[Review] A Noteworthy Winner: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
+ Super bright and smooth display
- No microSD card slot
+ Premium design
- Reduced RAM capacity
+ Excellent performance
+ Faster S Pen support
+ Great camera performance
After unboxing, we've finally got to try Samsung's latest flagship, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. As the highest-end sibling in the S22 family, it boasts several tip-top features that set it apart from the other siblings, including a large 6.8" QHD+ display, up to 512GB of storage, a massive 5000mAh battery, a 108MP wide camera, and a 40MP front-facing camera. Perhaps, what really makes it unique is that the S22 Ultra now supports the S Pen.
Before its official launch, the S22 Ultra is already known for its similar design to the Galaxy Note. While its two other siblings are identical to each other, this one has a remarkably stunning and premium design with flat edges on the top and bottom with squared-off corners. The left and right sides remain curved, offering a comfortable grip.
Samsung has used Armor Aluminium for its frame too and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ on both front and back for extra durability. Standard for this flagship device is its IP68 water and dust resistance. Even the S Pen stylus gets the same rating. Samsung claims that it can hold out in freshwaters up to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.
On the back, the cameras are no more housed in a bump. Instead, the rear cameras now have their own individual rings aligned on the top corner for a clean and elegant approach.
Over to the bottom edge, there's a SIM card slot, a USB-C charging port, a speaker grille, and the S Pen clicked into its dedicated slot. The power button and volume rocker are located on the right.
Overall, the S22 Ultra is a premium-looking smartphone and it feels solid. Its bigger size may be bulkier for some and you'd need two hands to handle the phone, especially for those who have small hands. Fortunately for us, the unit that we received comes in Green color. It also offers other color options, including Phantom Black, Phantom White, and a new Burgundy. Our unit has a matte finish and repels fingerprints decently.
Display and Audio
The big 6.8" Dynamic AMOLED 2x display has an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate for super smooth scrolling and animations. To conserve the phone's battery life, you can opt for the lower 60Hz refresh rate in the settings menu. Paired with the adaptive refresh rate is Samsung's new Vision Booster technology, which automatically adjusts the screen to your surrounding lighting, mapping the ideal tone of an image by maximizing the color contrast based on its surroundings and content. This simply means viewing experience is improved whether you're indoors or outdoors, even when you're walking under broad daylight.
Movies binging is an incredible experience on this phone as it offers three screen resolution options: HD+, FHD+, and WQHD+. It also covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut so images on-screen won't appear washed out. Also worth noting, it has a peak brightness of 1,750 nits and a contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1. A bonus for gamers is a high 240Hz touch sampling rate.
Integrated into the display is an ultrasonic fingerprint reader, which is super quick and accurate in terms of responsiveness. During my time of using the phone, it didn't show any virtual lag between my touch input and the phone responding to the touches.
In terms of audio, it's not a surprise that the device doesn't include a 3.5mm headphone jack. If you only have wired earphones, you'll need to get an adapter or a USB-C headphone. Sound is produced from the bottom-firing speaker and one in the earpiece. Overall, the audio has high clarity but those who love heavy bass would've preferred punchier beats. Still, you'll get an amazing experience from the built-in speakers that support Dolby Atmos.
With almost the same rear camera setup as the S21 Ultra, it packs a 40MP selfie camera and four cameras on the back, which include a 108MP F1.8 main camera that uses pixel binning to produce 12MP shots in auto mode, a 12MP F2.2 ultra-wide camera, a 10MP 3x F2.4 optical zoom sensor, and a 10MP 10x F4.9 periscope zoom sensor.
The S22 Ultra has the best camera system in a device that we're reviewed up to date and I must applaud how it's capable of delivering sharp details and crisp colors. The main sensor undoubtedly snaps excellent details with a wide dynamic range in daytime and slightly pushed color. The food, for example, didn't look that appetizing-looking in real-life but it looks so mouth-watering here.
3x and 10x optical zoom
The ultrawide and zoom sensors also didn't disappoint at all under bright conditions. The optical zoom get things done like the main unit with solid amount of details as well as on point color and exposure.
As for selfies, results are also great with accurate colors and plenty of details in both normal and portrait modes. The portrait mode has more bokeh than the normal one and automatically enables the night mode when you're taking selfies in a dim background.
When it comes to video recording, it supports up to 8K resolution at 24fps. It now has an improved Super Steady mode for your videos to look very stable but in this mode, it only maxes out at Full HD and 60fps ( a slight bummer, though). I'm personally more satisfied with videos at UHD resolution and 60fps because the recording is simply smoother.
Samsung also introduced a new Auto Framerate feature, which automatically adjusts the optimal frame rate according to your surrounding light conditions. It's capable of detecting up to 10 people within 5 meters in the camera frame and will automatically focus on the subjects.
The Nightography feature is supposed to help capture better images at night or in the dark. In our test, the results fall behind compared to when there's enough light, producing moderate results. I even tried the ultrawide and zoom sensors at night. Of course, if you can enable the Night Mode to illuminate your subject at night.
Without Night Mode
With Night Mode
Videos captured in the dark fared pretty okay too.
Tucked nicely into its slot is an upgraded S Pen with a matte finish and a cute cap that matches the color of the rear cover of the phone, so we got ourselves a green cap. The S Pen now has a 70% improvement in latency, down from 9ms to 2.8ms.
Writing with the S Pen has been an impressive experience. It uses AI to detect when the stylus is taken out and hovered to the screen, prompting the Air command menu. If you have used a Samsung tablet or a Galaxy Note before, you'd be familiar with the features it offers, such as Screen Write, AR Doodle, PENUP, and more.
While it's very responsive, I personally still feel awkward when writing on the smooth glass screen. Another interesting and useful feature of the S Pen is its ability to double as a remote shutter when the camera is on.
The S22 Ultra features two different chipsets options depending on different regions, either the Exynos 2200 or the Snapdragon 8 Gen I. Our unit is powered by the latter, paired with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There are also two other configurations available, 12+256 GB and 12+512 GB. Unfortunately, base RAM has been reduced compared to the S21 Ultra as you only get up to 12GB in this one while its predecessor offers up to 16GB.
Despite ours only having 8GB of RAM, it's still super smooth when launching and closing apps. Even in games like Genshin Impact and the new Apex Legends Mobile, it didn't show any sign of hiccups. If you ever feel the need to expand RAM, simply add up to 8GB of virtual RAM under the RAM Plus feature in the settings menu. However, it heats up as much as the S22+ when running games or using the camera.
For this model, Samsung uses a bigger 5000mAh battery compared to the 4500mAh battery in the S22+. According to our test, it has over 12 hours of battery life. In the real world, it didn't struggle to last through the day with around 25% left. The remaining battery life can last long enough before you hook it up to your office's wall but a night charge is always more secure. For charging, it supports up to 45W wired charging and 15W wireless charging.
We also ran several benchmark tests for the device if you're curious about the figures.
Buy or no buy
The Galaxy S22 Ultra may be pricey with a starting price of RM5,099 but it sure is an excellent flagship device that will satisfy both Galaxy S and Galaxy Note fans at once. Besides the notable built-in S Pen, you actually get a boost in performance, display, and camera performance, pretty much covering what you'll need for work, life, and play.
If we were to nitpick, it would be the lack of expandable storage and reduced base RAM offered in this model. Not dealbreakers, though, if you ask me. So, if you have the right amount of cash lying around, the S22 Ultra is a good buy. If you think that you don't need the S Pen, the S22+ that we recently reviewed might be a good choice for you.