After a torrent of leaks, rumours, and itchy publishing fingers from within its ranks, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 family of smartphones is finally official. Spearheading the charge is, naturally, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, the series’ flagship and top-of-the-line model of the three.
Just as the rumours and whispers had initially suggested, Samsung is clearly reusing a familiar design for the S22 Ultra. Specifically, its design mimics that of the Galaxy Note20 Ultra to the point that it is almost identical, save for some changes in the main camera department and internal hardware, naturally. That brings us nicely into the next part: the hardware powering up the phone.
I’m going to start by addressing some of the more prominent rumours: yes, Samsung is integrating the S Pen with the S22 Ultra, thus officially making it the first device in the Galaxy S series to feature the accessory. Sadly, the S Pen integration also confirms that the Korean electronics giant is putting its Galaxy Note lineup to rest.
To that end, I’m just going to say that it feels weird being able to pull out an S Pen from a Galaxy S devices, especially after years of being conditioned by Samsung itself to associate the stylus with its Note lineup.
For another matter: yes, the S22 Ultra variant that we’re getting will be rocking Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, and not Samsung’s latest Exynos 2200 SoC that also features AMD’s RDNA2 graphics cores. When asked about its choice of Qualcomm’s flagship 4nm chipset over its own, Samsung’s answer was one that we’ve been hearing over the past year: a production shortage. Additionally, the phone will be available in three memory and storage configurations: 8GB+128GB, 12GB+256GB, and 12GB+512GB.
For those not watching the stream, there’s also a 12GB+1TB configuration, but Samsung has made it clear that that SKU won’t be officially coming into the country.
But let’s get back to the overall feel and handling of the phone. In contrast to last year’s Note20 Ultra, the S22 Ultra feels lighter and more wieldable, despite the fact that the phone is actually slightly heavier than the Note 20 Ultra. For another matter, the phone’s a real fingerprint magnet, front and back; the colour I have on me is the Burgundy theme and even then, I can still see the smudges made with each greasy appendage that handled it, before and after me.
On the subject of the display, the Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel still looks as crisp and gorgeous, just as when it was first introduced with the Galaxy Note10 series. Combined with the 120Hz refresh rate, everything on the phone just feels really buttery smooth, and that shows whenever I am scrolling through articles online.
On the software side of things, the S22 Ultra runs Android 12 out of the box and that is layered with Samsung’s own One UI 4.0. As it is with all flagship phones and my brief hands on with this one, the overall experience is what you’d expect. Apps snap open in a blink of an eye and regardless of what I’m doing, tapping the Home button brings me to my phone’s main page with the same split-second speed.
Then there’s the new main camera array of the S22 Ultra. Instead of keeping the sensors isolated in their own housing, Samsung has instead chosen to simply let them stand out individually by having each sensor’s position machine cut into the chassis. Specs-wise, we’re looking at a 12MP ultra-wide, 108MP wide, and two 10MP telephoto lenses, rated for 3x and 10x Optical zoom, respectively.
Again, the dual optical zoom function is a carry forward from the previous generation’s GalaxyS21 Ultra but unfortunately, Samsung isn’t allowing me to show a couple of sample images here, citing that the imaging software in the S22 Ultra I have was not final, and therefore would be reflective of the finished product.
Ultimately, my brief time with the phone makes me feel like Samsung is playing it safe at the moment, not so much because it is afraid to break new ground with new technology, but instead, to get the masses familiar with the concept of having Note-like functions in a Galaxy S series device. On that note, we’ll be putting up a full review of the phone at a later date. So, stay tuned.
Photography by John Law.