Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

from ₹ 1,09,999

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.

Design: Ultra refined

Draped in Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+, and with a polished Armour Aluminium frame running down the middle, our burgundy hued S22 Ultra looked gangsta enough to club with a Maybach. The Edge display curves the brilliant 6.8in screen over the sides and even if you try, you can’t feel any seams whatsoever, making the S22 Ultra a masterpiece of modern manufacturing. 
Add to that an IP68 rating that gives it both dust and water resistance, even with the S-Pen and it gets more impressive. But all that is even before you switch it on. With a stupendous 1750nits brightness rating, the 500ppi display is staggering in its details, sharpness and if you’re willing to dig deep into the settings and customise it, even accurate. The adaptive refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz makes everything buttery smooth, unlike on the iPhone 13 Pro which stutters on some third-party apps. The large display also conceals a punch hole 40MP selfie cam and an in-screen ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, giving it a clean aesthetic and a screen-to-body ratio that is greater than the iPhone 13 series.

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.

Definitely, one of the standout qualities of this camera system is the noise-free clarity of its 10x optically zoomed pics. It retains the colour fidelity, natural bokeh and resolution, all the while making a joke of its biggest competition. The 100x digital zoom uses AI and the results are controversial but can be handy if you want to get closer to the big game on your safari without becoming bait. 
The primary 108MP cam, with f/1.8, is a great snapper too but has a tough time topping the iPhone 13 Pro, even though it gets incredibly close. The colours are a lot less saturated by typical Samsung standards now and the higher resolution definitely flexes those pixels by making for pin-sharp and highly detailed photos, but its HDR algorithms lag behind those of Apple’s Deep Fusion.

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.

If you’re into selfies, the 40MP shooter has the iPhone beat hollow by capturing your mug with more definition, less sharpening and an overall more natural-looking image. Do the maths and both compete fiercely in different areas of camera competency, boiling it down to personal preference in many cases.
8K/24 recording is simply a box tick here, but the 4K/60 works really well with almost iPhone-esque stabilisation, which is saying a lot. Samsung has also thrown in Portrait video for a more cinematic effect and even a Directors view that captures video from both the rear and front cameras simultaneously. You don’t get the same level of aperture control in post like on the iPhone 13 Pro, but Samsung compensates with a bunch of face reshaping and annotating options.

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?

And that’s the catch really. As good as the Samsung S22 Ultra is as an Android phone, it doesn’t provide anything compelling enough for an iOS or iPhone user to switch. Except, if you find the utility of the S-Pen on a phone indispensable. 
Besides the 10x optical zoom, its camera performance is a matter of ‘win some, lose some’ to the iPhone 13 Pro and in terms of outright speed, neither really leave you wanting for more power. So ultimately it comes down to aesthetic choice and ecosystem. If you’re dwelling in the Android world, this most definitely is at the top of the heap.

Stuff Says

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.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. 6.8in display that never ceases to amaze

  1. Build quality and toughness

  1. Camera zoom capabilities and selfie cam

  1. S-Pen still a great utility and even better

  1. Macro shots are not the best in the biz

  1. Night shots can be over-processed sometimes

  1. More than 20 pre-installed Samsung apps!

Display: 6.8in Quad HD+ (500ppi)
Brightness: 1750nits
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Water/Dust resistance: IP68
Cameras: 40MP (front), 108MP + 12MP + 10MP +10MP (rear)
Battery: 5,000mAh
Storage: 512/256GB
Memory: 8/12GB
Dimensions (WHD): 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm
Weight: 229g