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Hands-on: Is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra a true successor to the Galaxy Note?

By Liu Hongzuo - 20 Feb 2022

Hands-on: Is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra a true successor to the Galaxy Note?

Note: This feature was first published on 9 February 2022.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Prior to Samsung’s official Unpacked announcement on 9 February 2022, we had the chance to preview the new Galaxy S22 series lineup in its entirety - the Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra were available for viewing. Sure, a preview before a launch would mean the software we experienced wasn’t yet finalised, but it still gave us a good idea of what to expect with the new devices.


Is Singapore getting Snapdragon or Exynos variant?

Singapore is finally getting Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset variant on Samsung's newest  S-series phone. Traditionally, the brand has brought in Exynos variants for Galaxy S devices, but Samsung decided to give us the Qualcomm alternative this time around. Both Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 (its Samsung equivalent) are manufactured on the 4nm process, and both offer built-in 5G standalone and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity. 

It still remains to be seen if the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (S8G1) is the better alternative to Exynos 2200 in terms of power draw and battery efficiency. But, we’re hopeful with Samsung’s optimisations for the Qualcomm chipset, even if other brands couldn’t handle the raw power offered by the S8G1 processor well enough.


Built-in S Pen slot for the Galaxy S22 Ultra

By now, most Samsung fans would be aware that the S Pen stylus made it over to the Ultra version of Samsung’s Galaxy S phones, especially since they’ve stopped producing Galaxy Note phones for a while already (since the Note20 Ultra). While last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra also had S Pen support, the stylus had to be purchased separately, and it had to be kept in the phone’s standalone casing / elsewhere.

The S Pen for the Galaxy S22 Ultra got plenty of upgrades, but the greatest perk is having the stylus’ storage slot built into the device while retaining its 5,000mAh battery capacity. So now, not only do you get an S Pen out of the box with the phone – but it also doesn’t require another casing to hold it.

This is the closest a Galaxy S phone has ever come to emulating the Galaxy Note series, replete with a nearly identical design language for the handset (flat rungs at the top and bottom to accommodate S Pen, and curved sides). Galaxy Note fans holding out for a true successor to their favourite flagship stylus phone can now find their upgrade path in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The Galaxy Note's spiritual successor has arrived!

S Pen’s latency was also reduced further for more responsive input, down to 2.8ms from 9ms. In our trial, it took us nearly no time to get used to the S Pen’s responsiveness. Samsung told us they managed this feat by using an improved Wacom integrated circuit with higher circuits per second, on top of added AI and multi-point algorithms to reduce latency and predict stylus paths.

Another silent improvement is better Handwriting to Text recognition, which could read our nearly-illegible stylus handwriting and convert it into intended text in the exact layout we’ve written in. One hitch of Handwriting to Text is the inability to convert English text written vertically (up-down). English needs to be written left to right across the screen for Handwriting to Text to take effect.

To take advantage of the new S Pen, a new Quick Note feature allows users to attach or link content in pop-up notes, while Collaboration View lets you use the S22 Ultra as a stylus control panel (change nib size, colour, effect and many more) as you doodle away on Samsung's latest Galaxy Tab S8 series tablets.

As with previous versions, Galaxy S22 and S22+ don’t have S Pen support. To reflect that, Samsung used the S21’s design language, where it goes back to an appearance similar to the Contour Cut look on the older S21 series.


Nightography: low-light photography for the Galaxy S22 series

Galaxy S22 Ultra rear camera housing.

Samsung said the Galaxy S22 series cameras got all-around upgrades. The series now features AI-based autofocusing, Super Steady System, and Super HDR, on top of AI-assisted noise reduction in low-light conditions.

For video shooting, Auto Framing helps to centre your subject(s), be it single or multiple ones. It only works on people and on select lenses, but the feature also works on most online meeting apps (like Google Duo, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Meta Messenger). Auto Framing is available on the entire series of S22 phones.

Galaxy S22/S22+ rear camera housing.

Shooting modes like Portrait, Night Portrait, and even Pet Portrait mode now uses deep learning to do AI Stereo Depth Mapping to pick out portraiture details (like fur, hair, etc.) and separate them from the background. 

All three phones go further with multi-frame, 16-bit RAW capture, giving the user sufficient image data in colour, shadows, and highlights for post-processing later on. This is on top of full manual controls of ISO, EV, white balance, and focus areas in the Expert RAW app, which is available to all Galaxy S22 series phones.

Also returning to S22 Ultra is 100x Space Zoom, which makes use of the two telephoto lenses to give 100x magnification.

The main camera sensor’s pixel size on the Galaxy S22 Ultra -- at 2.4um -- is the same size found on its predecessor, the S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series camera configuration
Phone Samsung Galaxy S22 Samsung Galaxy S22+ Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Cameras (Back)  
  • 50MP (main), Dual Pixel AF, OIS, f/1.8 aperture
  • 12MP (ultra-wide), f/2.2 aperture, FOV 120°
  • 10MP (telephoto), 3x optical zoom, OIS, f/2.4
  • 108MP (main), Dual Pixel AF, f/1.8 aperture
  • 12MP (ultra-wide), f/2.2 aperture, FOV 120°
  • 10MP (telephoto), 3x optical zoom, f/2.4 aperture
  • 10MP (telephoto), 10x optical zoom, f/4.9 aperture
Camera (Front) 10MP, f/2.2 aperture 40MP, f/2.2 aperture


1,750-nits peak brightness and other stuff

Across the board, all three variants use Dynamic AMOLED 2X for its display, which offers vivid colours, great detail representation, HDR10+ support, on top of 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate. 

We learnt that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a 6.8-inch “Edge” display with maximum resolution at QHD+ (1440p), while Samsung Galaxy S22+ and S22 have an FHD+ resolution (1080p) at 6.6 and 6.1 inches, respectively.

Note that our Singapore variants of the Galaxy S22 series also do not come with any microSD card slot. (Why Samsung, why?)

S22 Ultra and S22+ receive 1,750-nits peak brightness for their panels, which should make them viewable even under afternoon sunlight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring the devices out into the sun during our brief trial, so we’ll have to try another time. The regular S22 has a peak 1,300-nits brightness, which is quite plenty too.

The S22 Ultra and S22+ both get 45W wired fast charging, but Samsung said they aren’t including charging adapters with the phones. The vanilla S22 sticks to 25W wired fast charging. All three have 15W wireless charging, too.

Out of the box, the Galaxy S22 series has Samsung’s One UI 4.1, which is a reskin of Android 12. The phones are also IP68 certified – in fact, the S22 Ultra’s S Pen itself is also IP68 water-resistant too. While there were drinks at the venue, we couldn’t “test” the IP-rating of the S22 series by “accidentally” spilling on them.


Pricing and availability

Interested in the Samsung Galaxy S22 series? Don't forget to check out how to pre-order the devices here.


Read Next:-

  1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Series: What's new?
  2. Samsung Galaxy S22 series pricing, pre-order and offers compiled
  3. Samsung launches Galaxy Tab S8 to replace laptops
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