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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Review- A True Note In Every Sense
The 'Galaxy Note' series from the house of Samsung is long gone, but only its moniker has gone, as the new Galaxy S22 Ultra is more of a 'Note' than all its predecessors. Packed with the biggest and brightest smartphone display in the business and the improved S-Pen, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the true successor of the 2020's Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It retails at a whopping Rs. 1,09,999 for the 12GB+256GB and Rs. 1,18,999 for the 12GB+512GB variant.
- Wholesome Package
- Best Productivity-Centric Smartphone (Built-in S Pen)
- High Durability Standards (IP68 & Gorilla Glass Victus+)
- Excellent Cameras
- Gorgeous QHD+ Display
- 4-Years Software Upgrade Promise
- Battery Life Could Have Been Better
- No Charging Brick, Case & Headphones In The Box
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has been my daily driver for over two weeks and here's what makes it different from other flagship smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Design Ergonomics And Look & Feel
The S22 Ultra doesn't feel like a phone from the 'Galaxy Ultra' line-up and looks and feels every bit of a Note-series phablet. It's big and edgy, and has the form-factor of a true Note phablet, something the loyal Note fans will admire. And since the phone is bigger than most Android flagships (including the Galaxy S21 Ultra), it is best used with two hands for comfortable use. New Note users should take note of such difficult ergonomics.
As far as the look and feel are concerned, the S22 Ultra stands out with its bold looks and premium construction. The minimally designed back panel with a unique and neat camera setup looks every bit stylish.
I also liked the new Burgundy shade that gives this phablet a luxurious in-hand feel. You can also buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra in Phantom White and Phantom Black color variants; however, it is worth mentioning that the white shade is only available in 12GB + 256GB configuration.
How Durable Is Galaxy S22 Ultra?
The all-metal-glass construction gets a fair dose of durability. The phablet has the best-in-business Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ protection at both the front and the back panel that can easily handle drops and scratches. The handset and the built-in stylus are also IP68 certified for protection against dust and water damage. However, it is worth mentioning that the device ships with just the Type-C cable in the box.
Samsung could have at least offered a basic phone case and a pre-installed screen protector in the box with the premium flagship smartphone.
Multimedia & General User Experience On Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung supplies display to most leading smartphone manufacturers but it reserves the best of the lot for its premium flagships. The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a gorgeous 6.8-inch QHD+ display with QHD+ resolution (3088 x 1440 pixels) and outrageous 1,750nits peak brightness. These numbers make the edge-to-edge curved Dynamic AMOLED 2X display punchier and brighter than the competition devices.
Resultant, videos and games look more immersive and engaging on the Galaxy S22 Ultra than any currently available smartphone in the Indian market. The UI navigation and scrolling are also buttery smooth, thanks to the 120Hz refresh rate. Besides, the bigger real-estate lets you make the most out of the S Pen functionality by giving you ample space for doodling, coloring, and note-making. This brings us to the S Pen.
Built-In S Pen- The X Factor
The differentiating feature- the S Pen is now more powerful than the previous generations. Due to reduced latency (2.8ms), it delivers a more realistic note-making experience on the gigantic screen. The stylus is more accurate and responsive allowing for better writing and sketching/coloring experience. It is extremely lightweight, durable, and recharges automatically when docked inside the dedicated storage on the bottom edge.
Besides note-making and doodling, the S Pen lets you quickly translate text from different languages and even converts writing into text format, which is very convenient. If you are an artist or someone with a requirement for a stylus on a mobile device, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the default choice.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Cameras
Samsung has improved the camera performance in primarily two areas; far-field zoom or as Samsung likes to call it- Space zoom. The second one is the portrait photography performance. The cameras on the Galaxy S22 Ultra deliver crisp 3x optical zoom shots, good 10x optical zoom pictures, and fairly usable 30x digital zoom pictures. The improved AI processing makes all the difference in preserving the quality. The above camera sample shows pictures captured in 10x, 30x, 50x, and 100x.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is my current default choice for taking portraits. The camera system creates a very natural DSLR-like bokeh effect. Skin tones look realistic and images show excellent colors and a wide dynamic range. You can capture portraits with 1x and 3x zoom lengths, apply filters and control the amount of bokeh you desire in real-time. Night-time photography also seems to have improved a bit. Low-light pictures show better details and less noise.
HDR10+ Video & Expert RAW Mode
Besides, the picture output from the primary sensor and wide-angle sensor matches the performance of the cameras on the Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Galaxy S22 also lets you capture 108MP high-res. images, HDR10+ videos (to be enabled from advanced recording options), Expert RAW pictures for better control in the post-processing. Overall, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a great camera phone that will hardly disappoint you.
Galaxy S22 Ultra Hardware & Software Performance
We are testing the 12GB+256GB variant of Galaxy S22 Ultra in India that ships with the latest 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform. This is top-notch hardware that delivers the kind of performance you expect from a top-end flagship in the year 2022. Both day-to-day and high-end tasks are handled without any hiccups and you would barely face any performance slowdown during multitasking or gaming.
We did notice some heat signatures, mostly while recording 4K/8K videos and playing games on a stretch. It is the CPU that runs hot because we experienced similar heating signs with the iQOO 9 Pro, another flagship handset drawing power from the same Qualcomm chip. It is worth mentioning that the iQOO flagship is available at a starting price of Rs. 64,990, which saves you Rs. 44,000.
You must read out our detailed review of the smartphone if you are planning to invest in a new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. Moving on, the phone is performing well in the connectivity department. We haven't faced any Wi-Fi or 4G-related network issues on the Airtel network in the Delhi NCR region. The call quality remains solid on Samsung's flagships. The stereo speakers sound loud and clear and the in-screen fingerprint scanner is blazing fast and accurate.
Four Generations Of Android OS Upgrades
Samsung has scaled up the software game this time. The Galaxy S22 Ultra runs on Android 12 out-of-the-box and will receive up to four generations of Android OS upgrades. This should get some new users on board who were earlier not willing to invest in the Android ecosystem due to poor software support. As far as the software performance is concerned, the UI runs lag-free and packs a host of utility and customization features.
The only letdown is Samsung's unwanted push notifications and constant efforts to get you on board with its ecosystem apps such as Samsung Pay, Samsung Cloud, Bixby, etc. Some apps work just fine but some seem irrelevant if you are already heavily invested in Google's ecosystem.
5,000mAh Battery With 45W Fast-Charging Support
Despite a massive 5,000 mAh battery cell, the Galaxy S22 Ultra left me fairly unimpressed. I tested the handset with the screen set to run at FHD+ resolution and the refresh rate set to adaptive. Even with moderate usage that didn't involve any long gaming sessions or video streams, the phone barely survived two days. If I play games on a stretch and record videos or stream high-res. videos, the battery only lasts for a day.
For a phone that flaunts such a big screen, this is decent battery life but I was expecting some improvements this year. Nevertheless, the battery can be refuelled at a comparatively faster rate, i.e. 45W. We used the AMX XP-60, which took around 59-minutes to refuel the battery from 3% to 100%.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a wholesome package despite minor letdowns. With the biggest and brightest display, an excellent camera, latest hardware, promising software upgrade cycle, and the built-in stylus, the phablet is our top recommendation for a productivity-centric Android flagship in the year 2022. Yes, the price is high but so does the returns of your investments in the longer run. If you don't fancy a stylus, the Galaxy S22+ is worth considering.