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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in hand

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: With great power comes great financial responsibility

Powerful in every way, the Samsung S22 Ultra is the ultimate Android experience… if you can stomach the price.

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5

Our review

Samsung has combined its Note and S series devices to make one of the most powerful phones around, but with all that power comes a big price tag.
Pros: - Incredibly powerful
- Fantastic camera and zoom functions
- Included S pen stylus
- Excellent display
Cons: - Fast draining battery
- Too large for smaller hands
- Very pricey

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a device asking you to forget about money in exchange for the ultimate mobile experience. It’s flashy, extremely powerful and offering some of the highest specs available in pretty much every category… but with a price tag exceeding £1,100, is this luxury worth the price tag?

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We spent a month with the phone to answer this exact question, testing how much use we got out of Samsung’s souped-up flagship and its high-end specs, asking whether this top-of-the-line Android experience is worth your time.

Wielding the S pen

The first thing any fan of Samsung will notice here is how much the Galaxy S22 Ultra looks like the now discontinued Note series. In many ways, this is the spiritual successor, blending the S and Note into one.

The Note series was a range of handsets that were powerful, tall, wide and came with a stylus included – consider it Samsung’s attempt at a phone for creatives or those needing a productivity powerhouse.

With the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, there is the same shape and body as the Note 20 Ultra, and it is equally huge in size. This is great news for those who loved the Note design, and especially so for those who are after a large phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with S pen stylus

However, the most obvious feature that makes this a Note of sorts is the S pen stylus – a beloved feature of the Note. Tucked up inside the phone, you simply push the end of it and the stylus will pop out.

The stylus is very much a love it or hate it feature and for me, I barely touched it. While it often felt more like an inconvenience for me, or I just completely forgot about it, there are some really smart things you can do with it… if you take the time to learn them.

Past the obvious scrolling and drawing, the S pen can be used to create gifs, snap, crop and save specific shots of your screen, extract large chunks of texts, edit photos, and even perform shortcuts by waving your pen in certain wizard-like movements.

Becoming a camera pro

Now that every powerful smartphone is like a mini-DSLR in your pocket, it can be hard to notice differences in camera quality between devices. The S22 Ultra, on the other hand, clearly stands out.

Turn the device over and you’ll see a lot of cameras, four to be exact. This includes a 108MP wide, two 10MP telephoto and a 12MP ultra-wide lens.

The device’s main trick is its zoom functions. You are able to zoom in by up to 100 times. While this is nothing new – Samsung has been able to do this on previous devices – the technology has been enhanced on this model. The image stabilisation means that even when you are extremely zoomed in, you’ll be able to keep steady, with the phone taking control and focusing on a target.

I tested this at a stadium concert where, despite being very far away, I could still sneak some close-up and pretty solid photos, pretending like I was much nearer than my cheap seats. When the lighting was better, I could get photos of buildings that were far away, focusing in on features, or details in clear quality.

The wide and ultra wide lenses offer equally as impressive photography. Through a feature called Adaptive Pixel, Samsung is able to take 9 pixels of information and combine them together. This allows for better colour and contrast on your photos. There is also an additional boost in terms of focus from the laser auto-focus sensor on the back of the phone. This together with the powerful processor in the phone means quick, high-quality photos in most situations, especially in the day. However, Samsung does have a tendency to go slightly heavy on saturation and colour, so expect your photos to occasionally look like they’ve been slapped by an Instagram filter.

Powerful internals and stylish designs

Considering the price tag, it will come as no surprise that each part of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is top-of-the-line.

The body of the device is a solid Armour Aluminium that feels tough and like it could take some force. With no case on, the phone has a smooth back that is surprisingly resistant to fingerprints.

The Ultra comes in at a whopping 6.8-inches and is noticeably thick. While this weight makes it feel sturdy and well-made, it is hard to hold and will be an absolute nightmare for those with smaller hands. I’m used to larger smartphones, but often found it poking out of the top of my pocket or having to shimmy the phone around to reach parts of the screen.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The display is AMOLED and supports 3,088 x 1,440 resolution. That means that if you’re willing to sacrifice battery life, you can experience a superior resolution and brightness saved for the best smartphones. However, you can lower that resolution at any time.

Zooming inside the handset, you’ll find a 5,000mAh battery which, while impressive in size and capacity, often drains at surprisingly fast rates, frequently only getting you through one day of usage. That’s not the end of the world but it is a shame for such an expensive device.

As for processing power, Samsung is using its own Exynos 2200 chipset. This is one of the most powerful options around for smartphones, meaning you’ll find few tasks that give you any problems. Demanding games, editing software and other big tasks all performed without any stutters. In fact, in the month that we had the phone, there was no point where the cracks started to show for performance, offering a fast and fluid experience at all times.

Is this the phone for you?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a double-edged sword. It doesn’t do anything in half measures. It goes all in on the camera, design, materials, processor, battery, and of course, price.

Do you need the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra? Realistically, no. This is an Android experience all about luxury, testing what happens when you throw cash at a smartphone to create the full package.

If you love phone technology and are after the best of the best, you’re in the right place. If for you, a price exceeding £1,000 seems insane, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are plenty of other fantastic top-tier Android devices to choose from (some of which we’ve listed below), all at slightly more affordable prices.

Alternatives to Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

iPhone 13 Pro Max

iPhone 13 Pro Max © Apple

If you’re willing to change sides, Apple actually has the best alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – the iPhone 13 Pro Max. This handset has a more powerful processor, a better camera (although lacking the same zoom features), and has a battery that can last for a longer period of time.

Of course, you won’t get the same Android experience as you would with Samsung’s flagship, and Apple still has the black bar at the top of the screen, but it is otherwise Samsung’s biggest competitor for the best smartphone around.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6 Pro © Google

Google has slowly been improving its smartphones and with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, it feels like the closest it has got to matching Samsung. Much cheaper (and easier to hold), the Google Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming.

It has a powerful camera setup which, while lacking the zoom functionality of the Ultra, is one of the best point-and-shoots, offering consistently great photos.

While the battery life is slightly lacklustre, it is otherwise a fantastic choice for the price.

OnePlus 10 Pro

OnePlus 10 Pro © OnePlus

In terms of looks, overall feel and power, the OnePlus 10 Pro feels like the closest competitor you’ll get to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it comes at a much lower price.

It offers a great battery life and powerful processor, a high-end screen to rival the Ultra, and it even offers super-fast charging, getting your device from dead to fully charged in just an hour.

However, where it does fall short is in its camera performance. Despite having a collaboration with the legendary Hasselblad, the OnePlus 10 Pro fails to land the same kind of shots as its competitor.

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