartphone to its A-series that’s designed to rival Apple’s newest iPhone SE. The just-announced Galaxy A53 is $30 cheaper (starting at $449), but comes with some more advanced features, including a bigger and faster display (6.5″ OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate) and a dual rear-camera system consisting of 64MP main (wide) and 12MP ultra-wide cameras. The main downside is that it doesn’t support wireless charging.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link 2
Fujifilm’s newest portable printer, the Instax Mini Link 2 ($100), connects to your smartphone and allows you to print any photo from your photo library; it essentially allows you to use your smartphone just like one of the company’s separate instant film cameras. The Instax Mini Link 2 is a new-and-improved version of Fujifilm’s 2019-released Instax Mini Link, with the major upgrade being that it has a new “rich” printing mode that adds extra color saturation and highlights to the print to make it really”pop.”
Nomad Base One Max
This is Nomad’s second official wireless charger that supports MagSafe, but its first that also comes with charging puck for an Apple Watch. The 2-in-1 wireless charger is beautiful thanks to its glass and metal body. And, weighing almost two pounds, it’s solid enough to not lift every time you pull your iPhone off it. You’ll need to use a 30-watt wall adapter (which Nomad sells separately) for it charge at its fastest speeds. Available in either silver or glass.
Mophie Speedport 45 with USB-C cable
The Speedport 45 is Mophie’s new 45-watt wall adapter with dual USB-C ports. It’s essentially a more powerful and more capable version of the 35-watt dual wall adapter that Apple includes with its M2 MacBook Air. The kicker is that it’s cheaper ($50 vs Apple’s $59) and comes with 2-meter charging cable. You can buy it directly from Apple.
Anker GaNPrime Chargers
Anker released its first power adapters that combine Gallium Nitride (GaN), a material that’s significantly more energy-efficient and space-efficient than silicon, and PowerIQ (Gen 4.0) technology, which enables it to allocate different wattages to different devices based on how much charge they can accept and their current battery levels. Basically, they’re smaller, smarter and more powerful than most other chargers out there.
Price: $60 – $110
Backbone One (PlayStation Edition)
The Backbone One is one of the best handheld controllers for mobile gamers on iPhone. This year, the company announced it has teamed up with PlayStation to create a special version of its well-loved controller — and it looks just like the PS5’s DualSense controller. It’s the ideal solution for those who play PlayStation games (via the PS Remote Play app) on their iPhone.
OtterBox 2-in-1 Charging Stand with MagSafe
The company best known for its rugged smartphone cases has released a 2-in-1 charging station for your iPhone and Apple Watch. It fully supports MagSafe, meaning it can charge an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 at its fastest possible speeds. And the stand is weighted (0.81 pounds) so it won’t jump off your desk when you go to grab your device. It comes a 36-watt wall charger and the necessary USB-C to USB-C charging cable. You can buy it directly from Apple’s website.
Plugable USB-C Vameter 3
The Vameter 3 is a neat little gadget. It’s a power meter that acts as the liaison between a device that takes a USB-C charge (like a laptop or smartphone) and a USB-C charging cable. Once attached, it’ll then show you how much power — in volts, amps and watts — is being transferred to your device. Plugable has made these power meters before, but this is its first one that reach up to 240 watts (although no current laptops or smartphones can even accept that much power).
Belkin Boost Up Charge Pro
The Belkin Boost Up Charge Pro is the first MagSafe car mount that is capable of charging your iPhone 12 or later at its full 15-watt capacity. This fast charging capability is going to cost you, however. At $100, the Belkin Boost Up Charge Pro costs almost twice as much as other car mounts for iPhone. You can buy it directly from Apple.
Moment Mobile Filmmaker Cage
Moment’s newest MagSafe accessory is designed to help filmmakers who are shooting with their iPhone 12, iPhone 13 or iPhone 14. It’s a two-handed cage that grips your iPhone securely, while also working with attachments, such as a mounting mic and/or an LED light.
The Audioengine DAC3 is a tiny portable USB-C DAC/amp that’s designed to squeeze that extra quality out of your smartphone or laptop. It packs a ES9281A PRO DAC and supports high-end lossless audio (up to 32-bit/384kHz including MQA files); it looks to be a perfect and relatively budget-friendly option for people who like to listen to Tidal (or another lossless streaming service) and who have a pair of high-end wired headphones.
The JumpStart is a portable battery pack that doubles as a PopSocket grip for your smartphone. The only catch is that it requires you to have the company’s PopGrip ($10), which is sold separately, to work. Once attached, the 2,200mAh battery plugs into your smartphone via a hidden charging cable — both Lightning and USB-C models are available — and, according to the company, can provide up to 50% of extra juice.
RiotPWR Mobile Controller for iOS (Xbox Edition)
RiotPWR and Xbox teamed up to create an Xbox edition controller designed to allow you to play Xbox games (via Xbox Cloud Gaming) on your iPhone. The controller is identical to the latest Xbox controllers, but with a mount and Lightning connector to hold and charge your iPhone while you play. It’s available for preorder now, with an official release slated for August 1.
The ShiftCam SnapGrip is a MagSafe-compatible accessory that adds a grip and a shutter button to your iPhone 12, iPhone 13 or iPhone 14 — basically, it allows you to use your iPhone as a full-sized camera. It has a built-in battery so it can charge your iPhone, too. And, when attached, it instantly opens up your iPhone’s camera app for quick shooting.
OtterBox Power Bank for MagSafe
Otterbox released two new portable battery packs — a 3,000 mAh and a 5,000 mAh model — that are designed to work with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13’s MagSafe system. They are essentially more affordable versions of to Apple’s own portable MagSafe Battery Pack. A neat advantage, however, is that there are magnets on either side of the battery pack which allows you to wirelessly charge your iPhone and the battery pack (if attached to wireless charger) at the same time.
Price: $50 — $70
Mophie Powerstation Wireless Stand with MagSafe
Mophie’s newest portable power bank doubles as a stand for your iPhone. It’s fully compatible with MagSafe, meaning it can fast charge any iPhone 12, iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 at up to 15 watts. It has a 10,000-mAh capacity, which is enough to nearly double the battery life of your iPhone. Additionally, it has a USB-C PD input/output port that you can use to charge a second device along with your iPhone.
Nomad 30W Power Adapter (Transparent)
Nomad released a transparent version of its 30-watt USB-C GaN wall adapter. It’s exactly the same as the company’s 30-watt USB-C GaN wall adapter, but instead of a matte black (called carbide) finish you can see its inner circuitry. It still supports Power Delivery and is powerful enough to charge an iPad or even a MacBook Air. The other good news is that it still costs $30, so there’s not even a price hike to get this neat design.
iFi Go Link
The iFi Go Link is the company’s newest portable DAC/amplifier that you can use to connect your wired headphones to your smartphone, tablet or computer. It connects via USB-C, but don’t worry iPhone users as iFi includes a Lightning adapter (as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter) right in the box. The Go Link has a built-in 32-bit ES9219 Sabre DAC and supports high-resolution audio files up to 32-bit/384kHz. It’s also pretty darn affordable.
Satechi Duo Wireless Charger Power Stand
Satechi released a hybrid device that’s both a portable battery pack and a wireless charger. It has a 10,000mAh battery capacity, which is enough to charge most smartphones several times over. It has a neat foldable design that transforms into a magnetic wireless charging stand, but when doing so it also reveals a second Qi-wireless charging spot for AirPods. You can wirelessly charge two devices at the same time, but there’s an additional USB-C port that allows you to charge a third device via a wired connection.
Zens 4-in-1 and 3-in-1 Modular Charging Stations
Zens released two wireless charging stands that are fully compatible with MagSafe, meaning they’re both capable of charging any supported iPhone (12 or later) at the max 15-watts. The two charging stations are identical, but the 4-in-1 (shown) model has a magnetically-attaching station that adds an Apple Watch charging puck. You can buy both these models directly from Apple.
Price: $150 (3-in-1); $180 (4-in-1)
UAG Lucent Power Battery with Kickstand
The Lucent Power Battery with Kickstand is a MagSafe-compatible portable battery pack for any supported iPhone (12 or later). It has a 4,000mAh capacity, which is enough to give regular-sized iPhones about 70 percent more juice. As given away by its name, it has an integrated aluminum kickstand that supports both horizontal and portrait viewing angles.
DJI Osmo Mobile 6
The DJI Osmo Mobile 6 is its latest handheld gimbal designed to help you take more stabilized photos and videos with your smartphone. This sixth-generation model has a couple marked improvements over its predecessors. It has a new wheel control on the side of the handle that can help you quickly zoom-in (or out) and focus on your subject. There’s a new “quick launch” feature that, as the name gives away, will help you quickly launch to the DJI camera app so that you can get shooting faster than before. And there’s a new status panel screen that’ll more easily show you how much battery the gimbal has left.
Twelve South HiRise3
The HiRise3 is the company’s newest 3-in-1 charger for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods (any model with a wireless charging case). It has a more compact and minimal design compared to other like-minded chargers. Additionally, it also fully supports MagSafe, meaning it can fast-charge any iPhone 12/13/14. The only main downside is that the necessary 20-watt USB-C power adapter isn’t included and will need to be purchased separately. It’s available now in either black or white finishes.