Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S series has just been updated with three new smartphones, the Galaxy S22, S22 Plus and S22 5G. What’s really interesting for 2022 is the fact the S series has swallowed up the Galaxy Note series, with the most premium of the three announcements, the S22 Ultra packing an updated S Pen.
The S22 family has also seen a design refresh, with the S22 and S22 Plus now enjoying glass backs to match their premium metal frames (last year’s S21 and S21 Plus sported plastic backs), and the S22 Ultra now looks very similar to a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (opens in new tab). The screens and back panels of all three also feature Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, a version of Corning’s glass that’s exclusive to Samsung, and the S22 frames are made of Samsung’s Armour Aluminum.
Samsung’s the OG smartphone display champion – it was doing AMOLEDs before anyone else with phones like the Samsung i8910 in 2009. Fast forward a decade, and the S22 introduces Samsung’s new Intelligent Display – a 120Hz panel with a few enhancements over last year’s S21.
All three S22 displays introduce a new Vision Booster, which analyzes the brightness of an image and boosts individual pixels rather than the whole screen to make it easier to see in bright environments. The phones also pack a peak brightness of 1750 nits, the brightest on any mainstream smartphone, so should be a breeze to view on a summer’s day. As for the refresh rate, that’s been updated with a wider refresh range, from 1Hz to 120Hz, thereby saving battery.
One of the key differentiators between the three phones is screen size, with the S22 being 6.1 inches, the S22 Plus, 6.6 inches, and the S22 Ultra maxing the series out at 6.8 inches.
The S22 Ultra’s screen is also loaded up with higher resolution – QHD+ versus FHD+, and, of course, the Ultra has a Wacom digitizer to make that S Pen input possible. Better still, the S22 Ultra delivers virtually no latency – 2.8ms versus 9ms on the Note 20 Ultra.(opens in new tab)
As for the camera, the S22 and S22 Plus feature the same camera array – a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide and a 10MP telephoto camera with a three times zoom. This is a welcome upgrade over last years digital zooming Galaxy S21 (opens in new tab) and S21 Plus (opens in new tab).
The Galaxy S22 Ultra takes photography to another level, with a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 10MP telephoto camera with an equivalent three times zoom and another 10MP telephoto camera, this time with ten times zoom. Its front camera is also sharper – 40MP versus 10MP on the S22 and S22 Plus.
Smarter than your average phone, the S22 Ultra takes advantage of the phone’s neural processing unit (NPU) to take quicker images and videos. It also supports up to 16-bit RAW files.
Accessible through a new app available with the Galaxy S22 Ultra called Expert Raw, it captures a Multi-Frame RAW format for more complete post-capture editing. That means each picture contains more information than a typical RAW file. This also works across all three lenses, and files are saved as JPEGs and DNGs, so work on Lightroom too.
The new NPU also helps the S22 Ultra deliver superior night video, an area phones have struggled with since they first boasted video cameras. The phone also has a feature called Auto Framerate, which automatically adjusts the frame rate based on available ambient light.
As for videography, the Ultra also works with video apps like Snapchat to bring some of Samsung’s native features directly into third-party apps, like Super Resolution.
Taking the thinking out of group video, Samsung’s also introduced a feature that allows the phone to detect people within five meters, and reframe the shot to get up to five people perfectly in the frame. It also brings a subject-tracking tool to the series, similar to the iPad’s Centre Stage.
On the subject of shooting people, the S22 series’ Portrait Mode now enjoys an enhanced studio lighting feature and automatic night portrait support, and features improved pet portrait mode, complete with pet studio lighting to boot.(opens in new tab)
Equipped with a 4nm processor – likely an Exynos 2200 for global markets and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US and China, the phones should all deliver 2022 power, and while the S22 and S22 Plus feature up to 256GB storage and 8GB RAM, the S22 Ultra climbs up to 1TB storage and 12GB RAM.
Samsung’s also reduced the size of its packaging and sourced all the plastic components in its phones from recycled sea plastics – specifically, fishing nets. As a result of the smaller packaging, however, the S22 series doesn’t ship with a charging brick – and with the S22 Plus and Ultra’s charging climbing up to 45W, you might want to factor in the price of a power brick if you’re thinking about picking up either.
Pricing for the Samsung Galaxy S22 will start at $799 / £769 / AU$1,249, the S22 Plus starts at $999 / £949 / AU$1,549, while the Ultra climbs up to $1,199 / £1,150 / AU$1,849. While we don’t anticipate the two lower-cost phones will be the best camera phone (opens in new tab) of 2022, the S22 Ultra is looking very promising indeed – check back for our full review in the coming weeks.
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