"If only the Note-series lived on." But Samsung did one better. It eliminated the confusion of whether to go for the S-series flagship or the Note-series in the latter part of the year. Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ultimate fusion of the S-series and Note-series, full-filling the secret desires of many.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is truly the best of the lot. The S22 and S22 Plus are devices targeted at specific users, but the S22 Ultra has its own niche carved out. Its dominance is evident and no other phone, Samsung's S22-lineup included, dare step into its bounds.
Before we get down to business, here's a quick intro. For a premium phone, Samsung has a premium price tag. It starts at Rs 1,09,999 for 256GB storage model and goes higher from there. The 512GB and 1TB models are priced at Rs 1,18,999 and Rs 1,34,999. It comes in Burgundy, Phantom White and Phantom Black hues. Three solid colours, with a distinct outlook, should make the decision process simpler. Ours is a black unit.
As for the specs, Samsung has made no compromises, nearly justifying the price-to-performance ratio. All models have 12GB RAM as standard and powered by the 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset, which is pretty much the industry standard for flagships in India right now. The unique orientation of the cameras will quickly grab your attention, but there's more to it than the design. The rear camera comprises of 12MP ultra-wide, 108MP wide, 10MP telephoto (3x optical zoom) and 10MP telephoto (10x optical zoom) sensors. On the front is a 40MP selfie snapper with advanced super clear glass lens and video auto framing tools. There's a 6.8-inch immersive Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, a 5,000mAh battery housing Android 12 and one UI 4.0 and, wait for it, the S-Pen.
These features only scratch the surface. Let's dive deeper into the core of the S22 Ultra.
Samsung's experimentation with the S22 Ultra's design is both ingenious and devious. On one hand, Samsung has borrowed some elements from the older flagships (not that we are complaining) and some are right out of the box, which is bold and brave of Samsung. Let's take the rear camera module for instance. At first glance, this new orientation looks odd. However, it grows on you over time. We've gotten quite used to the traditional design where camera sensors sit inside a secure module, Samsung's shift from it is a brave move. Samsung wants to give the impression that these sensors are floating (insert floating in Galaxy reference here, get it?).
One good thing that came out of this design shift is that the seesaw action of the phone when sitting on the table is gone. Samsung has carefully crafted the details surrounding the sensors. It had to, as the focus is now on the camera sensors more than before. The mirrored lens rings add to the beauty in a subtle way. But the overall camera module aesthetics is not bad at all.
Now, Samsung has stayed with the glass and aluminium construction. Why change it if it works. It's a solid choice, durable and looks classy, too. Now, the rear panel has a smooth matte finish, which is complemented by the glossy chassis. The sides are rounded, but the top and bottom are flat (very Note-y). This design is more practical, as it offers a better grip once you get used to the phone's weight and dimensions.
There's no change in the way the Galaxy S22 Ultra's buttons are placed in comparison to the Note 20 Ultra. Everything down to the S-Pen's silo is on point. And the IP68 rating for both the phone and the stylus is just a boon you won't realise.
The general perception is that the Galaxy S22 Ultra is quite ultra in size, as it is in kind. But the sensible weight distribution should lift off some worries for long-term users.
It's hard to pinpoint the last time Samsung's flagships had a bad or even an average display. Samsung is maintaining a streak with its gorgeous displays and it no way ends with the S22 Ultra. Allow us to explain. The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X LTPO display has a 3080x1440 pixel resolution with variable 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate. That's not even the best part. The screen is capable of rendering ridiculously high 1750 nits of brightness. At this rate, glare or reflection should be of no concern.
Leaving the science aside, the display of the S22 Ultra is truly beautiful. From watching high-res multimedia to browsing the internet or playing graphics-intensive games, the display will bring pictures to life.
The display has a tiny punch hole at the top centre for the camera. Although we wish it to be in the corner, the centre alignment helps better with the selfies and video calls, so we've learned after using the phone. Finally, there's also an under-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, which is accurate with a high success rate and incredibly fast.
All in all, kudos to Samsung for delivering consistently great displays in its flagship.
Like the camera sensor layout or not, the camera results are what truly matter. Samsung's pick of sensors for its S22 Ultra is undeniably good. It's identical to the S21 Ultra, but with some notable improvements. First-time users will instantly fall in love with the camera performance of the S22 Ultra, whereas there's nothing to be wowed by if you're coming from the S21 Ultra, which was in itself a great camera phone. Notably, there are improvements in low-light photos and videos.
Let's take a closer look. The main camera is clearly the star of the show. It captures stellar details, rich colours, great dynamic range and well-balanced contrast. If you're shooting in summer, under bright sunlight, the results will impress you to the fullest. But the sensor does a commendable job in low-light settings as well.
Switch to ultra-wide, you get dramatic shots with a good amount of details, even comparable to the main sensor results at a glance. That is if you're shooting in broad daylight. There's minimal edge distortion and the colours, dynamic range, exposure is quite balanced. The wide-angle shots in low-light are much better with night mode turned on. You just need to keep your phone steady while it captures the shot.
Then we move to 3x zoom and the results are spectacular. The telephoto lens is so good in certain conditions that you'll be tricked into thinking it was shot at 1x. The details, contrast and colours captured with 3x zoom are respectable. But the magic doesn't end there. There's 10X zoom, which is optical and you'll be equally impressed by the results. A great amount of details are captured on 10x in well-lit scenes. There's night mode too if you're shooting in the dark with 10X. We tested 30X and it tends to lose details and there's a minor shift in colour reproduction, which is leaning towards a warmer tone. You can as far as 100X zoom on the S22 Ultra, but as you progress, expect a dip in details and clarity. It works for moons and billboards better than for human faces and objects.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, naturally, captures good portraits, sometimes great. But it is important to frame the subject in the suggested distance for the bokeh effect to take place. Too close? The edges won't be accurate and get blended in the background. Similarly, if the background is too similar to the subject, we noticed slight distortion in the subject in the foreground's edges. This was in indoor lighting. We did not have a similar problem with well-lit scenes.
Photography enthusiasts will have a lot to explore with different modes available such as the portrait video works with good accuracy under ideal lighting; Pro mode works to your advantage, the slow-mo and hyper-lapse will help you attain new perspectives and the Director's View is ideal to get those house functions on a reel.
The front camera has a 40MP sensor, which captures good details but the skin tones are still entirely natural. However, the selfies are most appealing on the S22 Ultra, ideal for sharing them on social media without having to push through a bunch of edits.
Overall, the S22 Ultra's camera is as good as it gets. It can easily be termed the best camera phone in the Android spectrum. The Night Mode on the S22 Ultra is better than any phone we've tested, producing usable results even in the most challenging scenes.
Shot on S22 Ultra:
Performance and software
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, which is a flagship chipset by Qualcomm based on 4nm architecture. With 12GB RAM as standard in all models, you get even performance. In real-world usage, the S22 Ultra feels blazing fast. Apps, no matter how big, launch in a snap and close just as fast. The animations are smooth, which is also a credit to the 120Hz display. If gaming is your prime area of focus, the S22 Ultra is the ultimate smartphone to heed to your commands. Be it Call of Duty: Mobile or Asphalt, the realistic graphics with WQHD+ display setting, smooth frames, and lag-free networking make the games come to life. The phone does get warmer during extended gaming sessions, but nothing to the point that you cannot handle it on most days. Since the phone is IP68-rated, a quick rinse in tap water would cool down the phone if it got unbearably hot. It's a boon.
The software on the S22 Ultra is OneUI 4.1. From detesting OneUI at one point to loving Samsung's proprietary skin, it has been one hell of a ride. In fact, the software experience on the OneUI 4.1 has been so much refined and user-friendly, it easily makes it to the top of the list of custom ROMs. The level of customisation OneUI 4.1 offers is by far the best, and most practical.
The S22 Ultra's Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is great in efficiency and accuracy. We never had failed authentication errors and it's as snappy as it gets. The stereo speakers with Dolby Atoms support are the same as the S21 Ultra, which is best suited for streaming content and watching videos impromptu.
If there's one reason the S22 Ultra should be considered without a speck of doubt, it is the S-Pen, which was once the signature of the Note-series. Reviving the S-Pen is one of the best decisions and adding it to the S22 Ultra, its most premium flagship, is indeed the best one. But Samsung didn't just make a compartment and put the S-Pen there. It has made some improvements, which we realise as we get to use it.
Taking the S-Pen out of the docket automatically launches quick notes and we could just write notes, pen thoughts or just doodle away. The sensitivity and accuracy with which the S-Pen worked, it was as if writing on a real book with a real fountain pen.
Samsung has put in place some interesting features linked to the S-Pen. Such as you will be alerted if you're walking away from it so you don't lose it. It charges while being docked, so it's always ready to use. The button on the S-Pen works well as a camera shutter, a fun feature to show off in gatherings, and works as an eraser too. It also supports air gestures, but you will need to get used to them to use it accurately.
All in all, we are just glad the S-Pen is back and it's better than ever.
With great power and spectacular display, you'd naturally be looking at those tiny bars more often than not. To put minds at ease, Samsung has a 5,000mAh battery inside the S22 Ultra. But in reality, it all depends on your usage. If you're participating in a gaming marathon or planning to catch up on the full seasons of the newly-discovered series, you better be prepared to plug the phone in. But if it is going to be a busy day at work, using the phone for productive use, web browsing, communications, camera shots here and there, bit of music and videos, then you can get a full day's worth of use out of the phone.
On average, the S22 Ultra lasted a whole day with about six hours of screen-on-time. That's with the high screen resolution and adaptive refresh rate. We would love if the battery life was better, but that's been the case with almost all flagships. While using the camera, for videos specifically, the battery would drain faster in the case of the S22 Ultra.
Samsung, however, could've really improved on the charging speeds. The phone supports 45W fast charging. We are living in a time where phones are being fully charged in 30 minutes and less. Samsung's S22 Ultra takes close to an hour. With 30 minutes of charge, the battery bars barely touch the 70% mark. That is with a 45W charger, which you don't get inside the box. In fact, you don't get any. So we did the charging test with a 20W adaptor and found the phone to be charging more or less at a similar pace. It would take a few more extra minutes, but if you already have a 20W adaptor at home, make do with it would be our suggestion.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is definitely the show-stopper, but Samsung hasn't put all the eggs in one basket (we mean the other S22 phones are there, too). For those who can afford it, the S22 Ultra surely makes a bang for the buck. Great display, lovely cameras with impressive night photography, no-compromise flagship and the S-Pen is a bonus you won't get with any other flagship. The battery is a touchy subject, if only Samsung had at least offered faster charging support. The decision to ditch the adaptor is kind of the industry practice now, so Samsung won't be losing points for this. The phone is a tad bigger, but it's "Ultra" for a reason and all that extra screen real estate is fully justified.
- Display is the best there is
- S-Pen is the real deal
- Great Camera, especially the Night Mode
- Eye-pleasing selfies
- No-compromise performance
- Much-refined software
- Good design, with better weight distribution
- Best Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner
- Battery dept needs major overhaul
- Fast charging needs to get faster
- Single-hand-use a challenge
- Heats on extended gaming or camera sessions