The S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra are the most premium smartphones in their respective S Series line-ups, offering high-end specs over the base and Plus models Samsung releases each year. But, is it worth trading your S21 Ultra in for the brand new S22 Ultra?
We’ve created this guide to find out. It details our thoughts after having a brief 90 minutes of hands on time with the new Galaxy S22 Ultra and fully reviewed the older S21 Ultra when it came out last year. We’ll update this page with our definitive verdict on how the two compare when we’ve had time to full test and review the S22 Ultra.
Pricing and availability
Samsung officially unveiled the Galaxy S22 Ultra on February 9 2022 with the following prices for each configuration:
£1,149/$1,199/€1,259 for 8GB/128GB £1,249/$1,299/€1,359 for 12GB/256GB £1,329/$1,399.99/€1,459 for 12GB/512GB £1,499/$1,599.99/€1,659 for 12GB/1TB
The S21 Ultra is now just over a year old, having originally come out on January 14 2021. The phone is currently unavailable to buy on Samsung’s online store, but it launched with a matching starting price of £1,149/$1,199/€1,259 for 8GB/128GB.
The S21 Ultra has seen some tempting reductions in the run up to the S22 Ultra launch, with Amazon listing the phone for just £1049.
That said, there still isn’t much between the two phones in price so if you want the latest that Samsung has to offer and you don’t mind missing out on this offer, the S22 Ultra is the one to buy.
Design and display
Visually, the biggest difference between the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra is the rear of the phone, with the S22 featuring a more seamless-looking camera module.
The S22 Ultra measures up at 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm and weighs 229g, while the 75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm and weighs 227g, making the 2022 phone ever-so-slightly shorter and wider than its predecessor.
Both phones feature fingerprint sensors and are water resistant up to IP68. However, where the S21 Ultra features Corning Gorilla Glass Victus for durability, the S22 Ultra packs the 12.5% stronger Victus Plus.
The S22 Ultra is available in white, black, green and burgundy shades, whereas the S21 Ultra came in black, silver, titanium, navy and brown colours. The S22 Ultra also comes in plastic-free packaging.
One major update on the S22 Ultra is the inclusion of the S Pen. While the S21 Ultra is compatible with the S Pen, the S22 Ultra marks the first time we’ve seen the stylus included with an S Series phone. The pen also offers reduced latency this time around for more natural writing, along with handwriting to text support in a total of 88 languages. During testing we found the S Pen is a nice feature, and works just as well as we remember on past notes, but it makes the S22 Ultra feel noticeably chunkier than its predecessor, with Samsung having had to accommodate a dock for it in the design.
As far as the display goes, the S22 Ultra features a 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate (in Game Mode). Samsung claims the screen can reach 1750 nits of brightness, and there’s also vision booster and Eye Comfort Shield for AI-based blue light control.
The S21 Ultra packs a very similar 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with the same 120Hz refresh rate, though the screen is less bright at 1500 nits. The Eye Comfort Shield is also available on this phone to protect your eyes from blue light.
The higher brightness means the S22 Ultra should offer better HDR playback on compatible content, but until we get a chance to properly test the screen we won’t be able to confirm this.
Despite how different the cameras look from the outside, both the S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra actually feature matching quad sensor arrays.
Both cameras consist of a 108-megapixel (f/1.8) wide angle sensor, a 12-megapixel (f/2.2) ultra-wide sensor, a 10-megapixel (f/2.4) telephoto sensor with 3x optical zoom and a 10-megapixel (f/4.9) telephoto sensor with 10x optical zoom. Both cameras also offer support for 100x Space Zoom and feature 40-megapixel (f/2.2) front camera for selfies.
Shooting modes on the S22 Ultra include Super Resolution Mode, Super Steady System for video, Auto Framing, Nightography, Portrait Mode and Expert RAW. The S21 Ultra offers modes like Portrait Mode and Night Mode.
While both phones consist of similar camera hardware, improvements coming with the S22 Ultra include quicker AI camera performance thanks to its faster NPU, improvements to low light photography, a Pro mode and a downloadable Expert app.
There’s also 16-bit RAW file support, auto-switching FPS in video and Samsung has partnered with Snapchat to bring Super Resolution and Night Mode to the photo sharing app, as well.
In our experience processing is one of the most important factors that determines a mobile phone camera’s performance. We only had a chance to take a few quick photos in daylight conditions during our hands on time with the S22 Ultra, but the photos looked reasonably good, offer good detail, decent contrast and the classic “Samsung” look Galaxy phones are famous for, being just on the cusp of looking over-sharpened.
The S22 Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US (or the Exynos 2200, depending on your region) which is based on a new 4nm process, offering improved performance over previous 5nm chips. It also features a 2x faster NPU.
The S21 Ultra, meanwhile, is powered by the previous generational Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100 (again, depending on region), which is based on a 5nm process.
We haven’t had a chance to benchmark a device running the Exynos 2100 but our experience with handsets running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has been uniformly positive, so the S22 should offer better performance and power efficiency than its predecessor, if it’s been utilised correctly.
The S22 Ultra packs up to 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, while the S21 Ultra tops out at 12GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. This makes the S22 Ultra the better option if you’re in need of higher storage.
Both phones are expected to receive One UI 4.1, which is based on the latest version of Android, Android 12, but the S22 Ultra runs the software out of the box.
You can see a full breakdown of the two phone’s specs in the below table.
First Reviewed Date
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
77.9 x 8.9 x 163.3 INCHES
Android 12, OneUI 4.1
1440 x 3080
Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
Burgundy, Gree, Black, White
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
128GB, 512GB, 1TB
108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP
8.9 x 75.6 x 165.1 MM
3220 x 1440
Snapdragon 888 or Exynos 2100
Black, Navy, Brown, Silver
Both the S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra feature matching 5000mAh batteries. We haven’t gotten the chance to test the battery on the S22 Ultra ourselves, but we found we were able to get around seven to eight hours of screen time out of the S21 Ultra.
The S21 Ultra topped out at 25W wired charging and 15W wireless charging. Luckily, Samsung has improved upon this with the S22 Ultra, which now supports 45W wired charging (though has retained the same 15W wireless speeds).
Both phones support Samsung’s Wireless PowerShare feature, meaning you can use them to charge up other wireless devices, such as your true wireless earbuds.
There are a lot of similarities between the S22 Ultra and the S21 Ultra, including their displays and their camera arrays, making it tempting to stick with last year’s model if you’ve already got it.
However, improvements in performance, image processing, charging speeds and the addition of the S Pen make the S22 Ultra worth choosing if you’re stuck between the two – especially considering how similar the phones cost.
We’ll be sharing out full review of the S22 Ultra soon, so check back with Trusted Reviews for a more in-depth look at the phone.