Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: With great power comes great financial responsibility
Powerful in every way, the Samsung S22 Ultra is the ultimate Android experience… if you can stomach the price.
Published: 06th September, 2022 at 15:22
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Buy Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung has combined its Note and S series devices to make one of the most powerful phones around, but with all that power comes a big price tag.
Pros:. Incredibly powerful. Fantastic camera and zoom functions. Included S pen stylus. Excellent display
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a device asking you to forget about money in exchange for the ultimate mobile experience. It’s flashy, extremely powerful and offering some of the highest specs available in pretty much every category… but with a price tag exceeding £1,100, is this luxury worth the price tag?
We spent a month with the phone to answer this exact question, testing how much use we got out of Samsung’s souped-up flagship and its high-end specs, asking whether this top-of-the-line Android experience is worth your time.
Wielding the S pen
The first thing any fan of Samsung will notice here is how much the Galaxy S22 Ultra looks like the now discontinued Note series. In many ways, this is the spiritual successor, blending the S and Note into one. The Note series was a range of handsets that were powerful, tall, wide and came with a stylus included – consider it Samsung’s attempt at a phone for creatives or those needing a productivity powerhouse. With the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, there is the same shape and body as the Note 20 Ultra, and it is equally huge in size. This is great news for those who loved the Note design, and especially so for those who are after a large phone.
However, the most obvious feature that makes this a Note of sorts is the S pen stylus – a beloved feature of the Note. Tucked up inside the phone, you simply push the end of it and the stylus will pop out. The stylus is very much a love it or hate it feature and for me, I barely touched it. While it often felt more like an inconvenience for me, or I just completely forgot about it, there are some really Smart things you can do with it… if you take the time to learn them. Past the obvious scrolling and drawing, the S pen can be used to create gifs, snap, crop and save specific shots of your screen, extract large chunks of texts, edit photos, and even perform shortcuts by waving your pen in certain wizard-like movements.
Becoming a camera pro
Now that every powerful smartphone is like a mini-DSLR in your. it can be hard to notice differences in camera quality between devices. The S22 Ultra, on the other hand, clearly stands out. Turn the device over and you’ll see a lot of cameras, four to be exact. This includes a 108MP wide, two 10MP telephoto and a 12MP ultra-wide lens. The device’s main trick is its zoom functions. You are able to zoom in by up to 100 times. While this is nothing new – Samsung has been able to do this on previous devices – the technology has been enhanced on this model. The image stabilisation means that even when you are extremely zoomed in, you’ll be able to keep steady, with the phone taking control and focusing on a target. I tested this at a stadium concert where, despite being very far away, I could still sneak some close-up and pretty solid photos, pretending like I was much nearer than my cheap seats. When the lighting was better, I could get photos of buildings that were far away, focusing in on features, or details in clear quality.
The wide and ultra wide lenses offer equally as impressive photography. Through a feature called Adaptive Pixel, Samsung is able to take 9 pixels of information and combine them together. This allows for better colour and contrast on your photos. There is also an additional boost in terms of FOCUS from the laser auto-FOCUS sensor on the back of the phone. This together with the powerful processor in the phone means quick, high-quality photos in most situations, especially in the day. However, Samsung does have a tendency to go slightly heavy on saturation and colour, so expect your photos to occasionally look like they’ve been slapped by an Instagram filter.
Powerful internals and stylish designs
Considering the price tag, it will come as no surprise that each part of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is top-of-the-line. The body of the device is a solid Armour Aluminium that feels tough and like it could take some force. With no case on, the phone has a smooth back that is surprisingly resistant to fingerprints. The Ultra comes in at a whopping 6.8-inches and is noticeably thick. While this weight makes it feel sturdy and well-made, it is hard to hold and will be an absolute nightmare for those with smaller hands. I’m used to larger smartphones, but often found it poking out of the top of my or having to shimmy the phone around to reach parts of the screen.
The display is AMOLED and supports 3,088 x 1,440 resolution. That means that if you’re willing to sacrifice battery life, you can experience a superior resolution and brightness saved for the best smartphones. However, you can lower that resolution at any time. Zooming inside the handset, you’ll find a 5,000mAh battery which, while impressive in size and capacity, often drains at surprisingly fast rates, frequently only getting you through one day of usage. That’s not the end of the world but it is a shame for such an expensive device. As for processing power, Samsung is using its own Exynos 2200 chipset. This is one of the most powerful options around for smartphones, meaning you’ll find few tasks that give you any problems. Demanding games, editing software and other big tasks all performed without any stutters. In fact, in the month that we had the phone, there was no point where the cracks started to show for performance, offering a fast and fluid experience at all times.
What stands out?
As we’ve pointed out, there is a lot going on with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but there were a few features that especially appealed. While we didn’t get a huge amount of use out of the S pen, it is clearly the big selling point here. It’s included inside of the phone so you don’t need to buy it separately, or invest in a case to hold it. Even if you don’t think it’s something you’ll use often, there is the occasional time where it shines as a useful feature like having to sign a document, editing photos on the go, or grabbing a big chunk of text from a website. While it is by no means unique, featured on many other high-end smartphones, the 120Hz refresh rate is another satisfying feature. Refresh rate effects how smooth your phone transitions. This means the Ultra shows no lag when scrolling, switching apps and generally moving around the phone. While it sounds like a small thing, it is really hard to go back once you’ve tried it. That refresh rate pairs well with the screen’s brightness and resolution, offering one of the highest levels of brightness available in any modern smartphone, and a display resolution matched only by Apple’s leading device. However, what becomes really noticeable very quickly with the Galaxy S22 Ultra is that, thanks to all of these big features, the battery really takes a beating throughout the day. Despite its size, utilising this smartphone to the max will see it run out of juice pretty quickly.
Is this the phone for you?
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a double-edged sword. It doesn’t do anything in half measures. It goes all in on the camera, design, materials, processor, battery, and of course, price. Do you need the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra? Realistically, no. This is an Android experience all about luxury, testing what happens when you throw cash at a smartphone to create the full package. If you love phone technology and are after the best of the best, you’re in the right place. If for you, a price exceeding £1,000 seems insane, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are plenty of other fantastic top-tier Android devices to choose from (some of which we’ve listed below), all at slightly more affordable prices.
Alternatives to Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
iPhone 13 Pro Max
If you’re willing to change sides, Apple actually has the best alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This handset has a more powerful processor, a better camera (although lacking the same zoom features), and has a battery that can last for a longer period of time. Of course, you won’t get the same Android experience as you would with Samsung’s flagship, and Apple still has the black bar at the top of the screen, but it is otherwise Samsung’s biggest competitor for the best smartphone around.
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Google has slowly been improving its smartphones and with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, it feels like the closest it has got to matching Samsung. Much cheaper (and easier to hold), the Google Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming.
It has a powerful camera setup which, while lacking the zoom functionality of the Ultra, is one of the best point-and-shoots, offering consistently great photos.
While the battery life is slightly lacklustre, it is otherwise a fantastic choice for the price.
OnePlus 10 Pro
In terms of looks, overall feel and power, the OnePlus 10 Pro feels like the closest competitor you’ll get to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it comes at a much lower price.
It offers a great battery life and powerful processor, a high-end screen to rival the Ultra, and it even offers super-fast charging, getting your device from dead to fully charged in just an hour.
However, where it does fall short is in its camera performance. Despite having a collaboration with the legendary Hasselblad, the OnePlus 10 Pro fails to land the same kind of shots as its competitor.
Read more reviews:
Quick verdict: We were prepared to hate on the Samsung Galaxy S22, but its small frame is misleading. While not perfect, this powerful mini beast proves that good things can come in small packages.
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From the moment the Samsung Galaxy S22 was announced I was suspicious. I found myself asking, why does the baseline flagship have almost identical specs to its larger sibling? And what’s the point of it when the price tag is higher than arguably better Android competitors.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted it to be good. At the very least because of the size. I’m a long-time advocate for smaller devices. I truly wanted a Samsung handset that was both powerful and didn’t need 2 hands to comfortably operate. But I just didn’t expect that outcome.
And then I actually got my grabby hands on it. And while it’s far from perfect, it forced me to rethink my position.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Design
If you’re familiar with the S21 design, you won’t find any surprises here. The S22 is almost a carbon copy of the previous generation, up to and including the camera bump.
If you’re looking for a complete redesign, you’ll want to take a peek at the S22 Ultra instead. It’s the hybrid love child of the S and Note series and truly reimagines what the S can be.
Unfortunately, there are slightly less interesting colourways this year, unless you snap up an online exclusive from Samsung directly. Speaking of which, the lavender with rose gold bump is still hot. As for the regular colours, you’ll find phantom black, phantom gold, green and pink gold.
The display is, like last year, a big drawcard. Even at just 6.1 inches, it packs a punch. This is thanks to the gorgeous 120Hz dynamic refresh rate, which is simply delicious to use. But it comes at a cost.
In terms of durability, the chassis contains Gorilla Glass Victus at the front and rear of the device. But I’d still highly recommend getting a case. The Samsung Galaxy S22 is not immune to scratches, especially considering how slippery it is. I’ve seen it slide off many a surface, which has caused several moments of utter terror.
The most significant change between generations is that the S22 is a touch smaller. This is a godsend for those of us with small hands.
For the past few years, I’ve personally been screaming into the void about the proclivity for phones to get bigger year on year. Sure, big screens are nice for a lot of things – video, gaming, work. But they can also be incredibly uncomfortable. I’ve gotten hand cramps when using some of the biggest handsets in the market as my daily drivers and it’s not pleasant.
So it has been delightful to see a return to the petit over the past couple of years with the likes of the iPhone SE, iPhone 13 mini and now the Samsung Galaxy S22.
Of course, there have been plenty of other smaller phone options the entire time, but not at this flagship level. Users had to compromise on specs, battery life, camera and power if they didn’t want a monstrous phone.
But the S22 proves that perhaps this dark chapter is coming to an end.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Performance
One of the most exciting aspects of the entire Samsung Galaxy S22 range is its eighth-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon processors. Aussie enthusiasts and reviewers alike are pumped because it’s a rarity. In the past, Samsung flagships Down Under have been powered by the company’s proprietary Exynos processors. And the performance has suffered, but not this time around.
As I admitted earlier, I questioned the existence of this phone in my original first look. This was largely due to the spec similarities between it and the S22. And I still stand by those reservations.
But I have to admit, the vanilla S22 does a good job on performance despite its slight frame. While it’s not best-in-class (and as the entry-level offering, why would it be?), it is not that far off in the benchmarks.
On the CPU side, the S22 was just 1 point off tying the Ultra on single-core benchmarks. The gap was larger for multi-core, but not by much. This places the S22 firmly in the middle of the pack compared to similar devices in the market.
The same can also be said for the graphics performance. It was just a slither behind the big boy S22 Ultra.
In fact, out of the 3, the S22 did the best in both CPU and GPU performance, which is wild.
But what does this mean in the real world? I didn’t notice a great deal of difference between the S22 and S22 Ultra during daily use. From a regular user perspective, the S22 handled gaming, streaming, work and social media beautifully.
This was complemented by the 120Hz refresh rate. Sure, plenty of phones have it these days but it’s still lovely to use. Its quick response rate was the perfect fit for the speedy CPU and GPU. And it’s lovely to see this in a small chassis.
In general, the performance of the S22 was deeply refreshing. I’m sick of small devices being a performance-compromising choice. The S22 doesn’t ask you to do that, proving that powerful things can come in small packages.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Battery
Sadly, this notion didn’t extend to the battery performance. And this is something I’ve been concerned about ever since clocking that it’s smaller this year. That’s right, it’s just 3,700mAh compared to the 4,000mAH battery found in the S21.
Unfortunately for Samsung, software optimisation and AI weren’t able to save this one. With a 120Hz variable refresh rate and 5G functionality, now was not the time for a downgrade, which was evidenced by our battery test results.
This involved streaming content for 1 hour at 100% brightness and volume. If your phone is 90% or above it tends to indicate that it will last all day.
The S22 came it at 91%, a full percent better than the power-sucking Ultra. While neither of these scores are downright terrible, they’re not ideal for flagships.
Comparatively, the iPhone 13 came in at 93% and the Google Pixel 6 at 97%. The former also has a 120Hz variable refresh rate and 5G functionality.It’s worth noting that from a real-world perspective, the S22 could get me to the end of the day without dying. But it got lower than I would have liked and overall it’s a deeply average performance for such a premium phone.
I expect that we’ll see improvements in this space over the coming generations as beefy performance is balanced better. Still, I want it now.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Camera
I was very skeptical of the S22 camera going into this review. And this was for a couple of reasons.
First, I wasn’t thrilled about the complete lack of difference between the S22 and S22 lenses. To be honest, it’s not that weird that they’re the same, but I was already on tilt from the extremely similar specs found elsewhere in the phones. I was left wondering what’s the point of having these 2 devices was when they’re so similar. And considering how much importance customers place on phone cameras, why get the S22 when you can get the same lenses for 300 cheaper in the regular S22?
Now, thanks to the benchmarking process, we know that the S22 dominates range on raw power, even outperforming the Ultra. So there’s a strong point of difference there.
However, I still wasn’t happy that the S21 and S21 had a 64MP primary lens last year, but the S22/S22 was been downgraded to 50MP.
I was left asking whether the AI and software are enough to do the heavy lifting here.
I hate to admit it, but in some ways, they are. After spending more time with the vanilla S22, I came to the conclusion that the camera is better than it has any right to be. While it’s still trailing behind the likes of the Google Pixel 6 and iPhone 13, it’s still excellent, especially for the size.
While the S22 Ultra and its extra bag of goodies is a superior camera phone, the regular S22 has slightly watered-down versions of its strengths and weaknesses.
Point and click shots are lovely, though venture into the realm of over-saturation and smoothing. This is a personal preference, so if you like the Hyper-colour look, you’ll probably love it. If not, you can mute it in post or perhaps consider one of the aforementioned competitors instead.
Similarly, the portrait modes offered by the front and rear cameras are gorgeous. My only complaint here is that in certain lighting the bokeh could be a touch aggressive, but that is something that can be played with in the settings and even more so if you’re using Pro mode.
I was also impressed at how well the S22 could shoot in low-light considering it doesn’t have the same hardware as the Ultra. Again, it’s not best-in-class by any means but I didn’t expect it to even be able to pick up this much.
The main downfall of the S22 camera is the zoom, which is absolutely not worth bothering with. It falls over once you go beyond 5x. If this feature is important to you, I recommend opting for the Ultra, which hits up to 100x zoom and does an alarmingly great job.
Please enjoy this photo dump:
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S22?
- Buy it if you’ve been begging for a compact phone that is also powerful and has a great camera.
- Don’t buy it if you want the best battery life possible.
From my perspective, the sweet spot in the Samsung Galaxy S22 range is the S22. It outpaces the Ultra in most tests and still has a great camera. It’s also that little bit bigger if the S22 is too small for your hands.
That being said, if you want to save some coin (although it still starts at 1,249) and love a small handset, the S22 may be a great solution. While I want to see battery improvements, I’m not too proud to admit that it charmed me.
And at the end of the day, we stan a short king.
Where to buy
Compare Samsung Galaxy S22 plans
You can also purchase the Samsung Galaxy S22 on a handset repayment plan from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone or Woolworths. This will split the cost of your new phone over 12, 24 or 36 months. You’ll get a mobile plan with it too.
How we tested
The Samsung Galaxy S22 was tested extensively over a 1-week period as the author’s daily driver. She has been testing and reviewing phones for over 5 years and won best reviewer at the 2021 Australian IT Journalism Awards.
Tegan Jones is the global reviews editor at Finder and the host of our crypto and Web3 podcast, Block Climbing. An award winning journalist, she has been reporting on consumer tech, gaming and telecommunications for the past 10 years. She won best reviewer and best consumer tech coverage in the 2021 IT Journalism Awards. She regularly appears on ABC News, A Current Affair, The Project, Triple J and other mainstream media channels as an expert tech commentator. Her previous roles include editor and deputy editor of Gizmodo Australia, as well as commercial editor of Business Insider, Lifehacker, Kotaku and Gizmodo Australia. She is also the co-host of one of the top technology podcasts in Australia, Queens of the Drone Age.
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Review: Great Size, Predictably Poor Battery Life
It’s that time of year once again, when Samsung delivers its new line of flagship devices. It’s an important time, as it’s no shocker that Samsung far outsells all other Android OEMs, so chances are, if you’re shopping for a new Android phone, you’re thinking about these new Galaxy S phones.
The Galaxy S22 is the smallest option in the lineup, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra being the big dog. You can check out our Ultra review here. Despite its small size, Samsung was sure to pack plenty of great specs in this phone, as well as a camera system with updated features. The only issue is its main attraction — its size. Due to its small stature, Samsung was only able to jam a 3,700mAh battery in the phone, and as one could probably predict, it’s not very good at providing long life. Can we use the phone long enough to test all of its sweet new features and use it as a daily driver? Let’s find out.
This is our Galaxy S22 review.
What I Like
Hardware and Size
After being Droid Life’s resident big phone lover for the past few years, I’ve been ready for something that easily slides in and out of the That’s exactly what the Galaxy S22 does, with its perfectly-held-in-one-hand body. The display size is 6.1-inches, which is still plenty of real estate to accomplish all of my main smartphone needs, such as scrolling. watching YouTube videos, dominating Candy Crush, playing Wordle, and taking pictures of my dogs.
Coupled with this great size are premium hardware materials and shaping that I’m really digging. Unlike some other phones from recent years, you can tell instantly that the S22 has that “oh, this is expensive” feeling, with cold metal being the first thing you feel when you lift the device. The compactness of the phone also offers a sturdy, little tank feeling when in hand. The front display is flat-flat, making for enjoyable Android gesture navigation. The backside is also what I’d describe as flat-flat, though, it doesn’t sit flat due to the rear camera housing.
While some may knock the Galaxy S22 and S22 for not having QHD displays, I’m perfectly content. For one, this phone’s battery can’t handle pushing that many pixels. Second, at this 6.1-inch size, 1080p is perfectly acceptable to my eyes and it will likely be fine for yours too. Beyond its resolution, colors pop off of the screen and thanks to that 120Hz max refresh rate, the display appears quite smooth for the most part.
Something to highlight, this is an extremely bright display, easily viewable in all sorts of lighting conditions. As a bonus, when you need the display dimmed, it turns into one of the dimmest displays I’ve ever seen. When I head to bed and enable Extra Dim and Eye Comfort Shield, there’s no way the phone’s display is going to blind you, even if your phone is the first thing you look at when you wake up in the morning. And thanks to there being an ultrasonic fingerprint reader and not an optical, I don’t have to worry about the reader blinding me like it does on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Thank goodness.
Samsung’s One UI continues to get more polished, this time placed on top of Android 12. While it’s still very much a custom skin, it’s a really smooth experience, with plenty of added features that you won’t find on other devices. Sure, there are plenty of things you’ll have to enable and disable out of the box because the company loves throwing in so much stuff, but the act of setting up a new device from Samsung has gotten much better. I mean, they still have software buttons for navigation out of the box, but we’ll let that slide I suppose. Most importantly, Samsung does take advantage of what makes Android 12 cool, which is theming. You can have your phone’s color palette based on your chosen wallpaper, which will then apply itself to select Google apps and more. It’s a very slick look. Samsung then also has its own theme engine still built-in, allowing you to choose custom icons, Always On Display images, and much more. In terms of customization, it’s nearly perfect.
If I had to toss in a negative, Samsung’s stock launcher is still suboptimal. When you swipe into the app drawer, it’s paginated, which still makes zero sense to me. I’ve been using Nova Launcher since day 2 with the phone. Don’t plan on changing back either.
Kellen brings this up in his Galaxy S22 Ultra review, but it’s worth celebrating a bit more. Samsung is committing to 4 (four!) Android OS version updates for this phone and 5 years worth of security patches. In Android, that’s pretty much unheard of, raising the bar for all other Android OEMs. Will they step up and match that? Considering the efforts we see from everyone besides Google in the update department, I’m going to have to assume that’s a “no.”
With its next-gen Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and 8GB RAM, this is a plenty snappy smartphone. I’ve been playing plenty of mobile games, mostly Candy Crush because I’m weirdly back on that time waster, and for the most part, this phone has been fantastic in the performance department. Diving in and out of apps is also plenty fast enough, with Android 12’s recent apps view not really helping the matter, but it’s still fine.
I’m always on the hunt for stutters and jank, but to be completely honest, I haven’t come across much to complain about when performance is involved. The S22 is really quite snappy for a phone, with the fingerprint reader performing very quickly, followed up by quick app boot times.
On the backside of the Galaxy S22, there’s a 50-megapixel main shooter with OIS, 12MP ultra wide camera, plus a 10MP telephoto camera with OIS. I must say, I’ve been pretty impressed with the level of detail that this camera can capture. While the shutter speed can leave a bit to be desired, the end results are usually pretty darn great. From the photos I’ve taken, colors look incredible, contrast levels are chef’s kiss, and the software’s exposure levels are spot on for the most part. Sure, a honking Space Zoom telephoto lens would be incredible, but folks will need to splurge for the S22 Ultra if they want that feature.
For software, Samsung includes all of the usual suspects. There’s a Portrait Mode, Night Mode, Pro Video Mode, Single Take, Slow Motion, Hyperlapse, Director’s View, plus Bixby Vision and AR Zone. There’s no shortage of camera toys to play with. Director’s View is one of the new features that Samsung is highlighting to potential buyers. With it, you can record videos and snap pics from multiple lenses simultaneously, as well as preview them in real time. I’m sure this is great for some certain use cases, but I didn’t come across one in my testing period.
I’ll go ahead and let my samples speak for themselves. There’s a mixture of lenses, plus a few variations in resolution. Will you be able to spot the difference, even with WordPress’s compression?
What Could Be Better
Coming in at a whopping 3,700mAh, the Galaxy S22 provides poor battery life. There’s not really any other way to put it. I used the phone as I would any other and was consistently getting to about 7-8pm and looking for a charger. I even found myself limiting usage if I knew I wouldn’t be around a charger for a little bit. That’s no way to live. A phone’s battery shouldn’t dictate what you’re doing, so in the case of the Galaxy S22, it was a pretty frustrating.
Thankfully, when you are getting low battery, plugging into a 25W charger can yield plenty hours of juice in about 15 to 20 minutes of charging. The phone supports up to 25W wired charging, as well as 15W wireless charging. You can even use Samsung’s Wireless Power the S22, but I’m not entirely sure that’s the best idea ever unless you’re at home and plugged into the wall. I’m not kidding, the S22’s battery will drain right before your eyes if you aren’t careful.
My typical day is 7am to 11pm, and with the Galaxy S22, I was hanging on for dear life most of the time. You’ll see that I was definitely going to town on some Candy Crush, but let’s not act as if that’s some processor-heavy game that requires a ton of computing power. The fact is, as long as the screen is on, no matter what you’re doing on the phone, the battery is going to drain quickly.
I debated including this, but here we go anyway. It could be something with my own network, but I’m confident I ruled that out, as testing with a Galaxy S21 Ultra and Pixel 6 didn’t yield the same results. A few mornings I would wake up and the Galaxy S22 had been disconnected from my Wi-Fi network, with the settings stating that the phone would reconnect when the signal was strong enough. I would then toggle Wi-Fi off and back on and everything would behave normally. Kellen has a theory that it may have to do with the hand-off between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, but I can’t confirm that either. All I know is, no one phone I’ve used does this and I can confirm that where it happens, in my bedroom, has great Wi-Fi signal. So maybe it’s me or maybe it’s the phone, but that’s been my life for the past two weeks.
Price and Availability
Galaxy S22 starts at 799 for the base model. If you want more internal storage with a bump up to 256GB, it’ll cost you extra, that is unless you took advantage of Samsung’s pre-order offer that gave everyone a free storage upgrade. Given this is a Samsung flagship device, you’ll find it for sale everywhere. You’ll be able to purchase it on all the major carriers and you’ll find it on shelves at all of your favorite tech retailers.
Do I think it’s worth 799? It’s pretty darn close, but the battery size is surely concerning. Everything else is perfect. However, there is the Galaxy S21 FE to consider, priced at 699. It’s a very similar device, but will lack that premium feel in-hand. It’s worth it to compare the two before you take the plunge.
If it’s a small phone with a premium feel you’re after, it’s the Galaxy S22 you’ll want. No doubt in my mind. The thing is, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into, and for many, that could be an additional trip to the charger after work before you hit the town or go out for dinner. The battery life simply isn’t good enough to keep up with the sort of demand many need from their smartphone these days. If you’re an avid mobile gamer or constantly on social media, this phone is going to struggle to provide you with a full day of juice. In 2022, that has to be labeled as unacceptable.
This post was last modified on April 10, 2022 7:47 am
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra long-term review: Still the flagship to beat
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has been on the market for some time, boasting an ultra-premium experience for users.
But how does the S22 Ultra stand up in everyday usage? Do its performance and capabilities last?
We spent several months with the device, using it as a daily driver, and here’s what we can tell you…
If you’re a fan of the Note series, you’ll enjoy the design of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. In a way, it feels separate from the rest of the S22 range and looks like a Note device in everything but name.
Personally, I prefer the look of the S22, but the Ultra does offer a professional look with a large display. For those who miss the retired Note range, it will be a welcome aesthetic.
The curved edges of the screen also add to the premium appearance, without being so curved that you accidentally trigger accidental touch input when just holding the device. Since the other S22 devices feature flat displays, it’s a welcome addition to the design, making it look more elegant.
However, this large design also comes with its own problems. The wider display, which helps accommodate the embedded S Pen, can be difficult to use one-handed. Occasionally, when typing with one hand, I’ve struggled to reach the other side of the display to select the emoji or numerals button. Using the device with one-handed mode switched on doesn’t solve this much, so you have to be prepared to use the device with two hands at times.
Generally, I prefer the design of the S22 and S22 more for their pleasing contrast between the camera housing and back cover design.
However, if you prefer a device with a more understated design, you will likely prefer the S22 Ultra’s minimalism.
During everyday tasks, video editing, and gaming, the S22 Ultra performs exceptionally well. The software is responsive, only lagging when switching between intensive apps and games that are running simultaneously.
Closing background apps that are eating up too much RAM usually solves this quickly.
Running the device through the PCMark for Android benchmark resulted in a score of 13 411 for the Work 3.0 test.
But you can feel the performance of the device past a benchmark score. When playing games that require quick reactions and a display with minimal response lag, the Ultra delivers this performance.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera: Does it match the hype?
While the S22 Ultra has so much going for it, its camera really is a major standout feature.
It stands above the rest of the series and competitors due to its snappy software and ability to take great photos in a variety of modes.
As a worker in media, the zoom capabilities of the device have been a major asset for me.
While the majority of people won’t really use the 100x zoom, the 10x and even 30x zoom make for great pictures.
Whether you’re trying to capture a photo where the subject is just a little too far away, or you want to zoom in to capture a bird in a tree, the zoom capabilities help you take images you would be unable to on another device. Even at 30x zoom, where there is some digital amplification, the pixelation is minimal. And since the 10x zoom is optical, you’re looking at clear images with no pixelation.
But what about other camera features?
The phone has its 108MP lens for when you want to take high res pictures. But even in auto mode, photos come out clear and crisp with great colour balance.
The 108MP high res mode has improved since its introduction in the S20 Ultra too. The lens is able to retain more colour and contrast, so that the photo doesn’t look washed out. You can also zoom a bit in this mode, adding a bit more flexibility to your shots.
This delivers pictures that you’ll be happy to print out for larger formats, taking full advantage of the higher resolution.
But for daily snaps, you’ll find the standard lenses deliver a seamless experience that performs well in different lighting and with moving subjects.
The only drawback is that when focusing on a close-up subject, the camera software sometimes switches back and forth between two lenses. While this doesn’t impact photo quality, it does mean it can take a bit longer to FOCUS on the subject.
The camera’s nighttime photography is also exceptional, delivering bright vibrant pictures even in darkness.
The camera also performs admirably at night when it comes to taking video – so long as you don’t move around too much. If you move, noise and distortion become more apparent. But if you stay still, the picture quality is markedly better, even if the subject is moving.
The S22 Ultra excels in other video recording settings too. Recording 60FPS UHD videos is easy and the device handles the load well. You’ll also be surprised at how well it records when zooming.
For videos in ideal lighting settings, you can expect a great balance of colour, contrast, and detail, as well as quick focusing. Sound is usually good too, but you need to take care not to block the microphone when filming.
The slow motion mode also makes for fun videos, with Samsung improving its performance in different lighting settings. However, the Super Slow Mo mode still requires the utmost ideal lighting, so most users won’t find themselves using it daily.
With all this hardware, you may expect the S22 Ultra to gobble up battery power unforgivingly. However, it lasts well even under heavy workloads and you won’t struggle to get through the day.
Even when I’ve used the device from the early morning to late evening on business trips that require Uber rides, broadcasting audio, connecting to a portable modem, messaging, and even typing up a few documents, the battery lasted.
In our benchmark test with PCMark for Android, the phone lasted over 13 hours. The test takes the phone from 100% charge to 20%. So this means that with battery saving or when using up the last 20%, you still have a bit more time until the battery drains completely.
The phone also supports 45W charging, but you need to buy a separate charging adaptor for this since it doesn’t come in the box. This faster charging is welcome, but only accessible if you’re willing to dish out some extra money or have a compatible charger already.
Since many brands lock their charging to their own devices, don’t expect another manufacturer’s 45W charger to necessarily deliver the same charging speed.
S Pen integration
So what about the S Pen? Does it bring the Note-like experience it promises?
Having the stylus embedded is definitely more convenient than the S21’s separate compatible stylus. This way, you don’t need to keep track of where you put it or purchase a bulky cover.
Since it’s a Smart stylus too, if you do misplace it, your phone can help you find it again.
The S Pen works well with the ample display, and the screen tracks your pen movements accurately and precisely.
The addition of the S Pen opens up features such as note-taking, remotely controlling your device (such as resuming music playback), AR Doodles, and my personal favourite: the PENUP app that allows you to use the device as a small drawing tablet.
Unless you enjoy making digital drawings, you’ll mostly find yourself using the pen for note-taking. But I also enjoyed using it for photo editing brush modes and when editing videos. Switching to a stylus rather than using your fingers when navigating a video edit timeline is extremely handy. And using the stylus for picture edits is also a lot more accurate than using the tip of your finger.
Are there drawbacks to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra?
While there are so many positives to this device, there are also a few key drawbacks.
Firstly, there’s the price. While Samsung has hovered around a similar price point for its S20, S21 and S22 series, the Ultra is still one of the most expensive phones on the market.
If you just want a phone with a great camera and don’t make much use of the S Pen, forking out this much money on the device may be something you’re not willing to do. The gap between the camera capabilities of the S22 and the S22 Ultra also makes it more difficult to just downgrade to a slightly cheaper version, since there’s a significant gap in their performance.
Samsung was able to make its Galaxy Flip 3 a more affordable foldable phone, so it would be great to see Samsung do this with its Ultra device too.
In addition, while some people enjoy the design of the Note series, the device is large — to the point that it can sometimes become unwieldy when handled with one hand. Mobile gimbals struggle with the weight of the device.
Samsung has also removed its chargers and covers from its flagship products for the last two generations. But this goes further with the S22 range — the Ultra doesn’t even come with the usual pre-applied screen protector.
While it has Gorilla Glass on the display, the lack of a screen protector means it will attract scratches. Even though I kept the device away from keys and used a separate compartment in my bag, a number of noticeable scratches show up on the display over time.
Considering how much the device costs, a simple screen protector is a basic quality of life product that really should be included.
Review verdict: Is the Galaxy S22 Ultra worth it?
The S22 Ultra is definitely the flagship to beat for 2022. Its camera capabilities and performance make it one of the best (if not the best) smartphones to come out in South Africa this year.
However, the price keeps it inaccessible to loyal Samsung fans who would love to experience the camera capabilities. And with basic perks like a screen protector removed from the box, it’s frustrating to face an ultra-premium price with the need to purchase additional basic items separately.
But if you’re looking for a powerhouse of a device, this is it.
Feature image: Megan Ellis