Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict) | T3 T3 T3

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict) | T3 T3 T3

To sum up this Samsung Galaxy Ultra S22 review: for productivity and creativity, it looks like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra could be the best phone of the year.

At the Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event on the 9th of February 2022, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra debuted alongside the Samsung Galaxy S22, the Samsung Galaxy S22+ and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8.

You get the best bits from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra mixed with everything we miss about the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, and all of that is combined with the most up to date smartphone hardware as well as the latest Android software. Smartphone manufacturers across the world must be shaking in their boots right now.

Not only is it the best Samsung phone you can buy right now, but it’s also likely to be the best Android phone for those who don’t mind splashing out a little.

I was lucky enough to have taken an early look at the handset, and here lie my first takes on it. Stay tuned for the full review which will be coming to T3 later this month.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict): what’s new

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has had the biggest shakeup of all of the S22 phones. Rectangular in shape, it looks very different from the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. And unlike last year’s device, you’ll now get the S Pen included in the box which can be housed in a handy slot on the handset.

The display remains largely the same, although the Adaptive Refresh Rate now ranges from as little as 1Hz up to 120Hz which should help to conserve battery life. There’s also a new Vision Booster feature which is meant to make the screen more visible in bright sunlight.

While the number of megapixels in the camera lenses has stayed exactly the same, there are loads of new and improved camera features to try out. That includes new auto-framing to detect how many people are in the shot, an improved Portrait mode and a better Night mode which you can now use across both photography and video.

To enhance the look of your videos, the camera can now automatically adjust the frame rate according to the lighting conditions, deliver better HDR functions, give you super steady filming and there’s a new Adaptive Pixel feature that merges the brighter image and a high-res 108MP image to produce a much more detailed shot.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 series runs on Android 12 with Samsung’s latest One UI 4.0 interface.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict): price and release date

Announced on the 9th February 2022, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is available for pre-order now starting from $1,199 in the US, £1,149 in the UK and AU$1,849 for 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage.

You can also choose to buy it with 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage for $1300 / £1,329 / AU$2,000 or with 12GB RAM and 1TB of storage for $1,600 / £1,499 / AU$2,500. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where you can pick one up in your region.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict): design and display

Looking a little different to how you might have expected, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a fresh new design that screams sophistication. You can buy it in a few different colourways, those being black, white and burgundy.

It looks a little like a notepad - rectangular with sharp, angular corners. The two long sides curve seamlessly around the edges of the phone but one of the biggest changes is that along the bottom edge, there’s a tiny slot for the included S Pen. To release it, you just need to press the end of the stylus.

The four camera lenses on the back don’t sit in a module, instead, each one stands alone and is integrated into the back panel. It looks very smart. Don’t get me wrong, they do stick out a little and the phone rocks slightly when you use it on a flat surface, but not so much so that it gets annoying.

If you are reading this thinking ‘I’ve seen this before’ then you’ve hit the nail on the head. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra takes inspiration from the Galaxy Note series, a phone that was built for productivity. We didn’t see a Note 21 hit the shelves last year, and now it’s clear why not. Samsung has combined the Ultra and the Note to create the ultimate productivity handset for professionals and enthusiasts.

Made from Armor Aluminium with Gorilla Glass Victus, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra should be durable and tough enough to withstand damage if you were to knock it or drop it. It’s also IP68 rated so will survive being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for 30 minutes, and it won’t be impacted by dust or dirt.

Samsung is committed to being more eco-conscious when it comes to its products and the materials used to build them. As such, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is made from ocean-bound plastics like discarded fishing nets, and the packaging it comes in is completely recyclable as well. It's great to see those changes being made without impacting the premium look and feel of the phone.

Bigger than the other devices in the series, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra measures 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm and weighs 229g. If you have small hands, or small pockets, you might find it a bit of a pain to use. But because it’s so big, the screen fits a lot of information on it at once.

The 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Edge QHD+ screen has a peak brightness of 1,750 nits. To cut a long story short: it’s beautiful.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict) | T3 T3 T3

Sharp and detailed, you can use this screen for just about anything whether that’s photo editing or gaming. Streaming video on it should be great because the display is big enough to comfortably watch shows on, more like watching on a miniature tablet than on a phone.

There’s also an Adaptive Refresh Rate that is automatically adjusted from as little as 1Hz right up to a seriously smooth 120Hz, depending on the task at hand. That should help to conserve the battery. It’s a delight to scroll and swipe on this screen, even though I couldn't delve too deeply into it.

A lot of this phone’s hardware is complemented and improved by artificial intelligence, and the screen is no different. Vision Booster intelligently adjusts the display so you can see every detail even when you’re looking at it in bright sunlight. It should maximise the contrast and make colours look more vivid. I couldn’t test this out properly when I got an early look at the phone, but it’ll be interesting to see how well this works day-to-day.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict): camera system

Let’s talk through the camera tech, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra keeps its lenses the same as last year with a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 108MP wide camera and two 10MP telephoto cameras (one with 3x optical zoom and the other with 10x optical zoom). You also get a 40MP front camera for selfies.

You can expect to take some impressive shots on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the camera system is one of the best you’ll find on any smartphone up to this point. But this year, it’s the new and improved camera features that are really worth talking about.

When I got hands-on with the device, I only had a short amount of time to try them out so you’ll have to wait for the full review for an in-depth look at everything the camera has to offer and how the new features perform.

One of the most useful features is the improved Night mode, it blends multi-exposure frames which is meant to create clearer, brighter shots. Then it uses AI to identify objects and Samsung reckons it's able to capture their true shape and colour tones, as well as enhance the details in the shot and reduce noise. It'll be really interesting to see how well this works.

Another cool feature is the Nightography which should allow you to shoot videos in the evening without graininess or loss of detail, it’s the first time Samsung has applied a Night mode to both photography and video.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra features a shiny new Portrait Mode as well which uses deep learning to improve its accuracy, Samsung claims it'll be able to pick up even the finest of details like a single strand of hair. The Portrait Mode also gives you studio lighting on selfies, an Automatic Night Portrait Mode on the front camera and even a Pet Portrait Mode.

Keen on editing your photos? The new Expert RAW captures multi-frame raw images to allow for more information in one picture and as such more effective post-capture editing, you’ll also be able to choose your own settings including the ISO, white balance and focus.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict): performance and battery

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra packs in the latest 4nm processor which could be either the Exynos 2200 or the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 depending on where in the world you are. Alongside that, there’s a choice of 8GB or 12GB RAM paired with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or a huge 1TB of built-in memory. There’s no MicroSD card slot here so you'll have to make sure you get the right amount from the get-go.

Promising serious amounts of power, this phone will cope with anything you can throw at it. Just from using it over the space of a couple of hours, it was clear that this lives up to the Note 20 as being a productivity-focused product. Without spending more time with it, I can't come to a more concrete conclusion other than 'it feels fast'.

Browsing the web should be equally as fast thanks to the most up-to-date Wi-Fi 6E and 5G support.

But it’s the NPU, or Neural Processing Unit, that’s really interesting. It’s supposedly twice as fast as it was in the S21 series which will go a long way to improving the efficiency of the phone’s AI-based features like the Night Mode on the camera, for instance.

Keeping things up and running is a 5,000mAh battery with up to 45W wired charging and 15W wireless charging, so it all bodes well in that sense, although I wasn’t able to test this out myself yet. More on that to come.

The brain of the operation is Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.0 interface - it looks fantastic and it's super easy to use.

The privacy features have been updated to give you much more control over the system, which includes a new privacy dashboard where you can find all of your settings in one easy-to-access place. You’ll be able to switch off all of your camera apps from there as well.

If you are someone who gets worried about apps having access to your microphone and camera, there’s a new indicator to show you when it is in use. Every time an app turns one of them on you’ll see a tiny green icon in the top right of the screen.

As well as giving you more peace of mind over your privacy, One UI 4.0 is Samsung’s most customisable OS yet because you can create a custom and uniform look for the whole device. You’ll be able to set a new colour palette, match it to your wallpaper and apply it to everything from your icons to your apps. You’ll also be able to get more creative in your messaging because there are loads more emojis, GIFs and stickers available on the Samsung keyboard.

Having the S Pen included in the box will be really handy and there are tonnes of uses for it. You can take quick notes or sketches, and it can even translate your writing into digital text. It feels lovely writing on this screen, smooth and effortless is the best way to describe what it’s like. I could have been drawing on it all day but unfortunately, I had a limited amount of time. The only negative I would point out is that the stylus seems very flimsy so you will have to be a bit careful pulling it in and out of its housing.

One feature I loved, is that when you pull out the S Pen from its garage, a menu appears on the screen offering up different places you can use the pen, including quick access to your notes.

From my first look at the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, everything about how this phone works feels very considered and suits the device perfectly.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict)

Honestly, I can’t think of many downsides to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra after my first look at it. It won’t be for everyone, because it is very expensive and quite a big device, but if you want an all-singing, all-dancing smartphone then they don’t get better than this.

The new Note features are a welcome addition and make this just as suited to busy professionals and creatives, as it is to smartphone enthusiasts. Easy access to the pen makes it much more likely that you’ll make use of it, and that’s not to mention how satisfying it is to write and draw on the screen.

Samsung pulls it out of the bag every year, offering the latest in smartphone tech packed into a range of sleek, sturdy devices. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra seems to be no different and I can see it being a popular piece of kit in 2022.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the T3 review, where we'll go through what it's like to use this phone on a daily basis.