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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

The S22 is Samsung's Galaxy range at its finest.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

It's been some three months since Samsung launched the Galaxy S22 Ultra - a handset we have spent a lot of time playing with.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra offers up both the end of an era for Samsung and the beginning of a new one. It's the first time that a phone outside the Note range has come complete with an S-Pen stylus. This 'points' in the direction Samsung is going in: the Note is likely no more but it's smart technology is now embedded into Samsung's flagship handset.

For us, this is a very good thing. Here are five things to know about the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra - a handset that's a true iPhone contender...

1. The design is stunning and Note like

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

As we mentioned in the intro, although Samsung hasn't announced the death knell of its Note range, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the ideal replacement. This is seen in its design - it looks both like an S range phone and last year's Note.

The size of the thing is phablet-like, when those were still a thing. The screen is a mammoth 6.8 inches and this is hugged tightly by a superb aluminium frame.

In total, the phones measures: 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm. Stat fans will already be one step ahead of and know that this makes it even bigger than the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. And that phone is an absolute whopper. The Samsung S22 Ultra is lighter, though, which is impressive.

Flip the thing over and there's a nice satin-y finish to the colour of the handset. From our tests, this meant that fingerprints weren't as noticeable.

There are seven colours to choose from, but we were pretty enamoured with our Phantom Black handset. Depending on where you are in the world, you can also get the phone in: Phantom White, Sky Blue, Burgundy, Green, Graphite, and Red.

The back of the handset is taken up by the huge camera array which houses some five lenses.

The top and the bottom of the device are sheered flat which gives the phone a great, squared-off look. The good stuff is situated at the bottom of the device - this is where you find a USB-C slot, speakers and the housing for the S-Pen.

Press this in and the Pen pops out. It's a robust unlocking mechanism - we should know, as we got addicted to popping it in and out like it was some sort of popper fidget toy.

2. The S22 Ultra's screen is bright, really bloody bright

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

As mentioned, the screen is a large 6.8 inches. It has a refresh rate up to 120Hz, but this can be pared all the way down to 1Hz - not that you will actually notice, as the phone will adjust depending on what you are doing with the thing.

The screen is AMOLED and consists of 3088 x 1440 pixels (WQHD+). Damn you stat fans, you got there first: that's right, this means it's packing more pixels than the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

The screen offers up 1750 nits of brightness and this is boosted by Samsung’s new Vision Booster technology. This essentially helps you see things on your screen in stark daylight and it works well - it does boost the brightness, though (obviously) so this will impact on battery drain and the like.

The only thing that punctuates the screen is a tiny camera hole for the selfie cam. The fingerprint tech, which works extremely well, is all under the screen.

3. Power-up: performance is punchy

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Using Samsung's Exynos 2200 chipset, this is one powerful handset. It's buttery smooth when switching between apps and the like. Flipping from gaming to productivity tools can be done in seconds and the things doesn't even get that warm when doing arduous tasks.

The size of the screen makes it a great Netflix companion (although Disney Plus was getting more of a work out, thanks to Obi-Wan Kenobi being released) and the sound coming from the speaker grille was far more powerful than we were expecting from the phone.

Battery life is decent, too, thanks to the chunky 5,000mAh battery that's included with the device. Fast charging is available, though you don't actually get a plug in the package. We got a day out of the thing, which is pretty average for a phone of this size.

When it comes to the OS, we've always found Samsung's overlay of Android a bit too cutesy, but it's an easy operating system - especially as it's Android 12 underneath - to use and it can be modified to your liking, too.

4. About that S-Pen...

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung Galaxy S owners may not be that familiar with the S-Pen, which is Samsung's version of the stylus. When it was first released some years ago, the stylus felt like it was pretty restricted by what it can do but Samsung really has bolstered this tech so much so that you will get addicted to using this thing.

Here are some thing you can do with it: take notes from the lock screen, draw on screen captures, doodle on things (including a nice AR mode), use it for marking up text where needed. Writing with the S-Pen has a similar feel to writing with a pencil, with Samsung honing the precision of the thing nicely.

It's great at translating your notes (and our handwriting is terrible) and transforming them into text on the page. And when you get bored, you can open up Sketchbook and start doodling from there.

It really is an inventive accessory and we're glad that Samsung has now seemingly merged the Note and the S range to offer an Ultra-decent handset.

5. Samsung has packed the Galaxy S22 Ultra with cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

The camera array on the back of the S22 Ultra is achingly similar to that of the S21 Ultra (except they aren't in their own camera bump) and so are the specs.

In total. you get: 2x 10MP telephoto lenses (with differing field of views), a 12MP ultrawide camera and a 108MP main wide camera. The ultrazoom capabilities on the camera are something else (up to 10x optical zoom) while the 100x Space Zoom is still gimmicky but the stabilisation on the lenses has been improved, which goes a long way in getting better images from this feature. the results are still a little 'pop art', however.

Night photography has been improved in the S22 Ultra (Samsung calls this Nightography, ugh) but the results are rich in detail and long exposures seem to work a treat.

The 40MP front-facing camera is a decent-enough selfie cam and video can be shot up to 8K which is rather impressive.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: final verdict

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Samsung has created a dream device in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. It's a handset that has it all, offering Android users the top specs for performance, camera and design.

It's certainly a phone that will turn the heads of Apple users (maybe not fully but they will be impressed) and if this is the death of the Note series, then we don't care as the S22 Ultra breathes new life into phone world, thanks to the S-Pen.