Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra



Availability

UKRRP: £1149
USARRP: $1199.99
EuropeRRP: €1259

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the top handset in Samsung’s 2022 flagship range, but this phone could very easily have been called the Galaxy S22 Note.

After canning the cult-favourite Note series a few years ago, Samsung has been trying various ways of adding a few of the series’ best traits into its other phones. 

The Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example, was the first device not designated a Note to support the sort-of-handy S Pen stylus – even if it was an additional accessory that didn’t live in the phone itself.

With the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has gone in another direction – and not one I can say I was expecting. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically just a next-gen Galaxy Note. It looks like a Note, has a slot for the S Pen like a Note and carries across many of the features most would associate with a Note.

This is also the top-end model of the Galaxy S22 range and that is reflected in its price. The base model, with 128GB storage and 8GB RAM, will retail for £1149. An extra £100 will get you 256GB of storage and 12GB RAM. 

For £1329, storage rises to 512GB and for £1499, it rises again to 1TB. This puts it right up against the iPhone 13 Pro Max and at a similar price point I would expect the Oppo Find X5 Pro to hit. This might end up being one of the best phones of the year, but it’ll certainly be one of the priciest.

Screen and Design

The biggest phone in the Galaxy S22 rangeAlso has the most advanced displayAvailable in multiple colours, including a sleek burgundy

As the Ultra moniker implies, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the biggest, heaviest and most feature-rich member of the S22 family. It has a 6.8-inch display (larger than the 6.6-inch screen on the Plus), a silo for the S Pen to dock and a stacked camera array on the back.

It also predictably picks up some of the highlights of the Galaxy S22’s design, including Armour Aluminium around the sides, Gorilla Glass Victus+ (Samsung says this is 12.5% tougher than the previous Victus) on the front and back and, of course, an IP68 rating.

Samsung has done something quite strange with the overall look of this phone. While the S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra had a vaguely similar design each with camera modules blended into the phone’s design, the Galaxy S22 Ultra looks wildly different to the S22. It’s heavily rounded on the sides, with a non-existent camera module that allows the multitude of sensors to just sit alone.

Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

It is basically a refinement of the last Galaxy Note phone rather than an evolution of the design I loved on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. If you appreciated the DNA of the Note line you’ll love this – but for me, it feels like a step backwards. At least on first impressions.

It’s a big, heavy device too – though when you consider everything on offer that’s hardly a surprise. With the S Pen inserted, the phone weighs 229g and really needs to be grasped with two hands to be held comfortably.

While I might have some concerns over the look, I am all-in on the display. The 6.8-inch OLED panel packs a 1440p resolution for pin-sharp details and can now ramp all the way down 1Hz to really save battery life. Open up a game or start scrolling Twitter and that refresh rate will jump to 120Hz and look super smooth. Samsung has also added a 240hz sampling rate into the Game Mode, ideal for titles that require the fastest response possible.

Aside from looking vivid and bright (Samsung says this panel can hit a whopping 1750 nits), the screen has a new feature called Vision Booster. Samsung says this pushes up detail and contrast in brighter situations, making it easier to see video content. This is certainly an interesting addition for those who watch a lot of Netflix shows on a sunny train, though it might end up wrecking the accuracy of the image.

The screen is also made to work with the S Pen, which is now included with the phone and slots away in a silo next to the USB-C port when not in use.  Latency has been reduced from up to 9ms to 2.8ms for more natural writing and Samsung claims it uses AI skills in the software to predict what you’ll write next. It also claims it has improved handwriting to text translation to now work in 88 different languages.

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I only had a short time with the S22 Ultra but the S Pen felt as good as it did on any previous Note phone. Popping it out and jotting down a shopping list or quick to-do list remains fast and natural. For those that loved the S Pen, you’ll still love it here.

I’m just not convinced whether this phone needs an S Pen. The Note was a niche device, appreciated by those who wanted a stylus. The S22 Ultra is meant to be Samsung’s true flagship phone for the consumer who wants the best screen and best camera – I just don’t think most of those want an S Pen too.

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On a more positive note, Samsung seems to be focussing a lot on making the whole S22 range a little more eco-conscious. It has shrunk down the size of the boxes even more than last year, removed all plastic from them and committed to using recycled fishing nets in certain parts of the device.

Camera

Big focus on AI in all areas of the cameraFour cameras on the backExpert RAW app for granular control

The camera setup is certainly the star of the Galaxy S22 Ultra and Samsung clearly wants to rival the iPhone 13 Pro, Google Pixel 6 Pro and others for the title of the best camera phone.

While it’s far from always about the actual tech on offer, Samsung is certainly king when it comes to packing in megapixels and other high-end camera equipment into its phones. For instance, the S22 Ultra uses a completely new 108-megapixel sensor on the back with an f/1.8 lens, Dual Pixel focussing and OIS.

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Next to this, there’s a 12MP ultra wide (f/2.2, 120-degree field of view) and a duo of 10-megapixel telephoto cameras. One of these packs 3x optical zoom, while the other ups it to 10x. If that’s not enough zoom, the Space Zoom feature returns, allowing up to 100x Digital Zoom with the help of some AI Super Resolution Tech. Around the front there’s a 40-megapixel selfie camera.

The theme of AI runs through a lot of what Samsung is doing with the camera here. It uses that artificial intelligence in night photography, for steadying the camera when you’re shooting video, automatically switching the frame rate and altering the strength of the bokeh blur in portrait mode. 

Auto frame snaps is another AI focussed feature. It’s designed to shift the focus and zoom to fit more (or less) faces into your shots depending on the environment the camera’s in. This feels like a good way to make sure people utilise all the available cameras, without making them manually pick between them.

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Night photography is a big focus within the camera. Samsung says the pixels inside the 108-megapixel sensor are 1.23x larger than those in the S21 Ultra, allowing more light into the sensor. Again the use of AI makes itself known, upping detail and reducing noise.

Samsung is also bringing more focus to its previously-announced Expert RAW app. Similar to the Pro app on Sony’s Xperia I flagship, this is a separate camera app that gives you far more granular control and the ability to shoot in the RAW format. I’m not quite sure why this stuff, including control over white balance and ISO, can’t be built smartly into the main camera app – but maybe Samsung wants to keep that as simple as possible.

Performance and Battery Life

Choice of chipset depends on region5000mAh battery, no charger includedUp to 12GB RAM and 1TB storage

The chipset that’ll sit at the heart of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will vary depending on the region. US buyers, for instance, will get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip from Qualcomm whereas those in the UK will get the Exynos 2200 variant.

I am not going to judge a phone’s performance after just a few hours with it, that’ll have to wait for the full review, but considering these are two of the fastest chips around for Android devices the results should be promising. It still remains something of a mystery whether the Exynos version will take advantage of some of its skills, like ray tracing or whether Samsung will want to keep parity between Qualcomm and Exynos devices. The firm declined my requests for comment on these points during the hands-on event I attended.

RAM options range from 8GB to 12GB, while storage ranges from 128GB to 1TB. That base RAM level is a little lower than the S21 Ultra, but Samsung says this is negated by improved virtual RAM options.

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As you’d expect, there’s 5G support, Wi-FI 6E for those with a supported router and UWB for devices that work with ultra wide band. Samsung is great at using the latest tech and standards and that’s very much at play here.

While I mentioned concerns about battery capacity in my hands on with the Galaxy S22, I don’t have the same qualms here. Inside the S22 Ultra there’s a 5000mAh cell, which will hopefully, when paired with the efficient screen and 4nm chipset, produce good endurance. Whether it’ll last as long as the iPhone 13 Pro Max though, remains to be seen.

There’s no charger supplied, though Samsung has said the Galaxy S22 Ultra will fast charge with both 25w and 45w plugs. If you’re using a 45w charger, Samsung says you should get 50% of a charge in 20 minutes.

15w Qi wireless is supported too, as is Wireless Powershare for charging up other devices like watches and earbuds wirelessly.

First Impressions

If you’ve been lamenting Samsung’s decision to kill the Note series then the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is well and truly its spiritual successor. From the rounded design to the internal S Pen, this is a Note phone in all but name,

It’s a truly specced-up powerhouse of a phone. The camera has some tempting tech that I hope isn’t influenced too much by the AI while the screen is a joy to behold.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Specs

UK RRP

USA RRP

EU RRP

Manufacturer

Screen Size

Storage Capacity

Rear Camera

Front Camera

Video Recording

IP rating

Battery

Wirless charging

Fast Charging

Size (Dimensions)

Weight

Operating System

Release Date

Refresh Rate

Ports

Chipset

RAM

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

£1149

$1199.99

€1259

Samsung

6.8 inches

128GB

108-megapixels

40-megapixels

Yes

IP68

5000 mAh

Yes

Yes

77.9 x 8.9 x 163.3 INCHES

229 G

Android 12, OneUI 4.1

2022

120 Hz

USB-C

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200

8GB

A ‘hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Jargon buster

mAh
An abbreviation for milliampere-hour and a way to express the capacity of batteries, especially smaller ones in phones. In most cases the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last but this isn’t always the case.

5G
Offering faster download and upload speeds when compared to 4G. Great for game streaming and HDR video playback. Not supported everywhere yet and speeds vary wildly.

Qi Wireless Charging
 
The most common format for wireless charging and the one supported by the majority of devices. Charge speeds vary a lot by the phone. 



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