A gorgeous smartphone with a Galaxy Note flavor
We must preserve the legacy of the Galaxy Note. After the recent disappearance of the range, Samsung is making a bold bet: integrating the features that made it successful into the most premium version of the Galaxy S. The result is the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which differs from its smaller siblings in 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 unit, operating system and Exynos 2100 chip tick all the boxes to our satisfaction. The Galaxy S22 Ultra looks to do one better while consolidating its Galaxy Note legacy. Within two weeks, we made it our primary smartphone. Let’s get rid of the fuss right away, our opinion is very positive. On the other hand, it is less dithyrambic than last year.
Like Galaxy Note air
No more rounded edges, the Galaxy S22 Ultra inherits the convex and squared corners of the Galaxy Note. A design choice that makes the smartphone a little less pleasant in the hand, in our opinion. Because the already right angles support the inside of the hand, but above all because the grip seems less convincing to us. This change in form factor still has an advantage, it makes the smartphone more beautiful than its predecessor.
The impression that there is no border at the front is getting stronger. An effect highlighted by a slightly more curved screen than the 2021 release. Even if we see flat screens more comfortably in the hand, it is clear that the result is dazzling.
Same feeling behind. Samsung has revised the integration of its camera modules. No more protruding plates, each lens protrudes independently from the back of the smartphone. The idea is well received and the Korean giant is one step ahead of its competitors in terms of design. We’re used to Samsung, but the finish is flawless. The matte paint option carries over to the rear, and it confirms our opinion from last year: it’s gorgeous.
Of course, with a 6.8-inch screen, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is big. Even if Samsung has improved the operating system a lot in recent years to overcome this problem, the device will be difficult to use with one hand. It is also slightly taller and slightly thicker than its predecessor.
Weighing 229 grams, the device remains in the upper range without feeling unpleasant. Some users may be concerned, but it’s still lighter than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.
The main innovation is that this S22 Ultra combines the S Pen with a dedicated storage area on the bottom left of the smartphone. In fact, the S21 Ultra already came with a stylus, but didn’t include a place to store it. Here again, the legacy of the Note range is felt, as the interface and related features are almost identical to those available on the Galaxy Note 20. We’re not going to delve into Samsung’s choice to integrate the S Pen in this iteration. We have already published an article in which we explain why his interest is, in our opinion, questionable.
Still a gorgeous display
Samsung is a master at manufacturing screens and proves it once again. The Galaxy S22 Ultra simply has the brightest panel on the market. Our lab measured an average brightness of 1,135 cd/m² and a peak brightness of 1,601 cd/m², two absolute records since the beginning of our measurements.
Thanks to OLED and an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 frames per second, we still benefit from infinite contrasts. It is a constant pleasure in the hand, especially outdoors, its exceptional brightness allows it to be used in all conditions.
It is not easy to find fault with it, except for the accuracy of the displayed colors. This is a regular criticism of Koreans. By default, Samsung configures its display with particularly bright colors. As a result, the fidelity of the color is in doubt. Delta E was measured by our lab at 5.96. Note that the closer this number is to 1, the closer the colors are to the real rendering.
We advise you to change the display settings of the screen and configure it to “Natural”, here we measured Delta E 3. Colors look less artificial. Note that the color fidelity in this mode remains slightly worse compared to the S21 Ultra. This is quite surprising.
Exynos 2200 may be a bit young
This year again, Samsung offers two processors for its high-end terminal. One is the Exynos 2200 for Europe and the other is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 for the rest of the world. The 2022 vintage of Samsung’s in-house processor has been highly anticipated. Indeed, this chip, etched in 4 nm, was developed in collaboration with AMD. The architecture used is the same as the Xbox Series and Playstation 5. Inevitably, there was a strong expectation around its 3D performance and games.
Yes, the Exynos 2200 is powerful. Does it perform as expected? Not really. According to our tests, if the Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the most powerful Android smartphones on the market, it falls well behind the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic. It’s barely placed at the level of the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic.
We also note the relatively average stability in GPU usage. It’s clear that the S22 Ultra always tends to show the same performance in 3D usage, with results decreasing over time. It seems that the chip slows down the rhythm to limit the heating of the device. Our probe recorded temperatures up to 42.4 degrees Celsius in a higher range than its competitors.
But in use everything went well. All programs work perfectly. When it comes to 3D games, even the most demanding games, we never felt any slowdown. This is definitely not the case for all of our colleagues who have revealed that they encountered a number of concerns in their testing.
Samsung seems to be aware of the problem. Except, after being accused of limiting the SoC standardThe Korean announced an upcoming update to “unleash” the power of the Exynos 2200. Again, if temperatures get too high, the processor will always have to slow down.
Autonomy: day, no more!
Despite the 5,000 mAh battery, the Galaxy S22 Ultra offers relatively average battery life. Our versatile autonomy test, which simulates various uses of the smartphone until it shuts down, continued at 3:30 p.m. If it weren’t so bad, we’d love for Samsung to tickle iPhones.
The same observation in the video stream that our laboratory measured autonomy 12:18, fairly average. In fact, you can use your smartphone all day without needing to charge it, but not much more. In this price range, we have the right to expect more in 2022.
Especially since Samsung doesn’t offer ultra-fast charging. The S22 Ultra is compatible with 45W wired charging, but since Samsung has taken the charger out of the box, you’ll have to spend €49.99 to pay for its services! It takes 62 minutes to charge your device from 0 to 100%. The S22 Ultra is also compatible with 15W wireless charging.We wish the Korean manufacturer would make progress in this area.
Photo and video account in continuity
In the photo, Samsung refines the details after the very successful S21 Ultra. There are no big shakes in the focal lengths. For the main sensor, there’s an ultra-wide-angle equivalent of 13mm, equivalent to 24mm, a small telephoto ‘x3’ equivalent of 72mm, and a super telephoto ‘X10’, equivalent to 240mm. The Korean has packed a lot of improvements into the main sensor with bigger photodiodes. They are theoretically able to capture more light, giving photos better dynamic range.
We specify here that we will conduct more extensive testing in the coming days, but we can already say that this basic sensor is a success. Day or night, it will almost never fail you. Its autofocus is good and scene reproduction is excellent. Even at night, this main sensor is extremely efficient.
The ultra-wide angle is less convincing. During the day, it will provide more than acceptable shots, but image distortion is significant and sharpness at the edges of the image is quite poor. It also has irregular colorimetry compared to other sensors. At night, it will be necessary to have a slightly more optimistic definition of acceptable. Just like last year, our hunger continues.
The already excellent x3 optical zoom on the S21 Ultra does not disappoint. We even noted a real improvement in low light, with an almost always usable image, so we never hesitate to use it even in difficult conditions.
Finally, the 270mm equivalent still gets the job done very well in very good light conditions. It is still difficult to use at night.
A slight deviation towards the video. The S22 Ultra lets you shoot 8K 24 FPS or even 4K 60 FPS. Korea promises exceptional stability, and it’s… true. The combination of optics with algorithmic processing makes it possible not to feel the movements of the body during shooting.
The picture quality is really good, although it is slightly lower than the iPhone. It will be enough for any amateur videographer. Add to that the return of the director mode, which allows you to put your face back in the corner of the video in progress, and you already have a very complete vlog apparatus for small productions.
Equipment: always on top
Let’s get back to the other features of the Galaxy S22 Ultra shortly. Compatible with 5G, Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E. It’s still waterproof and uses reverse charging. It offers good quality stereo speakers.
Finally, the micro-SD port seems to have been abandoned entirely, while the dual Nano SIM port certainly makes a comeback. The fingerprint sensor under the screen is exactly the same as last year. Our criticism of its size is that it’s a bit too small for us, so again it applies, and we find Samsung has positioned it a bit too high. Nevertheless, its sensitivity is still generally satisfactory.
One UI 4.0 YES!
Anyone who used a Samsung before One UI arrived knows that overlay is a blessing. One UI 4.0 was released at the end of last year, so it logically equips this Galaxy S22 Ultra. The overlay carries over a few elements from Android 12, notably apps that change color based on the wallpaper.
It’s still just as enjoyable to use. Let’s take this opportunity to remind you that Samsung has committed to providing these terminals with security updates for four years. The connection is confirmed with the Galaxy S9, which received its latest update a few days ago as of this writing. This is a strong argument if you want to invest in a device for the long term.