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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra hands-on impressions: A Note in all but name

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra combines the S21 and the Note 20 in one, ultimate form factor.
By
February 9, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra color family on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Galaxy Note is back! Wait, no it’s not. Well, it sort of is, depending on your point of view. Note by name or not, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a blended piece of hardware and software that purports to offer the best of the Galaxy S series and the best of the Note series in one, ultimate device. With just about the best specs available from any phone in the market, as well as the S Pen and all the functionality the stylus offers, the S22 Ultra is a love letter to power users.

Yet at $1,199, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is an expensive proposition for many. It commands a $200 premium over the Galaxy S22 Plus and a $400 premium over the Galaxy S22 (check out our impressions of the non-Ultra duo here). Based on our hands-on time with the phone so far, we think that for many, the cost will be well worth it. Find out why in our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra preview.

Read also: Best Galaxy S22 Ultra cases

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultra-premium build quality • Gorgeous screen • Solid performance
See review
$1,199.99 at Samsung
See review

Design choices

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra read in hand
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s hardware is… something. It’s a clear mishmash of the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. For example, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the sharp corners, rounded edge profile, and over-large build of the Note 20, but it features the camera module of the S21 Ultra in relief. Considering that it’s a “best of” compilation, is there anything that’s actually unique about this hardware? Precious little. And that’s by design.

History of Samsung flagships: Galaxy S seriesGalaxy Note series

Samsung wants the Galaxy S22 Ultra to be familiar to buyers of both the Galaxy Note and Galaxy S families, which should entice more to consider it as an option when picking their next phone. That’s why it boasts a refined Armour Aluminum frame, Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back, and the basic profile that was common to both the Note 10 and Note 20. The phone comes in four colors: Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy, as standard, though there are also three Samsung.com exclusive colorways (Graphite, Red, and Sky Blue). The ones we got our hands on were a bit on the conservative (ahem, boring) side, but with at least four options you should be able to find the one that suits you. It looks and feels every bit the premium device that it is.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in black white and blue cards
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is as big as any Note that ever was at 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm and 229g. It’s a hefty piece of hardware that stretches the hand and stretches the pockets. Surprisingly, it’s about the exact same size as the Google Pixel 6 Pro. We’re thankful for the hearty materials, excellent build quality, and IP68 rating for protection against dust and water. Despite its strength, we’ll still recommend that you slap a case on it. This will also make it easier to hold on to, as it is a bit awkward and slightly slippery.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a hefty piece of hardware that stretches the hand and stretches the pockets.

I like the matte finish to the rear panel, particularly on the white one. This helps prevent fingerprints and other blemishes from marring the glass. The camera module is particularly interesting. Samsung took the basic lens arrangement of the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s camera module and stripped away the raised platform, leaving only the lenses behind. The result is a nearly all-flat rear panel that is only interrupted by the slightly raised round lenses. It’s paying tribute to the Galaxy S21 Ultra while trying something new. I dig it, though I get why others might not.

The rest of the hardware is traditional Samsung. The power and volume buttons are on the left edge and have excellent travel and feedback. The SIM card tray, USB-C port, downward-firing speaker, and S Pen slot are all crammed onto the bottom edge of the phone. The top and left edges are void of controls or other functional elements.

As for the S Pen, it is garaged in the bottom left corner and is easy to stow and retrieve unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which didn’t have a garage for the S Pen. It features the same clicky action for popping out the tab, which you can then pull to extract the stylus. This new S Pen is even more sensitive than previous versions and has improved handwriting-to-text features supported in 88 languages. It also includes a new Quick Note feature that lets you instantly save website text with a tap. In our limited time with it, the S Pen felt sturdy and responsive on the S22 Ultra’s display.

Nothing about the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is surprising. The phone is everything we expected it to be.

That screen!

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra angled with Chrome AA
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The display is what defines the Note, er, Galaxy S22 Ultra, experience and Samsung ain’t playin’. This screen measures a huge 6.8 inches across the diagonal with QHD+ (3,088 x 1.440) resolution in a 19.3:9 aspect ratio. That gives it plenty of pixels to fill that expansive piece of glass.

It’s a Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen with all the bells and whistles. That means a variable 120Hz refresh rate that ranges from ~1Hz up to 120Hz to deliver the best mix of battery life and scrolling performance. The screen also touts a 240Hz touch sampling rate, which is clutch for gamers, as the screen will react faster when touched. This is, however, limited to Game Mode. Other features include Vision Booster, Eye Comfort Shield, and AI-managed blue light control to prevent eye fatigue.

How does the display look? Utterly delicious.

The display glass has curved edges along the left and right sides, but the screen itself doesn’t bend all the way with the glass. Instead, you’ll see thin black bezels where the glass actually meets the metal frame. There’s also a punch-hole camera cutout centered near the top edge. This is a common screen design for a Note series device.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra angled in hand
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

How does it look? Utterly delicious. We weren’t able to watch any high-quality Netflix content, but the HD YouTube videos we sampled were very impressive on the screen. The sample photos in the gallery popped off the screen with color and websites we browsed looked absolutely clean. The AMOLED pushes out plenty of light and viewing angles were very good, though colors were pushed perhaps a bit too much. We didn’t get to test the screen outdoors.

Check out: Display types and technologies explained

It’s an impressive display that will surely grab owners’ attention, but we’ll need to test it further ahead of our full Galaxy S22 Ultra review coming very soon.

No guts, no glory

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in lavendar on book
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Beyond the external aesthetics of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, this phone has a lot going on under the glass. It’s absolutely packed with the newest silicon to ensure top-of-the-line performance.

Let’s start with the processor. In the US and select other countries, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC on board, while in other selected regions the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a Samsung Exynos 2200. Both processor versions come with either 8GB or 12GB of RAM and between 128GB and 1TB of internal storage. The phone will be among the first wave of devices to ship with these chips from Qualcomm and Samsung, and we’re eager to put them to the test. In our time with the phone, it felt really, really quick on its feet.

More reading: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Samsung Exynos 2200

The Galaxy S22 Ultra packs a 5,000mAh battery, which is pretty much table stakes for a flagship these days. While it’s not pushing any real boundaries, it is an appreciable jump from the 4,500mAh battery that was in the Note 20. It charges at a rapid 45W with the right charging brick, but the phone doesn’t ship with a charger in the box. Some competing flagships are pushing wired charging speeds above 100W. Wireless charging of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is limited to 15W, which is also slower than what’s available from other top phones. Samsung said these limitations are meant to help maximize battery performance over time. Reverse wireless charging is available as well.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Hot or not?

4813 votes

Then there are the cameras. The Galaxy S22 Ultra pretty much carries over the S21 Ultra’s camera arrangement spec for spec. It’s got a 108MP main camera and a 12MP ultrawide camera, but it also has two telephoto cameras. Both have 10MP sensors, but one is configured for 3x optical zoom while the other is configured for 10x optical and 100x Space Zoom. Though this was a stellar setup on the S21 Ultra, we’d have liked to see some hardware changes year over year. Either way, we’ll put it through its paces. There’s a 40MP selfie camera around front. Video capture ranges up to 8K for the rear camera and 4K for the front camera. We’ll have to tell you about all the fancy new software features in our full review.

The connectivity suite is top-shelf, too. In addition to wide support for 5G (both mmWave and sub-6GHz), Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and ultra-wideband are on board.

See also: The best 5G phones you can buy right now

Finally, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra ships with One UI 4 based on Android 12. The phone will receive four years of software upgrades and five years of security upgrades. That’s the best commitment we’ve seen from any phone maker, even Google.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra specs

Galaxy S22Galaxy S22 PlusGalaxy S22 Ultra
Display
Galaxy S22
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (48Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Galaxy S22 Plus
6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (48Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Galaxy S22 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Processor
Galaxy S22
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
Galaxy S22 Plus
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
Galaxy S22 Ultra
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
RAM
Galaxy S22
8GB
Galaxy S22 Plus
8GB
Galaxy S22 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
Storage
Galaxy S22
128GB or 256GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S22 Plus
128GB or 256GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S22 Ultra
128GB, 256GB, or 512GB with additional 1TB option
No microSD card support
Power
Galaxy S22
3,700mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S22 Plus
4,500mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S22 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Galaxy S22
REAR:
- 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)

FRONT:
- 10MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Galaxy S22 Plus
REAR:
- 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)

FRONT:
- 10MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Galaxy S22 Ultra
REAR:
- 108MP wide (0.8μm, ƒ2.2, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ4.9, 230mm, 11-degree FoV, 10x optical zoom)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
- Laser autofocus

FRONT:
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Video
Galaxy S22
REAR:
- 8K at 24fps (main lens only)
- 4K at 60fps (all lenses)

FRONT:
- 4K at 60fps
Galaxy S22 Plus
REAR:
- 8K at 24fps (main lens only)
- 4K at 60fps (all lenses)

FRONT:
- 4K at 60fps
Galaxy S22 Ultra
REAR:
- 8K at 24fps (main lens only)
- 4K at 60fps (all lenses)

FRONT:
- 4K at 60fps
Audio
Galaxy S22
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
Galaxy S22 Plus
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
Connectivity
Galaxy S22
5G (mmWave + sub-6GHz)
Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Galaxy S22 Plus
5G (mmWave + sub-6GHz)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)
Galaxy S22 Ultra
5G (mmWave + sub-6GHz)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)
Security
Galaxy S22
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
Galaxy S22 Plus
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
Software
Galaxy S22
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Galaxy S22 Plus
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Android 12
One UI 4.1
S Pen support
Galaxy S22
No
Galaxy S22 Plus
No
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Yes, with storage slot
Materials
Galaxy S22
Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back
Armour Aluminum frame
Galaxy S22 Plus
Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back
Armour Aluminum frame
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back
Armour Aluminum frame
Durability
Galaxy S22
IP68 certified
Galaxy S22 Plus
IP68 certified
Galaxy S22 Ultra
IP68 certified
Dimensions and weight
Galaxy S22
146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
168g
Galaxy S22 Plus
157.4 x 75.8 x 7.6mm
196g
Galaxy S22 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
229g
Colors
Galaxy S22
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

Online exclusives: Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, Violet
Galaxy S22 Plus
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

Online exclusives: Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, Violet
Galaxy S22 Ultra
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Burgundy

Online exclusives: Graphite, Sky Blue, Red

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra preview: The Note, evolved

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra white with plant
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Galaxy Note may no longer be a standalone series in Samsung’s greater lineup, but there’s no question that it lives on in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The S22 Ultra is more Galaxy Note than Galaxy S from our perspective, no matter what Samsung calls it. In other words, power users who want an S Pen-enabled smartphone from Samsung with the best screen and top performance still have an option available to them. Those who don’t need the S Pen can find many of the same features and performance from the more compact Galaxy S22 Plus or Galaxy S22 models.

The S22 Ultra is more Galaxy Note than Galaxy S, no matter what Samsung calls it.

Android Authority will be testing the latest from Samsung over the weeks ahead. We look forward to providing full reviews of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Galaxy S22 Plus, and Galaxy S22, shortly.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultra-premium build quality • Gorgeous screen • Solid performance
Can Samsung's merged Note and S series device satisfy demanding users?
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra combines the best of the Galaxy S Ultra with the best of the Galaxy Note Ultra to check off almost all the boxes for power users. In addition to top specs and extensively-supported, feature-packed software, the Galaxy S22 Ultra boasts the S Pen and a plethora of productivity tools unmatched by the competition. While it's somewhat lacking in soul, that doesn't take away from the technical marvel that is the Galaxy S22 Ultra.