Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Seamless S-Pen experience, brilliant display

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is for those who seek the best of Samsung hardware and are willing to pay the price.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

When 2021 passed without the unveil of a Samsung Galaxy Note device, it seemed that Samsung had pulled the plug on one of its most popular devices. I was an initial sceptic, one of those who thought the first Samsung Galaxy Note was unwieldy. That changed with the Galaxy Note II that became one of my favourite daily drivers about a decade ago. The Note wasn’t just the most successful smartphone with an in-built stylus, in many ways it set the template for large screen smartphones. Back then we called them ‘phablets’. It might not have the Note branding but Samsung’s new Galaxy S22 Ultra picks up the threads from the Note 20 Ultra and it’s a great place to start. 

The Galaxy S22 lineup:

First, let’s break down Samsung’s Galaxy S22 flagship lineup for you. There’s the S22 with a 6.1-inch screen that is perfect for those who prefer the practicality of one-handed navigation. The S22+ in my opinion is the best of both worlds, the middle child that can satisfy those looking for a big screen smartphone experience without the extra heft of the Ultra. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is for those who seek the best of Samsung hardware and are willing to pay the price. In many ways, the Ultra is a showcase of Samsung’s hardware prowess just like the erstwhile Note devices. 

Stunning design:

The Ultra is not for those who prefer lightweight smartphones. This is a ‘convergence device’ that allows you to do everything from annotate PDFs to binge watch your favourite show. The S22 Ultra sticks to the boxier design of the Note 20 Ultra. I like the wider screen especially when I’m on work mode. The S-Pen is tucked away in the left bottom corner. Samsung has altered the placement of the rear camera lenses in a unique ‘P-shaped’ design with ‘minimal housing’. This means the camera bump is almost non-existent. It also sets it apart from the S22 and S22+. We checked out the Burgundy colour option that is also our pick from the other available colours. We dig the matte finish that looks elegant and also repels smudges. 

The best Android camera?

Premium smartphone cameras have almost hit saturation point. We’re relieved that Samsung didn’t resort to any gimmicky features to distinguish the S22 Ultra from last year’s S21 Ultra. I particularly enjoyed using the 10x zoom option on the S21 Ultra during take-offs and touchdowns. The rear cam and the selfie cam on the S22 Ultra are almost identical to its predecessor. There’s a 108MP lens (f/1.8 aperture) that teams up with dual telephoto lenses and an ultra-wide lens. This one’s all about software improvisations that ride on a newer processor. You will find the biggest difference in portrait images. I also found a marginal improvement in lowlight photography. This is the Android shooter to beat. 

Flagship class:

The large cult of Note users was built on the love of a large screen smartphone experience. The S22 Ultra takes it to the next level; with a peak brightness of 1750 nits, this is probably the brightest on any smartphone. Colours are punchy on the 6.8-inch Quad HD+ display (3088 x 1440 pixels) with a 120Hz refresh rate that packs a whopping 500 PPI (pixels per inch). While Samsung allows you to switch to a lower resolution to conserve battery, I managed a whole day with maximum brightness. The 5000 mAh battery should satisfy most users. You can expect a similar battery performance as the Note 20 Ultra. Speed is a given with Samsung’s flagships, this one’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor that combines with 12GB of RAM. It notched up an impressive score of 3506 (multi-core) in our Geekbench benchmark test.  Our review unit featured 256GB of Internal storage, there’s also a 512GB variant. 

Worth the premium?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra ticks all the boxes, the S-Pen experience is even more seamless thanks to Samsung’s periodic enhancements. The big question is whether it’s for you. If you’re unlikely to use the S-Pen or don’t mind missing out on some camera extras like the 10x optical zoom, the S22+ could be a smarter choice. If you are seeking a new user experience, you could consider one of Samsung’s foldables like the Fold 3. But if you’re looking for the best Android smartphone, the S22 Ultra might be the one for you. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in Burgundy, Phantom White and Phantom Black. The 12GB/256GB variant costs Rs 109,999 while the 12GB/512GB variant is priced at Rs 118,999. Samsung has multiple offers that also include discounts on the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Buds 2. 

Views expressed by the author are personal. 

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