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Galaxy S22 Ultra reviewed in 2023: Is it worth buying close to the S23 launch?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra NextPit 3
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The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is an important smartphone because it announced a big change in Samsung's product strategy. But that also makes it a transitional, middle-of-the-road smartphone that stands on solid ground but innovates very little. One year later, is it still worth buying? NextPit has grabbed the phone again and reveals in the review update whether you should still consider buying it!

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Good

  • Excellent 120Hz QHD+ display
  • Very elegant sleek and square design
  • More consistent S Pen integration
  • Still the champion when it comes to versatile photos
  • Unrivalled Android update policy

Bad

  • Disappointing Exynos 2200 performance
  • Poor battery life
  • Fast recharge is not fast enough and the $60 charger is not included
  • Expensive price
  • Basic 8 GB RAM/128 GB storage configuration is too limited
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: All deals

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in a nutshell

    With top performance, one of the most powerful camera arrays in the smartphone world, and a long update warranty, there is little to be said against buying the S22 Ultra in 2023. Particularly interesting is the price drop, which has reduced the costs of discount campaigns from over 1,200 dollars to just over 900 USD if you are lucky. At this price, the flagship Samsung phone becomes a real bargain.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with an S Pen
    The Galaxy S22 Ultra and its integrated S Pen. / © NextPit

    Provided you want to carry around a mobile phone with a huge 6.8-inch display in your pocket—and don't mind that the successor will be released in February 2023. The S23 Ultra is expected to be an innovative upgrade again with a small increase in performance, improved cameras, and slight changes in design. If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to wait with the purchase of the S22 Ultra until Samsung unveils its new smartphone generation.

    Design: A page from the Galaxy Note's book

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra uses the same design language of the Galaxy Note range - sporting straight corners and a curved screen. It also does away with the camera island with the lenses built right into the shell at the back.


    What I liked:

    • The monolithic look.
    • Robust due to IP68 certification and Gorilla Glass Victus+.
    • A slot for the S Pen.

    What I disliked:

    • Volume and power buttons are placed too high.
    • Lack of one-handed ergonomics.
    • No microSD port.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with S Pen
    It doesn't look like it with my big palms, but the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is huge! / © NextPit

    If Din Djarin the Mandalorian were to have a smartphone, it might look like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The one-piece design, without any raised camera module and the angular side reminds me of a Beskar ingot. I know, it's strange. Anyway, the design of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is rather successful in my opinion, even if it feels like Samsung recycled an old design from an aborted Galaxy Note.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Closeup
    The design at the back of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is really sleek without an island holding the camera module. / © NextPit

    The straight corners of the smartphone and the matte coating on the back allow a good grip. We finally have a slot for the S Pen as well, which should have already been the case last year on the Galaxy S21 Ultra - let's be honest about that. Its placement in the lower left corner is not the most ergonomic for right-handed people, but it's 100 times better than having to carry it separately or in a special case. And the little click that tucks it away carefully or remove it is quite nice in terms of feel.

    The S Pen slightly out of the Galaxy S22 Ultra housing
    The little "click" of the S Pen when you put it away and take it out of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is quite pleasant. / © NextPit

    I find that the power and volume buttons are placed a wee bit high. Besides, if you don't like big smartphones, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is your kryptonite (163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm and 228 g). There is no microSD slot for storage expansion though, and neither is there any 3.5mm audio jack.

    Galaxy S22 Ultra's flat bottom face
    There is no microSD or 3.5 mm jack, but at least the Galaxy S22 Ultra stands on its own when placed on its edge. That's something, right? No? / © NextPit

    Screen: WQHD+, 120 Hz and 1,000+ nits. What else could you want?

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a 6.8-inch LTPO 2.0 AMOLED display with WQHD+ resolution and a variable refresh rate of 1 to 120 Hz. As always, Samsung saves its best displays for its own smartphones.


    What I liked:

    • Very rich colorimetry in vivid mode.
    • Variable 120 Hz refresh rate.
    • Maximum brightness of more than 1,000 nits.

    What I disliked:

    • Curved edges are not universally appealing.

    NextPit's Antoine holding the Galaxy S22 Ultra
    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra screen is almost flawless. / © NextPit

    Good news! The screen of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is flawless to the naked eye. I also noticed something that reviewers and early adopters talked about: display errors do happen, especially when it comes to full-screen content. Personally, I did not encounter such issues, but you should be aware that they do exist - at least when the smartphone was first released.

    But the size/definition/refresh rate combo is ideal for me and my usage pattern. I didn't really feel any noticeable impact from the adaptive refresh rate that can go down to 1 Hz thanks to LTPO 2.0 technology. The sample rate can be pushed to 240 Hz which is pretty average for an Android flagship in 2022.

    The Gaalxy S22 Ultra selfie camera notch
    The traditional punch hole at the top of the Galaxy S22 Ultra's screen. / © NextPit

    I found the colorimetry to be very rich and especially well-calibrated in QHD+ as well as the brightness that is simply impressive. I don't have any measurements to share with you, but I'm pretty sure we're easily way above 1,000 nits here. The screen of the Galaxy S22 Ultra remains, without any surprise, readable under all circumstances.

    On the other hand, the screen has curved edges that won't please everyone and that can hinder the grip. Personally, I've never had a problem with this and I find this choice even beneficial for using the S Pen, especially for note-taking, since the tip doesn't collide with the frame of the smartphone when scribbling.

    The right side of the Galaxy S22 Ultra
    The curved screen is still an integral part of high-end smartphones, despite the dislike of many users. / © NextPit

    Interface: OneUI 4.1 still as complete as ever, the S Pen is still a niche accessory

    If you update the S22 Ultra in January 2023, you will receive the security patch from January 1, 2023. Samsung confirms that the company is focusing on a regular and ongoing update warranty. OneUI 5.0, which is based on Android 13, also proves to be a powerful and pretty Andorid overlay.


    What I liked:

    • Samsung seems to keep update promises (4 Android upgrades, 5 years of security updates).
    • OneUI 5.0 adds handy features to Android 13.

    What I disliked:

    • The S Pen works only for specific cases.

    Testing the S Pen drawing features with the S22 Ultra
    The S Pen is not essential to the user experience of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, but is that a bad thing? I don't think so. / © NextPit

    That Samsung's own Android overlay convinces in everyday life, my colleague Camila Rinaldi has already told you in her One UI 5 review. Compared to other Android versions, there are special features here such as the gestures for the included S Pen, direct integrations of Samsung services such as Dex, the S Cloud, and much more. A real treat is the Samsung Members app, which lets you use services like Spotify or Audible for a while.

    One UI 4 screen captures on the S22 Ultra
    This is OneUI 4.1 with Material You on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. / © NextPit

    Visually, Samsung still tries to find the middle ground between attributes of "classy", "squeaky colorful" and "feature overload" in 2023. There are always charming animations and pretty designs, but Samsung's features are overwhelming in some places. Therefore, there are countless tutorials on the web, including NextPit, on how to get the most out of Samsung smartphones.

    The S22 Ultra packs a couple of other gimmick features with the S Pen
    AR Doodle or Live messages were never used during my Galaxy S22 Ultra review. / © NextPit

    I found the S Pen to be rather handy in certain cases, especially when it comes to taking down handwritten notes. Otherwise, you can totally make do without the stylus. I've never used any of the Air actions, or gestures that are performed in front of the smartphone, for instance. In short, it's a bonus for the user experience if you use it in certain specific situations, but it won't bother you at all the rest of the time if you forget that it is there.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra deal
    Handwritten notes on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra are very intuitive. / © NextPit

    Finally, a word about Samsung's update policy, which has once again been extended. If you buy the S22 Ultra in 2022, you will receive security updates until 2027 and you can even try Android 16 out. It looks like Android-powered Samsungs are finally catching up with what Apple offers on its iPhones, and it's simply unmatched on the Android market.

    Performance: The Exynos 2200 is disappointing

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra packs the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC that is manufactured using the 4 nm process, equipped with a new Adreno GPU and Qualcomm's usual high-end compute blocks.


    What I liked:

    • No overheating issues (thanks to cleverly implemented thermal throttling).
    • Rather stable performance.

    What I disliked:

    • Thermal throttling can be too aggressive.
    • (For Europe only) Exynos 2200 GPU and CPU performance not up to the Global Snapdragon model.

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Exynos version is an inferior product to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra that is powered by the Snapdragon chipset. On selected benchmarks, the Galaxy S22 Ultra even performs worse than Android flagships that run on the Snapdragon 888 SoC from last year. This is simply disappointing.

    Of course, if you are in the Americas, Asia, or Oceania, you can mostly expect the same performance from all the flagship phones using the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.

      Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
    (Euro-spec, Exynos 2200)
    Oppo Find X5 Pro
    (Snapdragon)
    3DMark Wild Life 5682 at 34 FPS 9300 at 55.7 FPS
    3DMark Wild Life Stress Test
    • Best loop: 5741
    • Worst loop: 3351
    • Best loop: 9192
    • Worst loop: 6069
    Geekbench 5
    • Single: 1155
    • Multi: 3356
    • Single: 846
    • Multi: 3324

    So yes, in everyday use, we can run most of the games and the navigation in the user interface is fluid, etc etc. But frankly, it's the minimum for a smartphone sold for $1,199!

    If I were to pay a fortune for a smartphone, I want to be able to run CoD Mobile or Genshin Impact at Ultra High resolution and have these games run at 60 FPS constantly without any overheating issues. This is the least that Samsung should offer. It's time to stop segregating the market and stubbornly selling an inferior product to selected regions.

    Audio: Dolby Atmos stereo sound in the house

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is equipped with two stereo speakers that I find to be less powerful than those of the ROG Phone 5 that I normally use. The sound signature did not particularly impress me, either.

    The bass is not very present but the mediums (voices, mainly) are very clearly transmitted. There is no crackling to take note of, even when the volume is pushed to the limit. Stereophonic playback is also rather wide with a good spatialization. In short, it has a rather correct sound playback and there is not much else to say about it.

     

    Cameras: Always the champion of versatility

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a quadruple camera module at the back with a 108 MP main lens, a 12 MP ultra wide-angle lens and two telephoto lenses dedicated to 3x and 10x zoom of 10 MP each. The selfie camera offers a resolution of 40 MP. Not surprisingly, the photo experience of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is excellent.


    What I liked:

    • The amazing daytime photos with the primary lens
    • The 10x zoom lens is as effective as ever for maximum versatility
    • The consistent colorimetry between the 4 lenses
    • Night mode has improved
    • Portrait photos are amazing

    What I disliked:

    • The ultra wide-angle lens is really poor in low light
    • The 100x zoom is useless

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera in detail
    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra's quad-camera module has changed very little / © NextPit

    At the launch in January 2022, the picture quality of the S22 Ultra proved to be convincing across the board. And that is despite the fact that Samsung did not integrate any really relevant upgrades compared to its predecessor. However, the iPhone 14 Pro, the Google Pixel 7 Pro, and the Xiaomi 12S Ultra, smartphones that are technically superior to the S22 Ultra, were released in the course of the year. Inherently, that became noticeable in the picture quality.

    Thus, 47,000 votes in our camera blind test decided that Samsung's camera flagship falls behind the newer camera phones in terms of picture quality. To summarize? You will still buy a smartphone in the S22 Utlra with fantastic picture quality and a particularly flexible focal range. To give you an accurate impression, we took numerous test photos in January 2022. So, let's go into various situations in greater detail once again.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra daytime photos

    During the day, it is almost impossible to miss a picture with the primary lens. Detail levels, sharpness, dynamic range, everything is well managed and the pictures are sublime. Of course, one could say that they are also aided by Samsung's AI but I find that the processing, especially in terms of colorimetry, remains natural enough or at least, it is not too artificial. The autofocus is extremely responsive and the optical stabilization is effective. We can also note a good colorimetric consistency and in terms of exposure between the wide-angle lens and the ultra-wide angle.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra zoom photos

    The 3x and 10x telephoto duo are still very nice to use. The level of detail in 10x is surprisingly good, especially when it comes to displaying textures that we did not see with the main lens, for example. The 10x also performs very well at night, it's really nice to have so much versatility in shooting under almost all circumstances. The 100x zoom is not very usable, so that hasn't changed at all but I was surprised by the quality of the 30x zoom.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra portrait and selfie photos

    The Portrait Mode is one of Samsung's strong points and in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, this is no exception. I found the cropping to be always clean as long as you stick to 1x magnification and I was impressed by the quality of my fake selfies (taken with the camera at the back). Even at night, portrait photos look really good. As for the selfie camera, it left me a bit disappointed but the night mode works quite well on it.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra night photos

    Low light photography is not a Samsung specialty. On the Galaxy S22 Ultra, I still find the night mode to be counter-intuitive. You have an automatic mode that activates when the light conditions require it and a manual mode, hidden in the "More" menu of the camera app.

    For my review, I disabled the automatic night mode and then activated it manually only. And for the time being, I find Samsung to be still as shaky in low light, but the dedicated night mode does its job very well. It effectively cleans up noise, especially the night sky. It also contains flare effects rather well, especially those that emanate from street lamps. In short, when the scene is better lit, the image is cleaner. There is nothing to complain about it except for the white balance which is a little too warm for my taste and therefore pulls a little too much on the yellow tones.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra videos

    When it comes to videos, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is capable of recording in 4K at 60 FPS at the back as well as in selfie mode. With the rear camera module, we can even push to 8K at 30 FPS. Samsung also offers an improved stabilization mode. I let you discover some very short clips to get an idea of the video quality of the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

    I used it quite a bit during MWC 2022 and was very pleased with the quality. My colleagues Ben and Camila also found the rendering to be good when I showed them my 'work'.

    4K at 60 FPS

    4K at 60 FPS with stabilization

    8K at 30 FPS

    Selfie in 4K at 60 FPS

    Battery life: Hello darkness, my old friend!

    The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a 5,000 mAh battery. This model accepts wired charging speeds at 45 watts which is no longer really competitive in 2023—and was already in 2022. In everyday life, the charging power is sufficient; but it is very unfortunate that you have to buy the right charger additionally


    What I liked:

    • The 45-watt recharge speed is a bit faster than the traditional 25-watt charging.
    • Wireless charging support.
    • The comprehensive battery manager.

    What I disliked:

    • Rather poor battery life, it lasts barely a day in QHD+ and 120 Hz.
    • 45W charger not included and is sold for $60.

    Let's not beat around the bush, the battery life seemed too weak to me, as it often does on Samsung smartphones. I may be reproached for setting the screen permanently in QHD+ and an adaptive 120 Hz refresh rate (with automatic brightness enabled). But if I'm paying the full price for my smartphone, and I want to use it to its maximum ability all the time.

    With the PC Mark benchmark, the Galaxy S22 Ultra took just over 8.40 hours to fall below 20% remaining battery life. In actual use, on a typical day and with the screen settings mentioned above, I almost never reached 12 hours. During the MWC in Barcelona, I was quite happy to have my external battery with me.

    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra battery tests
    Less than 9 hours on the benchmark and less than 12 hours in real life use. In both cases, it's not enough. / © NextPit

    Note that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offers the best battery utility on Android with many features to preserve your battery life. You know how I feel about this kind of technical compromises at this price point, but I'm sure you can eke out a few extra minutes of battery life this way. I also noticed a slight improvement as the smart battery feature learned of my usage pattern, but this is nothing groundbreaking, either.

    But the real problem is how this somewhat poor battery life is not compensated by a really fast recharge speed. 45 watts is better than the 25 watts that Samsung was content with until now. But it's not enough in this day and age. This looks like a choice by the manufacturer to limit the impact of fast charging on the battery, either. But you'll have to explain to me why Samsung doesn't try to push the boundaries of the problem like Oppo or Xiaomi do, for example.

    Technical Specifications

      Flagship model
    Product
    Image Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
    Dimensions & Weight 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9 mm / 229 g
    Screen 2X AMOLED / 6.8 inch / QHD+ / 120 Hz refresh rate / 240 Hz touch rate
    Memory 8/128 GB / 12/256 GB / 12/512 GB / 12/1 TB / non-expandable
    SoC & GPU US/Global: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / 4 nm / Adreno
    Europe: Exynos 2200 / 4 nm / Xclipse 920
    OS OneUI 4.1 / Android 12
    Camera module
    • Main wide-angle: 108 MP / f/1.8 aperture / FOV 85° / Dual Pixel AF
    • Ultra wide-angle: 12 MP / f/2.2 aperture / FOV 120
    • Telephoto lens 1: 10 MP / f/2.4 aperture / 3x optical zoom
    • Telephoto lens 2: 10 MP / f/4.9 aperture / 10x optical zoom
    • Selfie: 40 MP / f/2.2 aperture / 80° FOV
    Battery 5,000 mAh
    Wired charging: 45 watts
    Wireless charging: 15 watts
    Reverse wireless charging
    IP rating IP68
    Connectivity 5G / LTE / Wifi 6E / Wifi 6 / Bluetooth 5.2 / NFC
    Price (MSRP) $1,199

    Conclusion

    If we were to look at the S22 Ultra in January 2023, we can state the following: The smartphone has aged very well in terms of design and still exudes a certain sense of elegance. The fact that Samsung integrated the S Pen into the chassis is also a convenient and practical solution. The display still looks superior to many rivals one year after its release. Technically, little has changed in this department.

    What the competition, which intentionally released new smartphones later than Samsung in 2022, does better is capturing photos and fast charging. While we were still completely convinced by the image quality of the quad camera in January 2022, Apple, Xiaomi, and Google were able to outdo the image quality of the S22 Ultra over the course of the year. This was shown by the results of our blind camera test, where readers did not know which smartphone took which picture.

    What Samsung definitely has to improve in the successor, the S23 Ultra, is the fast charging capability. Fast charging at 45 watts is too slow on paper, but you can easily adjust your life to it in everyday use.

    In other words: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a real price-to-performance monster after a year of price drops. Thus, users looking for a powerful smartphone with top-notch picture quality, a high-quality and durable chassis as well as a long software update warranty can buy it without much hesitation. According to existing rumors, it is unlikely that Samsung will integrate relevant changes in the S23 Ultra.

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    Antoine Engels

    Antoine Engels
    Senior Editor

    Black belt in specs sheet analysis. OnePlus fanboy in (slow) remission. Average estimated reading time of my articles: 48 minutes. Tech deals fact-checker in my spare time. Hates talking about himself in the 3rd person. Dreams he was a gaming journalist in another life. Doesn't get the concept of irony. Head of editorial for NextPit France.

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    • Tim Morrison 1
      Tim Morrison Jun 25, 2022 Link to comment

      Wow. What a thorough informative review One of the best I've read. Thanks