Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: the slab phone retirement plan

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Enlarge / The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Ron Amadeo

Is there anything left to do in the slab phone market?

Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy S22 looks like a retirement plan for the company’s panel lineup. After killing off the Galaxy Note line and skipping a 2021 release, Samsung is merging the S-Pen-equipped Note line and the Galaxy S line, reducing the slab phone flagships to a single annual release.

Look at 2019’s Galaxy Note 10 and you’ll see that Samsung has been essentially recycling its design for three years now. It feels like Samsung is standing still, as if the plan is to slowly send slab phones off into the sunset while the company directs resources towards a future in foldables.

Galaxy S22 Galaxy S22+ Galaxy S22 Ultra
SCREEN 2340×1080 6.1 inch OLED

48-120 Hz, 422 dpi

2340×1080 6.6 inch OLED

48-120 Hz, 390 dpi

3088×1440 6.8 inch OLED

1-120 Hz, 501 dpi

YOU Android 12 with Samsung One UI
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200, both 4nm
RAM 8 GB 8 GB 12 GB or 12 GB
STORAGE ROOM 128 GB or 256 GB 128 GB or 256 GB 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB
NETWORKING Wi-Fi 6, BT 5.2, GPS, NFC, millimeter wave (Same) + Wi-Fi 6GHz 6E, UWB
50MP wide angle
10 MP telephoto lens (3x optical)
108 MP main
12 MP wide angle
10 MP 3x optical telephoto lens
10 MP 10x optical telephoto lens
Laser AF
CUT 146×70.6×7.6mm 157.4 × 75.8 × 7.6 millimeters 163.3×77.9×8.9mm
WEIGHT 168g 196g 229g
BATTERY 3700mAh, 25W charging 4500mAh, 45W charging 5000mAh, 45W charging
STARTING PRICE $799.99 $999.99 $1,199.99
OTHER ADVANTAGES Wireless charging, in-screen fingerprint sensor. IP68 water and dust resistance

We review the S22 Ultra, but first let’s talk about the range as a whole. The Ultra is a Galaxy Note with a Note-style design, while the S22 and S22+ share a design that resembles last year’s S21. The biggest change is to SoC performance in the Exynos (international) and Snapdragon (US). Other than that, it’s hard to credit Samsung with year-over-year spec growth. The high-end S22 Ultra configuration has less RAM this year, dropping from 16GB to 12GB. The S22 and S22+ are both slimmer and lose 300mAh of battery capacity. The S22+ and S22 Ultra are marketed as having 45W fast charging, but they don’t charge faster than last year’s models.

Prices are all the same as last year: $800, $1,000, and $1,200, depending on where you fall in the size range. All of these prices seem way too high compared to Google’s excellent Pixel 6. You’d be hard pressed to find a single thing the $1,200 S22 Ultra does better than the $900 Pixel 6 Pro. There’s definitely not $300 difference between the two devices, and if you’re looking for an Android flagship and have the option of buying a Pixel 6 Pro instead of the S22, you should. make. Of course, Samsung’s big advantage is that most people do not do have the option of buying a Google phone because Google’s small, underfunded hardware division only sells phones in about 13 countries, while Samsung has more than 100.

The bumpy camera setup.  Below the volume and power buttons is a mmWave window on the side of the phone.
Enlarge / The bumpy camera setup. Below the volume and power buttons is a mmWave window on the side of the phone.

Ron Amadeo

The S22 range has been plagued with controversy since its launch. Samsung announced the S21 and S21+ displays with dynamic refresh rates of 10Hz to 120Hz, then a week later (after taking pre-orders) Samsung quietly changed the spec sheets to read “48Hz to 120Hz “. Samsung markets the S22+ and S22 Ultra as having “45W” fast charging, but the devices don’t charge any faster than last year’s 25W models.

We still don’t know what’s going on with Samsung’s decision to limit thousands of games and apps through its “Game Optimizing Service.” Samsung’s throttling app has a list of 10,000 apps and games that can throttle CPU performance by up to 46%, and Samsung controls it all remotely via the cloud. Unsurprisingly, Samsung has managed to exclude all major benchmark apps from its throttling system, which, according to Geekbenchmakes it a cheating offense worthy of removal from its benchmark rankings.

Samsung promised to ship an “off” button for this throttling app at some point, but it hasn’t arrived on our review unit yet. Reports from Korea indicate that Samsung is already the subject of a preliminary investigation by the country’s Fair Trade Commission over this feature, and S22 owners are preparing to launch a class action lawsuit.