Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review: This Note-Worthy Superphone Is In A League Of Its Own

Samsung has merged the ‘Note’ and ‘S’ series devices and introduced the world to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s a boxy device with an S-Pen (and an S-Pen slot) along with top-of-the-line specifications.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Every year, it is a David vs Goliath battle in the smartphone industry as heavyweights Samsung and Apple go head-to-head. Samsung, goes first, unveiling their products during the springtime. Apple, on the other hand, finishes the year off with a bang as they have their annual fall products reveal event. Yes, there are other players, but in the Android vs iOS battle, none get bigger than these two.

It’s 2022 and Samsung has had a Note-worthy start to the year. The Galaxy Note 22 Ultra… Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is their flagship Android smartphone for the year. We all thought Samsung had killed off the ‘Note’ series of devices back in 2020 after the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was released.

Alas, to the delight of fans, the ‘Note’ series lives on, albeit in a new avatar. Samsung has merged the ‘Note’ and ‘S’ series devices and introduced the world to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s a boxy device with an S-Pen (and an S-Pen slot) along with top-of-the-line specifications.

The question is-Does any Android smartphone get better than this? I’ve been using the device for almost three weeks now and I can safely say this is as premium an Android phone as you’ll get in today’s market.

A New Note Is Here And It Is A Triumphant Return

A superphone. That’s the best way to describe the Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung. It’s a premium smartphone that comes at mind-boggling prices. Well, you shouldn’t be shocked if you’ve been following the high-end smartphones of the past couple of years. The Galaxy S22 is priced at ₹1,09,999 for the 256GB variant and ₹1,18,999 for the 512GB model. Both models come with 12GB RAM. Compared to the Apple iPhones of the world, this doesn’t seem outrageous, but it is as expensive as it can get for a smartphone these days.

Both models come with 12GB of RAM.

If you’re able to digest the price and move on to seeing the phone as is, you’ll realise it’s got everything one can ask for in a smartphone. There’s a gorgeous 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED display with a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate. Really, Samsung does make the best of displays in the industry. The phone comes with One UI 4.1 (based on Android 12). It’s truly one of the best forks of Android out there.

There’s the quad-camera setup on the back - 108-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultra-wide, 10-megapixel 3x and 10x telephoto, and a 40-megapixel front-facing camera. Samsung has retained the impressive 100x zoom capabilities from its predecessor. There’s support for 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, and more. It’s also got an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance (1.5m for up to 30 minutes). 

The kicker though is that Samsung has expanded the list of countries that get Qualcomm’s flagship processor instead of the company’s own Exynos. Indian consumers have been clamoring for it for a long time and Samsung has finally listened and given in. The Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor from Qualcomm. The smartphone weighs 228g.

There’s no more unified camera bump this year. Instead, all the camera modules on the back come with their own individual silos.

I’ve called this the new Note in more ways than one. You must be wondering as to why I keep referring to the Galaxy S22 Ultra as a spiritual successor to the Note series. Well, Samsung has decided to combine the best of the two series.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a flat top and bottom and has squared-off corners. It’s got rounded sides and the display curves right into them. It’s a boxy design, reminiscent of the Note devices of before and Samsung has used Armor Aluminium for the frame. There’s the strongest Corning Gorilla Glass Vicus+ on both the front and back. 

The design is instantly noticeable if you’ve ever seen or used the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (which was a fabulous phone, in my opinion). The kicker though is that Samsung has a holder for the S Pen. The S Pen is also vastly improved. It is 70 per cent faster and that makes it more responsive along with less latency (it’s down from 9 milliseconds to just 2.8 ms).

What Can One Say That Hasn’t Already Been Said

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most talked-about smartphone ever since its release. A lot has been said but I’m going to start by telling you about the stunning display and the addition of the S Pen in the ‘S’ series lineup.

The S22 Ultra’s display is easy to see even in broad daylight. It’s a wonderful accompaniment for streaming videos or sports and jotting down notes or just doodling. In fact, Samsung has improved the display from last year in a couple of ways. There’s the Vision Booster feature that dynamically changes the look of the screen (depending on ambient conditions), and the peak brightness has been upped to an incredible 1,750 nits. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the first smartphones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to launch in India.

Image purists and cinematic nerds may be perturbed by the Vision Booster feature as it can change the appearance of colors, but for most, this is the best they’ll have ever seen. It’s easily visible and useable in the bright outdoor sunlight and watching movies is a captivating experience.

The inclusion of the S-Pen is a delight. The S-Pen comes in handy when one wants to quickly jot down notes. The writing is incredibly responsive and smooth and it’s just like you’re using a pen and paper. Doodling is a whole lot of fun (as attested by many people I’ve talked to/shown the device too). Just like during the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra days, the S Pen can also double up as a remote shutter.

Top-Notch Performance And Good Battery Life

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the first smartphones with Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 to launch in India. As you can expect, it comes with top-notch performance. It’s as smooth as you’d expect from a high-end smartphone. Apps open in a jiffy, multitasking is a breeze and the whole one UI feels fluid. Part of this is due to the fact that the display can boost the refresh rate to 120Hz.

Compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy S21 Ultra, this isn’t noticeably faster. The improvements, according to Samsung, are in-camera refinements. Still, one won’t be disappointed for even a second with the performance of the smartphone. It ain’t no laggard. 

The battery life, though excellent, has not at all improved vis-a-vis the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a 5,000-mAh battery and lasts for about a day and a half unless your usage is heavy. With settings as-is out-of-the-box, I was able to eke out about 6.5-hours of screen-on-time. It’s on par with its predecessor but far behind its biggest rival, the iPhone 13 Pro Max. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has battery life that is on par with most other Android smartphones in the same range, but it’s far behind some of the best that I’ve used in the past. 

There’s no charger included in the box but the smartphone supports a maximum speed of 45W with a USB Power Delivery PPS wired charger. In just over an hour, the smartphone will be fully charged. There’s also support for wireless charging that’s limited to 15W. There’s also support for reverse wireless charging but that’s limited to an even slower 4.5W, which is about the best you can get.

Camera: Still Delivering Sublime Moon Shots

The Galaxy S22 Ultra may come with the same quad-camera setup as the Galaxy S21 Ultra from last year but there is one major difference. There are not one but two optical zoom cameras. 

The cameras, as one expects, produce outstanding results. The camera setup may not be the best in the business but as a complete package, there is no other. The main 108-megapixel camera produces 12-megapixel by default. These are some of the best smartphones available for purchase. The photos are crisp and very detailed, well-balanced, and have great color reproduction. In fact, the low-light performance has been much improved over last year’s cameras.

The images are clearer and sharper and Samsung has fine-tuned the processing as well.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t what it is without the 3x and 10x 12-megapixel cameras. Those steal the show. There are much more details this time around. The images are clearer and sharper and Samsung has fine-tuned the processing as well. 3x zoom is great when you want to capture a nearby object, whereas 10x zoom is for those times when you physically can’t move closer yet want to get a good shot. An example of the latter is airplanes or people playing in a park across the street.

The 10x zoom is absolutely magnificent. Even at 30x, the images are much sharper than last year. Just like with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can take excellent photos of the moon. One just has to zoom in around 35x and keep the smartphone a little bit steady.

In case you want to get a little crazy, there’s 100x zoom on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It may have improved slightly but the resulting images still look like oil paintings. It’s barely enough to make out signage or a car number plate.

For improved portrait shots, the Galaxy S22 Ultra leverage AI Stereo Depth Maps. With portraits, the skin tones are kept natural and the background is blurred beautifully. You can notice the edges of the subject to see how well it works.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra may fall behind the Pixel 6 Pro from Google in its photography skills, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max from Apple in its videography chops, but the overall package still puts it in the top bracket. The zoom capabilities give it a slight edge over its rivals.

Is The Galaxy S22 Ultra From Samsung Worth Your Hard-Earned Money?

The simple answer is yes. If you’re willing to spend over one lakh rupees on a smartphone then you basically have two options at the top-end of the bracket. It all comes down to iOS vs Android. I’m not here to convince you to change from one to another. If an Android smartphone is what you’re after, there is nothing better than what the Galaxy S22 Ultra has to offer.

Yes, there are cheaper Android alternatives out there like the Google 6 Pro (not released in India), Vivo X70 Pro+, iQOO 9 Pro, Asus ROG Phone 5 Ultimate, and others, but nothing as complete a package as the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra really should be called a ‘Note’ but it isn’t. It’s a giant phone meant for the power users out there. It’s an interactive upgrade wrapped in a new Note-worthy design. If you bought a high-end smartphone during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, then there is no reason to upgrade to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you have a smartphone older than the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, then this is the smartphone to get. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a device that almost has it all. One wishes that Samsung had improved the battery life vis-a-vis the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but there is something else that is lacking that may sway the decision even more.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra lacks a certain uniqueness. The distinctiveness is missing. It’s clear that Samsung has taken the best bits of the Note 20 Ultra and the S21 Ultra and turned them into the S22 Ultra. In fact, the S22 Ultra recycles design elements, specifications, and the S Pen feature set.

You may think that’s a negative for Samsung, but it really isn’t. Innovation doesn’t happen overnight, and smartphone cycles usually last two years before something ‘new’ is seen. The Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung may be an interactive upgrade, and not something revolutionary, but it’s still the best Android smartphone in the market. It may even be the best smartphone out there. Period.

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