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Samsung Galaxy S22 hands-on review

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 pumps up the pixels and optical zoom

Samsung Galaxy S22 review
(Image: © Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the most affordable of the new S22 series, and it’s clear where Samsung’s stripped back specs to hit the lower price – charging speed, battery capacity and max brightness. Nevertheless, with the same camera as the S22 Plus and chipset as the S22 Ultra, as well as a shared interface across the whole series, there’s still plenty to get excited about, especially when it’s all packaged in such a good looking body.

Pros

  • +

    Great design

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    3x telephoto camera

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    Optical image stabilization

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    8K video

Cons

  • -

    Smaller screen than 6.6in S22 Plus

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    Lacks 10x telephoto lens of Ultra

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    Lacks 108MP sensor of S22 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S22 continues a line of vanilla Galaxy S phones that balance pocketability, performance and price, packing more bells and whistles than the Galaxy FE line, but fewer than the S22 Plus or S22 Ultra. You could think of it as the iPhone 13 of the Android world – clearly not the greatest, but definitely the reliable volume driver.

What's also welcome is the fact that the S22 has a new camera system. While the Galaxy S21 had a rehashed S20 camera, we've finally got improved hardware this time around. The zoom range is now three times optical (versus pure digital zoom on the S20 and S21), and there's also a new sensor combination.

Costing $799 / £769, the S22 is also the most affordable of the three new Galaxy phones, undercutting competition like the Pixel 6 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro, while costing more than the vanilla Pixel 6.

Design and screen

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

The Galaxy S22’s screen is a modest 6.1 inches, which makes the whole phone very manageable in the hand. It feels premium, with an Armor Aluminum frame and Gorilla Glass Victus Plus glass. The S22 is also slender at 7.6mm, so fits comfortably in a pocket, making for a good first impression for anyone after a more compact option. 

Like the Galaxy S22 Plus, the S22 has a flat front and back with slightly rounded polished metal sides. It’s available in eight colors, with Green, Phantom Black, Phantom White and Pink Gold being widely available, and Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue and Violet available online from Samsung’s online store.

The Galaxy S22 is an IP68 dust and water resistant phone whichever color you go for. It’s also loaded up with biometric security, with both an ultrasonic under-display fingerprint scanner and face recognition.

As for the screen, it’s a 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED x2 panel with a peak brightness of 1300 nits. That means it doesn’t get quite as bright as the S22 Plus or Ultra, though 1300 nits is still plenty bright. What’s more, the S22 features Samsung’s new vision enhancer, so can isolate elements of the screen to brighten up for peak visibility even in bright outdoor conditions. 

With a wide Full HD resolution of 1080 x 2340, the phone’s 425 PPI pixel density is matched with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio. This means the phone is sharp, and sits somewhere between a cinematic widescreen movie and a Full HD series, so should be versatile enough to handle both types of content without too much letterboxing. 

Samsung Galaxy S22: cameras

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Spearheaded by a 50MP main camera with an f/1.8 lens the Galaxy S22’s main camera gets a serious boost with a higher pixel-count and larger sensor when compared to the S21. The phone’s ultra-wide 12MP camera looks like it uses the same module as the S21, while the telephoto camera has seen a complete overhaul. The new 10MP telephoto replaces the digital zooming 64MP sensor on the S21, making up for the lower pixel count by boosting the optical reach to 70mm. 

As for the front camera, it’s a 10MP sensor matched with a 26mm, f/2.2 lens. What’s excellent about Samsung’s premium selfie cameras is the fact they pack autofocus. This works well with the S22 series’ Portrait Mode, which also gets an enhanced studio lighting feature and automatic night portrait support video feature, while also featuring improved pet portrait mode, complete with pet studio lighting to boot. 

When it comes to video, the Galaxy S22 captures up to 8K resolution from the back, and 4K resolution from the front, with both sides capping out at 60fps frame rates. While we anticipate the S22 will be a decent camera phone – Samsung seldom makes duds, given the superior spec of the S22 Ultra, it won’t be the best camera phone of 2022

Additional specs

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli / Digital Camera World)

Equipped with a 4nm Exynos 2200 for global markets and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US and China, the Galaxy S22 features flagship power and up to 256GB storage and 8GB RAM.

The phone runs Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1, so has access to plenty of apps through both the Google Play Store and Samsung Galaxy Store. It also supports Link to Windows, a new feature that makes full phone integration with Windows PCs possible, and is only available on select Samsung devices.

Confusingly, the S22 has a slightly lower capacity battery than the S21 battery, clocking in at 3700mAh. It also misses out on the fast charging the S22 Plus and Ultra support, though does feature wireless charging at up to 15W and reverse wireless charging at 4.5W.

Available to pre-order right now, the Galaxy S22 looks like a great smartphone on first impression, but we’ll need to test out the new camera system and that battery to make sure it comfortably makes it through a full day before it gets the Digital Camera World seal of approval.

Samsung Galaxy S22: Early Verdict

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S22 is the most affordable of the series, and it’s clear where Samsung’s stripped back specs to hit the lower price – charging speed, battery capacity and max brightness. Nevertheless, with the same camera as the S22 Plus and chipset as the S22 Ultra, as well as a shared interface across the whole series, there’s still plenty to get excited about, especially when it’s all packaged in such a good looking body. 

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Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there he headed up Btekt as a director and then Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 


His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.