Our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review found a big, powerful, and attractive Android phone (if you like them monolithic). It’s super-versatile, ready for important work, hand-written notes, gaming, and casual big-screen web browsing – and the cameras are a clear highlight, with the Space Zoom capabilities taking you to infinity and beyond. And, yes, you’ll pay handily for all these features.
Incredible cameras and zoom
Excellent little S Pen
Gorgeous butter-smooth screen
No microSD slot
Battery life could be better
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Two-minute review
Or at least, the best phone of 2022. Its successor has since been announced though, so check out our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for a deep-dive of that. We also have a Samsung Galaxy S23 review and a Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review.
Of course, even before its successor landed, it wouldn't have been fair to judge the S22 Ultra as the best based on its cameras alone – every handset is the sum of its design, features, components, utility, and value – but taken as a whole, this Samsung Galaxy Series-Galaxy Note hybrid is an excellent, albeit massive Android handset that not only ticks all the important boxes, but delivers more features than you may ever want or use.
The design is an echo of, but also more forward-leaning than, Samsung’s last Note device. It really is a hybrid. There will be no complaints about the ultra-high-resolution, 6.8-inch screen, which offers brilliant colors and smooth motion at 120Hz, but is smart enough to stop down all the way to 1Hz, when that’s all you need, to save on battery life.
The camera array is strong. Sure, it’s not a complete overhaul of the Galaxy S21’s camera system, but that was already pretty darn good. This is arguably better – the Optical and Space Zooms are simply marvels of modern technology.
We also love the thin and light S Pen, and we’re thrilled that it’s finally integrated – literally – into the Galaxy line. It does so many things so well, and for productivity-focused mobile users it could be a godsend.
Display: 6.8-inch, Quad HD+
Dimensions: 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9 mm
Screen refresh: 120Hz
Screen brightness: 1750 nits
Glass: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+
Water resistance: IP68
Selfie camera: 40MP resolution
Main camera: 108MP resolution
Telephoto camera: 2 10MP resolution sensors
Ultrawide: 12MP resolution
Memory: 8GB or 12GB available
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB available
Samsung’s One UI 4.1 software is mostly good, even if it does create some duplication of browsers, photos, and messages apps. Other tools, like Expert Raw, a freely downloadable Samsung app that gives you full access to all the camera controls and lets you capture and save RAW format photos, and the video-conferencing app Google Duo, which both do an excellent job of showing off the phone’s power and versatility, are the real highlights here.
Performance-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor acquits itself nicely (no, it doesn’t beat Apple’s A15 Bionic). The point is, we couldn't find a single app that was sluggish or disappointing on the mobile monolith.
Battery life was more of a mixed bag. We did get a full day of solid use (18 hours or so), but we thought we might get more out of the massive 5,000 mAh battery and high-performance, energy-efficient CPU.
Ultimately, though, this is the kind of device that can make you forget what’s come before it. If you were used to a smaller-screen device, you’ll feel cramped if you ever go back to it. If you struggled in the past to take photos of the moon, you’ll wonder why Apple hasn’t figured this out yet. If you wished that your device had just a little more power to complete those raw image-editing tasks, your wish has been granted.
Part of Samsung’s new S22 lineup, but looking nothing like its siblings, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is to the casual observer a Galaxy Note in a shiny, new coat. It does have a much bigger and bolder camera array (lifted pretty much intact from the S21 Ultra), but it’s otherwise a canny adjustment of the Note aesthetic or, as Samsung might call it, the “Note Experience.” Still, this adjustment leaves it as easily the best Samsung phone.
If you're looking for the perfect Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra audio partner, you may want to check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 review
- Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review
- Read our hands on Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 and S8 Plus review
- Read our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Release date and price
- Starts at $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849 for 128GB storage and 8GB of RAM
- Storage options up to 1TB, no microSD slot for expansion
A device that combines the best of Samsung’s S Series and the Note’s more industrial design and capabilities doesn't come cheap. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at $1,199.99 / £1,149 / AU$1,849 for 128GB storage and 8GB of RAM.
There are naturally bigger storage options (that also include more RAM), which can take you all the way to a 1TB model ($1,599.99 / £1,499 / AU$2,449 ). 256GB will run you $1,299,99 / £1,249 / AU$1,999, and 512GB is $1,399.99 / £1,329 / AU$2,149.
Choose your storage options wisely, because none of the Samsung Galaxy S22 phones come with a microSD card slot for upgrading your storage space.
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The good news is, prices are often lower than that now that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is getting on a bit - and they're likely to drop further now that the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra has arrived.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Design and display
- Screen is 6.8-inch OLED with WQHD+ resolution
- Armor Aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass Victus+
- S Pen housed in a silo in the phone
An inarguably beautiful device, the 6.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – owing to its Note roots – doesn’t look much like the Galaxy S22 Plus. It starts from the original Galaxy Note 10 design but takes it forward with even more premium materials.
The frame is a solid Armor Aluminum that rigidly resists bends. Polished on the outside to a near-chrome finish, the metal is sandwiched between two Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ plates. The front glass is high-gloss, and the back is a warm satin finish; both do a decent job of repelling fingerprints. The phone’s IP68-rated body also handily resided the water we ran over it.
The above finishes come in seven color options: Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, Green, Graphite, Sky Blue and Red. The dark green is sexy, but we’ve fallen in love with the inky Phantom Black of our test device.
Did we mention that this is a big phone? Its dimensions are 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm, which is taller than a 6.7-inch Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max, but, somewhat surprisingly, at 229g, lighter than Apple’s biggest handset. Small hands will struggle with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The curved edges make the Galaxy S22 Ultra comfortable to hold, but the lack of edges also makes it feel slippery as a fish – albeit a fish made of hard glass and metal.
There are two flat surfaces, on the top and bottom of the device. The top plane is a mostly unbroken slab of metal, with one tiny drill-through hole for a microphone. The bottom surface houses the SIM slot, USB-C charging port (the phone ships with a USB-C cable but no charging brick- BYOB is a thing now), speaker grille, and the S Pen.
If you’re in any doubt that this is a Note in S Series clothing, you need only to press that slight bump on the base and pop out the familiar and light S Pen. It’s all the things a Samsung S Pen should be, giving up nothing for its new Galaxy S22 Ultra home. More on the stylus later.
The 6.8-inch AMOLED screen is another highlight. It supports up to 3088 x 1440 pixels (WQHD+) resolution, which works out to 500 ppi. The iPhone 13 Pro Max, by contrast, has 458ppi on its 6.7-inch 2778 x 1284 screen. It’s worth noting that the S22 Ultra’s default resolution is 2316 x 1080 (FHD+), which Samsung says uses somewhat less battery life – although halfway through our testing we switched to WQHD+ and didn’t notice much, if any, battery performance loss.
Everything from games and videos to apps looks fantastic on the display, which now has the ability to smoothly shift from a 1Hz refresh rate all the way up to a butter-smooth 120Hz. Such adaptive technology can be hard to notice because, for instance, 1Hz might be used for the home screen or a word processor, while 120Hz might be called on for gaming.
The point is, when the imagery should be clean and smooth, it is. The lower refresh rates primarily help to conserve battery – there’s no need to update the screen more than a hundred times per second if nothing is moving.
With a peak brightness of 1750 nits and Samsung’s new Vision Booster technology, the screen does a decent job of maintaining visibility even in direct sunlight. Naturally, though, this means the brightness gets turned up to 100%, which will impact your daily battery life.
Hidden under the screen, roughly a third of the way up from the bottom edge, is the effective ultrasonic fingerprint reader. We found it easy to both register a finger and use it to unlock the phone. The other biometric security option is facial recognition, but Samsung warns that this isn’t as secure as other options, like a PIN or fingerprint.
There’s also a small drill hole through the screen for the 40MP front-facing camera.
Put simply, this is a lovely screen for viewing and writing.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: Cameras
- Main camera is 108MP with f/1.8 aperture and an 85-defree FOV
- Two telephoto lenses with 10MP sensors, one ultrawide 12MP sensor
- Optical zoom up to 10x, Space Zoom enhanced up to 100x
When people say, “So, it’s basically a new Samsung Galaxy Note, right?” we have to flip over the phone to show them the camera array, which is a dead ringer for the one on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.