Galaxy S22 Ultra review: First impressions of Samsung’s ultimate smartphone

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Samsung Galaxy S22 review

Samsung Galaxy S22 review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Samsung’s all-new Galaxy S22 Ultra was unveiled this week, and if you’re looking for the ultimate Android smartphone – this could well be it. Not only is this handset more powerful than anything Samsung has ever launched before, but it also sees the return of a popular accessory which makes things even more exciting. Yes, the rumours were true and the S Pen is back! This is the first time this feature-packed stylus has been seen on an S series phone and it certainly offers a big reason to make the switch to this new device.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is available to pre-order now before it arrives in stores later this month, but Express.co.uk has already had our hands on one and here are our initial impressions.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The S Pen Is Back!

If you’re a massive Galaxy Note fan and have been missing the S Pen stylus, there’s good news. It’s back! Yes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra now comes fitted with this accessory inside its aluminium shell and it’s definitely the best S Pen that Samsung has ever made.

This tool has now been refined to make it far more accurate and fluid when scribbling on the screen. In fact, with a 70 percent lower latency it feels far more like writing with a real pen on physical paper.

Alongside the latency in the S Pen improving, Samsung’s Note app has also gotten much better at reading your scribbles, which means it can decipher most handwriting and turn it into editable text. This means you can copy-and-paste your handwritten notes into emails, text messages, or into Google Docs within seconds – very handy!

The Galaxy S22 Ultra will even plays the subtle sound of ink being laid on paper as you doddle on the display. It’s a nice little touch although it’s a gimmick that you’ll probably end up switching off.

Of course, once you’re done with the Pen you simply pop it back inside to keep things safe. This is also how it charges, so there’s no risk of it being dislodged when you pop the phone into your pocket.

This is the best S Pen Samsung has made and anyone who loved the Galaxy Note series – which has been absent from the South Korean firm’s lineup for two years now – will seriously love this reboot.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The S Pen is back (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Design

The S22 Ultra looks very different from the standard S22 and we’re not sure that’s an entirely good thing. Whilst the S22 and S22+ get a curvy design with a flat screen, the pricier Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with sharper corners but a display that bends slightly around the sides.

We’ve never been fans of curved screens as they don’t always offer a great experience when trying to read text on websites, emails, and more.

The minute we saw the standard Galaxy S22, we loved its new styling but the same can’t be said for the Galaxy S22 Ultra as it seems a little old-fashioned. In fact, it looks almost identical to the last Note 20 phone that launched over 18 months ago.

Another part of the design that’s left us a little cold is the camera set-up.

While the Galaxy S22 and S22+ blend the lens bump (an unfortunate design necessity for all manufacturers given the level of photography that customers demand from these svelte gadgets) seamlessly into the case. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s rear snappers appear to have been stuck on as a bit of an afterthought. This also makes them a dust magnet, with pocket lint getting lodged around the half dozen lenses.

We’ll need more time with this phone before fully making up our minds but on first impressions, we think the standard S22 and S22+ win the beauty contest.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Camera

Samsung is making big claims about its new camera and, on paper, it certainly sounds impressive. The main wide camera has now been upgraded to include a massive 108-megapixel sensor, which Samsung says helps the Ultra’s camera take the ultimate photos even in very low light. There’s also the option to get up close and personal thanks to a 10X optical zoom and ludicrous 100X digital zoom.

Those who prefer shooting video will also find improve image stabilisation and Auto Tracking which makes sure the subject always stays perfectly in focus.

We only had a very short time with this device but if Samsung’s boasts are true this could be the camera to beat in 2022. We’ll be snapping away over the days and will bring you our full thoughts and picture samples in the full review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: The camera bumps do look a little odd (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Performance and Speed

Sadly, those in the UK who buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra won’t be treated to the latest and greatest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset from Qualcomm. Just like in previous years, Samsung is using its own Exynos brains instead and it will be interesting to see how well it performs when placed against this flagship silicon from Qualcomm. We can expect all the usual comparison videos to appear on YouTube in the coming weeks.

If you’re worried by that news don’t be – this is still the first Galaxy phone to feature a 4nm system-on-a-chip and that results in a faster CPU and GPU compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. It should also make the handset more efficient, boosting battery life. Although, we’ll need to spend plenty of time with the Galaxy S22 Ultra in our pockets to test that out.

During our time with the S22 Ultra, it seems highly capable with animations and graphics appearing silky smooth and stutter-free.We’ve got a lot more testing to do but initial impressions are good and don’t forget that you buy this device with 12GB of RAM and a whopping 1TB of storage if you think you’ll really need it.

Along with the processor, there are some other things to note about the Ultra as it also comes packed with 5G network technology and the option to access Wi-Fi 6 data speeds.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Battery Life

Tucked under the hood of the S22 Ultra is a whopping 5,000mAh battery which is the biggest power pack in the range. This is clearly a large device that will need plenty of juice, but we’re confident this phone will easily last all day and long into the night before it will need a refill.

We’ll be testing the power in the coming days and will let you know how things perform in the real world.

One thing to note is that, just like last year, there’s no power brick in the box so if you want to take advantage of the fast 45W charging feature you’ll need to head to the Samsung store to buy a £44 plug.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: This phone gets a 6.8-inch screen (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Screen

The Galaxy S22 Ultra arrives with a huge 6.8-inch curved QHD+ AMOLED screen with a 120Hz refreshed rate for super speedy scrolling. When playing games, the touch sampling rate can also be boosted to 240Hz, which should make a gun-blasting session on Fortnite feel more fluid. And might even give you a tactical advantage over players on other devices, like the latest iPhone or Google Pixel.

Samsung is renowned for its stunning screens and the Ultra continues that tradition with everything looking pin-sharp and packed full of vibrant colours. As we mentioned earlier, the S Pen works like a dream on this display and you can even make quick notes without having to unlock things first.

The embedded ultrasonic fingerprint scanner is also really good and unlocks the screen the moment you place your thumb in the correct position. This is a very big phone that won’t suit small pockets but if you really want a device with a massive screen then you’re not going to find much better.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: UK Price

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a premium flagship with a very premium price tag. This device will set you back at least £1,149 and things can push towards the £1,500 barrier if you start adding more RAM and that huge 1TB of storage.

Samsung is offering some good trade-in deals for anyone who has an older device in their pockets and anyone pre-ordering does get Disney+ for a year and a free pair of Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Our Initial Impressions

If you’re missing the Galaxy Note, the Galaxy S22 Ultra certainly fills that gap. This device not only gets a new-and-improved S Pen but also packs a stunning screen, fast processor, and impressive-looking camera.

The addition of the S Pen also adds a clear differentiator between the Galaxy S22 and S22+ and the costlier Ultra. Last year, it was harder to justify the extra cost unless you were a photography buff.

In our short time with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it didn’t bowl us over with its new design and that price is going to make a serious dent in your bank balance. That said, our overall first impressions are pretty good.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra won’t suit everyone, but if you want the ultimate phone with a built-in stylus for extra productivity (or artwork on the move) this is going to be hard to beat.

We’ll be updating this review in the coming days, so watch this space.

Published at Sun, 13 Feb 2022 11:41:04 +0000

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: First impressions of Samsung’s ultimate smartphone

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