There are two big headlines this year when it comes to Samsung’s S22 lineup: night photos and videos are improved, and the top of the line Ultra now comes with a stylus.
For my review, I tested out the S22 Ultra and the S22+. In fact, I switched my primary SIM card into the S22 Ultra to get a true feel of what it would be like to use this phone on a daily basis.
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Let’s start with the S22 and S22+, as I imagine these are the phones most people will get. They are perfectly capable smartphones, with mostly speedy software and great cameras.
I say mostly speedy because I feel like I witnessed a bit of choppiness as I made my way around the phone. It wasn’t as buttery an experience as an iPhone. One software update might smooth things over.
I love this year’s design, the squared off sides make these phones super easy to hold. In fact, with Samsung’s official case on the S22+, it was the perfect size smartphone for me to carry around.
The S22 and S22+ start at $800 and are best for casual, everyday users.
If you really want the full Samsung experience and the best they have to offer in 2022, the $1200 S22 Ultra is the phone to get.
It is nearly perfect in every way: fast, fluid and loaded with every single feature you can imagine.
It is big, but manageable. I just wish it had the same design as its smaller siblings, which would make it so much easier to hold. It’s not as slippery as the Pixel 6 Pro, but you’ll want to get a case on this thing immediately.
The S22 Ultra is packed with lenses that zoom in up to 100 times. Optical zoom is 10x which is pretty rare for a smartphone. The iPhone 13 Pro is 3x optical and the Pixel 6 Pro is 4x. This gives you a lot of options for closer shots even when you’re further away from the action.
The S22 Ultra doubles as a notepad thanks to its built-in stylus, but you must be into this. It’s not something you find on a lot of phones, so you’re either used to it from having a previous Note or you’re ready to dive in and own it. There really isn’t an in between if you’re getting this phone.
The entire experience on the S22 Ultra feels polished. The cameras are excellent and take great pictures with less fuss than ever.
Portrait mode pictures look great down to every strand of hair thanks to AI that can detect outlines better than ever.
You’ll have no problem capturing bright nighttime photos and videos. They have improved. The iPhone still seems better for videos at night, but the differences are getting tougher to spot.
I had an absolute blast with the camera on the Ultra. The iPhone camera is solid, but the Ultra camera is fun. There are so many modes to play with you’ll never run out of new things to try.
One small but fun feature in Android 12 is the ability to have the software match the icons and system accents to your wallpaper color. It’s neat to select this option when you’re switching wallpapers.
As much as I loved the Ultra, there were some quirks. I missed the integration with Apple Watch, which I believe to be the best wearable on the market. Sure, I could have tried connecting a Samsung watch, but I didn’t have one for the purposes of this review.
Text messaging on Android is still a mess, but only when you’re texting an iPhone, which is most of the time if you live in the U.S. Sending photos and videos to someone using iMessage is just sad. I can’t blame Samsung or Google for this one, it’s mostly Apple’s fault for keeping it this way and not adopting the RCS standard that would improve cross-platform message exchange immensely.
The Ultra also gets high marks for being able to customize the software experience in a million little ways to make it yours.
Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra represents the most Android you can get in 2022, but you must be prepared to fully take advantage of the bells and whistles to make this phone worth it.
Otherwise, the S22 or the S22+ are a good choice.