- The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most powerful – and most expensive – of the flagship Galaxy S22 series.
- The phone made news for incorporating the S Pen stylus (seen on the Note series) in its frame, but it also came with formidable hardware, including a powerful processor, a trademark brilliant display, and a very versatile camera lineup.
- A few months after its release, the Galaxy S22 Ultra remains the best Android phone money can buy. No other flagship can quite match what it does.
It has been a while since Samsung released the Galaxy S22 Ultra. A period that has been busy for the device as well. Released as a blend of the iconic Note and the S series, the S22 Ultra was the odd one out of the S22 series – the only one with a curved display and a stylus. It was also the most expensive by some distance. Then, of course, it made headlines as the iPhone 13 Pro rival (pretty much the destiny of the Note and S series), won accolades for performance, and got into the news about some throttling issues. A couple of months and a few updates down the line, the Galaxy S22 Ultra seems to have finally settled into its role in the Android world – as its boss.
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Ain’t no Android flagship that looks like this
What makes the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra special and supreme in the Android zone is the fact that it is perhaps the most radically different phone out there. In an Android flagship world that is known for its predictability and adherence to broad spec and feature templates, the S22 Ultra is rather different. It throws curves in many directions. The most obvious, of course, is the S Pen stylus which comes tucked away in the left part of the base of the phone and can be taken out or placed back with a push, thanks to a spring mechanism.
The design is different too. Yes, the curved display and sides and flat top and base, as well as the flat-ish back, might remind many of the Galaxy Note series, but flip the phone on its back, and you will see one of the few (if not the only) Android phones without a distinct camera unit. Unlike other phones, which generally have the camera area marked out as a separate unit that not only protrudes but often either seems to be stuck on the phone or grows out of it like some carefully treated and beautified high-tech acne, the Note has its cameras literally sprinkled on the top left corner of its flat back. Samsung calls it the water drop design, and we must say that it makes a difference from the protruding rectangles and squares that bear the camera units on other phones.
The result is one of the most distinct designs you will see on a phone anywhere. The S22 Ultra, in fact, even moves in a direction that is different from Samsung’s own design language (seen on the other S22 devices). It is bravely done, and it works, especially so, in the Burgundy shade we received. For the record, there is Gorilla Glass Victus on the back (and front as well), so smoothly rendered that it seems almost metallic, and after more than ten weeks of usage, it has no smudges or scratches. The S22 Ultra is not a small phone. At 163.3 mm, it is on the taller side, and its 8.9 thickness and 228 grams weight means that it does not exactly look slim and sleek. But that does not stop it from being very good-looking and perhaps one of the most distinct Android flagships out there. It is also one of the very few premium flagships to come with IP68 dust and water resistance.
Ain’t no Android that works like this either
Some rather spectacular performance back up that striking design. The S-Pen crowd will, of course, just love the option to pull out the stylus and scribble or sketch (yes, even on the lock screen) at will. The stylus connects seamlessly to the phone and gets charged whenever you place it back. There is a truckload of smart functions apart from basic writing and drawing that you can do with it, and in best Note tradition, they word incredibly smoothly.
That 6.8-inch quad HD Dynamic AMOLED display provides the perfect canvas for the S Pen brushstrokes, which flow very smoothly on it. We have seen our share of spectacular displays from Samsung, and this one comes in right at the very top. It is one of the largest around on a phone, very bright with a maximum brightness of 1750 nits, and has a staggering pixel density of 500 PPI. Top that off with a 120 Hz refresh rate which adjusts according to the content being displayed on the phone, and you have perhaps the best display you can get on Android. To some, it might appear a little “too colorful” (in best Samsung tradition), but it can be toned down or altered to suit your requirements. We recommend keeping it at its eye-popping best and changing the resolution to Quad HD for good measure (it is set to full HD+ by default) to get the most out of the S22 Ultra experience. Yes, it does take a bit of a toll on the battery, but we think it is well worth it.
Powering the S22 Ultra is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. To be honest, we never had any issues with the Exynos chips on previous flagships in India, but this is, by common consensus, the best mobile phone processor out there. It certainly performs like one. The phone flies through tasks, routine and heavy, without any trouble. Games like Genshin Impact look absolutely stunning on that large, bright, colorful display, and the stereo speakers make the whole experience incredibly immersive. It is simply the best you can get on a phone. The phone did tend to heat up initially during intense sessions of heavy graphic games (particularly Asphalt), but this seems to have been sorted out by a few timely software updates.
Android 12, DeX and THAT S Pen
The phone runs on Android 12, with Samsung’s OneUI interface on top of it. And while some software updates on lower-priced devices seem to add bloatware to them, the ones to the S22 Ultra have not done so. There have been hints of the odd ad popping up from time to time, but we found nothing too intrusive there. In terms of performance, this is as good as it gets. With DeX support, you can also plug the S22 Ultra into a monitor or display to get a desktop-level performance. We did not really do it too often, but those who gave to make presentations or sometimes just wanted a bigger screen to work on. Incidentally, the device has all the connectivity you would want – Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, and 5G as well. This is a future-proof device in your hands.
And what makes this “good” pretty much unmatchable is the S Pen slotted at the base of the S22 Ultra. Yes, the S21 Pro too had support for the S Pen, but it was an add-on. The S Pen is an integral part of the S22 Ultra and works beautifully on the phone, whether you want to make a note, take a screenshot, or scribble or sketch a little. No one has quite managed to match Samsung in the phone stylus department, and the addition of the S Pen puts the S22 Ultra on a totally different level from the competition. Also, unlike in the past, the S Pen now comes with a device that has a more mainstream feel to it than the slightly more niche Note series.
Ain’t no Android that shoots like this – bless those telephoto sensors!
The S22 Ultra’s cameras are also pretty much unlike anything out there. The phone sports a 108-megapixel main sensor with OIS and then throws not one but two telephoto lenses into the mix. They are 10 megapixels each, and both have OIS. While one has a relatively routine zoom of 3x, the other is a periscopic telephoto and delivers 10x optical zoom. That’s well beyond anything any smartphone can offer out there by some distance. A 12-megapixel ultrawide with a 120-degree field of vision completes the quartet on the back. Two telephotos, one ultrawide, one triple-digit main sensor, and three of them with OIS – that’s a formidable array. Even the selfie camera in front is a 40-megapixel one.
That camera setup delivers stunning results in spadefuls. Yes, there will be those who will feel that the colors are a little too bright and oversaturated, but most people will just be delighted with them. What’s more, there is plenty of detail from all four sensors, which is a rarity in multiple camera setups on Android flagships.
While the main and ultrawide sensors take terrific snaps, the telephoto duo is the star of the camera show. Getting 10X optical zoom on a phone without a lens that protrudes a mile from the back is rare, and to its credit, the camera on the S22 Ultra pulls it off very well indeed. We did notice a slight drop in image quality, but only when we went looking for it. Yes, the 30X and 100X zoom promoted by Samsung are not quite as convincing unless everything is exactly in place, but you get very good results for 10X zoom and very usable ones even at 15X zoom. Zoom quality is so good that you do not really miss a dedicated macro sensor. Initially, there were some inconsistencies in results, but these have been fixed with software updates. This is easily the most versatile camera up we have seen on a phone for a while.
[Click here for full resolution pictures + additional samples]
Even in terms of videos, the S22 Ultra does very well indeed. You do not get the sort of stabilization, sound, and cinematic video that you get on the iPhone 13 Pro series, but the results can give dedicated cameras a run for their money. Selfies seem a little tame when compared to what the rear cameras churn out but are very good when compared to other devices, although one does end up with smoother skin and a slightly lighter complexion more often than not. There are plenty of filters and editing options onboard too, and that S Pen adds a whole new dimension to creativity with image editing.
Ain’t no Android that charges like… oh wait…
The only cloud that darkens the happy, clear sky of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is its battery charging speed. The phone comes with a large 5000 mAh battery, and battery life really depends on whether you max out the resolution of that magnificent display. It is kept at full HD+ by default, and on that setting, it will generally see off a day and more of normal-to-heavy use easily. However, bump that resolution to Quad HD, and battery life drops to about a day. Not really surprising considering the size, resolution, and brightness of the display.
There is, however, no charger in the box. And while the phone supports a charging speed of up to 45W, this seems on the slow side when compared to the 80W, 120W, and even 150W charging speeds from the likes of Xiaomi. The phone charges in about an hour, which is not bad at all, but definitely not in the class of the 20-30 minutes to full charge times we have seen on other devices. The S22 Ultra also supports wireless charging, but once again, it is at a relatively modest 15W speed, a far cry from the 50W wireless charging speeds from others. We would not call the absence of super-fast charging a deal-breaker at all – you can get about 60 percent charge in half an hour, and given the size of that battery, that should see off most part of a day if one is cautious enough. But yes, it is perhaps the one field where the S22 Ultra seems to lag behind its peers. It is in good company, though – Apple also does not have super-fast charging for any of its iPhones.
Going up against… no Android competition
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at Rs 1,09,990 for the 12 GB/ 256 GB variant, Rs 1,18,999 for the 12 GB/ 512 GB variant and Rs 1,34,999 for the 12 GB/ 1 TB variant. That’s a stiff price tag indeed. But there is really no phone that can compete with it. There is no Android device out there that can deliver the same combination of processor, cameras, stylus support (with a stylus in the phone, literally), and display. You will get a few of those in some devices and at a lower price, but in terms of getting it all in one place, this is perhaps as good as it gets on the Android side.
This is why perhaps the only real competitor for the Samsung S22 Ultra is actually the iPhone 13 Pro, which too comes with something most of the competition cannot match – in its case, a combination of design, hardware, and software. But, of course, there will be other phones that can do some of what the S22 Ultra can do; there might even be others that might do some things (like charging the battery) better than it does.
But at the time of writing, there is no phone out there – not even the iPhone, actually – that does everything that the S22 Ultra does! So if that does not tell you something about the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, nothing will.
- Terrific performance (following updates)
- Versatile cameras
- S Pen stylus
- Excellent display
- Regular updates
- On the large side
- Relatively slow battery charging
- No charger in the box
|Design & Build||
A few months after its release, the Galaxy S22 Ultra remains the best Android phone money can buy. No other flagship can quite match what it does. Here's our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review.