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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus: Camera shootout

Which Galaxy S22 has the better set of cameras, the S22 Ultra or the S22 Plus?

Published onDecember 14, 2022

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus camera module green on green
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung’s smartphones, old and new, have demonstrated they’re industry-leading when it comes to photography. All three phones in the latest Galaxy S22 series pack potent photo components and powerful software to back it up. The Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus, in particular, share some key similarities across their camera arrangements. Still, there are some distinct differences that have a material impact on the photos you’ll get from each.

With a broad range of photo samples from which to choose, we thought you’d like to see a direct, head-to-head comparison of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Plus.

Our verdict: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review | Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus: Camera specs

Galaxy S22 UltraGalaxy S22 Plus
Rear Cameras
Galaxy S22 Ultra
- 108MP wide (0.8μm, ƒ1.8, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ4.9, 230mm, 11-degree FoV, 10x optical zoom)
- Laser autofocus
Galaxy S22 Plus
- 50MP wide (1.0μm, ƒ1.8, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.0μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
Rear Video
Galaxy S22 Ultra
- 8K at 24fps (main lens only)
- 4K at 60fps (all lenses)
Galaxy S22 Plus
- 8K at 24fps (main lens only)
- 4K at 60fps (all lenses)
Front Cameras
Galaxy S22 Ultra
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Galaxy S22 Plus
- 10MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Front Video
Galaxy S22 Ultra
- 4K at 60fps
Galaxy S22 Plus
- 4K at 60fps

The Galaxy S22 Ultra represents the top of the S22 food chain. It’s the king of the hill, the top dog, the main event. As such, it boasts a more robust set of cameras when compared to the S22 Plus, which is a step down from the Ultra in terms of pricing.

The most significant and obvious difference between the two phones rests with the main cameras. The S22 Ultra enjoys a 108MP 1/1.33-inch wide camera at f/2.2 with 0.8μm pixels. Samsung bins it down by a factor of nine (nona-binning), so the resulting images are 12MP with a combined pixel area of 2.4μm. The S22 Plus has a 50MP 1/1.56-inch wide camera at f/1.8 with 1.0μm pixels. Samsung bins this camera down by a factor of four, so the resulting images are 12.5MP from 2.0μm effective pixels. Both cameras allow you to shoot at the full resolution should you wish, and have the same 23mm equivalent lens and an 85-degree field of view. Both also support dual-pixel phase detection autofocus, though the S22 Ultra adds laser autofocus to the mix.

The two handsets sport identical wide-angle shooters: 12MP at f/2.2 with 1.4μm pixels. They also share the same 13mm effective focal length and 120-degree field of view.

The S22 Ultra wouldn't be very 'ultra' if it didn't pack a second, 10x optical 10MP telephoto camera.

The primary telephoto cameras are similar but not quite identical. The S22 Ultra and S22 Plus each have a 10MP telephoto camera capable of 3x optical zoom, with an aperture of f/2.4 and a 69mm equivalent lens with a 36-degree field of view. The S22 Ultra’s sensor has pixels that measure 1.12μm, while the S22 Plus’s sensor has pixels that measure 1.0μm, owing to a marginally larger sensor in the former.

And of course, the S22 Ultra wouldn’t be very “ultra” if it didn’t pack a second, 10x optical 10MP telephoto camera at f/4.9 with 1.12μm pixels. It has a 230mm equivalent lens at an 11-degree field of view. This additional camera gives the S22 Ultra some serious zooming power. Where the S22 Plus can handle up to 30x Space Zoom (Samsung’s marketing name for its hybrid zoom tech), the S22 Ultra can drill down to 100x Space Zoom.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus camera module crisscross
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Last, the selfie cameras. The S22 Ultra has a larger 40MP user-facing camera, while the S22 Plus has a 10MP selfie cam. Despite the different sensors, they share the same f/2.2 aperture and 80-degree field of view. Samsung bins the 40MP images from the S22 Ultra down to photos that come out at 10MP.

Beyond the dedicated camera hardware, the phones share a few other things: primarily the processor. While some versions of the S22 series ship with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, others ship with the Samsung Exynos 2200. While we’ve benchmarked the differences in processor performance, we’ve not yet been able to see how each processor impacts photography. For the purposes of this comparison, we used Qualcomm-powered phones. It goes without saying that everything is driven by the same software from Samsung.

More reading: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Exynos 2200 benchmarked

Will the photos be strikingly different or relatively similar? Let’s dive into the samples to see what we’ve got!

Daylight samples

In terms of focus, clarity, and sharpness, both photos are equal in this first scene. You can see just as much detail in one photo as the other. There’s a little bit of noise when you dial in and look closely at the brick, but it’s not too bad on either phone. What’s different here is the color processing. The S22 Ultra produced a truer-to-life photo with a nice blue, while the S22 Plus skewed a little bit too warm, giving the photo a yellowish tint.

The bright foreground, shaded areas, and a sunlit building in the background make this a challenging scene. Overall, both phones did a fine job balancing the exposure and contrast, so nothing is lost. Focus and clarity are the same in both shots but, similar to the snap above, the photo from the S22 Plus is a bit more yellow than that from the S22 Ultra.

The skyline images above are strikingly different. The photo from the S22 Ultra has way more contrast and appears to be over-sharpened, while the picture from the S22 Plus has less of both. Neither is necessarily better than the other; they’re just different. That said, the color is just a bit more accurate in the image from the S22 Plus in this round.

Here’s a photo taken in deep shade with sunlight in the background. As with the above examples, in this instance, both phones did a commendable job delivering sharp focus and plenty of detail in the foreground and background with minimal noise. The cooler tone of the image from the S22 Ultra is more accurate to the scene at hand.

Indoor lighting

Yes, I took a picture of my cat Parker while she was taking a nap (and thus woke her up.) This photo demonstrates how well the S22 phones capture detail even in somewhat lower light settings. You can see plenty of individual strands of hair though there’s certainly some noise upon close inspection. Once again, the S22 Plus produced a very slightly warmer image than the S22 Ultra.

It was fairly dark in this NYC diner while I ate a late lunch one afternoon. The S22 Ultra kicked out a fine photo that’s sharp and shows plenty of detail in the wrap, fries, and other food elements. The S22 Plus, in comparison, struggled to find focus and snapped a pic that’s blurry and less detailed. Both cameras struggled with the white balance a bit, thanks to the yellowish indoor lighting.

Night photography

Of all the shots in this comparison, these two night photos look the most similar. The exposures are the same, the focus is the same, the amount of detail, and noise is the same, as is the overall tone and feel of the photos. Perhaps the shot from the S22 Ultra is a little bit less noisy than the shot from the S22 Plus, but there’s nothing really between them.

Again, we have near-identical images here. Both phones’ ability to grab a detailed scene in near darkness is impressive. I particularly like how accurately the phones captured the exact feel of the spotlights on the left and neon on the right, making for one of my favorite snaps. This picture, in particular, required Night Mode to get exactly right.

Portraits and selfies

Looking at a portrait of good old George Washington shows us a leader in stark relief when compared to the bokeh background. The amount of blur behind the statue is perhaps a little aggressive, but it does make the face of the statue stand out in a pleasing way. Despite the slight difference in color tone, I would call these photos close to equivalent in terms of bokeh quality, edge detection, and detail.

The self-portraits above both work fairly well. Though edge detection isn’t quite perfect, it’s close enough. More importantly, the exposures are solid, and there’s plenty of detail on the subject in good lighting, resulting in great skin textures and tones.

Ultrawide and zoom

The above shots were taken with the ultrawide cameras of the Ultra and the Plus. Given that the cameras themselves are essentially identical, it’s no surprise to see that the photos are as well. I’m pleased that both shots’ contrast, exposure, and clarity are the same across the board. The S22 Ultra does lean a little toward the cooler end of the spectrum, but only a little.

These photos were snapped with the two phones’ telephoto cameras at an optical zoom of 3x. As the telephoto cameras of the phones are very similar, they deliver shots that are hard to tell apart here. Both shots are clean and accurate in terms of color, detail, and exposure.

More reading: How digital, optical, and hybrid zoom work

Here is a sample of the lower end of the zoom range for the S22 Ultra and S22 Plus. The results are pleasingly consistent across the board. The tone of the arch and the sky in the background are spot-on across the lens range for both phones. The Ultra’s 10x periscope camera kicks in to capture some finer details in the last arch shot; see the netting, which the Plus simply can’t capture as accurately.

In the series above, you get an idea of just how much you can zoom with the two phones. Starting with 3x and then moving to 10x, we see relatively complimentary photos between the S22 Ultra and the S22 Plus. However, the Ultra model’s extra hardware has a clear advantage at longer distances. The S22 Ultra reaches 100x Space Zoom, which you can see is mediocre in terms of clarity and detail. But the 30x result holds up much better and is eminently usable. The S22 Plus is limited to Space Zoom of 30x, but that is a lot of reach for a smartphone. Even though the Plus’ 30x results aren’t as usable as the Ultra’s, they might just about pass in a pinch.

You can view the full-resolution photo samples for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra here and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus here.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus camera test: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus camera module black pink standing
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

This Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Plus camera shootout produced the expected results. The most meaningful differences are found when comparing the main cameras and longer distance zoom capabilities. The discrepancies are, however, slight and limited to aspects such as color tone and the level of detail and noise within each image. Importantly, the Plus’ smaller 50MP sensor seemingly performs every bit as well in low light as the Ultra’s larger primary sensor.

Which phone takes the better pictures? The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or the Galaxy S22 Plus?

2564 votes

The shared ultrawide and similar 3x telephoto cameras are incredibly consistent in their results, which we’d expect from phones that share Samsung’s software and image signal processing chain. Of course, the Ultra pulls ahead with long-range zoom quality, owing to its 10x periscope hardware.

If you thought the S22 Ultra delivers a considerable performance gain over the S22 Plus in the camera department, most of the samples above clearly show that’s not the case. As such, it’s tough to justify an extra $200 just for that additional periscope camera on the Ultra. However, there might be other reasons to spring for Samsung’s more expensive phone, such as the S Pen.

Samsung’s new phones may set the standard for mobile photography, but there are plenty of other options in the market as well. The Google Pixel 7 Pro and its high-quality image processing algorithms help it punch well above its price tag. And there’s always the iPhone. The Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max offers a great camera that’s a breeze to use. You can also take a look at our list of the best camera phones for more recommendations.

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