The Samsung Galaxy S22, the least expensive member of the company’s 2022 flagship series, has been mostly ignored. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, which is also expected to carry the weight of the Note heritage, is the only device to get any special treatment from the Korean electronics titan. Yet the plain Galaxy S22 doesn’t have to feel left out in the cold because of it. This may be the most understated phone ever to pack a powerful punch. The details of the phone are laid out here before you part with several hundred dollars to Samsung.
Design and build quality
There have been no cosmetic updates to the Galaxy S22. Those used to the Galaxy S21 may find Samsung’s current flagship to be uninspiring due to the little visual differences between the two. Yet, the Galaxy S22 can compete well with any other top-tier smartphone on the market.
Our review unit, in Phantom White, is really gorgeous because to its pearly white back panel, which contrasts well with the metallic sheen of the rails and camera island. In addition to the traditional green and sand pink, the phone is now available in a beautiful phantom black. But, it is the white color that most obviously conveys the feeling of a high-quality, simple gadget.
But aesthetics aren’t everything. The quality of construction is also quite high. Instead of using a plastic back for the Galaxy S21, Samsung opted to use a glass sheet coated with Gorilla Glass Victus for added protection. After more than three weeks of usage without a case, I examined the device’s back panel and saw no signs of wear. But the exhibition was quite another matter. Little scrapes appeared all over it after just a few days of usage.
The display on the Galaxy S22 is also really attractive, thanks to the fact that the bezels on both sides are so narrow. It’s stunning in appearance and puts the iPhones with notches to shame. Both the power button and the volume rocker have a satisfying click and are conveniently located. The Galaxy S22’s tiny design and light weight of 167 grams certainly don’t hurt, either.
The Galaxy S22 is not exactly compact given its 6.1-inch screen. Although there are many other phones in the Max and Ultra categories, the Galaxy S22 stands out as one of the few that won’t need you to extend your hands or fingers too far to use it. The Galaxy S22’s size puts it in the same league as the Pixel 4a and iPhone 14, but it outshines them both with its superb in-hand feel and pocketable size.
Its newest flagship from Samsung is also the first to include an X-axis haptic motor. The strength of the vibration feedback has decreased while becoming more uniform and gentle over the whole body. There is a discernible difference when put next to the Galaxy S21, albeit this is a matter of some contention. Some like a softer but more consistent haptic response, while yet others want a stronger but more targeted vibrating sensation. The Galaxy S22 is my pick if you ask me.
Samsung has made certain concessions in order to attain that relatively small form factor. Again, neither the microSD card slot nor the 3.5mm headphone port are there. The camera protrusion still causes the phone to jiggle when it is sitting flat.
The Galaxy S22 has an improved primary camera with 50 megapixels, a secondary ultrawide camera with 12 megapixels, and a telephoto camera with 10 megapixels and 3x optical zoom. The primary camera, which is 10 megapixels, handles self-taking. This camera is serious business, to put it mildly.
The clear, detailed, and vivid images captured by the primary camera are sure to wow. There has been a noticeable reduction in the “Signature Samsung Saturation,” suggesting that Samsung may have made some changes to the color chemistry for this year. The colors are more accurate representations of their objects’ true tones, rather than the oversaturated chaos of previous Samsung mobile devices. Both the separation of subjects and the preservation of surface detail are excellent.
The portrait mode is what really wowed me. The camera’s depth of field and edge detection were both quite good. It turns out that studio lighting effects for portrait photographs were just as good as those on iPhones. Furthermore, portraits were well captured using the telephoto lens.
The ultrawide lens performed similarly to the regular lens, preserving color accuracy in comparison to the regular camera’s shots. Its warping quality, particularly for straight lines, was subpar, though. Comparing the interior photo captured by the Galaxy S22 and its Ultra edition (below), which both use the same ultrawide camera technology, you’ll see that only the latter exhibits the peculiar warping effect around the edges. The ultrawide shot obtained with the S22, although crisp and nicely illuminated, seems to have had its angular symmetry shattered.
Although a dedicated macro camera is not there, the regular camera can capture breathtaking close-ups. The telephoto lens is your best buddy if you need to get up close and personal. The macro capabilities of the zoom camera are rather good. Focus lock is difficult at close range, so make sure you have steady hands or prop up your phone against something solid.
Even though Samsung included night mode functionality for all three cameras, the 50-megapixel primary shooter makes the most of this low-light shooting technique. The primary camera is able to make out details in the picture even in very low light, and it accurately renders colors.
Shooting in night mode with the ultrawide camera takes a few seconds longer, but the pictures aren’t as striking as those from the regular camera. Too much emphasis on contrast in the 3x telephoto camera leads to a grainier image and less brightness. The surface textures do seem more readable, which is a plus.
Samsung has also included a plethora of camera gimmicks like “Single Take,” “portrait video,” “Director’s View,” and “Super Slow-Mo,” among others. Using director’s view, you may use all three of the back cameras at once to get a comprehensive shot of a situation from every angle.
The front-facing 10-megapixel camera is similarly serviceable, albeit it has a propensity to artificially brighten skin tones and increase saturation, even when no filters are used, as compared to the rear cameras. Nonetheless, there are other people who like the bolder aesthetics of their social media-optimized self-portraits.
Selfies taken in night mode do well in terms of exposing more details and colors, but they are noisier and softer than low-light images taken with the device’s rear cameras. As the examples below illustrate, the contrast is not always subtle.
With regards to video capture, a wide variety of settings are available, from frame rate to resolution (up to 8K). But, in terms of color fidelity and stability, I discovered that 1080p at 60 frames per second (fps) was ideal. I had a good time playing around with super slow-motion mode, which resulted in some stunning films in daylight but still suffers from a banding effect in low-light and interior conditions.
In general, the Galaxy S22’s camera setup is just as good as the iPhone 13’s, with the latter’s advantage coming from its superior video capabilities. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, has a 3x telephoto camera that excels in both faraway and up-close shots.
The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch HDR10+ Super AMOLED display with FHD+ (2340 x 1080) resolution and 120Hz refresh rate, courtesy of Samsung. Samsung’s high refresh rate technology used in the Galaxy S22 Ultra is fundamentally different from that used in the standard Galaxy S22.
The Ultra’s LTPO technology enables the screen refresh rate to fall as low as 1Hz depending on the on-screen content, allowing the phone to save battery life while still reaching the same maximum 120Hz as the Galaxy S22.
Samsung explained that the screen refresh rate of the Galaxy S22 may drop to as low as 48Hz after initial uncertainty over the device’s capabilities. Yet even that seems like an overestimate. When I checked the numbers when the phone was inactive by activating the native screen refresh rate overlay, I saw that it had reduced to a consistent 24Hz. The refresh rate slowed to 24Hz in the YouTube app, although it remained at 120Hz for all other UI interactions.
Yet, this should in no way be construed as criticism of the Galaxy S22 in its more basic form. In fact, even Samsung’s entry-level flagship has one of the best displays available on a premium Android phone. Colors jump off the screen, visibility in direct sunlight is excellent, and the screen can be seen from a wide variety of angles. The natural colors are preserved by the Natural display mode setting, but the screen’s full potential is shown by switching to the more saturated Vivid setting.
In many simulated tests for banding, contrast, viewing angle, and saturation, I compared the Galaxy S22 with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The standard Galaxy S22 was competitive with the Ultra variant in all respects, losing ground only when comparing contrast blocks in the lighter parts of the color space.
The ordinary Galaxy S22’s screen (picture below) actually performed better than the Ultra variant’s screen (image above) in terms of displaying grayscale blocks on a dark backdrop when subjected to backlight control tests. Although the S22 Ultra’s display leans toward warmer color chemistry and more robust auto-brightness settings, the Galaxy S22’s screen is somewhat cooler and more blue.
In Dark Mode, the AMOLED screen’s impressive black levels really stand out. During the length of my use, I never once had the need to increase the screen’s brightness, even even outside in the harsh sunshine. There was a lot of fun to be had watching HDR stuff on the big screen. Nevertheless, Dolby Vision compatibility is not included, just HDR10+ and HDR HLG.
In Dark Mode, the AMOLED screen’s impressive black levels really stand out. During the length of my use, I never once had the need to increase the screen’s brightness, even outside in the harsh sunshine. There was a lot of fun to be had watching HDR stuff on the big screen. Nevertheless, Dolby Vision compatibility is not included, just HDR10+ and HDR HLG.
In addition, Samsung Pay has been improved so that it can now be used to store other forms of identification, such as driver’s licenses (availability may vary), vehicle keys, and cinema tickets. Also, if the current level of brightness is unacceptable, a new “additional brightness toggle” will allow the user to increase it. Unfortunately, the automatic brightness feature must be turned off before it may be used. New and improved is the capability to stack widgets, which both reduces the amount of horizontal space needed and functions faultlessly.
The Edge panel has also been improved and now provides a wealth of useful capabilities, such as the ability to choose and save a region of the screen’s content without navigating the Gallery app’s editing controls. In particular, I like the built-in GIF creator, which allowed me to quickly and easily convert a certain region of the screen into a GIF.
Samsung’s pledge to provide quarterly or semiannual Android OS updates for four years and five years of security updates is the major selling point for the Galaxy S22. Compared to what Google offers for its own Pixel devices, that’s a significant improvement, and it’s also a lot longer than the warranties offered by other Android smartphone manufacturers in China.
The Galaxy S22 is available with either an in-house Exynos 2200 CPU or Qualcomm’s brand-new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 system-on-a-chip. The Qualcomm model we tested performed at the top of its class, but regardless of the processor, either one is a great buy.
Each challenge I threw at the phone, it sailed right through. I tested the phone with the most graphically intensive games available, with all settings at their highest, and it performed well. The SoC performs as well as one would expect from top-tier hardware, but the Galaxy S22’s small form factor means that space is incredibly limited beneath the hood, which has an adverse effect on thermal performance.
The CPU does its job well, but the heat it generates ultimately slows it down. Have a look at how the performance drops down dramatically after only 15 minutes of a simulated stress test being run (graph above).
The Galaxy S22’s lower benchmark scores may be attributed, in part, to its less impressive thermal hardware compared to that of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which achieved a multi-core tally of 3106 on Geekbench, while its smaller sister could only manage a score of 2932.
After shooting a lot of images or recording high-definition films, I found that the shutter button would periodically stop responding. After around 40 minutes of playing Call of Duty: Mobile with the highest graphical settings, frame dips and tremors were obvious.
The top portion of the Galaxy S22 heats up really rapidly under stress, whether it from strenuous gameplay or extensive camera use. The metal construction isn’t very good at keeping the inside cool, though. Yet, there was never any notification that an app was going to be terminated owing to the phone’s temperature being too high.
Battery and charging
The Galaxy S22’s battery life is rapidly declining. As a result, the Galaxy S22 only has a 3,700mAh battery, a reduction of 300mAh from its predecessor. Outside the iPhone mini series, it is one of the smallest batteries you will find on a modern smartphone released after 2021. It’s useful in everyday life and makes a noticeable impact.
During the course of a typical day, I spent at least three hours listening to music on my Bluetooth headphones while also spending several hours perusing social media and using at least five different communication applications. The phone’s battery life was already terrible before you started playing games on it.
On days when I had many video chats, my battery would die on the way home. But, specific figures will differ dependent on how they are put to use. However, the battery life I experienced, which ranged from four to five hours, is not the greatest I’ve seen in a flagship phone, not even a compact one. Still, the Galaxy S22 shouldn’t raise any red flags if your phone use is less taxing and you’ve made a practice of charging it as soon as you get home from work.
There is no charger included, which is something to consider. The maximum wired charging speed for this Samsung phone is 25 watts, and the charger is sold separately. Again, it’s hardly the greatest, since cheaper alternatives have already surpassed 120W. It’s possible that the 25W charger will be provided gratis by your service provider or favorite store.
While the phone is not in use, a full charge takes around an hour, but it only takes the charger 30 minutes to fill the empty tank to 60%. There is also the possibility of adding wireless charging compatibility with a maximum power output of 15W. When charging the phone on a wireless charging pad, I did not experience any overheating.
Throughout the course of a 20-minute session of playing Call of Duty: Mobile on high graphics settings, the phone’s battery life dropped by around 10% and the CPU temperature rose by 8%. With the game booster dashboard, you can tweak your system’s performance and temperature settings, but it won’t make a huge impact.
The loss of battery life when idling was the biggest issue for me. After a couple of hours, the battery would drain by 10%-15% even while the phone was sitting idle on a table with cellular data on and messaging applications open in the background. And, that’s with the adaptive refresh rate technology turned on. The idle battery drain was mitigated by the May update but is still there.
Price and availability
Pricing for the Galaxy S22 varies widely online, with Amazon offering it for $799, Best Buy for $600 with new activation, and Samsung’s own website offering discounts of up to $660 with the trade-in of a qualifying device. If you don’t want to switch providers, it’s still worth your time to look into the carriers’ competitive offers.
The 128GB model of the Galaxy S22 can be yours from the Samsung shop for only $675 if you pay the entire price at once, while the 256GB model will set you back $725. The Samsung online shop offers many unique color choices in addition to the standard Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, and Pink Gold.
The title pretty much sums up the whole review: the Galaxy S22 is so reliable that it’s dull. It has all the standard features of a top-tier Android flagship. The Galaxy S22 is a great Android phone for the money because it has great cameras with a ton of useful features, a lightning-fast CPU, a high-quality design, a comfortable grip, and the best software update policy in the industry.
But, there are a few imperfections. Nevertheless, the heat management is subpar and the battery capacity might be increased, among other things. The real test will be how it performs in comparison to other smartphones. The iPhone 13 and the Pixel 6 are both $100 or less than the Samsung flagship, yet they both have superior battery life and superior photography compared to Samsung.
But, Samsung is attempting to make amends with enticing deals. In addition to Samsung’s generous exchange incentive, several retailers have included a complimentary charger with the purchase of a Galaxy S22.
How long will it last?
The Galaxy S22 is built to last, which is evidenced by the fact that it’s set to receive software updates for the next five years. Samsung has used top-notch materials such as Gorilla Glass Victus and sturdy aluminum to create an IP68-certified phone. In a nutshell, it can handle a swim in the pool or a few drops from the table. With four assured OS upgrades, the phone will keep adding new features and won’t skimp on the security aspect either. On the longevity aspect, the Galaxy S22 almost matches Apple’s venerable iPhones.
What are the alternatives?
The Google Pixel 6 stands out as the clear frontrunner because of its affordable starting price of $600, trustworthy cameras, and well-polished software. In Apple’s app store, the iPhone 13 costs the same as its Samsung competitor. In addition to improved battery life, the iPhone 13 has two high-quality cameras, Apple’s reliable iOS ecosystem with guaranteed software updates for years to come, and a more substantial build.
Should you buy it?
The Galaxy S22 stands on its own as an excellent budget smartphone. Samsung’s phone is the ideal alternative for Pixel 6 avoiders due to its stellar performance and stable software. If you’re interested in the iPhone 13, though, you should know that the Galaxy S22 outclasses it in many ways: it has a better operating system, a more current design, quicker charging, and a more flexible camera. Here’s the bottom line: the Galaxy S22 is the greatest Android phone you can buy if you don’t want to spend over $1,000 on it thanks to its sleek design, high-quality cameras, and extensive set of software features.