The Galaxy Note series celebrates its unofficial comeback with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. An S-Pen, five cameras and a large, sharp display should make up what is probably the best smartphone of the year from Samsung. We tested the new Samsung flagship in everyday use and compared it with the competition.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design And Finish
The new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra design has little to do with the Galaxy S series. The device is quite large at 77.9 × 163.3 × 8.90 millimetres and quite heavy at 229 grams on the scales. The Galaxy S22+ looks pretty handy in comparison, but it’s not a small device in the smartphone world either.
The S22 Ultra is difficult to use with one hand due to its size, but the space is needed for the large display. The design of the Galaxy S22 Ultra not only looks like a Galaxy Note, but it is also a Galaxy Note. When I first held the device in my hand, I had strong memories of the Note 20 Ultra from 2020.
Angular aluminium with Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the front and back creates a premium feel with no manufacturing flaws. The buttons are straightforward to press. Despite the cameras protruding slightly on the back, the phone sits nicely on the table. Thanks to the IP68 certification, the device is protected against dust and water. I could only see the minor scratches on the back during my test period.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Display
The device’s highlight is the 6.8-inch WQHD AMOLED display with 120 Hertz adaptive (1-120) refresh rate. The colours look great, the display gets very bright (up to 1750 cd/sqm), and the content runs smoothly. The significant disadvantage of the S22 Ultra compared to the other models is the rounded sides.
Swipe gestures and inputs with the S Pen are recognized less well, and the frame is noticeable. While previous models such as the Note 20 Ultra could not yet display WQHD resolution and the advertised 120 Hertz simultaneously, this combination only became possible with the S21 Ultra last year.
This is still possible with the S22 Ultra, which ensures a smooth experience, especially with mobile games such as PUBG or Asphalt. However, the higher resolution doesn’t make a big difference in the UI. It just drains the battery faster. That’s why I usually deactivated the mode and set it to Full HD+.
A second-generation ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is built into the display, which unlocks the device perfectly in nine out of ten cases. However, the speed has not changed compared to the S21 series. The radius of the fingerprint sensor has not been expanded either.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Performance
To understand this section, a little bit of background knowledge is necessary, which I will briefly explain in this small section. Although Samsung sells the Galaxy S22 models worldwide, they are not identical everywhere.
For example, in the USA, Korea or India, a different processor is used, which we can also find in the new flagships from Oppo, OnePlus or Realme – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 from Qualcomm. However, Samsung has been using a completely different processor for years, one from its own company.
In recent years, Samsung’s Exynos processors have repeatedly been criticised: they are too slow and energy-hungry. Samsung should either improve it drastically or delete it because the foldable models of the Z series and the flagship tablets have long since installed the latest Qualcomm chips.
A Worse Processor
Samsung then delivered last year. Although the Exynos 2100 wasn’t as fast as Qualcomm’s chip, it was more energy-efficient and didn’t heat up as quickly. In the run-up to the successor, there was a lot of speculation. Integration of AMD was announced repeatedly, which should bring an enormous boost in the GPU.
But more or less, nothing came of it because the GPU in the Qualcomm SoC is still ahead of the Samsung processor in benchmarks. In other words: You get a worse processor for your money than in other markets, and that’s a shame.
Slight Stutters Again And Again: The Processor And The Software Of The Galaxy S22 Ultra
Reason enough to assume, however, that the chip should still let the device “run” in everyday life. After all, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra price is 1249 euros for a high-end smartphone. But in my three weeks of testing with a rental device from Samsung, that was not the case.
The device or the processor suffers from software problems that have not been fixed by the time this review was written. There was an 800MB update at the start of sales, but there were always problems with the software with this one too. In addition, there are repeated minor stutters, which means that animations are not displayed smoothly.
The start screen froze twice for 30 seconds, and I couldn’t do anything. Touch inputs are sometimes recognized a few milliseconds later, making the operation feel asynchronous. You can easily mimic the effect of the Bluetooth problem with cheap headphones if the picture and speech are not in sync.
The Performance Still Has To Mature
That doesn’t destroy the movie, but it’s in no way tolerable for so much money. Unfortunately, I already know the whole thing pretty well from the gaming industry. For example, I was looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077, but when I started the game in December 2020, it wasn’t finished at all, and the developer cashed it in right away.
The same applies to Battlefield 2042 or the GTA Remastered trilogy. Incidentally, we are not the only editorial team reporting on these problems. While all US colleagues are delighted with the Snapdragon, colleagues from Germany, Ireland and Great Britain report a lot of stuttering in the software.
However, reference is always made to the Ultra model and not to the Galaxy S22/+. So the performance still has to mature, but our loaner is being recalled this week, so we won’t be able to follow the further development of the software.
Meanwhile, connectivity is not a problem. LLAN 6E, 5G and Bluetooth 5.2 did not show any problems in all my tests (listening to music, video streaming, downloading software and connecting smartwatches and headphones).
Only the 5G mode has known problems such as reducing the battery life and heating the processor. That’s why I disabled it after a while. The new mobile communications standard currently has far too many disadvantages than advantages.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Sound
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has stereo speakers that ensure loud, balanced sound. YouTube videos, films and also music can be played well over it. The sound only seems a bit tinny at total volume.
However, Samsung is definitely in the upper segment in the smartphone sector. Only the Mi 11 Ultra from last year had an even better speaker.
The cameras of the Samsung flagships have always been a highlight in recent years. Samsung continues this with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. A 108-megapixel sensor is used as the primary sensor, making progress in night shots compared to the S21 Ultra.
This is supported by a 12-megapixel camera for ultra-wide-angle photos and two other 12-megapixel sensors for zoom, with one lens equipped for 3x optical zoom and the other for 10x optical zoom.
The cameras take outstanding photos, and Samsung is now the market leader, especially in the zoom area. The primary camera takes high-contrast shots and emphasises colours a little more than before. But it is precisely because of the large lens that photos are incredibly sharp and have many details.
On the other hand, shadows in photos taken with the Pixel 6 Pro or Find X5 Pro are displayed better. So Samsung is not ahead here. The promised night mode also takes good photos with the primary camera, but it isn’t close to Google’s Pixel 6 Pro. Google works a little more precisely with reflections or glowing lamps.
In Terms Of Sharpness, Samsung Is Ahead
The photos are by no means terrible, just not the best on the market. Samsung is far ahead when it comes to zoom. While Google and Oppo can still keep up with the triple optical zoom but do not capture as many details as Samsung, the Koreans dominate at the tenfold zoom at the latest.
The photos are still very detailed and sharp. Slight image noise can only be seen in great detail. In this area, Samsung leads the list of the best. No other manufacturer creates such photos.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Software
The positive thing about the software, which has not yet been well optimised, is that it still has a lot of time to be optimised. Samsung is the only manufacturer in the Android sector that promises a full four years of OS upgrades (i.e. up to Android 16) and five years of security updates.
Even Google, which has always been the manufacturer with the most upgrades, has to admit defeat. In the past, Samsung has also established itself as the fastest way to deliver updates far away from Google. The entire S and Z series is already on Android 12. The S22 Ultra is delivered directly with this software.
OneUI 4.1 has many functions, and there is good interaction, especially in the Galaxy ecosystem. Galaxy Buds headphones are recognized immediately, and recently the S22 Ultra can also be used as a “colour palette” for an app on the Galaxy Tab. But if you are not in this ecosystem, you will find a straightforward interface with many other functions.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: The S Pen
One of the main reasons for the purchase should be the perfect interaction of hardware and software. Although this does not apply to the processor, it applies to the S Pen built into the device. You can quickly write notes or start an app via air command with this.
The S Pen also doubles as a remote shutter release for the Photos app. The pen recognition, in particular, has been improved compared to the Note 20 Ultra. Since it is a question of milliseconds, it is difficult for me to verify that. The detection worked fine for me.
In general, the rule of thumb still applies: If you want a stylus phone, you will find it difficult to avoid the Galaxy Note/now Galaxy S. The only manufacturer worth mentioning is still Motorola with the Edge 30 Ultra, but the pen is not built into the device there.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Battery
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 5000 mAh battery that can be charged with a maximum of 45 watts. However, the charging cable is no longer included (as with the S21 Ultra). An optional charger can be purchased from Samsung for 50 euros.
As the website GSMArena reports, the charger is more appearance than reality. Because the battery of the S22 Ultra should only be charged five minutes faster than with a 25-watt charger from Samsung, so you can confidently grab the cheaper charger and don’t have to pay a lot more, the device can also be charged via 15-watt wireless charging and even charge other devices with 5 watts on the back.
The battery life can be specified as one day when using the high refresh rate and the Full HD+ resolution. If you still want to go out on a Friday evening, you should charge beforehand so that you can still communicate at night. A Pixel 6 Pro is also in this battery range. The Oppo Find X5 Pro performs better in my test time so far.
Price And Availability
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in four colours: black, white, burgundy and green. There are also three other exclusive colours in the Samsung store. The device starts at 1249 euros with 128 gigabytes of internal memory. If you want more, you can pay up to one terabyte. The device has been commercially available since February 25, 2022.
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