Samsung's Galaxy S22 line of flagship phones consists of three: the 'baby' of the bunch, the Galaxy S22; its bigger brother, the Galaxy S22 Plus, which I review here; and the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the largest of the lot, which T3 has already called "the ultimate flagship" in our review of that top-tier device.
But here's the thing: I've been using the Galaxy S22 Plus for a couple of weeks, having already spent a similar amount of time with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and it's got me scratching my head as to whether actually this flat-screen Plus model will be the more sensible model for many people. So which is it? Read on...
Samsung Galaxy S22+: Price and release date
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus launched alongside the rest of the S22 series on 11 March 2022. It was available to buy soon after, with an asking price of £999 in the UK, $999 in the US.
Far from a cheap phone, sure, but it's not Samsung's priciest in the range – an accolade that goes to the S22 Ultra, which is £200/$200 more. I think many may be lured by the pricier device, solely because the cost on a monthly contract doesn't differ all that much – but don't write-off the S22 Plus just yet.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: DESIGN AND DISPLAY
The first thing that really struck me about the Galaxy S22 Plus is just how flat it is. It almost seems to be the new fashion in phones again – after years of devices getting more and more curved – to deliver a flat screen. Samsung is hedging its bets, though, as the S22 Ultra is indeed a curved screen device, so if that prospect lures you in then it's an obvious alternative.
Actually I find a flat screen to often be more practical. Using the S22 Plus I've had fewer accidental touches, there's no contrast fall-off to the edge of the screen either (like you'll get with a curved display), and I don't mind the increased presence of the bezel as it's really not to excess here.
Best of all, however, is that Samsung's OLED panel in the Galaxy S22 Plus is a real shining star. It's really bright – Samsung claims up to 1750 nits, which is like what a first-class TV set is capable of hitting – and its 1080 x 2340 resolution across that 6.6-inch diagonal measure has never left me wanting for more. You can get more elsewhere, of course, with the S22 Ultra's bigger still 6.8-inch screen delivering 1440 x 3088 pixels (but the battery drain is worse as a result).
Every Galaxy S22 model has a 120Hz screen refresh rate, so everything looks silky smooth, whichever model you opt to buy (if any appeals, that is).
In terms of visual appeal, you might be looking at my S22 Plus review sample, which is dressed in Pink Gold, and wondering if it's the best match for your tastes. Well, each to their own, eh? There's plenty of choice though: Phantom White, Phantom Black, and Green are all standard options; online you'll also find Samsung Store exclusives in Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue, and Violet. Plenty of choice!
Irrelevant of colour selection, the rear of the S22 Plus is made of glass. That's an interesting shift, as compared to the earlier S21 models it ousts the 'glasstic' finish of before. I'd wager that's something to do with Samsung's increasingly sustainable stance, as anything that sounds 'plastic' sounds bad in today's language. That said, I'm not convinced you can feel the difference between those two finishes in person.
Elsewhere the S22 Plus' design echoes that of its predecessor too: there's a raised camera lip to the top left on the rear, which sits flush with the outer edge, and I think it's pretty elegant. Less of a design icon than the S22 Ultra, mind, but not everyone will necessarily love the free-floating camera design language of that device.
The only other thing I'll say about the Plus is that it feels a bit thick overall, on account of it being a flat phone. I've become so accustomed to holding phones with curved edges, as it's become so prevalent, that the lack of such curved fall-off gives the impression of a chunkier phone overall.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: PERFORMANCE AND BATTERY
Here's an interesting fact: the Galaxy S22 series features Samsung's own Exynos 2200 chipset at its heart, so there's no Qualcomm on show here (well, not in the UK, but USA customers will get Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 instead).
How does that chipset hold up? Really well, I've found, with plenty of power to match the best of them, so loading various apps and jumping between them is no bother at all. Gamer? No bother, the S22 Plus will eat demanding titles for breakfast.
It's only really been in the camera app where I've found the chipset to be driven particularly hard, causing a lot more heat to eminate from the phone's body. Not so it's crazily hot and a bother to touch, but I do find it a bother mainly for the impact it has on battery life.
But before I make it sound like that's a problem: it's not. The S22 Plus actually has the best battery longevity of any S22 handset. That's why I think it'll be the more sensible pick for a lot of people, because it even outlasts the S22 Ultra, based on my experience living with both phones.
I've had days where moderate use has eaten through around 50 percent of the battery life in almost 16 hours of awake time, including a little ad hoc gaming here and there outside of work time. That's really good going in my book.
It does take a little while for Samsung's software to get to a successfully balanced point, though. As the system is always looking for which apps are installed but not used, it will throttle or turn off some apps to increase life – something which I found really effective and resulted in a big uptick in battery life after the first four or so days of use.
Software wise, Samsung uses its One UI skin over Android. It's fluid, looks nice, and doesn't introduce irksome bugs by and large. It is a bit overly keen on Bixby voice assistant, which I quickly deny, and there is the oddity of Samsung's own app store that you'll never need to use, but of all the Android skins I find Samsung's one of the best out there.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: CAMERAS
On the cameras front the S22 Plus features a 50-megapixel main with optical stabilisation (OIS), a 10-megapixel 3x zoom (also with OIS), and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide. There's no other unwarranted lenses on the body, which pleases me, and that's your lot.
If you want more zoom then that's reason to go with the S22 Ultra – but actually I think 3x is plenty enough. Check out the zoom steps of 0.5x, 1x and 3x in the gallery below for an example of the kind of reach you can get.
Being really critical of that 3x, I must admit the detail isn't always exceptional, so a higher-resolution solution in the future would be the ticket to greater success (hello S23?). But I do find that zoom length to be spot on for typical use, so it's a great camera to have available. And its not like the S22 Ultra can outsmart it in resolution terms on either of its zoom lenses.
Otherwise the S22 Plus' main camera is really accomplished in terms of overall clarity, colour reproduction, not to mention ease of use. The camera app is easy to use for pinch-to-zoom, touch-to-focus (and adjust exposure), while the shutter button gives a good touch of haptic feedback to emulate a real camera shutter – which I think is a really nice touch.
There's also an accomplished Night mode that blends multi-exposure frames to create clear, bright shots. I've found this really handy in dark scenarios, so long as you don't try and use it to shoot moving subjects.
All in all, then, the S22 Plus' camera setup is impressive, except it's just not that different to the previous S21 setup – and that, to some extent, does make it feel a little behind that curve. That said, it's got everything I need in this trio of lenses, and I'm pleased Samsung isn't dashing down that rabbit hole of outputting throwaway cameras (such as the black-and-white or depth sensors so many others peddle).
- 5 ways the new Samsung Galaxy S22 beats the iPhone 13
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Verdict
With so much choice in the Samsung Galaxy S22 flagship range, is the Plus the most sensible option of the lot? I think so: its increased battery life, flat screen, and absence of a not-that-necessary S Pen stylus will make it an ideal match for many.
That said, the Plus' biggest problem is, indeed, Samsung's own top-end device: the S22 Ultra. It's not heaps of cash more, offers an even more attractive and contemporary design, has a wider feature set that includes an S Pen stylus and curved screen, and will be hard for many to avoid being drawn towards.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: Also consider
The former all-Google phone also features an impressive camera system that's especially adept in low-light, plus a distinctive design that helps it stand apart from the crowd. It's just a bit more distinctive than Samsung's tried and tested look, not that I think everyone will love the look.
Speaking of design, that's where the Oppo Find X5 Pro really excels: it's got this subtle curve up to its rear camera enclosure that's unlike anything else on the market. Not only that, the X5 Pro is just mighty impressive in terms of performance, photography and, well, everything is does – so is a great alternative.