The Galaxy Note series was for years considered the elite series of Samsung and one of the leaders in the Android-based phone market, but the company, for one reason or another, decided to retire it – apparently, even though the differences between it and the Galaxy S series have narrowed. This year it seems that the Galaxy S22 Ultra has won the title of successor to the mythical Note that has come out as mentioned mainly thanks to one very significant thing: the electronic pen that is hidden in its body.
Except for the name, the Galaxy S22 Ultra restores the old crown and offers in the Android market everything we liked about the successful Note models. It offers loads of capabilities that make it one of the best handsets on the market with a versatile camera with impressive zoom, spectacular design and unique color, and superb performance.
- The return of the S-Pen
- Impressive color and luxurious design
- Wrestling photography set
- Extremely bright screen
We didn’t like
- Battery Life
S22 Ultra: Luxurious and spectacular design
Although the Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the S-Series devices, it has a different design and actually brings a design identical to the one presented in the Note 20 Ultra – a convex screen and glass back that blend together to the edges with a shiny and colorful metal finish, with the top and bottom edges straight. So we called the design ‘subdued luxury’ and the same is true this time.
On the back of the device is the camera enclosure that we will expand on later, with each camera lens raised from the body and surrounded by a shiny metal hoop. When the S22 Ultra is laid with its back up it looks particularly elegant with a much cleaner look compared to the protrusions that other devices have. The only concern that arises is that while it is lying on its back, the lenses can be scratched. A protective cover looks like a necessary purchase.
It is still one of the most beautiful Android devices that can be found especially in the color green, and it radiates prestige from all sides. According to Samsung, the device is not only beautiful but also tougher: the aluminum steel is resistant to scratches and damage and is also water and dust resistant to IP68 rating, so the device will survive immersion underwater at a depth of up to a meter and a half for half an hour. This way you get a build quality that is at the top compared to the luxury models of the competitors or Apple iPhones.
The power button and volume are all located on the right side of the device and are easy to operate and are located exactly where the thumb rests, of the right-hand users. The power button is also used to launch Bixby, the virtual assistant that Samsung refuses to give up, but its function can be changed in settings. At the bottom, you can find the drawer that houses two SIM cards, a USB-C connector, a speaker eyelet, and also the S-Pen.
Measuring 163.3 × 77.9 mm and 8.9 mm thick, it is comfortable to hold despite its size but feels slippery due to the glass back and metal edges. Although it weighs 229 grams, it does not feel heavy due to balanced weight distribution.
This year, too, the Ultra is the largest model in the series, and this time it is a screen, convex as mentioned, that stretches diagonally at 6.8 inches. As mentioned above, it does indeed add to the upscale look of the device, and inadvertently not often the pen slipped while writing or marking content close to the margins. The resolution is 3020 × 1440 pixels, or + QHD, and this is a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that once again gives a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz, but this year the dynamic refresh rate can drop to a single Hz when displaying static content, in order to extend battery life.
This may sound like a recurring phrase, but it’s a high-quality screen, one of the best you can find today, and it supports HDR10 +, 500 pixel/inch pixel density, impressive colors, and absolute black which is only possible with OLED technology. This year Samsung has improved the maximum brightness of the screen and it reaches 1,750 nits at its peak, and this is noticeable outside when the colors on the screen look bright and text can be read easily.
The camera eyelet is centered at the top of the screen and is barely noticeable when using the device as it is the width of the notification bar and may only interfere slightly when playing games or watching full-screen video content.
S-Pen: An integral part of the experience
True, Samsung’s digital pen, the S-Pen, has not really disappeared from the world and the Ultra model in the previous year also supported it – but it’s sold as a separate accessory. This year it is as mentioned offered as part of the package, a built-in part of it.
The way he works, paints and writes in it remains as it was and that is not a bad thing. The rubber tip, friction noise, and shortened response time when the line appears on the screen have been improved thanks to the high refresh rate, which was already excellent in the Note 20 Ultra and it is doubtful that users of that device will feel a significant difference.
Previously, the pen body had a metallic finish while the one attached to the S22 Ultra is made of black plastic with a velvet finish and only the lower end has a metallic finish, which may ease the grip but makes the pen feel less luxurious.
The pen of course brings with it a variety of gestures for performing various actions on the device: navigating back and forth in the browser, flipping through the photos in the gallery, remote photography, slide promotion, media playback, and more and more without touching the screen. There is also handwriting recognition and turning it into text in the notes app, but there is still no Hebrew support, and a host of capabilities including scribbling on screenshots – a great option for designers or users who need to give visual feedback.
Those who decide to adopt the S-Pen, which except for the camera that makes the difference between the models, will discover a useful accessory that adds to the experience.
S22 Ultra: an improvment in photography – but not a revolution
In terms of dry data, the camera system of the Galaxy S22 Ultra has hardly changed compared to that of the S1 Ultra. This is a set with five sensors: the main camera equipped with a 108-megapixel sensor with an f / 1.8 key, a telephoto camera with a 10-megapixel sensor with an f / 4.9 key and an optical zoom of x10 together with a combined digital zoom of x100, a telephoto camera With 10-megapixel sensor with x3 optical zoom, super-wide camera with a 12-megapixel sensor and laser sensor for distance estimation. The front of the selfie camera has a 40-megapixel sensor.
This year Samsung has focused on night photography and the company has expressed great confidence in the improvements in the algorithm made so that portrait photos and video footage can be captured in night mode. In practice the result is mixed – portrait photography in the front camera in night mode looks simply bad, whereas landscape photography looks as impressive as ever, and yet they look of night photography seems too bright compared to reality. Sometimes the result is exaggerated and unrealistic and sometimes the results are impressive.
All this is not to say that the night mode is bad, the opposite is true and the photography set of the S22 Ultra in the vast majority of times has produced excellent images even in harsh lighting conditions.
In daylight you do not have to make an effort to produce beautiful pictures full of color – with the help of the laser sensor the camera quickly focuses on objects and when you approach it even automatically switches to a macro mode that manages to produce full pictures. The colors are also very much alive in what has become the hallmark of Samsung cameras – with contrasting images in bright colors, and the sky that once had an exaggerated look now looks much more natural while contrasting vegetation photography still gets unnecessary emphasis.
The portrait mode has been upgraded with an algorithm and it better recognizes the ends of hair and fur in animals and has managed to impress in photographing people with background disappearance and at the same time keep focusing on individual hairs.
There are a host of other video shooting modes in the Galaxy S20 Ultra: advanced mode for manually changing shooting settings, slow motion, time-lapse shooting, live focus video, and also the Zoom-in Mic capability, introduced with the Note 10 series that recognizes the character to which the camera is pointing and amplifies Her voice when performing close-ups and more.
This time, too, Samsung’s elite model is equipped with everything good and it’s a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for photography. We wrote quite a bit about the great usefulness of the different lenses on the site and the different lenses – standard lens, zoom lens, and super-wide lens – offer a solution for every scenario and it is worth noting that the color profile is the same in all three and the transition between them is almost completely smooth.
What sets the Ultra models apart from the competition is the telephoto lens with the periscope that offers an optical zoom of x10. This manages to produce particularly impressive results and also at a zoom of x30 produces perfectly reasonable images, but beyond that, up to x100, the images become more and more blurry as you get closer.
S22 Ultra: Preformance
Unlike previous years, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is marketed in Israel equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and not with the Exynos 2200. It is produced in 4-nanometer lithography and has eight cores: Cortex-X2 core at 3.0 GHz, 3 GHz cores of 2.4 Cortex-A710, and 4 cores of 1.7 GHz Cortex-A510. Alongside this is an impressive 12 GB of working memory as well as internal storage in volumes of 128, 256, 518 GB, and 1 terabyte, with no expansion option.
In performance tests, the Galaxy S22 Ultra scores 1,217 and 3,309 points in the single-core and multi-core tests, respectively, in the GeekBench 5 app and 938,936 points in AnTuTu. This means that in daily use applications open quickly and the device has impressive responsiveness and in the vast majority of uses, no slowdown is felt.
It is worth noting that Samsung was ‘caught’ when it prioritizes performance testing apps and slows down other apps and thus creates an artificial testing environment that does not represent real-world uses but the company noted that a future update will eliminate the prioritization – meanwhile Geekbench has already mimicked results from its site.
In daily use, the device does not heat up. In fact, I felt that the back of the device only heats up when shooting video at high definition 4K, playing high graphics, and running performance tests.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s battery offers an impressive 5,000 mAh, but despite the data, the screen seems to be the biggest consumer as the fast refresh rate and high brightness caused me to reach the end of the day with less than 30% of the battery. On a strenuous day, the usage time shortens to one that made me look for the luggage in the early evening hours.
The device on paper supports fast charging of up to 45 watts, but since Samsung has already taken the chargers out of the boxes, I did not get to test it. Beyond that, the S22 Ultra also supports fast wireless charging, a reverse charge that allows you to place devices that support Qi-standard wireless charging on the back of the device to charge them.
One UI 4.1: Minor changes
As befits a small upgrade, Samsung’s One UI 4.1 shell does not bring revolutions. It is based on Android 12 and as such it supports Material You and allows you to match the colors of the operating system and icons to the color of the wallpaper, not revolutionary but definitely nice. Another innovation introduced with the new version is smart widgets – a number of widgets that take up one place when you can flip through them and thus save visual clutter on home screens – similar to those that exist in iOS.
Advanced users will surely appreciate the Samsung Dex capability that lets you view a full desktop on a USB-C connection or wirelessly streaming to a Miracast-supported screen, as well as strengthening the interface with the Microsoft My Phone app that lets you view calls, messages, and even control your PC Some directly from the Windows computer. Advanced users will also appreciate the ability to expand working memory at the expense of internal memory and thus keep more apps in memory for fast loading.
The bottom line
The lack of the Note series was definitely noticeable and definitely gratifying that the Galaxy S22 Ultra manages to bring back everything the users liked in the series. The S22 Ultra is a tank in the body of a Ferrari. It offers a compact experience in almost every field: the performance is excellent, the camera produces beautiful images in almost any situation and for advanced users, it offers a variety of productive capabilities to which the S-Pen is flattering.
However, it is not a device for everyone and it is not certain that every user needs all the capabilities he provides, even before the real initial barrier is mentioned – the high price tag.