Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder

Small, brimming with upgrades, and eminently useful

Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22 on pieni ja tehokas älypuhelin kaikille Android-faneille.
(Image: © Future / Lance Ulanoff)

TechRadar Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is small, fast, and offers a clean and reliable Android experience. It's an incremental update that keeps what was good in the S21, and upgrades the camera, processor, and materials to create a solid Android device.

Pros

  • +

    Small and solidly built

  • +

    Attractive design

  • +

    Excellent performance

Cons

  • -

    Not a major update

  • -

    Camera system pales in comparison to its Ultra cousin

  • -

    Small screen

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Two-minute review

It's hard to write a Samsung Galaxy S22 review without making reference to its big brother, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Now there's a phone with a radical new idea. Okay, it's an idea borrowed from the Galaxy Note line, but still, the Ultra stands apart from the S22 and S22 Plus. In fact, it makes the Galaxy S22 feel a bit less-than.

Similarly, we need to mention that the Samsung Galaxy S23 series has now been unveiled - you can check out our complete Samsung Galaxy S23 review, our thorough Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review, and our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for more information. But in short the Galaxy S22 feels slightly dated compared to them.

But these are also more expensive phones, so we’d be comparing apples to oranges to an extent. So let’s focus on what makes the Samsung Galaxy S22 such a fun, attractive, and palm-friendly device.

Put simply, the S22 has enough of everything. It pushes no boundaries in terms of photography, screen size, and battery life, yet it still compares favorably to Apple's $799 / £849 / AU$1,339 iPhone 14.  

Samsung's flagship phone provides more megapixels and sensors for photos, and gives you 3x optical zoom. To get something similar on the iPhone, you'll have to jump up to the pricier Pro models.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the kind of phone you get if your tastes are upscale but your budget is a bit downrange. Its 6.1-inch screen can feel cramped if you’re coming from virtually any similarly-priced Android phone from OnePlus and Xiaomi. However, placed side-by size with an iPhone 14, the dimensions are similar – and the resemblance is uncanny. 

It's a handset that will quickly become a trusted companion. The cameras should satisfy most average mobile photography users, and the image quality is excellent. The adaptive screen-refresh technology does a nice job of keeping everything from fast scrolls to action games looking smooth, and you’ll have no trouble shooting and editing 4K, 30fps video. The Galaxy S22 can also shoot 8K, but the screen stuttered while shooting it so we’re not ready to say this is an 8K-winner.

Like the rest of the S22 line, the Galaxy S22 is running Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US, or Samsung’s own Exynos chip in the UK and elsewhere,) and both are backed by 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. The mobile CPU is snappy and capable, but that storage limit without the ability to add a microSD card is frustrating.

Overall, if you like Samsung and Android together, this is an affordable and familiar (we see you, Galaxy S21) way to get in at the top of the Galaxy line, making it one of the best Samsung phones and even one of the best Android phones. For those who want a 5G Samsung Galaxy but want to pay hundreds less, they should look at the Galaxy A Series, including the attractive Galaxy A53.

If you're looking for the perfect Samsung Galaxy S22 audio partner, you may want to check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S22 specs

Weight: 167g
Dimensions: 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
Display size: 6.q-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
Chipset: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Rear camera: 50MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Pre-installed software: Android 12
Battery: 3,700mAh
Charging: 25W wired, 15W wireless 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 went on sale on February 25, 2022, in the US, March 3, 2022, in Australia, and March 11, 2022, in the UK. 

You can pick up the Galaxy S22 with 128GB storage for $799 / £769 / AU$1,249, or with 256GB for $849 / £819 / AU$1,349. That pricing has not changed since the Galaxy S21 line.

Note however that while those are the standard prices, you can now often find the Galaxy S22 for less than that, and now that the Samsung Galaxy S23 series has arrived the price is likely to keep on dropping.

Samsung Galaxy S22 design

  • Not a huge redesign over its predecessor
  • Comes in a few attractive color designs
  • Has a strong glass rear

Samsung Galaxy S22 back angle

The Gorilla Glass back of the Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Samsung evidently opted not to stray far from the Galaxy S21 design from the previous year, but there are two differences - one is noticeable, the other not so much.

The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch display, making it 0.1 inches smaller than its predecessor, but it’s not something you’ll notice. What is noticeable is the new Gorilla Glass Victus Plus back – the rear was plastic last year. This change gives the phone a much more premium feel, and the Galaxy S22 now feels every bit as solid, and looks as elegant, as the iPhone 13.

This is a phone that’s small enough to slip into your pocket or bag and forget about. In today's world of oversized phones (like the larger Galaxy S22 Ultra), the S22's 70.6 x 146 x 7.6mm, 168g chassis feels puny. Apple's iPhone 13 mini,  which Apple is discontinuing, previously held the ‘small flagship’ crown, though.

Where Apple now favors a smooth flat metal band around its phones, the Galaxy S22's aluminum frame offers a small, albeit pleasing curve, which some may find slightly more comfortable to hold for long periods than the iPhone 14. The phone is IP68 rated, which makes it water and dust-resistant. In practice, a drop in the sink is no big deal.

We’re glad Samsung left the contour-cut camera module untouched. It's attractive and efficient. The brushed glass back looks and feels great, and does a nice job of highlighting our test unit's Forest Green color – it also doesn’t show fingerprints. Other color options include Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, and Bora Purple.

There are just two buttons – power and the volume rocker – along one edge of the phone. On the top edge is a tiny hole for a microphone. The bottom houses one speaker (the other half of the decently-loud stereo speaker system is hidden along the top edge of the display), the SIM slot, another microphone hole, and the USB-C charging port (note that the S22 doesn’t support the 45W charger that Samsung sells for the Galaxy S22 Plus).

Samsung Galaxy S22 display

  • 6.1-inch screen, smaller than on the S21
  • Has a 2340 x 1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate
  • Bright and attractive display

The edge-to-edge Dynamic AMOLED display has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, which is good, though it is lower than the iPhone 14's Super Retina XDR 2532 x 1170 display. Samsung makes up for that deficit by having a smaller black bezel around the screen, and no intrusive notch.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Display

Samsung Galaxy S22's AMOLED screen (Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

To accommodate the 10MP front-facing camera, Samsung has cut a small circle in the display. It's not distracting, and didn’t break our immersion through long games of PUBG Mobile.

The screen is as bright and attractive as any we’ve seen. The adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz) makes every movement in scrolling, videos, and games look smooth. High refresh rates can burn through charge quickly, so you can lock the refresh rate at 60Hz if you want to extend battery life, or at 120Hz if this isn’t a concern for you. 

The screen also promises to boost touch sampling (the speed at which it will recognize and respond to touch) for Game Mode. We had no responsiveness issues, but we also haven't noticed any gaming sluggishness in other flagship phones we've tested this year.

Underneath the display is the ultrasonic fingerprint reader. This lets you register your finger (or fingers) of choice and is an effective biometric security tool. The phone also supports face recognition, though there's also a warning that it's less secure on this device than fingerprint unlocking is.

Samsung Galaxy S22 cameras

  • 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto camera
  • 10MP selfie camera
  • A range of Samsung camera modes