As a smartphone enthusiasts myself, the past six months had been an amazing period filled with many exciting flagship launches from nearly every single smartphone brands such as Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi to name a few.
While each of these devices had impressed in their own ways, there are a handful of them which really caught our eyes thanks to their standout features that set them apart from the fleet of smartphones in the market. Unsurprisingly, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G is among the few that made it to our list.
Reason being is simple; the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra not only nailed the mobile photography aspect, but also took productivity to an even greater height with the addition of S-Pen support which totally changes the way we work and interact with a smartphone.
After spending nearly a month with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, I can’t deny that the device is indeed in a class of it’s own. However, does the phone really has what it takes to justify it’s S$1,568 asking price? Let’s find out in our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s review!
A Classic Design That Impresses
I was quite a huge fan of the contour-cut design on last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review) which in my opinion, was one of the best-looking S series smartphone at that point of time. This year, Samsung continues to impress with a new minimalist design that looks sleek and elegant – something that’s worthy of the phone’s asking price.
Gone is the huge camera bump on the Galaxy S22 Ultra as the phone opted for a flat (rear) design with the adoption of a new camera layout comprising of four individual lenses along with an autofocus unit and a LED flash. While the lenses themselves are slightly raised, they are certainly less obstructive than having a large rectangular slab sticking out from the top-left corner.
That of course wasn’t the only changes in the design department. Another highlight also includes having a squared-off corner rather than a rounded one like what we saw on last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. Along with the flattened frame on the top and bottom sides, the Galaxy S22 Ultra inevitably reminds us of the company’s discontinued Note series smartphones.
This is probably a good news for majority of Samsung’s fans who’ve been loving the Note 20 Ultra’s minimal design and longing to see it’s return someday. With the Galaxy S22 Ultra, their wish was finally granted. The Galaxy S22 Ultra looks almost like an identical twin to the Note 20 Ultra, but is no doubt a better looking version with all the refinements made to the phone.
The unit which I received for review dons a (Matte) Green paintjob which shines with it’s understated elegance. Naturally, having a Matte finish means that it’s rear panel will be less prone to those unsightly smudges as compared to those with glossy surfaces.
Sporting an overall dimension measuring 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm, the Galaxy S22 Ultra may be a tad smaller than last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra but it’s still among the largest smartphone in the market. However, being a larger than usual smartphone doesn’t necessarily means it will impede your handling experience.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite as I found myself appreciating it’s larger footprint which somehow makes it easier to hold for someone like me with bigger hands since it fits perfectly onto my palm. Also, it’s tall aspect ratio allows me to easily press any part of the screen without having to strain my thumb.
Durability-wise, both the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s front and back panels are reinforced by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus+, while the frame adopts a so-called Armor Aluminum construction which makes it one of the toughest flagship phone in the market.
The Brightest Smartphone Display Yet
Flipping the phone over, we’ll be greeted by a spacious 6.8” display which provides ample of screen estate for both work and play. Just like last year’s model, the phone retains an Infinity-O display which offers an impressive screen-to-body ratio with minimal amount of bezel along it’s edges.
Speaking about the display itself, it’s backed by Samsung’s most advanced Dynamic AMOLED 2x display which features an ultra-sharp QHD+ screen resolution that puts even the smallest detail on the screen. This is further enhanced by it’s wide DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and deep contrast ratio which allow media contents to be rendered more realistically on the screen.
Having an excellent display specs like this not only delivers a more enjoyable viewing experience when streaming your favorite Netflix drama, but is also important from a photography point of view as it allows users to see exactly what the cameras ”see” on the viewfinder in order to adjust camera settings more accurately.
Along with a fast 120Hz refresh rate, the Galaxy S22 Ultra also shapes up to be an incredible mobile gaming companion which never fails to provide an immersive gaming experience with buttery-smooth gameplay especially on titles that support high frame rate such as Brawl Stars and Call of Duty (Mobile) to name a few.
Whether in an indoor or outdoor environment, the display has no issue adjusting the screen brightness to a conducive level under the auto brightness mode. Speaking of brightness level, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the brightest smartphone display at the moment, boasting a commendable peak brightness of up to 1,750 nits that’s able to keep the screen visible even when I was using the phone directly under the sun.
Needless to say, the addition of S-Pen support makes it even better to work on the Galaxy S22 Ultra as it allows me to scribble drop down notes easily during a meeting – just like what I did on my tablet. Also, digital artists will greatly appreciate it’s 2.8ms low-latency and 4,096 pressure sensitivity that offer a more natural drawing experience akin to an actual pen.
But besides writing and drawing, you can also use the S-Pen to perform various camera-related functionalities such as snapping photos or switching between the front and rear cameras. Otherwise, it can also be used to play and pause media contents with a single click. That’s how intuitive it is!
All The Power You Need Under The Hood
Sitting at the heart of the phone is none other than the latest Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset which powers majority of the flagship phones that were launched during the first-halve of the year such as the OPPO Find X5 Pro (Review) and Xiaomi 12 Pro (Review) to name a few.
In day-to-day usage, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 platform certainly has the calibre to provide the best user experience you could ever get on a smartphone. In fact, it’s pretty much an overkill for those who uses the phone only for texting, social media consumption and video streaming.
However, it’s actual power will be wielded when working on more resource-intensive tasks such as video editing or playing fast-paced action games that demand tremendous amount of processing power from both the CPU and GPU cores. That’s not forgetting all the advanced AI photography features which were made possible by the chipset.
Needless to say, having an ultra-fast processor alone wouldn’t be enough for those who tend to spend long hours on mobile gaming or photography since the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset is known to heat up after sometime, especially when running under peak performance.
To tackle that, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is backed by an upgraded cooling system which not only include a new thermal design, but also better components such as the new Gel-TIM thermal paste which was claimed to be able to transfer heat 3.5x more efficiently.
In real life, this remarkable setup seemed to work well considering that I hardly encountered any (notable) heating issue over the past one month whether I was using the phone for mobile gaming or video editing work. The only instance when the phone did get slightly warmer was during an outdoor photography trip on a sunny afternoon.
Depending on your usage pattern, you can settle with 8GB/ 12GB RAM along with 128GB/ 256GB/ 512GB worth of storage. For an average user, the 8GB+256GB model is more than good enough for a seamless smartphone experience, while power users would gladly take the top-of-the-line model with 12GB RAM and 512GB storage for all their productivity needs.
One Of The Best Smartphone Cameras Around
Last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra has one of the best smartphone cameras in 2021 and the company had been working doubling hard to ensure this year’s Galaxy S22 Ultra remains at the top position.
The success formula lies in it’s versatile quad-camera system lead by a 108 megapixels ISOCELL HM3 main camera which features a large 1/1.33″ sensor size and a bright f/1.8 aperture for improved low-light performance.
While this is the same imaging sensor as the one used in last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung had upped the ante with improvements in AI and computational photography which further enhance image quality in both daylight and low-light environment.
It’s therefore not surprising that the Galaxy S22 Ultra is able to produce some of the most stunning photos which in certain instances are able to get really close, or perhaps better than than those taken by more expensive DSLR cameras.
What’s more impressive is that the camera is able capture sharp-looking photos with excellent dynamic range even without having to faff around with those complicated camera settings like what we would normally does on DSLR cameras.
This is made possible by the advanced AI scene recognition feature which (automatically) tunes the overall color profile and exposure of the photos according to the scene it detects. Most importantly, the camera is able make the most out of it’s high-res imaging sensor by preserving intricate details within a scene which remain sharp even when the photos were blown up to fill my 32” desktop display.
To help with low-light photography, the camera is able to bank on a reliable night mode feature which does a fantastic job in brightening up darker regions, allowing the camera to capture more details in areas that are otherwise non-visible to the naked eyes.
Now, let’s talk about the ultra-wide camera on the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G. This is a 12 megapixels (f/2.2, 13mm) sensor with a relatively large 1/2.55″ sensor size. One thing that stood out here lies in the 120-degree FoV (field-of-view) offered by camera which is comparatively wider than most other flagship phones such as the OPPO Find X5 Pro (Review) and Xiaomi 12 Pro (Review).
In general, shots taken by the ultra-wide camera are more or less comparable to the main camera, except under low-light condition where the latter obviously has an additional edge thanks to a larger sensor size as well as a 9-in-1 pixel binning process that improve light gathering and processing on the camera.
Rounding out it’s rear camera package will be a pair of 10 megapixels telephoto cameras which offers 3x and 10x optical zoom respectively, and up to 100x digital zoom when working in tandem. This might sounds gimmicky at the start, but it’s certainly not.
The zoom lenses are capable of capturing photos with well controlled image noise at 3x and 10x magnification, resulting in social media-worth photos that look sharp and clear. Beyond that, image artefacts may start to become more noticeable, but the photos nonetheless still look pretty decent even at 30x magnification.
Battery & Charging
Under the hood, the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G is backed by a respectable 5,000mAh battery which holds up well in day-to-day usage, offering slightly more than a day’s battery life on a typical day of web browsing, text messaging, social media consumption as well as an hour of gaming. It doesn’t have the most enduring battery life in the segment, but is good enough for someone like me who’s already used to charging a phone overnight.
One thing to note is that the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G will be shipped without a bundled charging brick just like Apple’s latest iPhone 13 (Review) series smartphones. However, good news is that you can simply use back any available USB-C charger from your previous smartphones as long they’re still working.
Speaking about it’s charging speed, the phone does supports up to 45W wired charging which can fill a completely flat battery to it’s brim in merely an hour using a compatible charger. Otherwise, the phone also carries support for 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse charging as well.
For those who’re willing to fork out at least $1.600 for a smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G is definitely one of the best smartphone you can get from the market. Whether you’re an avid gamer, a power user or a professional photographer, the Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G has all the bells and whistles to make it your perfect companion for the next two to three years.
Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G starts from $1,568 for the base model with 8GB+128GB configuration and goes up to $$1,848 for the top-of-the-line model featuring 12GB RAM and 512GB storage. Just in case those options doesn’t suit you, there’s also a middle child variant with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage which will set you back by $1,708.
The phone will be available through local telecommunication operators (M1, Singtel and StarHub), major consumer electronics & IT stores, selected authorised mobile retailers, Samsung Online Store, Samsung Experience Stores, and Samsung Official Store in Lazada, Shopee and Amazon.sg.