It's kind of ironic where I've ended up if you checked out why I canceled my Galaxy S22 Ultra pre-order. And if you've been listening to the Android Central podcast, then this might be spoiled for you already. But my impulsiveness and inability to be satisfied with smartphones got the better of me. I am now an owner of a Galaxy S22 Ultra after all, but the reasons go beyond just wanting another toy to play with.
Yes, this is the ultimate first-world problem of first-world problems, but despite owning the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Pixel 6 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max, I wanted something else. Going back a few years, I was an avid OnePlus fanboy that tried to get his hands on every new phone that OnePlus released.
My love affair with OnePlus
Admittedly, I was late to the OnePlus train, but there were other (unrelated) reasons for that. My first OnePlus phone was the OnePlus 3T, and it felt like the perfect phone at the time. Rooting and rom'ing were fun, exciting, and OnePlus phones provided the perfect combination of fantastic hardware with an open platform to install whatever I wanted onto my phone. Unsurprisingly, this was also around the time that my disdain for Samsung phones really grew, as Tizen was just awful to look at and use.
Over time, I continued to grab every OnePlus phone I could get my hands on, but something happened last year. I also started to dabble a bit more in the world of Samsung phones as we saw the likes of LG and Motorola move out of the flagship space. This really only left OnePlus, Samsung, and Google (at least up to the Pixel 4 and 4 XL) competing for the title of best Android phone in any given year.
Sparing everyone even more of a history lesson, let's fast forward to the launch of the OnePlus 9. The company had been on an upward trajectory, finally getting OxygenOS to a place where it had just enough features to keep people happy without bogging down the system. Then, OnePlus announced its partnership with Hasselblad, making it seem like the camera woes that we've had to deal with would finally be remedied.
To me, it truly felt like OnePlus was going to start duking it out with Samsung and it could actually keep up in the flagship space. The OnePlus 9 Pro's camera was definitely still its weakness, but the upgraded hardware paired with the software tuning was much better than I expected. And considering that the partnership with Hasselblad was (and still is) in its infancy, there was definitely room to grow.
The end of the OnePlus honeymoon phase
The honeymoon phase for me and the OnePlus 9 Pro lasted much longer than it usually does whenever I get a new phone. But then it came to a screeching halt. Without diving into all of the specifics, let's just say that OnePlus took an abrupt nose-dive.
From little things like app notifications not working properly, to dealing with overheating issues, everything just started to snowball. Then, there was the whole intentional performance hindering that was just extremely frustrating. OnePlus got its hand caught in the cookie jar, in the same way that Samsung just did with the Galaxy S22 series. And while I was hoping this would be the end of the nonsense, it wasn't meant to be.
The update cycle for Android 12 with OxygenOS 12 was simply an abomination. OnePlus announced it would essentially be absorbed by OPPO, operating as a second-class citizen (my words, not theirs), but the thing is, the software never got any better. I ended up throwing my OnePlus 9 Pro in a drawer and have only taken it out to try and refresh my brain when it comes to rooting.
So, let's sum it all up: The OnePlus 9 and 9 Pro showed so much promise that I truly believed that the company's next flagship would be even better and could take on the best of the best smartphones. There was room to grow, and I was hoping that OnePlus would capitalize on it. Then came CES 2022.
Ignoring the stupidity of multiple embargoes where OnePlus trickled out details of the OnePlus 10 Pro over the span of a few days, there's an even bigger problem. Instead of making the phone readily available at launch for everyone, OnePlus opted for a staggered release. Much of this is likely attributed to the different software versions found on the Chinese variant (ColorOS) compared to the rest of the world (OxygenOS), but my issue is even deeper than that.
If you want the OnePlus 10 Pro anywhere other than China, you can't get the "best" version. You'll instead be stuck with 8GB of RAM and 128GB or 256GB of storage, leaving the model with 12GB of RAM as a China-only option. This frustrates me to no end, and it doesn't matter whether it's OnePlus or another phone maker.
I understand that the U.S. market is so saturated with the iPhone and various Galaxy devices that OnePlus can hardly make a dent. And that's likely why OnePlus made the decision, but it also hung a carrot in front of those of us who want the more powerful version stating that it was "coming later" with no actual projected release date.
With OnePlus out of the picture, Galaxy reigns supreme
So instead of going with a brand that I've come to love over the years and was extremely excited to see what was next, it's clear that this isn't the same company anymore. Carl Pei is gone, trying to take on Apple in some veiled attempt at grabbing headlines. OxygenOS and ColorOS will end up being one and the same at some point, and OnePlus just seems like a company that is lost. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a great phone and will be one of the best phones of the year, easily, but OnePlus could have really turned the market on its head. Maybe Pei played a more pivotal role than just being a "hype man," but it's just disappointing to see.
If you want the best that Android phones have to offer, just get a Galaxy S22 Ultra. That's pretty much all that's left here in the States.
Begrudgingly, the best
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most well-rounded and best Android phone you can get in many regions. From the S Pen to the great camera hardware, it's really tough to find a true competitor anymore.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.