If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
When you look at all the best smartphones on the market right now, they share some very similar qualities. From their slick-looking premium designs to their versatile triple-camera systems, it’s no surprise that nothing has yet to supplant smartphones as the definitive gadget to own.
Samsung is no stranger to this area, given the company’s track record. We’re nearly halfway through 2022 and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is aiming to be the top dog to beat. That’s understandable when you look at what’s at stake, a refined flagship now complete with a stylus and even better cameras. Is it truly the flagship to beat? I’ve been using it for about a month now and have some thoughts. Read on for my full Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review where you’ll find my detailed analysis as well as my comparison to other rivals like the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max and Google Pixel 6 Pro.
- Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9-mm
- Weight: 228 grams
- Display: 6.8-inch Quad HD+ (3088 x 1440) Dynamic AMOLED 2X
- Cameras: 108.0 MP + 10.0 MP + 12.0 MP + 10.0 MP (rear), 40.0 MP (front)
- Operating System: Android 12
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
- RAM: 12GB
- Storage: 256GB
- Battery: 5,000 mAh
Included in the Box
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Data Cable
- Ejection Pin
- Quick Start Guide
Design: A Crown Jewel
What’s not to like about the design of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra? No matter how many times I take it out of my pocket, I’m shocked by its beauty. It’s a gorgeous phone made better by its flat top and bottom, curved edges and contrasting metal bezel.
Unlike the reflective glass surfaces you see in other phones, I love how the brushed metal covering on the back of the Galaxy S22 Ultra retains a cleaner aesthetic because it’s not as prone to smudges.
Even more impressive, Samsung’s design engineers somehow managed to retain the same 0.35-inch svelte chassis as its predecessor — and that’s despite having to accommodate the new S Pen, which tucks in nicely on the bottom left side of the phone. My only gripe is that it’s fairly tough to hold because of its large size, but that’s a common complaint I have with these oversized phones. Thankfully, you can still enable the one-handed mode that shrinks down the interface for easier one-handed use.
I’ll also admit, the layout of the quadruple camera system on the back of the phone is tastefully done. It’s not as distracting as some other brands, and blends in nicely.
Display: AMOLED Goodness
Nowadays, we’re most enamored by foldable phones that open up to larger sizes, but the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a testament to what I look for in a smartphone display. The 6.8-inch Edge Quad-HD+ (3088 x 1440) Dynamic OLED 2X Display is a marvel to look at. Pixels are crammed tightly together to make it a visual feast whenever I watch a YouTube video in 4K HDR quality.
Unsurprisingly, it has all the excellent qualities I’ve come to expect from AMOLED panels, like wide viewing angles, vivid colors and excellent contrast. Under direct sunlight, the display was able to achieve a peak brightness of 1,013 lux with a light meter I used. That’s plenty bright enough for outdoor use, plus it helps that there’s minimal color distortion at wide viewing angles.
S Pen: A Welcomed Treat
I was stoked when Samsung announced it was bringing back the S Pen stylus, especially when it was unceremoniously retired with the Galaxy Note 20. Even though the core functions haven’t changed, it is still an incredibly useful tool to have at a whim.
Case in point, when something came to mind randomly and I needed to jot it down ASAP before I ended up forgetting it, the S Pen was there. All I had to do was just take out the S Pen and the phone automatically opened up the Notes app.
Those with creative talents will appreciate more what the S Pen has to offer, like its pressure sensitivity to differentiate strokes when drawing. For me, I still found it useful for benign functions such as precisely highlighting a word, as well as making notations on a screenshot.
Software: More Than You Need
I’ve always been a fan of the vanilla Android experience with Google’s Pixel phones, but the Samsung One UI on top of Android 12 on the Galaxy S22 Ultra has its tasteful qualities. Superficially, it’s a minimalist-looking interface that emulates the stock Android experience, but there are more features thrown in for power users.
For example, the Edge Panel can be accessed at any moment to quickly jump to specific apps instead of having to use the traditional apps switching menu. I don’t use it often, but it’s there for convenience. One particular feature I found valuable is the ability to take extended screenshots, like trying to take a screenshot of a long web page. When you perform the screenshot, the option for it pops up.
Furthermore, the Samsung DeX experience can effectively transform the Galaxy S22 Ultra into a versatile workstation if you connect a monitor, mouse and keyboard to it. That’s because you get true, side-by-side apps in its desktop mode. I find this particularly attractive because I’m able to bring the desktop experience wherever I go.
Performance: Fluid Responses
If you love games, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra makes for a worthy gaming phone. As you’d imagine, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform paired with 12GB of RAM was powerful enough to run some of my favorite mobile games.
Outside of that, I found tight responses everywhere in the software. From opening up apps to scrolling through my social media feeds, the S22 Ultra exhibited everything I’d expect from a flagship smartphone. The only two other phones to exhibit snappier responses in my experience are the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Google Pixel 6 Pro.
Camera: Best in Class
The Galaxy line has long established itself as a competent player in the camera space, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra is no exception. Unlike its peers with their triple camera systems, the Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a quadruple camera system that consists of a 12MP F2.2 ultra-wide, 108MP F2.2 main camera, 10MP F2.4 3x telephoto and a 10MP F4.9 10x telephoto.
I enjoy having the arsenal to capture the scenery, no matter what it is. Switching between the four cameras is a cinch and I can’t tell you how useful it was going from the main camera to the ultra-wide without the need to move my position. This kind of versatility isn’t something you’ll find in most phones, which is the reason why the Galaxy S22 Ultra is so coveted. Even a professional photographer agreed with me.
When it comes to quality, photos are accompanied with rich details, punchy-looking colors and excellent dynamic range. On most sunny days, however, it’s a little too liberal with the color saturation, but photos still come out sharp. The most remarkable aspect is how close you can get to your subject with the help of its 10x optical zoom, which can be boosted to 100x digitally.
If you look at the samples below, you’ll see how the 100x shot isn’t all that practical. However, its usefulness comes in the way it’s able to expose some of the details I’m unable to see from far distances — like the color of the scarf and the patches on it.
Under low light, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s fast F2.2 main lens is able to literally see through the darkness when night mode is enabled. I pointed the camera toward a swing set that was covered in darkness, but it brought out the details in the shadows underneath the trees. You could say that the nighttime shot may look unrealistic at times, but I found it impressive that post-processing tweaks helped to reveal details I couldn’t see myself.
Content creators will relish the video features as well. Not only did I like tapping into all the manual video controls in pro mode, but the director mode gave me more control and oversight of all the cameras while recording. For example, there’s a split view that records video using the front and rear cameras simultaneously.
Much like how its photos turned out, the videos I captured with the Galaxy S22 Ultra were excellent. Details are plentiful when recording in 4K, but there’s an option to record in 8K at 24 fps. It’s a nice treat to have, especially when I edit them later on and apply various digital pans and zooms. Stabilization is also impressive, delivering smooth pans and steady shots. The only downside is that the jitters become more pronounced when shooting under low light.
Battery Life: Speedy Recharge
On days when I was heavily using the Galaxy S22 Ultra, I found its battery at around 20% on average right before bedtime. So yeah, it’s something that still requires nightly charges. At one point, however, I found it at 40% on a day when I wasn’t as active. Nevertheless, one day’s worth of use is pretty normal in my experience.
Since it doesn’t come included with a power adapter, I used a 25W charger I had lying around to recharge the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It took 69 minutes for it to charge from 1% to 100%. That’s not too shabby, but Samsung claims that it can achieve faster results with a 65W charger.
Let me say that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most expensive flagship phones around. That’s understandable and the price is backed by excellent performances everywhere. Even though the features may seem overkill for the average user, you won’t find anything else that can match its utility.
Fundamentally, the Galaxy S22 Ultra brings all the iterative improvements you’d expect from a successor. While I wouldn’t classify it as a revolutionary gadget, it’s the epitome of what I’d want in a flagship phone, and at the moment, it’s indeed the phone to beat in 2022.
So Should You Buy it?
Absolutely yes. It’s pricey but well worth the cost.
- Added utility with the S Pen
- Beautiful, clean design
- Excellent camera performance
- Versatile zoom lenses
- Robust features for power users
- Its big size makes it tough to handle
How Long Will It Last?
In addition to its premium design, the solidly constructed Galaxy S22 Ultra features a water-resistant IP68 rating. It should be enough to withstand minor splashes, but we’d still recommend putting on a case to protect it. Samsung does offer a 1-year limited warranty that covers defects.
What Are Some of the Alternatives?
Few phones can match its robust set of features, but here are the most logical options to consider.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
The Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max can keep toe-to-toe with Samsung’s offerings, matching it in areas like the camera and build quality, but I like the simpler layout and functionality of iOS.
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Even though its zoom lens comes up shorter, I like that you can still get free photo backup with the Google Pixel 6 Pro using Google Photos. Additionally, I find that it’s a bit more fluid with its performance.
OnePlus 10 Pro
Save some money without making too many compromises with the OnePlus 10 Pro because it still features an excellent triple camera system. Plus, it boasts one of the best screen-to-body ratios around — making it one of the few phones you could use one-handed easily.
Read more: OnePlus 10 Pro Review
Looking for More from SPY?
- The Return of Google Glass? Google Drops Surprise AR Announcement
- Bose Portable Smart Speaker Review
- These Portable Chargers Will Make Sure Your Smartphone Is Never Out of Action