Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: the ultimate flagship

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is perfect for professionals, creatives and smartphone enthusiasts

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is everything you'd expect from a flagship smartphone and more. New features like the slot for the S Pen along with the latest hardware make this perfect for productivity, while the new camera features make for incredible photos and videos. It's very expensive which will put some people off, but if you're willing to spend the money, you won't regret it.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Incredible 6.8-inch Edge QHD+ display

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    Powerful smartphone hardware

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    Incredible camera and advanced features

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    Has a slot to hold the included S Pen

  • +

    Long-lasting 5,000mAh battery

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No MicroSD card slot

  • -

    45W charger not included

  • -

    Very expensive to buy

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – key specs

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in Phantom Black

(Image credit: Samsung)

Weight: 229g
Dimensions: 77.9 x 163.3 x 8.9mm
Display size: 6.7-inch
Resolution: QHD+ 3088x1440
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Pixel density: 500ppi
CPU: Exynos 2100 / Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM: 8GB / 12GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Rear cameras: 108 MP, 10MP, 10MP, 12MP
Front camera: 40MP
Battery: 5,000mAh

To sum up this Samsung Galaxy Ultra S22 review: for productivity and creativity, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the best phones 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. 

Sitting at the top of the range is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It combines 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 12 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 the best Android phone for those who don’t mind splashing out a fair amount of cash, thanks to its speedy performance, incredible camera and beautiful display. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: video overview

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: 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: price and release date 

Announced on the 9th February 2022, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is available for pre-order now and will be released on the 25/02/2022 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: design and display 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

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 Burgundy, Phantom Black, Phantom White and Green. If you buy the phone direct from Samsung, you’ll also get the choice of Red, Sky Blue and Graphite. 

It looks a little like a notepad because it’s 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. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

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. Both thicker and heavier than a lot of other handsets, 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 on it at once.

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

Sharp and detailed, you can use this screen for just about anything whether that’s photo editing or gaming. Streaming video on is equally as good because the display is big enough to comfortably watch shows on, more like watching on a miniature tablet than on a phone. You’ll also be able to see every inch of the video with no problems at all, it’s balanced with clear contrast between light and dark areas. 

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, and it’ll be excellent for gaming. 

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. It did a great job, I was able to watch videos under the sun and take photos with a clear view of the screen, there’s room for improvement but then there always is. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: camera system 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

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 - see the gallery below for some examples of photos taken on this phone.

Whether you’re snapping selfies, shots of landscapes, cityscapes, one person, two people, plants or pets photos come out looking bold, sharp and vibrant. But this year, it’s the new and improved camera features that are really worth talking about. 

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

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One of the most useful features is the improved Night mode, it blends multi-exposure frames 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. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Taken with Samsung Night Mode. 

(Image credit: Future)

In use, it did a great job at illuminating the scene without losing out on detail or looking unnatural. For the best results, you need to be stood quite still as it takes a few seconds to capture the image.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

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. For simpler Portraits where you just want to blur out the background, it worked really well, but it was more hit and miss when I went to block out the background entirely. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung's new and improved Portrait Mode.

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Like the S21 Ultra, you get a 100x Super Zoom here. It’s incredible and will be able to capture far more than the human eye can see. I’ll let those photos do the talking, take a look at some example shots at different distances below.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 30x zoom.
(Image credit: Future)
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 30x zoom.
(Image credit: Future)

Keen on editing your photos post-capture? The new Expert RAW takes 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: performance and battery

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - Geekbench 5 scores

GeekBench

(Image credit: GeekBench)

[CPU]

Single-Core Score: 1,166

Multi-Core Score: 3,576

[Compute]

OpenCL: 8,974

Vulkan: 8,193

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. After using it for a number of different tasks, it was clear that this lives up to the Note 20 as being a productivity-focused product. You can open up games without long loading times, and there’s no lag when you’re flicking through a few different open windows open at once.

I ran the Geekbench 5 benchmark test on it, and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra scored 1,166 in single-core and 3,576 in multi-core, which is about the same as last year’s S21 Ultra as well as being similar to other flagship smartphones like the OnePlus 9 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. Then to test out its gaming capabilities, I ran 3D Mark’s Wild Life test, the phone had an impressive average frame rate of 44.90 while it actually maxed out 3D Mark’s Slingshot and Slingshot Extreme tests. If you want all of the perks of a flagship handset and you’re a gamer, this is one of the best gaming phones you can buy right now.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

Browsing the web is 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. It lasted me throughout the whole workday without coming close to needing a charge. When I ran a video over two hours on full brightness, the battery level dropped by 12% which suggests it would have lasted almost 17 hours in total. 

Because it doesn’t come with a charger in the box, I used a 30W charger that I had lying around at home, but even using that, it only took an hour to recharge from empty to 100% so you can expect it to be even faster at its full 45W potential.

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.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Future)

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 is really handy and there are tonnes of uses for it. You can take quick notes or sketches, use it to edit photos and it can even translate your writing into digital text. It’s accurate enough to easily be able to do more detailed drawings as well. It feels lovely writing on this screen, smooth and effortless is the best way to describe what it’s like. 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. 

Everything about how the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra works feels very considered and suits the device perfectly. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review (early verdict)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

(Image credit: Samsung)

Honestly, I can’t think of many downsides to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It won’t be for everyone, because it is very expensive and it’s a very 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 is no different and every part of it is sure to impress you. Whether that’s its performance, camera, battery, design or screen, this phone is about as good as they get right now. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: also consider

As the year progresses, we're likely to see more phones released that will try to compete with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. But if you don't fancy spending this much on a phone, who could blame you? There are other devices out there with top-end specs and killer cameras that don't cost anywhere near as much - like the Google Pixel 6 Pro for instance, or the OnePlus 9 Pro. Both are still pricey but neither are anywhere near as pricey as the S22 Ultra. 

If you already own Apple products, then it'd make sense for you to stay within that ecosystem. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is the big-screened hyper-premium equivalent with iOS, but the iPhone 13 is a much more modestly priced device with a smaller 6.1-inch screen. 

Yasmine Crossland
Yasmine Crossland

Reviews Writer for T3, Yasmine, started writing reviews in 2019 and is always knee-deep in the latest tech products. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her tending to her plants and planning her next big trip.