The phone is finally here – and I spent the last week with this phone and I have a lot of things to share with you. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is literally a Note but called an S series smartphone. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
This is going to be a very long review and I suggest you watch our video instead.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra that we have here in Malaysia comes in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. This is the first time that we Malaysians are getting the Snapdragon version of the Galaxy S series of smartphones.
But I think it’s quite disappointing since the Exynos 2100 last year was much better than the Snapdragon 888 in terms of efficiency, and the Exynos 2200 this year comes with the AMD GPU which we don’t get to try out.
But enough of that – we’re reviewing the Galaxy S22 Ultra today and we’ll go across the usual 6 points when it comes to a smartphone. To streamline this review and not go off on a tangent, we’re going to focus mainly about the Galaxy S22 Ultra alone. We’ll have more future videos where we go in-depth in a few certain aspects.
Also – this entire review is scripted, edited, uploaded, and published by me alone. It is not paid or sponsored by anyone other than myself.
Let’s start off with the box of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. I knew that the box was smaller than the Galaxy S21 Ultra from last year, as mentioned by Samsung. However, I didn’t expect it to be that much smaller.
Of course, a box that is this thin means that there’s no charger inside the box, just like last year. I mean, we’re accustomed to it already – check out our quick unboxing here.
Then, we gotta talk about the design of this phone here. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s design is something that grew on me. Initially, I preferred the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s design. Samsung just embraced the camera bump instead of hiding and made it look pretty at the same time.
But when I looked at the Galaxy S22 Ultra with my own eyes, Samsung made that bump elegant. Just 5 circles, and that’s it.
Plus, because of how the camera circles are positioned, the phone doesn’t rock as much as the Galaxy S21 Ultra when caseless. That’s a nice plus point.
Also, the entire back of the phone is also covered by a very nice matte finish and it is available in a total of 4 different colors – the usual Phantom Black and Phantom White, then we have the new Burgundy and Green. I saw a lot of polls on Twitter to vote for which color is your favorite, and I saw a lot of people are going for Burgundy or Green.
Personally speaking, I’ll go for Green. While it has the name “green”, many people just said “oh, it’s blue” when they saw it for the first time. I get it – because this hue is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S10 series with the Prism Green color.
And I love that Prism Green color. Now that color is in this matte finish, it looks and feels great.
Even the sides of the phone are elegant as it rounds off smoothly. Both the front and the back pieces of glass curved into the frame while creating a perfect semicircle and I find this craftsmanship to be just insanely good. Plus, the top and bottom of the phone are flat, which is reminiscent of the Galaxy Note series of smartphones.
The entire back and front of the phone are also covered by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+, by the way.
Since we’re here, let’s move on to the screen of this phone. It’s a massive 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with up to 120Hz refresh rate or down to 1Hz to save battery, and has a resolution of 3088×1440 pixels.
On paper, it doesn’t sound like much but in truth, this display got a big upgrade in terms of brightness and color accuracy. When we whipped out our colorimeter to test its color accuracy and had to adjust its brightness, I got about 368 nits at the maximum, which wasn’t that impressive.
Then, I realized there is another button in the settings menu called “extra brightness”. I turned that option on, then cranked the brightness to 100% and I was immediately blinded. The Galaxy S22 Ultra went beyond 750 nits of brightness.
The Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t have this “extra brightness” option, by the way.
And yet, this phone manages to achieve every single brightness level with the perfect white point – that is to say, all the RGB output values are exactly the same while viewing white color.
Also, Samsung has this feature called “extra dim” where its brightness can go really low as well – perfect for viewing the screen in complete darkness.
Then, we dialed it back to 100 nits of brightness – which is what we typically use indoors – and continued with the color accuracy test. We got near 100% for both sRGB and DCI-P3 by default. Oh, I should have mentioned that I didn’t change any color profile in the settings menu. I just got the phone and did this test immediately.
Of course, you can use the magnificent screen to view the magnificent photos and videos that you took on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. This phone comes with a total of 5 different cameras – each serving its own purpose. The camera setup is similar to the Galaxy S21 Ultra too, but we’re leaving for the camera comparison between those two phones in another video.
I really do want to show you all the amazing pictures taken with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it’s better if you watch our video at the top of this review.
We also have video tests too – both in daylight and at night, shot in 4K 60fps.
Moving on to the performance. The Galaxy S22 Ultra that we have in Malaysia now comes with the Snapdragon chipset – namely the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Like what we’ve mentioned in our performance test, even though it is thermally-throttled and games are rendered at a lower resolution, the frame rate coming out of it is pretty good and it definitely didn’t overheat as the surface temperature is below 40°C all the time.
I mean, this phone isn’t even made for gaming so thermal throttling to maintain a comfortable user experience is understandable. I just wish there’s an unlock to go full blast.
Still, I wanted to know how the Exynos 2200 with the AMD GPU performs – but it seems to be only available in Europe now.
Moving on to the battery life of this phone, I’m impressed that Samsung actually managed to fit in a 5,000mAh battery despite having to sacrifice a bit of space for the S Pen to slot inside.
I can provide the usual battery life test result to you right now, but let’s make it interesting a little. I’ll spoil this comparison for you. I calibrated the Galaxy S21 Ultra with the Exynos 2100 and the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 at 100 nits brightness, adaptive frame rate 1440p resolution, and connected to WiFi. Both phones ran the PCMark 10 battery life test, side by side. I even filmed a timelapse of it. Hint: watch our review video at the top.
The result is astonishing actually quite perplexing. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, which had gone through a lot of charge cycles as it was my daily driver for 8 months last year, had a SIM card in it while also having both Facebook Messenger and Telegram running in the background, and yet it still manages to outlast the brand new Galaxy S22 Ultra.
This could be caused by a few reasons – either the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is inefficient, or the optimizations for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and subsequently the Galaxy S22 Ultra is not that good yet. Either way, there is a noticeable gap but I don’t think it’s a big deal as that massive 5,000mAh battery can easily outlast my single day of usage.
As for the charging time, we used our Ugreen 100W GaN charger to test out the charging times on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. While Samsung did claim this phone to support up to 45W of wired fast charging, our wattmeter reported only 28W – which is weird. We don’t know why this is happening so we’ll leave this mystery for another time.
Either way, I just left it there to charge and it charged up from 15% to 100% in about an hour – which is actually quite fast.
Software – One UI 4.1
Lastly, the software. Comes pre-installed with Android 12 and Samsung’s One UI 4.1, it just feels the same as the Galaxy Z Fold3.
I’ve got so accustomed to the features available on One UI that it is within my muscle memory to utilize those features – like Edge Panel with the screenshot snippet tool, or Samsung Pay for that matter.
To me, they’re not bloatware as I actually use these features. I’ve seen other smartphone brands try to mimic these features but in a sloppy manner so Samsung’s One UI is still my go-to skin for Android phones.
Oh – Samsung also bumped up their software update policy too. Samsung promised a total of 4 generations of Android OS upgrades and 5 years of security patches for the entire Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S22 series of smartphones. That’s even better than Google themselves!
And we shouldn’t forget about the main star of the show – the S Pen. Since the Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically a Note, the S Pen is stored inside the phone. However, whatever color of the Galaxy S22 Ultra that you bought, only the tip of the pen will be corresponding to the phone’s color. The shaft of the S Pen will all be in this black color.
That’s not a big deal – but the thinness is a big deal to me. Yes, it’s much more convenient than the Galaxy S21 Ultra where we need to use a specific phone case just to carry the S Pen around and we don’t have to deal with deteriorating cases too.
But, comparing the sizes of the S Pen, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s S Pen is thicker and hence more comfortable to hold. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s S Pen is the same twig-like S Pen like the Galaxy Note20 series.
Still, if you just want to whip out the S Pen to take a quick note or to sketch something, then it shouldn’t be a problem. Else, you can get the LAMY Safari Twin Pen that has a ballpoint pen and an S Pen for a more comfortable grip.
Or get the S Pen Pro – our review here.
What I’m impressed though, is that the new S Pen feels really responsive. Samsung has a prediction algorithm to enhance the latency of the S Pen down to just 2.8ms. The numbers don’t put anything into perspective, but I really felt a difference while writing or drawing on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It’s really effective.
As a quick mention, the new Samsung Notes can convert more handwritten languages into texts. I only know how to write English and Malay, so that is something that I can’t really test. Even though I’m Chinese, I don’t actually know how to read or write Chinese.
Should you buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra?
So, finally – the question is – should you buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra? Well, if you’re already eyeing a new Galaxy Note smartphone, then this Galaxy S22 Ultra is your only option.
To me, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is like improving the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which is already my personal perfect phone of the year 2021. Then, Samsung added the S Pen to the S22 Ultra to further sweeten up the deal.
What I’m concerned though, is the starting configuration available for the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
I suggest not to buy the base version of 128GB + 8GB RAM @ RM5,099. That 128GB is insufficient, especially since the cameras on the Galaxy S22 Ultra are so good that I think anyone holding this phone will become trigger-happy.
I suggest you get at least the 256GB + 12GB RAM RM5,499. Yes, the price is steeper but if you are willing to spend that much for a smartphone, then I can assure you that it’s worth your money.
Before I end this review – there is one question that I’ve been asked a lot – will I change my daily driver phone from the Galaxy Z Fold3 to the Galaxy S22 Ultra? It’s tempting for sure, but I don’t think I will. At least not yet. The Galaxy Z Fold3’s massive display when unfolded is something that no other phones can replace.