Galaxy S, Redefined
It’s amazing how smartphones evolved in the last 10 years! From the introduction of 3G network to 100x zoom on smartphones, the difference from the phone we knew in 2012 is far different from what we have today.
Launched more than two weeks ago, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the culmination of Samsung’s decade-long challenge of perfecting their flagship line-up. Is Samsung successful in making this the best in the Galaxy S series? Here’s my full review.
The S22 Ultra’s design – while different in most ways – appears to hug the good design traits of the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I didn’t feel like its rear camera design to trigger tropophobia. What Samsung just did is they removed the bump, which was a subject of consumer and media fanfare from the previous generation. I feel like there wasn’t anything wrong with last year’s design, but Samsung probably thought that they should improve it even further without deviating from S21 Ultra’s design DNA
Speaking of DNA, the Galaxy S22 Ultra bears an extra DNA that is quite familiar to Samsung fans – that is the Note DNA. This seems to sort of confirm that Samsung is retiring the beloved-Galaxy Note. However, in an interesting turn of events, Samsung is paying homage to the Galaxy Note by infusing its DNA to S-series and very likely to the Fold series. We’ve seen Samsung sort of apply the Note DNA to Fold last year when they announced an extra accessory for the Galaxy Z Fold3 to make it work like a Galaxy Note.
In the case of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the S Pen is not any more just an optional accessory, but an integral part of it. So, it’s safe to say that when you buy a Galaxy S22 Ultra, you’re basically getting two devices in one – an S-series flagship smartphone and a Galaxy Note.
The size of the S22 Ultra’s display is the same but now with a slightly smaller resolution. The display is now also less rounded compared to the previous generation.
It is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus+, which is the latest display protection technology employed on flagship smartphones. This display protection greatly complements the armor aluminum body of the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The display is perfect! You can safely expect this to perform better than your previous smartphones. There are still various options that will allow you to maximize its screen refresh rate and display temperature. For more than a week of usage, I have also not experienced any display issues like the ones being encountered by those who got the S22 Ultra with Exynos 2200 chipset.
Samsung is still very consistent with their decision to only let users choose between adaptive and standard display on Motion Smoothness (refresh rate). Regardless, the device does not impose a limit on resolution when using it with Adaptive refresh rate. The phone will simply scale its settings based on the best or optimized refresh rate on the game or app you’re using. Using adaptive display, as I expected, took significant effect on overall battery performance.
Given that the new S22 Ultra is now infused with Note DNA, you can now natively use the phone as a Galaxy Note. I love the Galaxy Note series, so I may sound slightly biased here. The fact that I am now able to quickly take note, doodle and draw with the Galaxy S series is an amazing experience, to say the least.
Hardware and Performance
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. For those who aren’t very much familiar with this huge news, allow me to take you back to the memory lane. For the past years, the Galaxy S series launched here in the Philippines are all powered by Exynos chipsets. While there is an assumed collective preference for Snapdragon than Exynos chipsets in the past – at least here in the country – this new direction by Samsung in the region will definitely put a smile on the faces of a lot of tech enthusiasts.
In terms of performance, the SD8G1 on the Galaxy S22 Ultra performs like a beast. I employed our usual benchmarking process on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. I used Antutu 3D Benchmark to see the aggregated score of the Galaxy S22 Ultra that ranges from CPU, GPU, Memory and UX. As you can see in the result below, the new S22 Ultra outperformed other flagship devices, including the Huawei P50 Pro.
I also used 3D Mark to check the graphics performance of the new device. In this particular benchmark, the phone is tested in a minute to measure its ability to provide high levels of performance short periods of time. It is obvious that the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is the currently the leading chipset among the other flagship smartphones in the market. This score can give you an idea how we it may perform when playing games and even rendering 3D environment and objects in productivity applications.
Games like Bright Memory, Genshin Impact and Pokemon Unit play well on this device as well albeit making crazy hot in the process.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a 12MP ultrawide unit, a 108MP wide-angle lens, two telephoto cameras, one 3x, and the other 10x. It features 100X Space Zoom. At the front, a 40MP snapper takes care of selfies.
Being the most advanced in the series, the device is built with a 2.4um pixel sensor, the largest pixel sensor from Samsung, allowing the lenses to capture more light and data for brighter and clearer photos. It’s also equipped with the advanced Super Clear Glass for improved night videos, then there’s auto-framing, for making sure that you capture the exact subject you want.
Like its siblings, the Galaxy S22 Ultra lets you access the Expert RAW app, which brings in-camera editing tools for a DLSR-like experience, as well as the ability to save photos in up to 16-bit RAW format.
You can definitely be sure that this phone’s set of camera is the best in the series. The level of detail I can capture with this device is insane and it can accurately represent color and saturation.
Space Zoom on the Galaxy S22 Ultra dramatically improved! AI Post processing really helps a lot in the mix, which bring out more details to your subjects.
Galaxy S22 Ultra gives you stable videos using Wider Shift OIS as well as Advanced VDIS that boasts four times faster stabilization by predicting the device’s movement while also analyzing the subject’s movement. Even in low-light it can focus on a fast-moving subject with AI-assistance. You also get brighter night portraits with support for up to 3x optical zoom.
The new flagship smartphone is running on One UI 4.1 on top of Android 12. On top of its Note features, I love its subtle UI redesigns and applied performance optimizations. They also have QOL (quality of life) improvements like Extra Brightness (when adaptive brightness is disabled). Samsung also decided to enable Pro Mode in all of its available lens.
The new smartphone has 5,000mAh battery. While this is pretty packed, it’s quite surprising why it did not meet my initial expectations. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t bad because I am just being picky, but it can be better. The phone lasts for 14 hours and 30 minutes with 29% remaining battery with Adaptive display on, active social media usage and light gaming.
Samsung is treating its consumers with an amazing product at the start of 2022. If you skipped Galaxy S20 and S21 Ultra, you should consider the Galaxy S22 Ultra as your next Android smartphone. If you think that its price is slightly higher than the S21 Ultra when it first launched, you have to understand that you’re basically getting two flagship variations in one device: a Galaxy S and a Note. I believe that if you don’t like its conventional design, then your next bet should be Samsung’s foldable devices.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.