Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Ultimate Android phone for those with deep pockets

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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 with it arriving 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 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 and make sure it doesn’t get lost. 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.

One final thing to remember before taking delivery of the Ultra is its size as this thing measures in at a whopping 6.4-inches tall. That not only makes it pretty hard to use one-handed but also tough to squeeze in your pockets.

Although there are a few things we dislike about design one thing we do admire is the new matt finish on the back. We took delivery of the Phantom black model which looks super stylish and doesn’t show up any mucky fingerprints.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Camera

Samsung is making big claims about its new camera and from the snaps we’ve shot on this device it has every right to be brag. The Ultra comes packed with a quad-rear system which includes a main wide camera with a massive 108-megapixel sensor.

This upgrade makes the Ultra much better at shooting images in all conditions and low light photography is where you’ll see some of the biggest gains.

Even in almost total darkness, the S22 Ultra has the capability to take impressively clear shots without the need for a flash.

This new mode is so good it actually looks like night has turned to day which is pretty magically although you can end up losing some of the atmosphere that night photography usually brings.

Alongside that main sensor there are ultra-wide and telephoto lenses which make this phone highly adaptable.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera sample (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

The zoom works well on the S22 Ultra (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

Night photography is impressive (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

The 10X optical zoom is also impressive although start trying to use the 100X digital offering and subjects can get tricky to keep in focus. It’s a nice idea but in reality, all you end up with are pretty grainy shots.

That 100X zoom might be a gimmick but Samsung’s claim that its portrait mode is now improved, thanks to clever AI, certainly isn’t. This popular focus mode is vastly improved with bokeh-style photos looking like they’ve shot on a high-end DSLR.

Other features worth a mention include the ability to shoot in full RAW mode for improved editing and there are all the usual options including Super Slo-Mo, Hyperlaspse and Panorama.

If we had one small niggle with the photo mode it’s the slight shutter lag which often feels one step behind what you’re trying to shoot.

Those who prefer making videos will find improve image stabilisation which means less camera shake and Auto Tracking which makes sure the subject always stays perfectly in focus. This mode works really well and adds a Hollywood feel to your home movies.

The S22 Ultra can also film in full 8K which is nice to have but we’d recommend using it sparingly if you don’t want the device to munch through all of its internal storage.

All-in-all, the S22 Ultra’s camera is excellent and will suit both those who want to simply point and shoot and others who want a more pro experience.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera samples (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 which is a shame but not a deal-breaker.

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.

Having used the S22 Ultra for over a week we’ve been left very impressed and there really isn’t anything this device can’t handle.

Whizzing around the web, answering emails and playing games all feel silky smooth and there isn’t even a stutter when multitasking on the device.

If you really want the ultimate experience it’s worth remembering that you buy this device with 12GB of RAM and a whopping 1TB of storage if you think you’ll really need it.

Getting the right storage option for your needs is important as it can’t be expanded via a MicroSD Card – as a guide, the S22 Ultra comes with either 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB.

There are some other things to note about the Ultra as it also comes packed with 5G network technology for fast access to the web when away from fixed-line broadband and it’s fully compatible with the latest Wi-Fi 6 data speeds.

All-in-all the S22 Ultra impresses when it comes to power although some early Geekbench scores have revealed that it can’t quite match the iPhone 13 Pro when it comes raw speed. Expect plenty of YouTube videos going live in the coming weeks placing Apple and Samsung head-to-head.

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: 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’ve had no issues ploughing through a whole day without running low on power. In fact, this device will easily a couple of days if you are careful.

aOne 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.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (Image: EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS)

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 still offering some good trade-in deals until February 25 which slashed the price by up to £570 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.

All of the UK networks also have the Ultra available with some, such as Vodafone, offering three-year deals which lowers the monthly price.

Three Mobile is also slashing things by 50 percent for the first six months which means you’ll only pay £XX during the initial part of the contract.

Galaxy S22 Ultra review:

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 quad 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 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, this is one mighty phone that Note fans will love.

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.

Published at Thu, 24 Feb 2022 10:57:00 +0000

Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Ultimate Android phone for those with deep pockets