Having carved a niche for its loyal fanbase, the Galaxy Note may have been retired by Samsung, but it has been reborn as a hybrid device that combines the best of a flagship-level Galaxy device with the unparalleled utility of the S-Pen. Enter the Galaxy S22 Ultra, a behemoth that has more headlining specs than the UP Exit polls.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Design: Ultra refined
Around the back, Samsung has gone for a more familiar look that matches the S22+ and S22, but without the housing. There are also a couple of extra cutouts for an additional telephoto lens and the laser AF sensor. The S-Pen sits within the body just like on the Note, retrievable by popping it out with a spring-loaded push. It’s a large device no doubt, but one that sits better in the hand than the sharp-edged and wider iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Camera: Get up close
Sharing most of the components with the other models in the S22 range, the Ultra differs primarily in its 108MP wide camera and having two different telephoto lenses for 3x and 10x. This also allows the S22 Ultra to boast of 100x Space Zoom over the 30x of its siblings.
Highlights in the indoor shots tend to be overexposed and outdoors, it flattens gradients during golden hour to an almost monotone look. In most cases, it is still an outstanding performer and we are really nitpicking here, but there has to be a direct comparison to the iPhone 13 Pro Max if you’re serious about photography. The S22 Ultra shines in outdoor or daylight photography, offering crisp details, mega resolution and lots of manual control if you really want to take it to the next level.
Low-light or “nightography” as Samsung calls it is a mixed bag. The sensors soak in a lot of light, but then Samsung goes a bit OTT with lighting up the shadows, almost to the extent of making it look like a different time of the day! Also, as fast as the 4nm Snapdragon processor is, it can’t keep up with the iPhone’s A15 Bionic SoC when it comes to shooting in burst mode, which seems to just shorten the image processing pipeline with its scorching speed.
Switch to portrait mode and the S22 Ultra does display better segmentation, especially for finer elements like cat whiskers, human hair and so on. Even the post-capture bouquet of image editing options are more playful on the S22 Ultra, letting you have fun with different sorts of bokeh effects and the choice of filters is staggering too. Macro isn’t the S22 Ultra’s forte as it clearly shows less detail and structure to the shots than on the iPhone 13 Pro and even focusing isn’t as seamless.
Performance: Write on the mark
The S-Pen still remains a big draw here and with even reduced latency, helped by the accurate pen-to-paper sound, the S22 Ultra screen now really does feel like paper. The stylus is unbelievably responsive and can be used even as a remote trigger for the camera or scrolling through your photo gallery, amongst other uses. To add to the authenticity, the actual sound of pen to paper lends another level of directness to the experience and Samsung clearly has mastered this by now. The only thing I’d change is the positioning of the button that controls the remote features on the S-Pen, it just feels awkward to get to, ergonomically speaking.
Being a flagship phone in 2022 means that it handles all tasks effortlessly, never stuttering even on the most demanding of games that use the GPU to its max. There is only a mild amount of heating on the back panel, so the vapour chambers and heat sinks are doing their job inside the tight confines of the S22 Ultra. Thanks to the edge panel, you can get to oft-used apps in an instant and even use the whole 6.8in real estate in split-screen mode with two apps open simultaneously, while a third app window can be floating on top!
The 120Hz screen is a joy to behold and you will be picking the phone up a lot more just to be dazzled by its brightness and resolution. Its 5,000mAh battery is sufficient enough to last almost through the day but not more. The large screen and 4Nm processor do take their toll, but the 45W fast charging option is a redeeming factor. Although, this is a BYOB party (Bring Your Own Brick). In summation, the Samsung S22 Ultra is the most phone most people ever need, if they’re into Android.
Verdict: Should you buy?
As expected, a superb flagship that blends the best of the Note and S-series phones, the S22 Ultra is the best that Android has to offer.
|6.8in Quad HD+ (500ppi)
|Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
|40MP (front), 108MP + 12MP + 10MP +10MP (rear)
|77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm