Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: A triumphant return for the Note superphone | Samsung

WWith the Galaxy S22 Ultra superphone, Samsung brought back the popular Note line in all but the name, equipping it with a built-in stylus and a camera that outperforms the competition with 3x and 10x optical zoom from last year’s S21 Ultra.

It costs £1,149 ($1,200 / AU$1,849) and is one of the most expensive non-foldable phones you can buy but offers features you simply can’t get on other phones and will receive at least five years of software updates – longer than any phone Another Android post.

The S22 Ultra doesn’t look like the S22+ or other “S-line” models. Instead, the new super phone updates the design of the Note 20 Ultra from 2020 with an “S Pen” stylus that slots neatly into the bottom for storage and charging.

The matte glass back and aluminum frame are available in a range of colors, but they look especially good in black. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The top and bottom are flat metal, while the glass back and front curve at the sides to meet an aluminum bar. It’s a really big and luxurious phone but relatively easy to carry and use. I could use it one-handed without an attachment, but I’ll likely turn to a Popsocket or similar on the back in the long run.

Stunning 6.8-inch screen: sharp and smooth with a refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and an extremely high peak brightness of up to 1750nits (a standard measure of screen brightness), making reading in direct sunlight easier than the competition.

to set

  • main screen: 6.8 inch QHD + Dynamic Amoled 2X (500ppi) 120Hz

  • Healer: Samsung Exynos 2200 (EU) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US)

  • RAM: 8 or 12 GB of RAM

  • storage: 128, 256, 512 GB or 1 TB

  • The operating system: One UI 4.1 based on Android 12

  • camera: Quad rear camera: 108MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP 3x and 10x telephoto; 40 MP front

  • Delivery: 5G, USB-C, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, UWB, GNSS

  • Water Resistant: IP68 (1.5 meters for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm

  • Weight: 228 grams

Long battery life

The bottom of the S22 Ultra displays the USB-C port and the S Pen
The phone is fully charged in 63 minutes, reaching 50% in 22 minutes using a 45W USB-C PPS charger (power adapter not included). Fast wireless charging (15W) and reverse wireless charging are available. The S Pen is inserted at the bottom right of the phone. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

In the US, the S22 Ultra has Qualcomm’s highest standard 2022 Android chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, while in the EU it has a Samsung Exynos 2200. Overall performance was excellent – it handled many apps on the screen at any one time with no slowing down, although it wasn’t noticeably faster than last year’s already fast models. The gaming performance of the Exynos 2200 was more differentiated than competitors equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

Battery life is great. The S22 Ultra lasts over 40 hours between charges, including three hours on 5G, with the screen set to FHD+ resolution and actively used for over 6.5 hours with a variety of class and camera apps, Chrome, Spotify, 2.5 hours of Netflix and a few more. the games. Increasing the screen resolution to a maximum of QHD+ reduced screen playback time by about an hour. The phone should easily go through the heaviest of days, or two if used more economically, and it’s longer than most competitors except the iPhone 13 Pro Max which runs for 48 hours.

Sustainability

The fingerprint sensor icon appears on the screen of the S22 Ultra
The fingerprint sensor at the bottom of the screen is fast and responsive, making it easy to unlock the device or authenticate payments. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Samsung does not provide the expected battery life. Devices in similar devices typically maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for at least 500 complete charge cycles.

The phone is generally repairable. Screen repairs cost £229, while the battery can be replaced at an authorized service centre. But the phone only scores three out of 10 in the iFixit repair rating.

Many of the internal components are made from 20% nylon or recycled plastic. Samsung offers replacement and recycling schemes for old devices. The company publishes annual sustainability reports but does not publish impact evaluations for individual products.

OneUI 4.1.0 Update

Pop-up tutorial showing how to use the S Pen on the S22 Ultra
OneUI has many more features added on regular Android to support the S Pen, including helpful tips on how to use its more advanced features. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S22 Ultra comes with OneUI 4.1, which is based on the latest version of Android 12 and receives instant updates unlike some competitors. Ultra has many customizations for the software to fit the S Pen.

This includes handwriting recognition, various screenwriting and screenshot tools, translation support and gestures, including using the S Pen as a remote control or magic wand to perform actions. For quickly taking notes, mark up documents or screenshots, or doodles, the S Pen is like no other.

The S22 Ultra will receive at least five years of software updates from release, including four major Android version updates and monthly security patches, making it one of the longest running Android devices available that comes after six years of Apple support as well as its iPhones. .

camera

Camera app on galaxy s22 ultra
The camera app offers the simplicity of point-and-shoot with various automatic modes, but it also has full manual control and the ability to save RAW files as well as Jpegs. The S Pen can be used as a remote shutter button as well. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The S22 Ultra has the same quad camera setup as the 2021 S21 Ultra with not one but two optical zoom cameras that produce equally impressive results.

The 108MP main camera produces 12MP photos by default and is one of the best available, capturing highly balanced and detailed photos, with improved low-light performance compared to last year’s model, although faces can sometimes be brighter at night. . The 12MP ultra-wide camera is also good, with better low-light performance and improved image clarity overall.

The 3x and 10x 12MP cameras are still the stars of the show. Both are better in terms of detail, and produce sharper, clearer images with less sharp image processing than last year. The 3x zoom is great for photographing people or things that are close, while the 10x zoom provides a meaningful zoom for closing the distance on things you can’t physically move towards. Planes in the sky, boats at sea, or distant landmarks are now within reach.

The camera lens was shot slightly protruding from the back glass of the S22 Ultra
Unlike most smartphones, the five modules of the camera system simply pop out of the frosted glass on the back with no surrounding bulge or bulge. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

You can continue to digital zoom on top of the 10x optical zoom. Shots up to 30x are very good with less grain and better colors than last year, while zooming up to 100x improves detail and sharper outlines of objects. It still looks like an oil painting but you will be able to make a car number plate at maximum magnification during the day if you are steady enough.

The macro mode for close-up shooting works well, while the selfie camera is one of the best in the business, producing excellent shots in a range of lighting levels.

Some competing cameras are better at the single thing but as a package no other phone can beat the adaptability and killer zoom of the S22 Ultra’s camera system.

price

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra costs from £1,149 (US$1,199.99 / AU$1,849) with 128GB of storage.

For comparison, the Galaxy S22 costs £769, the S22+ costs £949, the Z Flip 3 costs £949, the Z Fold 3 costs £1599, the Google Pixel 6 Pro costs £849, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max £1049.

Rule

The S22 Ultra should really be called the Galaxy Note. It’s a giant phone for power users, and it offers unparalleled features, from an impressive camera with more optical zoom than any other phone to long battery life, a stunning display and the powerful built-in S Pen.

However, it is the stylus that may make the phone a bit of a niche product. The most dedicated Samsung fans have been Note buyers who will be very pleased, as the S22 Ultra offers a best-in-class writing and drawing experience. But many people likely won’t remove the pen from its dock.

It’s really nice to see Samsung using recycled materials in the phone for the first time, and providing at least five years of software updates from release, making it the longest running Android available.

It’s not quite as exciting as some foldable cell phones. But the S22 Ultra is the best Android phone you can buy and it’s going to take some knocks this year.

Positives: Huge 120Hz screen, great flexible camera with 3x and 10x optical zoom, one user interface, S Pen, good performance, long battery, five years of software support and it has recycled materials.

cons: The bulky, heavy and very expensive S Pen may be an unnecessary feature of many gaming performance variants of the EU model.

The S22 Ultra lays flat on a table showing its frosted glass back
The S22 Ultra stands out from the crowd with a design unlike the others and in a few tries on a grand scale. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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