Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions: A Note in all but name
Samsung’s making a big bet this year with the Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung’s Note series was the phone you’d go to when you wanted the absolute ‘most’ in any Samsung phone – the most specs, the most productivity and the most do-it-all attitude – but the best photography chops had been reserved for the Galaxy S series, evidenced most recently by the S21 Ultra. Samsung’s making a big bet this year with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, a phone that tries to woo audiences that would traditionally have swung towards the Note series by giving them a phone that can marry the best of the Galaxy S (camera) and the Note (S Pen, productivity) lineup. Does combining the rich legacies of both sub-brands work, and is this the phone that Note enthusiasts, this author included, have waited for? I’ve started peeling back the layers of the
Note 22 Ultra S22 Ultra to get you my quick first impressions of Samsung’s all-new rockstar!
Now, if you’re using a Note 20 Ultra on the daily as I do, you’ll understand why I (almost unintentionally) refer to the S22 Ultra as the Note 22 Ultra. This is a departure from the rest of the S series lineup, which retains the design we saw with the S21 series last year. Borrowing its basic shape from the Note 20 Ultra, the S22 Ultra features flat edges on the top and bottom, while the sides of the display curve sharply into the curved metal frame, which somewhat help with the grip. Make no mistake, this is a high-quality, gigantic metal-and-glass slab, and no amount of Gorilla Glass Victus Plus and Armor Aluminum strengthening should lead you to treat this Rs. 1,09,990 device casually.
If there’s one design element that I think is an improvement over its predecessors, it’s the camera bump, or lack thereof. The S22 Ultra has retained the same lens arrangement as the S21 Ultra’s, but the massive bump is gone, even if the raised circular lens rings are still rather large and conspicuous. The quad-camera setup consists of a 108MP primary camera, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view, and two 10MP cameras capable of 3X and 10X optical zoom (plus a 40MP selfier shooter on the front). If you noticed five camera rings, kudos to your attentition to detail – that’s a laser autofocus module for faster focusing. Samsung has touted its improved low-light performance by using larger sensors for the S22 Ultra, and while I’m not a big fan of the ‘Nightography’ name it’s given to these capabilities, I’ll be putting these claims to the test in my full review.
Bear in mind, this is an 8.9mm thick phone that has managed to fit in the same 10x optical zoom periscope zoom shooter, a 5,000mAh battery and a silo to fit in an S Pen, something that last year’s S21 Ultra or the Z Fold 3 couldn’t manage despite shipping with stylus support. Sure, it’s heavy (229g), but managing to pack all of this in without significantly compromising the design is a feat unto itself. The fact that the S Pen and the S22 Ultra are IP68 rated came as no surprise, but it was a good box to tick.
Around the front is a gorgeous Samsung display, and the 6.8-inch quad-HD+ 120Hz HDR10+ certified screen is nothing short of incredible. It might look, specs wise, as the same as last year’s S21 Ultra, but this year’s LTPO technology lets the device drop refresh rate to as low as 1Hz when static images are displayed on the screen. From the limited time I have used the device, the levels of deep blacks are impressive, and should you take the phone out and view it under direct sunlight, Samsung’s bumped up the peak brightness to push out 1750 nits, for reference most flagship phones top out at anywhere between 1300-1500 nits.
Using the S Pen on the display itself is an all-round improved experience – the matte finish is easier to hold than the previously glossy models on the Note series, and touch latency is reduced from 9ms on the S21 Ultra to 2.8ms on the S22 Ultra. The latter improves the responsiveness and perceived ‘writing’ experience, since the screen starts drawing almost instantly from the moment you place the pen on the display.
And while we’re used to seeing the Exynos-powered chips on Galaxy S series, this one bucks the trend, with the all-new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset under the hood – might please some of the Qualcomm-loving crowd. There’s 12GB of memory and 256GB or 512GB of storage for two variants priced at Rs. 1,09,999 and Rs 1,18,999, and I’ll be testing the 256GB variant in the fetching Burgundy colorway to bring you my full review.