Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Long-Term Review: The Noteworthy Performer

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has been one of our favorite smartphones of 2022 that offers powerful performance and a great camera experience in every lighting condition. Samsung also added the S Pen slot and support for the stylus, basically merging the Note-line with S-series Ultra. Besides the hardware and performance, it is impressive how Samsung’s One UI has matured over the last few years.

Samsung will shortly unveil the Galaxy S23 line-up and we take this opportunity to look back at the Galaxy S22 Ultra as we have been using it for a year. Below is our quick long-term review highlighting four key things –

• Performance
• Photography
• Software update and UI
• S Pen.

Powerful performance thanks to Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC

With Qualcomm’s flagship SoC under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offers an ultra-fast performance. Whether you are a multi-tasker switching between apps or a gamer, the S22 Ultra can get the job done without a hiccup. Though the thermals could have been slightly better as the back generally gets a little warm when the device is under heavy stress, like recording a 4K 60fps video continuously for over three minutes.

Even when gaming with graphics-intense games on mobile data, the device gets a little warm, but that’s not the same on Wi-Fi. Keeping aside these high-pressure scenarios, the combination of Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, paired with 12GB of RAM ensures a buttery smooth experience.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra review back 2

The battery life is “good enough” but could have been better. Even with a juicy 5,000mAh battery, you could get a full day’s worth of usage but cannot stretch it beyond that with moderate to heavy usage. I’ve also been using the Galaxy Z Fold4 powered by the refined Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, where the performance and efficiency gains are clearly visible, but we will talk about that in the Fold’s review in the next few weeks.

airtel speedtest samsung galaxy s22 ultra

Now that the 5G network has gone live in India, I was also able to test it on Airtel, where I get decent download speeds of close to 500Mbps and upload speeds of about 41Mbps. Battery life with 5G did not take a big hit and could still manage to get a full workday’s worth of usage.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC ensures stress-free performance, but battery life can be improved further.

Ultimate for photography, work in progress for videography

The Galaxy S22 Ultra packs four rear cameras and one front camera:
• 108MP main sensor, 23mm, f/1.8 with PDAF & OIS.
• 12MP ultrawide sensor, 13mm, 120-degree FoV, f/2.2 with PDAF.
• 10MP telephoto, 69mm, 3X optical zoom, OIS, f/2.4.
• 10MP periscope telephoto, 230mm, 10X optical zoom, f/4.9, OIS.
• 40MP, f.2.2 front camera.

On paper, the camera hardware is the same as we had in the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but the upgraded image signal processor (ISP) on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC brings some key changes. From detailed RAW photos to the new Night Mode which Samsung calls Nightography, to better HDR, there are a lot of under-the-hood tricks unlocked by the Snapdragon SoC, AI, and Samsung’s One UI. All these efforts also ensured that the smartphone scored 135 in DXOMARK’s camera rankings. With the Galaxy S23 series launch around the corner, we expect Qualcomm and Samsung partnership, which was announced at the Snapdragon Tech Summit in November 2022, to bring more camera-centric innovations.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra review cameras

What about the quality?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra does a great job of taking excellent daylight shots using the most basic settings with the primary 108MP camera. Focus is sharp, exposure is neat and HDR works well, even when capturing photos against the sun. The colors are slightly saturated, but that is fine as Samsung has always pushed for punchy colors. Below are some daylight shots.

day light evening


daylight ultrawide

The ISP from Snapdragon SoC offers good semantic segmentation. There are many other “Industry First” flagship features that the SoC enables, and we’ve covered them in-depth in our blog. We particularly liked the HDR and skin tone mapping features when clicking against the sun. The one where ISP and AI work together to offer a balanced photo without making the subject look too fair or blowing the highlights in the background. Below are a couple of photos one shot on iPhone 14 Pro and the other on Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The big sensor with more pixels, and 9-to-1 pixel binning helps capture more light, thus resulting in well-lit images in low-light conditions. Default low-light photos in auto mode look decent, but with low-light mode on, that AI does an even better job. Below are some samples.


low-light photography

If you are someone who likes to take control over shooting, there is a Pro mode in the default camera app, where you can manually adjust the ISO, white balance, and shutter speed to your liking depending on the scene. But if that is not enough, there is also Expert RAW mode where you get even more control, to export images in RAW format to edit and make all the adjustments using apps like Adobe Lightroom or other platforms. Below are some sample shots showing default mode photos and edited ones using Adobe Lightroom.

The telephoto cameras make the Galaxy S22 Ultra stand out from the competition. With up to 10X optical zooming capabilities, you can go closer to the subject without losing the quality. What you also get is 30X and 100X digital zoom. Photos shot with 30X zoom are still good for social media usage, whereas 100X photos are decent, but not always usable.


3X Zoom

10X Zoom

30X Zoom

100X Zoom

3X Zoom
daylight 3x

10X Zoom
daylight 10x zoom

30X Zoom
day light 30x

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra offers the best photography experience on Android, but videography can be improved further.

Videography is one area where Samsung can make significant improvements with the next Galaxy. It has all the bells and whistles like 8K 24fps, 4K 60fps video recording, and more, but the smoothness and stabilization are not close to what you get on the iPhones.

AI capabilities in the Galaxy S22 Ultra are underrated

From One UI 4.1 onwards, Samsung also introduced some interesting features in the Gallery app and it is available when you edit photos. These include Object Eraser, where you can erase unwanted objects from your photos. There is also Portrait Effect mode where you can add background blur with depth-of-field effect to your regular photos. Google made these features available for Pixel users, and it is good to see Samsung also offering similar features to its wide user base.

The camera app has other modes too, one particularly interesting called Single Take. It records a 5-15 second video clip and the AI then analyses the clip to pick the best moments in the form of photos. It then adds filters, and portrait mode, and creates short video clips such as boomerang, dynamic slow motion, and more from that short clip. And the feature works well as expected too. Samsung also has the color-pop feature in portrait mode, which keeps the subject in color whereas the rest of the background is defocused and in monochrome. This is one of our favourite features in portrait mode camera effects.

galaxy s22 ultra portrait color pop

Longer Android software support, Microsoft services integration, and more

Samsung announced that the Galaxy S22 series will get four major Android upgrades and five years of security updates, which is better than its competitors. But even more impressive is the speed of updates. We’ve been getting timely security updates every month, and the Android software update rollout was also much faster.

The smartphone shipped with Android 12 OS and One UI 4.1 skin on top. Soon after Google released the Android 13 source code, Samsung was quick to roll out the beta update and the final Android 13 with One UI 5 within two months. This shows how serious Samsung is in offering the latest software and security updates sooner than the competition.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra review software information

Besides multi-tasking, one-hand mode, and quick app shortcuts, there is much more that Samsung offers with the One UI 5 skin. Firstly, its partnership with Microsoft allows for tighter integration where you can save photos from the Gallery directly onto OneDrive. Notes saved in the Samsung Notes app can be synced to Microsoft OneNote. There is also Link to Windows feature supported by the YourPhone app where you can receive calls and text on your Windows PC and even reply to them.

Samsung also offers DeX Mode, both wired and wireless, where you have a desktop-like environment on your TV or monitor. Pair a wireless keyboard and mouse to use it as a computer, or you can also use the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s screen as a trackpad. This feature also gives you access to all the apps, videos, and photos on your phone to cast onto a big screen.

Features like DeX Mode and Microsoft Integration are unique propositions to flagship Samsung smartphones.

S Pen offers a smooth, real pen-like note-taking experience

With Samsung merging the S and Note series, the Galaxy S22 Ultra now has a dedicated S Pen slot. The rest of the features remain the same as the Note-series, the one where the S Pen comes with a supercapacitor where the battery charges in about two minutes, offering up to 30 minutes of continuous use.

The S Pen now has a matte finish that makes it easier to hold and use.

With 4096 levels of pressure, the latency has been reduced to 2.3ms offering a smooth experience whether you are scribbling quick notes or drawing. It comes with a built-in gyroscope as well, allowing you access to remote control features where you can press the button on the S Pen to play/pause music.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra review s pen writing

You can also use it as a camera shutter to click photos or switch between front and rear cameras. Users can also press and hold the S Pen button and rotate it clockwise and anticlockwise to zoom in and out, among many other features.

Key Takeaways:

• The Galaxy S22 Ultra has held up well in long-term usage.
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 handles even the heaviest tasks without stress, but thermals could have been better.
• The camera system offers a great photography experience in day-light, low-light, and zoom scenarios.
• The videography experience is good, but more improvements are needed to get on par with the iPhone experience.
• Timely security updates, fast software updates, and commitment to support for over four years are a big welcome.
• Merging the S & Note line and getting the S Pen slot back is a good move giving an upgrade option for older Note users who are still not convinced about upgrading to a foldable yet.

Related Posts

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Unveiled as Note Successor, Galaxy Tab S8 Series to Compete with iPad Pros

• Samsung announced six new products at the Galaxy Unpacked event.
• Of the Galaxy S22 series, the Ultra model merges Note features with the S-series.
• Samsung also announced the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra tablet with a massive 14.6-inch display.

At the virtual Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung announced the new Galaxy S22 line of flagship smartphones, along with three Galaxy Tab S8 models. Of the six products, the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra are the most appealing devices that pack the best productivity features that Samsung has to offer. Here is a look at everything that Samsung announced at the event.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: The Galaxy Note 20 Successor

When Samsung ditched the Galaxy Note series last year to position the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 as premium offerings, loyal Note users were unhappy. Samsung did add S Pen compatibility to the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the foldable, but a dedicated slot was missing. The new Galaxy S22 Ultra fixes that issue as it builds on the Galaxy Note 20 design, essentially merging the Note into the S series.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra
Source – Samsung

In terms of design, the Galaxy S22 Ultra features the same boxy design and squared-off corners as the Note. The front and back are covered with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection and curved edges. At the back, the camera module bump is now gone, instead, you now have the individual camera lenses sticking out.

There is now a dedicated S Pen slot at the bottom left corner. It comes with a built-in battery and Bluetooth, to let you remotely control the camera shutter, play/pause music, and more. Samsung has also reduced the touch latency by 70%, to 2.8ms to help you draw and write more naturally. The company is also using AI to predict which direction you will move next to improve the S Pen experience.

Source – Samsung

“The most eye-catching part about the Galaxy S22 Series is where the Galaxy S22 Ultra is now positioned as a successor to the Note series that was discontinued last year. The S Pen, the biggest feature of Note, is installed in the product in a built-in form, which will be welcomed by Note users. The active installed base of Note users is roughly estimated to reach 40 million by the end of 2021 globally. And, while the foldables are being positioned as a premium flagship offering with novelty form factor, some % of the existing Note users who prefer a bar-type form factor will be the target customers for the Galaxy S22 Ultra,” Senior Analyst Jene Park.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra features a 6.8-inch Edge QHD+, Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. It is an LTPO screen with an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate that can go to as low as 1Hz when viewing static content on the screen. Samsung has also added Vision Booster algorithms that adapt the color and contrast on the screen to ensure great visibility under any lighting condition. It also features 1750nits of peak brightness for good legibility under direct sunlight.

counterpoint galaxy s22 ultra desk
Source – Samsung

In terms of performance, the smartphone is powered by a 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC (or Exynos 2200, which is region-dependent). You get 8GB/12GB of RAM, and 128GB,256GB, 512GB or 1TB storage options to choose from. The smartphone also comes with the Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System offering both Sub-6GHz and mmWave connectivity. FastConnect 6900 for Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity options are also present. Samsung also detailed the new vapor chamber cooling system with a bigger heat pipe that dissipates heat from AP to the battery, thus covering more area. There is also a thermal management software solution that optimizes each operation to control and dissipate heat faster.

In the photography department, there isn’t much of a change compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. You still get a 108MP primary wide camera, two 10MP telephoto lenses, one offering 3x optical zoom, and the other enabling 10X optical and 100X digital zoom with the periscope style camera. There is also a fourth 12MP ultrawide camera at the back, and then a 40MP front camera for selfies and video calling.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 ultra camera
Source – Samsung

What’s different here though is the new software along with advanced night photography features, and AI-supported portrait mode, which is enabled by the new camera ISP on the SoC. Another improvement is the Super Clear Glass lens which should help in capturing clearer pictures at night with reduced flare.

counterpoint galaxy s22 ultra portrait mode
Source – Samsung

To keep things ticking, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a 5,000mAh battery with 45W fast charging support, wireless charging, and wireless reverse charging features. It is a little disappointing to see that while competitors are offering up to 120W fast charging, even at much lower price points, Samsung is just offering 45W support. Also, just like last year, the box does not come with a charging brick, so users will have to buy one separately. On the software front, the smartphone runs on Android 12 out-of-the-box with One UI 4.1 custom skin.

Source – Samsung

On the pricing front, the Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at $1,199 for the 256GB storage variant, whereas the 512GB and 1TB storage models will set you back by $1,299 & $1,599, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus: Iterative Upgrades

The Galaxy S22 and the Galaxy S22 Plus models come with the same design as last year’s S21 models. While there are some upgrades to the hardware such as a new chipset and better primary camera module, there are some downgrades too, like the screen is smaller by 0.1-inch, and the battery is also a bit smaller. In terms of pricing, the Galaxy S22 starts at $799, whereas the Galaxy S22+ starts at $999.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 pricing
Source – Samsung

Talking about the upgrades first, both smartphones are powered by the same 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC (or Exynos 2200 SoC) and include, Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System, and FastConnect 6900 connectivity solution. They feature 8GB of RAM, and an option to choose between 128GB/256GB storage. Both smartphones run on Android 12 with One UI 4.1, feature IP68 rating, and wireless charging features.

counterpoint galaxy s22 colors
Source – Samsung

For shutterbugs, both the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ models feature a triple camera setup at the back which includes a 50MP (GN5) primary wide camera, a big upgrade over last year’s 12MP sensor on the Galaxy S21 and the Plus models. This is paired with a 12MP ultrawide camera, and a 10MP sensor with a telephoto lens enabling 3X optical zoom (replacing the 64MP sensor from last year that offered lossless zoom). For selfies and video calling, there is a 10MP camera on the front.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 specs
Source – Samsung

Now, talking about small downgrades, the Galaxy S22 features a 6.1-inch display (6.2-inch on Galaxy S21), whereas the Galaxy S22+ features a 6.6-inch screen (to 6.7-inch on Galaxy S21+). Both are Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays with 120Hz adaptive refresh rate that can adjust between 48Hz-120Hz depending on the screen content. The vision booster feature from the Ultra model is present on these models also. On the battery front, the Galaxy S22 is armed with a 3,700mAh one (4,000mAh on Galaxy S21) and comes with 25W wired fast charging. Similarly, the Galaxy S22+ comes with a 4,500mAh battery (4,800mAh on Galaxy S21+), but the wired fast charging speed is now bumped to 45W. Better efficiency of the 4nm chip could likely help in offering the same (or slightly better) battery life over the previous models.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Series Unveiled, Tab S8 Ultra to Compete with 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Alongside the Galaxy S22 Series smartphones, Samsung also announced the trio of Galaxy Tab S8 tablets. The series features the vanilla Galaxy Tab S8, the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, and the most premium offering, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra. All three tablets are powered by the 4nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC under the hood, paired with 8GB/12GB of RAM, and 128GB/256GB storage options. The Ultra model also has an option of 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. A microSD card slot with support for up to 1TB is also present on all three tablets.

All three tablets run on Android 12 OS, come with S Pen bundled in the box, and include AKG tuned quad-speaker setup for an immersive audio experience. They also include connectivity features such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.2. In the camera department, the Galaxy Tab S8 series come with two cameras at the back featuring a 13MP main wide lens, and, a 6MP ultrawide lens, and a 12MP front camera.

counterpoint samsung galaxy s22 specs
Source – Samsung

What changes between the three tablets is the screen size and the battery capacity. With a massive 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display (2960x1848pixels resolution), featuring a variable refresh rate of 120Hz, the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the biggest and the most powerful Android tablet from Samsung. With this screen size, the Ultra will directly compete with Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is also positioned as a productivity tool. Bundling S Pen in the box is where Samsung offers a complete out-of-the-box Note-taking and drawing experience, whereas iPad users have to buy the $129 Apple Pencil as an add-on. On the pricing front, the Galaxy Tab S8 starts at $699, the Plus model at $899, whereas the Ultra model starts at $1,099.

counterpoint galaxy tab s8 series pricing
Source – Samsung

“It is impressive that Samsung tries to redefine the category of tablets with its Galaxy S8 Ultra having a huge 14.6-inch Super AMOLED screen, which is comparable to the size of a laptop PC. Samsung will aim to shorten the market share gap with Apple targeting the demand for large-screen tablets, which is rapidly increasing due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senior Analyst Liz Lee.

The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra brings the controversial notched display, which houses two 12MP cameras – one with a wide lens and the other with an ultrawide lens (120-degree field of view), which allows you to make video calls with more people in the frame. The cameras also feature 4K video recording capabilities. The tablet comes packed with an 11,200mAh battery with 45W fast charging capabilities.

counterpoint galaxy tab s8 ultra
Source – Samsung

Moving to the vanilla Galaxy Tab S8, it features an 11-inch (2560x1600pixels WQXGA) LTPS TFT display featuring an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz. On the battery front, it packs an 8,000mAh unit with up to 45W fast charging tech. The Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, on the other hand, features a 12.4-inch Super AMOLED (2800x1752pixels WQXGA+) display with a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. On the battery front, there is a 10,090mAh unit with up to 45W fast charging support.

counterpoint galaxy tab s8 series color pallete
Source – Samsung

The new Galaxy Tab S8 series is positioned as a productivity powerhouse, and that shows from the partnerships that Samsung has struck. Support for apps like LumaFusion enables content creators to edit videos on the go. The Samsung Notes app is now integrated with Microsoft OneNote, PowerPoint, and Outlook, so that your presentations, notes, and emails remain in sync centrally. Users can also collaborate with colleagues using the Samsung Notes app. Apps like Clip Studio enable you to use the smartphone as a pallet, and the tablet as a canvas, offering a more connected experience.

Samsung’s Initiatives Towards Greener & Sustainable Future

Besides the device announcements, Samsung also talked about its renewed efforts in reducing environmental waste. Components like the power and volume key inner, key bracket and the S Pen inner cover, and the speaker module are made from plastic recycled from discarded fishing nets in the ocean. Samsung also touched upon the Global Goals app that is developed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) where Galaxy smartphone users can contribute to local causes.

Key Takeaways from Galaxy Unpacked Event

• Qualcomm showcased a strong set of design wins with the Galaxy S22 series, demonstrating a continued strong partnership and integration effort between Samsung and Qualcomm.

• The Galaxy S22 Ultra looks like the Note replacement at a price point of $1,199, a move by Samsung to consolidate its different premium flagship line-ups as the Note series and S-series Ultra models served similar purposes and consumers.

• The Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra boasts up to a 14.6-inch AMOLED screen and 120Hz refresh rate, promising better multitasking via split screening for up to three apps. This makes it a strong alternative for laptops and positions the device as an iPad Pro alternative.

• Striking key “out-of-the-box” partnerships with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Snapchat, and Instagram to name a few, makes the Galaxy devices “optimized” and content powerhouse.

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