Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra review: A slot more superior

By Liu Hongzuo - 4 Mar 2022

Overview, Design & Handling, Display & Audio, UI & Features

Note: The article was originally published on 21st February 2022 and the phones are now available in all retail touchpoints.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series (L to R: Galaxy S22 Ultra, S22+, S22).

Slotting the S Pen back in

Samsung's yearly Galaxy S refresh has arrived, but some changes to this year's Galaxy S22 series phones are anything but typical.

The Korean firm brought in its Qualcomm variants instead of its usual Exynos fare for our market. That means that the Singapore versions of Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra come with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor inside.

Another shocker is the reintroduction of the S Pen on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, with the stylus actually tucked neatly in the device's built-in slot. We're not sure why Samsung made it a separate feature for its predecessor, but we're glad it steered away from that decision in just one generation.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 series also sees other minor upgrades. For example, the S22+ and Ultra now get 45W fast-charging, and all three phones are given a new photography trick: Nightography (which we'll go into detail later).

Is the Samsung Galaxy S22 series worth the upgrade? Is the S Pen going back into its rightful slot on the Ultra such a big deal? How do they hold up against the many flagship phones out there, even those by Samsung itself? Let’s find out. But if you're all ready for the upgrade, head over here for all the pricing, retailer links and offers

  Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S22+ Samsung Galaxy S22
  Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S22+ Samsung Galaxy S22
Launch SRP
  • From S$1718
  • From S$1468
  • From S$1178
Operating system
  • Android 12 (One UI 4)
  • Android 12 (One UI 4)
  • Android 12 (One UI 4)
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 4nm
Built-in Memory
  • 8GB or 12GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
Display
  • 6.8-inch, Edge QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (501ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
  • 6.6-inch, Flat QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (390ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
  • 6.1-inch, Flat QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 2,340 x 1,080 pixels (423ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • Vision Booster (1,750-nits peak brightness)
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 108MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 0.8µm, PDAF, Laser AF OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Dual Pixel AF
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • 10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.12µm, Dual Pixel AF, 10x Optical Zoom
  • Laser AutoFocus sensor
  • Front:
  • 40MP, f/2.2, portrait, 0.7µm, PDAF
  • Rear:
  • 50MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Super Steady
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • Front:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
  • Rear:
  • 50MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Super Steady
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • Front:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF
Connectivity
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC, UWB
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC, UWB
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
Storage Type
  • 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 128GB or 256GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 128GB or 256GB
  • No microSD card slot
Battery
  • 5,000mAh
  • 45W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 4,500mAh
  • 45W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 3,700mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
Dimensions
  • 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm
  • 157.4 x 75.8 x 7.6mm
  • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
Weight
  • 229g
  • 195g
  • 167g

Design and Handling

Let’s be real,  if you’ve seen the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy S22 and S22+ should hold no surprises for you. Similarly, if you’ve caressed a Galaxy Note20 Ultra in your hands before, the Galaxy S22 Ultra would look and feel similar. 

Oh look, is that the... S21 without two-toned colours?

Galaxy S22 and S22+ recycled the Contour Cut rear design that debuted on the Galaxy S21 series handsets. It’s a raised, metal camera housing with a high-polish chamfered edge that meets the hazy, ultra-thin glass-covered back. These phones also have rounded corners and a similar matte pastel finish to top off Samsung’s familiar flagship style for the mass market.

Is that... a Galaxy Note?

Being wild with Galaxy S22 Ultra probably wasn’t an option either, given that Samsung decided to stick the S Pen back into the phone. So, you'll get high-polish, flat aluminium rims along the top and bottom of the device, paired with sides that curve like a waterfall. It’s a throwback to the Galaxy Note, where they've adopted the same design language to accommodate the S Pen.

Incidentally, this means that folks who like the non-Ultra's design would miss out; you can shake your fists at Galaxy Note fans for the flat ends. For us, we liked the differences, since it creates a familiar yet distinct separation between Ultra and the rest of the range. 

To give it a little more personality, Samsung redesigned the S22 Ultra’s camera housing with individual camera cut-outs at the back (Note20 Ultra had a traditional raised camera housing behind). They’re neatly arranged, well spaced-out, and uniformly sized (three big, two small), which tells us Samsung still paid attention to detail even when moving to a fresher look. 

Despite the different tiers offered, all three Samsung Galaxy S22 series phones have Armour Aluminium frames (first introduced in Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3), Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus+, and are IP68-certified against dust and water. You’re not getting any major differences in build quality when picking between the three models. 

Our only gripe is how Samsung made the built-in S Pen slot a big deal for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Nearly everyone and their mums knew Samsung had the expertise to do so for half a decade; it was really a matter of time since the Galaxy Note series bowed out of the market. Still, it’s nice of Samsung to finally acknowledge the Note’s spiritual successor in a proper way.

Display and Audio

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a 6.8-inch Edge Quad HD+ (1440p) Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. This means that the phone comes with an AMOLED panel, has curved sides (instead of a flat screen), and can support HDR10+ content. The Ultra’s panel has an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode. What’s new is the peak 1,750-nits brightness – it was truly helpful in helping us see our display’s content better under the sun during midday, but you’ll probably not trigger the feature often if you stay mostly indoors. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has its display resolution set to FHD+ (1080p) by default though. You’ll need to manually enable WQHD+ (1440p) if you wish to maximise fidelity at the cost of battery uptime.

Samsung Galaxy S22+.

The Galaxy S22+ comes pretty close in size with its 6.6-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. It’s a flat panel unlike the Ultra, and it maxes out at 1080p. However, S22+’s display retains all the other perks such as HDR10+ support, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling rate, and 1,750-nits peak brightness. 

Finally, you have the 6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display on the vanilla Galaxy S22. It only has 1,300-nits peak brightness unlike its souped-up siblings, but that's still sufficient for viewing content under direct sunlight. This phone’s display still shares all the other panel perks found on its Plus and Ultra variants.

Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Left Top), Galaxy S22 Ultra (Left Bottom), Galaxy S22 (Right). Video clip is a 1440p60FPS HDR footage of a Netherlands flower field, viewed indoors.

The differences between non-Ultras’ 1080p and Ultra’s 1440p are only noticeable if you have both devices playing the same content side by side (we tried with a 1440p, 60 FPS HDR streamed clip). Otherwise, the S22 and S22+ also offers a similar, high-quality visual experience – albeit on a slightly smaller panel.

If you’ve noticed, the S22+ and S22 have a minimum refresh rate of 48Hz, unlike the 1Hz refresh rate on the S22 Ultra. Tech publications like Notebookcheck noted that the non-Ultra variants use LTPS backplanes (instead of LTPO) for the AMOLED display. To the average consumer, this means that you might save some battery when the S22 Ultra shows a static image or text. In our experience, the backplane choices aren’t notable enough to make a difference during use  – after all, when idle, your phone will likely turn the screen off anyway, while the majority of our daily browsing demands much more than 1Hz. 

All three devices support stereo audio, where it uses the call speaker to double up and pair with the bottom loudspeaker. Audio quality is average across three devices – not terrible, but we’d rather use a pair of true wireless earbuds.

UI and Features

Much of the Galaxy S22 series One UI 4 interface isn’t very different from our Galaxy S21 FE experience. Also, the S22 and S22+ are standard flagship phones, so we tried the basics, like fingerprint unlocking, NFC, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi stability, etc. and found no major issues. 

To say that the phones’ in-display fingerprint sensors are fast would be an understatement – it unlocks even before we could lift our thumbs off the screen, making it truly seamless in user experience. We also triple-checked its accuracy by borrowing thumbs from strangers and trying other unregistered fingers, so we’re certain the sensors are both secure and lightning-quick.

Finally, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s S Pen functions just like how you'd expect it to on the traditional Galaxy Note. Pulling the stylus out of the built-in slot summons a menu of S Pen-friendly features, like Notes and Screen Write. You can also customise the menu to your liking and make it offer your most-used messaging apps too. 

Typically, old S Pens that came with the Galaxy Note device had a barrel colour that followed the phone. For the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s S Pen, only the eject button shares the same hues, while the barrel takes on a matte black texture. 

S Pen’s gamut of features are well-documented and too extensive to go into detail, so we’ll look at two new improvements that most users would likely encounter with the phone - reduced pen latency and improved handwriting-to-text conversion.

Samsung said that the Galaxy S22 Ultra has an upgraded Wacom IC (integrated circuit) component on top of AI-assisted multi-point algorithms for predicting stylus paths. This translates to an input delay of just 2.8ms (down from 9ms previously), making Galaxy S22 Ultra’s S Pen usage the fastest and most responsive iteration Samsung has thus far. 

We remembered 9ms being plenty fast for normal use, so it’s not easy to tell if the Galaxy S22 Ultra's S Pen is faster from typical usage alone, but it definitely exceeds most average user's stylus requirements for daily note-taking. The true bottleneck to its response time is your own writing speed and penmanship. Speaking of ugly handwriting…

... Samsung’s improved handwriting-to-text functionality in Samsung Notes is almost like black magic, as shown from the samples above. Do you have a doctor’s handwriting? Do your words look like chicken scrawls? Don’t worry, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can handle it.

It’s only limited in its supported languages (we couldn’t get it to convert handwritten Simplified Chinese or Korean despite downloading and enabling it in Settings for example). Words also need to be written horizontally, from left to right, for the phone to understand too (as seen above). 

We really liked how the S22 Ultra notifies you if you left the S Pen behind after using it – it’s a nice touch, and no, we didn’t lose ours. Thanks, Samsung.

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