Upon the reveal of Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, many of us might have thought it was a rework of the brand’s Note series, since its aesthetics are similar. To add, Samsung had confirmed its discontinuation of the Note series in 2021.
Instead, last year’s S21 Ultra had S Pen compatibility, though the stylus couldn’t be stored in the phone itself. Thus, the S22 Ultra seems to be a natural development in that area.
It’s got a stylus that’s now stored internally, plus other features that made the Note series iconic: the classic pointed corners, a wider display for comfortable S Pen use, and does away with the usual raised camera housing.
All that aside though, the S22 Ultra proves that it’s still part of the S Series family in terms of hardware.
Taking in the outside
Like I wrote in my first impressions article, the phone’s matte finish gives the phone a premium feel and made it a lot less likely to attract fingerprints, but you may still notice some smudges to clean every now and then.
It was also quite hefty, weighing around 228g, roughly the same as the S21 Ultra. Unlike the previous model which was more top-heavy though, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s weight felt more evenly distributed, possibly due to the removal of the bulky camera housing.
Other than that, a quick look at Samsung’s official website shows that the Ultra is currently the only phone in the S22 series to have sharp corners, while the S22 and S22+ have rounded corners instead.
While it does give the Ultra a professional, clean-cut look, the corners tend to dig into my palms during use.
Another difference worth pointing out is its lack of a camera bump. Instead, the camera lenses are protected by individual metal rings for a more sophisticated look.
However, dust tends to accumulate between the gaps after a while. This can be fixed with a phone case that has a sliding cover for the camera so that you don’t have to keep wiping debris and dust out.
The built-in S Pen can be found on the left of the USB Type-C charging port. Even with the S Pen removed, the phone remains water-resistant, giving you the freedom to write notes or doodle in the bathtub.
Similar to the phone, the stylus has a matte finish making it less likely to attract fingerprints, and it feels grippier too.
A display feast for the eyes
Just like its predecessor, the S22 Ultra is equipped with a large 6.8-inch display. Although, it seems that the phone’s resolution is slightly lower at 1440 x 3080 pixels compared to the 1440 x 3200 pixels of the S21 Ultra.
Specs-wise, the S22 Ultra is also shorter but slightly wider than the S21 Ultra. To be honest, you’d barely notice these differences even if you squinted hard.
There is an option to change the screen mode to either Natural or Vivid, which tweaks the colour saturation of what’s being displayed. If your work requires you to judge colours accurately, it will be better to leave it on the Natural setting instead.
It also feels very responsive because of the 120Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate. By extension, these make mobile gaming smoother and more immersive.
The phone is able to dynamically tweak the refresh rate from 120Hz all the way down to 1Hz, while the S22 and S22+ can only achieve as low as 48Hz. This means that when displaying static images, the S22 Ultra saves more battery power.
Checking in on the internals
Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset and 8GB of RAM (the 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB models come with 12GB RAM), the S22 Ultra was able to run Genshin Impact with barely any stutters, other than the initial loading phase.
Similar to the S21 Ultra, the phone did get a little warm, but it wasn’t too warm to the point it became uncomfortable for me. Then again, I have rather thick skin on my hands from sports so your mileage may vary.
If you’re a heavy multitasker who frequently switches between Facebook, Instagram, and mobile games, the RAM Plus feature converts onboard memory into virtual RAM, giving you up to 8GB of virtual RAM on top of the actual RAM on the phone.
Frequently used apps will be stored on the much faster physical RAM chip, while apps not often used will be transferred over to the slower virtual RAM.
Though none of the S22 Ultra models come with expandable storage, what they offer is more than enough to store several hours of 8K video recordings and thousands of pictures.
When it came to the battery, the phone has the highest capacity in the S22 lineup at 5,000mAh. Though other reviews have pointed out how its battery drains fast, my personal use found me charging the phone just once every 2 days, with the charging process taking about an hour with a capable fast charger.
Compared to the S21 Ultra’s limit of 25W fast charging, the S22 Ultra supports up to 45W too which can drastically reduce the charge time.
As someone who enjoys listening to music, I’m quite surprised by how loud the speakers are as well. The audio is quite clear and punchy to the point that I could forget it’s not coming from a purpose-built sound system.
A great camera that nails the shots
Samsung never fails to equip their flagship smartphones with top-of-the-line camera systems, and the S22 Ultra is no different. Here are the specs:
- 40MP selfie camera
- Quad-camera setup with 108MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, and two 10MP telephoto cameras one with 3x zoom and the other with 10x zoom
- 100x Space Zoom
- Can record videos up to 8K 24FPS or 4K 60FPS
As usual, the camera performance is great as expected from a flagship device. I liked how I could crop my pictures after taking them without losing much visual fidelity because of the large 108MP image sensor.
The phone also has a bunch of magnification presets that let me easily change the zoom with simply a tap.
Based on my experience, I could see the 0.6x magnification being useful for taking pictures of landscapes or a large group of people. 2.0x magnification, on the other hand, is perfect for taking portrait shots because of the bokeh you get as you zoom in.
I can’t see myself using the 30x zoom or higher as much unless I’m trying to take pictures of a performer at a concert, or trying to take pictures of a bird that’s perched upon a rooftop off in the distance.
All in all, Samsung didn’t pull any punches when it came to developing the S22 Ultra. With it, you’re getting the most fully-equipped smartphone they have to offer, and it might be a while before we see a release from the brand that tops this (although we might just be pleasantly surprised later).
Unlike last year’s Ultra, you don’t even need to purchase a separate, bulky case just to store the S Pen, which means more attractive casing choices to pick from too.
The S22 Ultra costs RM5,099 (8GB, 128GB storage), RM5,499 (12GB, 256GB storage), and RM5,899 (12GB, 512GB storage). The 1TB version isn’t currently available in Malaysia.
Stay tuned for more breakdowns of the S22 Ultra user experience as we review the phone’s camera performance, gaming performance, and the S Pen.
|Matte finish that feels premium and barely attracts fingerprints||Hefty weight makes the phone quite tiring to hold after a long time|
|Able to run even the most demanding games smoothly||Sharp corners tend to dig into your palms depending on how you hold it|
|Automatically reduces refresh rate down to 1Hz to save on battery|
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