a sublime smartphone with the scent of the Galaxy Note
We must save the legacy of the Galaxy Note. After its recent loss of reach, Samsung is taking a bold bet: integrating the features that made it successful in its most premium Galaxy S yet. The result is a Galaxy S22 Ultra that differs from its smaller brother with a square form factor and native S Pen integration.
Last year, we called the S21 Ultra “the best smartphone on the market”. It has to be said that its LTPO screen, photo partition, operating system and Exynos 2100 chip tick all the boxes to satisfy us. The Galaxy S22 Ultra wants to do better, while integrating the legacy of the Galaxy Note. For two weeks, we made it our main smartphone. Let’s get rid of the tension right away, our opinion is very positive. On the other hand, dithyrambic less than last year.
Like the air of the Galaxy Note
Gone are the rounded edges, the Galaxy S22 Ultra inherits the prominent, square corners from the Galaxy Note. A design choice that makes the smartphone a little uncomfortable in our hands. Already because of the right angle supporting the inside of the hand, but mainly because the grip seems less than convincing to us. This form factor change still has advantages, making the smartphone even more beautiful than its predecessor.
At the front, the impression of no edge is emphasized. The effect is highlighted by the screen which is slightly curved compared to the 2021 edition. Even though we feel that flat screens are more comfortable to hold, it is clear to the eye, the results are dazzling.
The same feeling behind. Samsung has revised its camera module integration. No more protruding plates, each lens emerges independently from the back of the smartphone. The idea was welcomed and the Korean giant is one step ahead of its competitors in terms of design. We’re used to Samsung, but the end result is perfect. The matte treatment option is carried over to the back, confirming our take from last year: it’s damn good.
Of course, with a 6.8-inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is quite large. It can be tricky to use the device one-handed, even if Samsung has improved its operating system in recent years to address this issue. It’s also slightly taller and slightly thicker than its predecessor.
Weight-wise, at 229 grams, this device stays in the upper end of the range, without being displeasing. Some users may be annoyed, but it’s still lighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The main novelty, this S22 Ultra integrates the S Pen with a dedicated storage space at the bottom left of the smartphone. In fact, the S21 Ultra is compatible with a stylus, but doesn’t include a place to store it. Here again, the legacy of the Note range is felt as the interface and related functions are almost identical to those of the Galaxy Note 20. We will not go into an analysis of Samsung’s choice to integrate the S Pen in this iteration. We’ve published an article in which we explain why his interest is, in our opinion, questionable.
The screen is still luxurious
Samsung is a master of display production and has proven it once again. The Galaxy S22 Ultra quite simply has the brightest panel on the market. Our lab measured an average brightness of 1,135 cd/m² and a peak brightness of up to 1,601 cd/m², two absolute records since the start of our measurements.
We still benefit from unlimited contrast thanks to OLED and an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 frames per second. In the hand, it’s a constant pleasure, especially outdoors where its exceptional luminosity allows it to be used in all circumstances.
It’s not easy to find fault with, except for the correctness of the colors shown. This is a reproach that Koreans often make. By default, Samsung configures its screen with bright colors. As a result, color fidelity is questionable. Delta E was measured at 5.96 by our laboratory. As a reminder, the closer this number is to 1, the closer the color will be to the actual rendering.
We recommend that you change the screen display settings and configure it to “Natural” where we measure a Delta E of 3. The colors appear less artificial. Note that color fidelity in this mode remains slightly worse than on the S21 Ultra. This is quite surprising.
The Exynos 2200 may be a bit young
This year again, Samsung is offering two processors for its high-end terminals. One for Europe, Exynos 2200, and the other, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, for the rest of the world. The 2022 model year of Samsung’s internal processor is highly anticipated. Indeed, this chip engraved in 4 nm was designed in collaboration with AMD. The architecture used is the same as in the Xbox Series and in the Playstation 5. Inevitably, strong expectations have been created around its performance and 3D games.
Yes, the Exynos 2200 is powerful. Is the performance as good as expected? Not too. According to our tests, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most powerful Android smartphones on the market, the Galaxy S22 Ultra remains far behind the A15 Bionic of the iPhone 13. It’s barely on the level of the A14 Bionic of the iPhone 12.
We also note relatively average stability in GPU usage. Obviously, the S22 Ultra tends not to always deliver the same performance in 3D use, with results diminishing as time goes on. It seems that the chip slows down the rhythm to limit device heating. Our investigation registered temperatures of up to 42.4 degrees, somewhat in the upper range compared to its competitors.
However, in use, everything works fine. All apps work flawlessly. As for 3D games, even the most demanding ones, we never noticed any slowdown. This is not necessarily the case for all of our colleagues who have expressed in their tests that they experienced some discomfort.
Samsung seems to be aware of the problem. After being accused of holding back its SoC, except benchmarksKorea has announced an upcoming update to “unleash” the power of the Exynos 2200. However, if the temperature rises too high, the processor must always slow down.
Autonomy: days, nothing more!
Despite having a 5,000 mAh battery, the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers relatively average battery life. In our versatile autonomy test, which simulates various smartphone uses until they run out, the test takes place at 15:30. Without getting bad, we want Samsung to tickle the iPhone.
The same observation in streaming video where our laboratory measured 12:18 autonomy, a fairly average score. Actually, you can use your smartphone all day long without needing to charge it, but not much more. In this price range, in 2022, we have the right to expect more.
Mainly because Samsung doesn’t offer ultra fast charging. The S22 Ultra is compatible with 45 W wired charging. However, since Samsung removed the mains charger from the box, you will have to spend 49.99 euros to buy the service! It takes 62 minutes to charge your device from 0 to 100%. The S22 Ultra is also compatible with 15 W wireless charging. We would like the Korean manufacturer to make progress in this area.
A score of photos and videos in continuity
In the photos, Samsung fleshes out the details after the hugely successful S21 Ultra. There’s no major upheaval in focal length. There is an ultra-wide-angle equivalent of 13mm, for the main sensor, equivalent to 24mm, a small telephoto “x3” equivalent to 72mm, and a super telephoto “X10”, equivalent to 240mm. The Koreans have focused a large number of improvements on the main sensor with larger photodiodes. They are theoretically capable of capturing more light, giving a photo a better dynamic range.
We specified here that we will be conducting more extensive testing in the coming days, but we can tell you that this primary sensor is a hit. Day or night, almost never let you down. The autofocus is good and the scene reproduction excellent. Even at night, the main sensor is highly efficient.
The ultra-wide angle is less convincing. In daylight, this will give a more than acceptable shot, but image distortion is substantial and sharpness is quite poor at the edges of the image. There is also an irregular colorimetry compared to other sensors. At night, it is necessary to have a slightly more optimistic definition of what is acceptable. Like last year, we are still hungry.
The x3 optical zoom, which was already very good on the S21 Ultra, doesn’t disappoint. We even noted a marked improvement in low light with a usable image most of the time, so we never hesitated to use it, even in difficult conditions.
Finally, the 270 mm equivalent still performs very well in very good light conditions. At night, it is still difficult to use.
Bit of a detour to the video. The S22 Ultra lets you shoot up to 8K 24 FPS or even 4K 60 FPS. The Koreans promise excellent stabilization, and it is… true. The combination of optics with algorithmic processing makes it possible not to feel body movements during shooting.
The image quality is really good, even though it’s still a little below the iPhone. This will be sufficient for any amateur videographer. Add to that the return of director mode which lets you put your face back in the corner of the ongoing video, and you have a very well-rounded vlogging toolkit for small productions.
Hardware: always on top
Let’s quickly return to the other functions of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It is compatible with 5G, Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E. It’s still water-resistant and takes advantage of reverse charging. It offers quite good quality stereo speakers.
Lastly, the micro-SD port seems to have been completely abandoned, while the dual Nano SIM port is of course making a comeback. The under-display fingerprint sensor is pretty much identical to last year’s. Our criticism of its size, which was a little too small for us, therefore prevails again, and we find that Samsung has overstated it a bit. However, overall responsiveness is still satisfactory.
One UI 4.0 is YES!
Anyone who used Samsung before One UI arrived knows this overlay is a godsend. One UI 4.0 was released at the end of last year and logically complements this Galaxy S22 Ultra. Overlays carries some elements from Android 12, in particular an app that changes colors based on your wallpaper.
In use, it’s still a pleasure. We also take this opportunity to remember that Samsung has promised to bring security updates to this terminal for four years. Engagement verified with the Galaxy S9 which received its latest update a few days ago as of this writing. If you are looking to invest in a long term device this is a strong argument.