The Samsung Galaxy S22 is finally here and we’ve had the chance to test the phone out ahead of the official release.
Samsung has got into the rhythm of announcing its latest flagship phone series early on in the year, and it’s no different here. While we’ve seen the Xiaomi 12, OnePlus 10 Pro and Realme’s latest flagships unveiled in China, the Galaxy S22 is the first big high-end phone launch to reach the West this year.
The Galaxy S22 will also most likely be among the most popular Android phones of the year and. If our experience with previous iterations are anything to go by, it may earn a place as one of the best phones too.
While rumours had suggested a price increase, the Galaxy S22 will be launching at the same price as the Galaxy S21. The base 128GB and 8GB RAM model will retail for £769, while a beefier 256GB version is available for £819. This puts it right up against the iPhone 13 (£779) and to a less extent the Pixel 6 (£599).
Of course, there isn’t just one phone in the S22 series. The Galaxy S22 Plus adds in a bigger, brighter display and the Galaxy S22 Ultra focuses on the camera and plucks a number of features once associated with the Note series. If you want the top-end S22 Ultra model that’ll cost £1399.
Samsung made a big change with the Galaxy S21 series. Instead of positioning it as a high-end phone with the very best of everything packed inside, it was turned into more of a flagship mid-range phone.
The materials used were simpler, with plastic replacing the glass on the back, and the luxurious curved 1440p display was ditched in favour of a more modest flat 1080p panel. The message seemed to be: if you want the best, get the Ultra.
That theme continues again this year, however the Galaxy S22 instantly feels a whole lot nicer than the S21. The plastic back is no more, with a Gorilla Glass Victus+ covering adding a much higher-end feel. That same glass covers the flat display on the front too, and Samsung says it is 12.5% stronger than the previous Victus glass. The phone retains the IP68 rating too, a feature I have come to expect from all the pricier Samsung Galaxy phones, and has Armour Aluminium around the sides.
The camera module remains unique and one of the best I have seen on any phone around. The housing around the sensors keeps the same colour as the phone, so it doesn’t stand out too much. It’s a shame Samsung has gone in a different design direction with the S22 Ultra.
I appreciate that Samsung continues to keep this base Galaxy S22 model a small and pocketable device. The 6.1-inch display is the same size as the iPhone 13 and the two phones are similar in terms of footprint, At 168g, the Galaxy S22 is light too – especially when compared to other Android phones, like the Pixel 6, which I was comparing it to during my hands-on.
Samsung is up there with the best when it comes to phone displays and even though I only spent around 90 minutes with the phone, the quality of the panel was instantly obvious. The FHD+ resolution is more than adequate at this size, the vivid colours pop and the refresh rate can drop to 10Hz just like the S21 Ultra, meaning it’s more efficient. When you’re scrolling or gaming, the Dynamic AMOLED panel jumps up to 120Hz for that smooth finish. In Game Mode, the touch sampling rate can go as high as 240Hz. This is a key thing for gamers that makes the display feel more responsive.
While the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra can, according to Samsung reps, reach a whopping 1750 nits of brightness, the 1300 nits the S22 should be able to reach is still very impressive. Nits are a measurement of brightness, in our experience anything over 600 nits makes a phone good for gaming, though unless you’re playing HDR content, a screen will normally float below 300 nits. I didn’t get a chance to lab check the phone’s max brightness but my naked eye impressions where positive, with it looking sharp and bright. Samsung also made a point of touting the phone’s new Vision Booster, a feature that pumps up contrast and details when you’re, for example, watching a video outside on a sunny day.
There’s no curve on this display and it’s one of the few higher-end Android devices to tote a purely flat screen. It might not look as flashy, but honestly, I prefer this style and wish more manufacturers would use it. I find the flat display makes for a phone that’s easier to hold, easier to game on and better for watching video on.
Towards to top of the 6.1-inch screen there’s a 10-megapixel selfie camera, while an Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner sits under the display.
There are three cameras on the back of the Galaxy S22 and they’re notably different from last year. The main sensor is a new 50-megapixel unit, with Dual Pixel focussing, OIS and an f/1.8 lens.
There’s also a 12-megapixel ultra wide (f/2.2, 120-degree field of view) and a 10-megapixel telephoto camera capable of 3x optical zoom.
I have liked some Samsung Galaxy S series cameras in the past and disliked others (the Galaxy S20 Ultra being a prime example of this) so it’ll be interesting to see how this compares to the best camera phones on the market. Samsung is going big with AI features across the S22 range, something I feel it has struggled with in the past and compared to the computational skills of rivals like the iPhone 13 and Pixel 6.
My time shooting with the camera was short and mainly just in sets prepared by Samsung. A low light test gave some good results and the focussing system seemed fast. Of course, I will go much in-depth when we get the phone in for review.
The chipset that’ll power the Samsung Galaxy S22 will vary by region. US buyers, for instance, will get the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip from Qualcomm. Buy the phone in the UK and it’ll pack the Exynos 2200.
It’s too early to really judge performance and it’s also too early to tell whether there are any notable differences between the two models. On paper, the Exynos 2200 seems like the more tempting silicon, with AMD graphics and ray tracing support, however Samsung tends to like parity between all the devices so it seems unlikely the UK version will benefit from these features.
Of course, we’ll be fully reviewing the Galaxy S22 so we’ll have all the usual benchmark and real-world testing coming very soon.
Paired with the chipset there’s 8GB RAM and either 128GB or 256GB internal storage. There’s no Micro SD slot, so choose wisely. The S22 supports 5G, NFC and Wi-Fi 6. However, it lacks Wi-Fi 6E and UWB – two features restricted to the Galaxy S22 Plus and Ultra. UWB (or Ultra Wide Band) is a handy tech that allows you to use your phone to unlock certain cars and hotel rooms, while making it easier to find with Samsung’s Smart Tag. Leaving it off the Galaxy S22 feels like an obvious cost-cutting move, but it’s something of a shame.
In terms of the battery size, the S22 feels like it has been shortchanged. The 3700mAh cell is far smaller than the 4000mAh cell that sat inside the Galaxy S21, and considering that wasn’t an endurance king I am a little wary. Samsung did say that with the 4nm chipset being more efficient and the display now able to drop as low as 10Hz, the battery should still last the day.
There’s no charger supplied, though Samsung has said the Galaxy S22 will fast charge with 25w chargers. That’s slower than the 45w supported by the S22 Plus. 15w Qi wireless is supported too, as is Wireless Powershare for charging up other devices.
Samsung seems to be focussing a lot on making the whole S22 range a little more eco-conscious. It has shrunk down the size of the boxes even more than last year, removed all plastic from them and committed to using recycled fishing nets in certain parts of the device.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 feels exactly like the phone Samsung wants it to be. A well-priced, good looking Android device that delivers what people want at a price that undercuts the iPhone 13.
I’m a big fan of the design language used here and the improved materials over the Galaxy S21 make a big difference to how it feels to hold. The OLED screen is great, performance should be up there with the best and Samsung’s interpretation of Android 12 is easy to use and feature-rich.
I do have some reservations, though. The battery is very small and even with the benefits of the efficient chip and screen I can’t see this getting through the day without some heavy sacrifices. The camera too needs to seriously impress, with both the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 having seriously tremendous shooters in this price range.
Here are some of the standout specs for the Galaxy S22 series, and a look at how they compare to the outgoing Galaxy S21.‹UK RRPUSA RRPEU RRPCA RRPAUD RRPManufacturerScreen SizeStorage CapacityRear CameraFront CameraVideo RecordingIP ratingBatteryWirless chargingFast ChargingSize (Dimensions)WeightASINOperating SystemRelease DateFirst Reviewed DateModel NumberResolutionHDRRefresh RatePortsChipsetRAMColoursSamsung Galaxy S22£769$799.99€859––Samsung6.1 inches128GB50-megapixel wide angle, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10-megapixel telephoto10-megapixelsYesIP683700 mAh––70.6 x 7.6 x 146 MM168 G–Android 12, OneUI 4.12021––––120 HzUSB-C–8GB–Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus£949$999.99€1059––Samsung6.6 inches128GB50-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultrawide, 10-megapixel telephoto10-megapixelsYesIP684500 mAhYesYes75.8 x 7.6 x 157.4 MM196 G–Android 12, OneUI 4.12022––––120 HzUSB-CSnapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 22008GB–Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra£1149$1199.99€1259––Samsung6.8 inches128GB108-megapixels40-megapixelsYesIP685000 mAhYesYes77.9 x 8.9 x 163.3 INCHES229 G–Android 12, OneUI 4.12022––––120 HzUSB-CSnapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 22008GB–Samsung Galaxy S21£769$799€849––Samsung6.2 inches128GB, 256GB12MP + 64MP + 12MP10MPYesIP684000 mAhYesYes71.2 x 7.9 x 151.7 MM169 GB08QNCHGBYAndroid1401202121/01/2021SM-G991B1080 x 2400Yes120 HzUSB-CQualcomm Snapdragon 8888GBGrey, White, Purple, PinkSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra£1149$1199€1399CA$1649AU$1849Samsung6.8 mm128GB, 512GB, 1TB108MP + 10MP + 10MP + 12MP40MPYesIP685000 mAhYesYes8.9 x 75.6 x 165.1 MM227 GB08T1TDFVXAndroid1401202121/01/2021SM-G998B3220 x 1440Yes120 HzUSB-CSnapdragon 888 or Exynos 210012GB, 16GBBlack, Navy, Brown, SilverSamsung Galaxy S21 FE£699$699––AU$999Samsung6.4 inches128GB, 256GB12MP + 12MP + 8MP32MPYesIP684500 mAhYesYes74.5 x 7.9 x 155.7 MM177 G–Android 12202203/01/2022–1080 x 2400Yes120 HzUSB-CSnapdragon 8886GB, 8GBBlack, Green, Purple, White›