Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: This flagship phone borrows from the Galaxy Note lineup
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The Verdict
If you mourned the death of the Galaxy Note range, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will certainly fill the hole in your heart. This flagship phone resurrects our favourite features from the Galaxy Note lineup – the expansive display with dual-curved edges and S Pen stylus to annotate webpages, sign PDFs, and make handwritten notes – in a new package powered by the latest system-on-a-chip. If you need your smartphone to boost your productivity on the move, look no further than Galaxy S22 Ultra.
What We Loved
- Everything We Loved About The Galaxy Note Is Back!
- New And Improved S Pen Stylus
- Years Of Android Feature And Security Updates
- Gorgeous Display
- Impressive Quad Camera
What We Didn’t Love
- Boxy Design Isn’t The Prettiest
- Expense Compared To The Rest Of The Galaxy S22 Lineup
The next-generation S Pen stylus is a clear differentiator between the costlier Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy S22+ and Galaxy S22. That’s something that was missing with the previous entries in the “Ultra” lineup. As such, photography buffs were the only ones who could really justify the extra cost.
But that is definitely not the case this year.
The S Pen unlocks a truckload of new functionality – from handwritten notes to artwork – and the quad-camera system is the most advanced we’ve ever come across on a Samsung phone. And there’s also that stunning AMOLED display, superfast 5G mobile downloads, improved speakers, and more.
Galaxy S22 Ultra arrived with an eye-watering price tag at launch. However, now that we’re a few months from the glitzy launch event, pay monthly and SIM-free prices have started to drop and you can now secure the Android flagship handset at a much better price.
Make no mistake – Galaxy S22 Ultra won’t suit everyone. But if you’re looking for the ultimate Samsung smartphone or want to boost productivity on the move, there’s no better option for Android fans. And it could tempt Apple fans to make the switch, since those who want the same experience with iOS will need to pocket an iPad and an iPhone.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Samsung revealed the Galaxy S22 Ultra back in February 2022, with the handset going on sale a few weeks later. Not only is the Galaxy S22 Ultra more powerful than anything that Samsung has launched before, but it sees the return of a popular accessory. Yes, the rumours running up to the launch were all correct and the S Pen stylus is back!
This is the first time this feature-packed stylus has been seen on an S series phone and offers a huge incentive to make the switch to this handset. Express.co.uk has been adding our signature to PDFs, scrawling notes onto screenshots, writing notes, and doodling during meetings with the Galaxy S22 Ultra for a while. Here is our in-depth review of this flagship Android handset…
Return Of The S Pen
If you’re a massive Galaxy Note fan and have been missing the S Pen stylus, there’s good news. It’s back! Yes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra now comes fitted with this accessory inside its aluminium shell and it’s definitely the best S Pen that Samsung has ever made.
This tool has now been refined to make it far more accurate and fluid when scribbling on the screen. In fact, with a 70 percent lower latency it feels far more like writing with a real pen on physical paper.
Alongside the latency in the S Pen improving, Samsung’s Note app has also gotten much better at reading your scribbles, which means it can decipher most handwriting and turn it into editable text. This means you can copy-and-paste your handwritten notes into emails, text messages, or into Google Docs within seconds – very handy!
The Galaxy S22 Ultra even plays the subtle sound of ink being laid on paper as you doddle on the display. It’s a nice little touch although it’s a gimmick that you’ll probably end up switching off.
Of course, once you’re done with the Pen you simply pop it back inside to keep things safe and make sure it doesn’t get lost. This is also how it charges, so there’s no risk of it being dislodged when you pop the phone into your pocket.
This is the best S Pen Samsung has made and anyone who loved the Galaxy Note series – which has been absent from the South Korean firm’s lineup for two years now – will seriously love this reboot.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The S Pen is back
The S22 Ultra looks very different from the standard S22 and we’re not sure that’s an entirely good thing. Whilst the S22 and S22+ get a curvy design with a flat screen, the pricier Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with sharper corners but a display that bends slightly around the sides.
We’ve never been fans of curved screens as they don’t always offer a great experience when trying to read text on websites, emails, and more.
The minute we saw the standard Galaxy S22, we loved its new styling but the same can’t be said for the Galaxy S22 Ultra as it seems a little old-fashioned. In fact, it looks almost identical to the last Note 20 phone that launched over 18 months ago.
Another part of the design that’s left us a little cold is the camera setup.
While the Galaxy S22 and S22+ blend the lens bump (an unfortunate design necessity for all manufacturers given the level of photography that customers demand from these svelte gadgets) seamlessly into the case. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s rear snappers appear to have been stuck on as a bit of an afterthought. This also makes them a dust magnet, with pocket lint getting lodged around the half dozen lenses.
One final thing to remember before taking delivery of the Ultra is its size as this thing measures in at a whopping 6.4-inches tall. That not only makes it pretty hard to use one-handed but also tough to squeeze in your pockets.
Although there are a few things we dislike about design one thing we do admire is the new matt finish on the back. We took delivery of the Phantom black model which looks super stylish and doesn’t show up any mucky fingerprints.
Photos, Photos, Photos
Samsung is making big claims about its new camera and from the snaps we’ve shot on this device it has every right to be brag. The Ultra comes packed with a quad-rear system which includes a main wide camera with a massive 108-megapixel sensor.
This upgrade makes the Ultra much better at shooting images in all conditions and low-light photography is where you’ll see some of the biggest gains.
Even in almost total darkness, the S22 Ultra has the capability to take impressively clear shots without the need for a flash.
This new mode is so good it actually looks like night has turned to day which is pretty magically although you can end up losing some of the atmosphere that night photography usually brings.
Alongside that main sensor there are ultra-wide and telephoto lenses which make this phone highly adaptable.
The 10X optical zoom is also impressive although start trying to use the 100X digital offering and subjects can get tricky to keep in focus. It’s a nice idea but in reality, all you end up with are pretty grainy shots.
That 100X zoom might be a gimmick but Samsung’s claim that its portrait mode is now improved, thanks to clever AI, certainly isn’t. This popular focus mode is vastly improved with bokeh-style photos looking like they’ve shot on a high-end DSLR.
Other features worth a mention include the ability to shoot in full RAW mode for improved editing and there are all the usual options including Super Slo-Mo, Hyperlaspse and Panorama.
If we had one small niggle with the photo mode it’s the slight shutter lag which often feels one step behind what you’re trying to shoot.
Those who prefer making videos will find improve image stabilisation which means less camera shake and Auto Tracking which makes sure the subject always stays perfectly in focus. This mode works really well and adds a Hollywood feel to your home movies.
The S22 Ultra can also film in full 8K which is nice to have but we’d recommend using it sparingly if you don’t want the device to munch through all of its internal storage.
All-in-all, the S22 Ultra’s camera is excellent and will suit both those who want to simply point and shoot and others who want a more pro experience.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample
Performance and Speed
Sadly, those in the UK who buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra won’t be treated to the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset from Qualcomm. Just like in previous years, Samsung is using its own Exynos brains instead which is a shame but not a deal-breaker.
If you’re worried by that news don’t be – this is still the first Galaxy phone to feature a 4nm system-on-a-chip and that results in a faster CPU and GPU compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Having used the S22 Ultra for over a week we’ve been left very impressed and there really isn’t anything this device can’t handle.
Whizzing around the web, answering emails and playing games all feel silky smooth and there isn’t even a stutter when multitasking on the device.
If you really want the ultimate experience it’s worth remembering that you buy this device with 12GB of RAM and a whopping 1TB of storage if you think you’ll really need it.
Getting the right storage option for your needs is important as it can’t be expanded via a MicroSD Card – as a guide, the S22 Ultra comes with either 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB.
There are some other things to note about the Ultra as it also comes packed with 5G network technology for fast access to the web when away from fixed-line broadband and it’s fully compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6 data speeds.
All-in-all the S22 Ultra impresses when it comes to power although some early Geekbench scores have revealed that it can’t quite match the iPhone 13 Pro when it comes raw speed. Expect plenty of YouTube videos going live in the coming weeks placing Apple and Samsung head-to-head.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The camera bumps do look a little odd
Tucked under the hood of the S22 Ultra is a whopping 5,000mAh battery which is the biggest power pack in the range. This is clearly a large device that will need plenty of juice, but we’ve had no issues ploughing through a whole day without running low on power. In fact, this device will easily a couple of days if you are careful.
aOne thing to note is that, just like last year, there’s no power brick in the box so if you want to take advantage of the fast 45W charging feature you’ll need to head to the Samsung store to buy a £44 plug.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: This phone gets a 6.8-inch screen
The Galaxy S22 Ultra arrives with a huge 6.8-inch curved QHD+ AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refreshed rate for super speedy scrolling. When playing games, the touch sampling rate can also be boosted to 240Hz, which should make a gun-blasting session on Fortnite feel more fluid. And might even give you a tactical advantage over players on other devices, like the latest iPhone or Google Pixel.
Samsung is renowned for its stunning screens and the Ultra continues that tradition with everything looking pin-sharp and packed full of vibrant colours. As we mentioned earlier, the S Pen works like a dream on this display and you can even make quick notes without having to unlock things first.
The embedded ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is also really good and unlocks the screen the moment you place your thumb in the correct position. This is a very big phone that won’t suit small pockets but if you really want a device with a massive screen then you’re not going to find much better.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Price And Availability
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a premium flagship with a very premium price tag. This device will set you back at least £1,149 and things can push towards the £1,500 barrier if you start adding more RAM and that huge 1TB of storage.
Samsung is still offering some good trade-in deals until February 25 which slashed the price by up to £570 for anyone who has an older device in their pockets and anyone pre-ordering does get Disney+ for a year and a free pair of Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds.
All of the UK networks also have the Ultra available with some, such as Vodafone, offering three-year deals which lowers the monthly price.
Three Mobile is also slashing things by 50 percent for the first six months which means you’ll only pay £38 during the initial part of the contract.