The Galaxy S22 series is a family of two halves – the S22 and S22 Plus look like traditional Galaxy S phones, while the Galaxy S22 Ultra carries forward the Galaxy Note line’s look and feel. The S22 and S22 Plus even seem to take some design cues from Apple, with flat frosted glass on the front and back and polished metal trimmings.
Samsung’s pricing is also comparable with that of Apple. The Galaxy S22 Ultra caps the series out at $1,199 / £1,149 – more than even the iPhone 13 Pro Max (opens in new tab), while the S22 Plus costs $999 / £949 – the same price as the iPhone 13 Pro (opens in new tab).
Compared to the vanilla Galaxy S22 (opens in new tab), the S22 Plus gives you more screen size, making it the preferred option for anyone who loves watching and gaming on the go. Meanwhile, the camera upgrades last year’s S21 Plus (opens in new tab), with a three times optical zoom range and a new hardware configuration.
Given the price though, and with the five-star Galaxy S22 Ultra (opens in new tab) costing $200 / £200 more, are you better off splashing out and picking up the best Galaxy phone, should you save some cash and go for a Pixel 6 Pro (opens in new tab) or a OnePlus 9 Pro (opens in new tab), or, is the Galaxy S22 Plus actually a perfect balance of size and features?
Design and screen(opens in new tab)
The S22 Plus betters the Galaxy S21 (opens in new tab) series’ design, bringing a glass back to the line. This isn’t just any glass though. The front and back panels of all three Galaxy S22s feature Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, a version of Corning’s glass that’s exclusive to Samsung, while the frame is made of Samsung’s Armor Aluminum.
We mentioned there’s an iPhone vibe to the S22 Plus’s design, but Samsung has differentiated it in a few ways. The frame, for example, has a slight bulbous curve to it, and the camera surround carries forward the styling of last year’s models – pressed right into the top left of the phone’s back.
Available in Phantom White, Phantom Black, Green, and Pink Gold in most retailers, and Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue, and Violet online exclusively at Samsung.com, there are loads of colors to choose from. We had a week with the Pink Gold version, and also used the Green S22 Plus in passing – both feel incredibly rich to the touch.
With a 6.6-inch screen sporting a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, while the S22 Plus is big, it isn’t massive, especially set alongside phones like the S22 Ultra.
The phone’s Full HD+ resolution (1080 x 2340) puts it behind the S22 Ultra (1330 x 3088) on paper. With a pixel density of 393 pixels-per-inch, while not the sharpest screen, it’ll suffice for all but the most die-hard pixel peepers.
All three S22 phone screens feature high refresh rates of 120Hz, with the S22 Plus going as low as 48Hz to save on power when working through less demanding tasks like reading eBooks – which look great on the 6.6-inch Dynamix AMOLED 2X display.
The S22 series also introduces a new Vision Booster, which analyzes the brightness of an image being displayed and boosts individual pixels rather than the whole screen to make it easier to see in bright environments.
Also impressive is the S22 Plus’s peak brightness of 1,750 nits, the brightest display on any mainstream smartphone line, and we had no trouble viewing the screen indoors or out. In fact, fans of flat screens will love the S22 Plus’s sheet quality – none of the accidental edge touches of super-curved screen phones, while still offering a superb screen for watching content on. Colors look lavish, dark areas are loaded with depth and texture, and viewing angles are great too.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: cameras(opens in new tab)
The S22 and S22 Plus share the same camera array – a 50MP main camera (1/1.56-inch sensor) with an f/1.8 lens, a 12MP ultra-wide (1/2.55-inch sensor) with an f/2.2 lens, and a 10MP telephoto (1/3.94-inch sensor) with a three times zoom, f/2.4 aperture lens. The wide and telephoto camera both pack OIS, and the whole setup is a welcome upgrade over last year's digital zooming S21 and S21 Plus.
The Expert RAW feature that excited us about the S22 Ultra isn’t available on the S22 Plus just yet, though Samsung has announced it will be available shortly after launch through the Galaxy Apps store. We were actually able to sideload expert RAW from the S22 Ultra, after extracting the APK, and it seemed to work well in our brief tests – so anyone after multi-frame RAW capture has that to look forward to. The phone’s Pro mode also shoots RAW photos and captures standard photos in either JPEG or 10-bit HEIFs.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
The S22 series’ Portrait Mode 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. These work well, and generally, portraits captured on the phone are flattering, with warm skin tones and ample detail.
There are plenty of shooting modes as with all Samsung flagships, including Portrait, Photo, Video, Pro, Pro Video, Single Take, Night, Food, Panorama, Super Slow-mo, Slow Motion, Hyperlapse, Portrait Video, and Director’s View.
When it comes to video recording, the Plus captures up to 8K resolution from the back, and 4K resolution from the front, with both sides capping out at 60fps frame rates until you.
Camera performance(opens in new tab)
Samsung was once the poster child for oversharpening images, boosting saturation and contrast and generally making its pictures look eye-popping. In recent years, it has dialled back its photo processing while still retaining a liveliness to its images, and the Galaxy S22 range represents the best processing from Samsung we’ve seen to date.
More importantly, the S22 Plus also gives users a lot of options to override much of Samsung’s over-eager processing, with capable manual modes across photo and video capture.
The wide and telephoto cameras both feature capable autofocus, and can capture a really enjoyable, shallow depth too. This makes the telephoto camera a good portrait lens even without Portrait mode active, thanks to subtle, but visible background separation.(opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)
Detail captured by the main camera impresses, even in dimly lit conditions, whether holding the S22 Plus handheld or steadying it on a surface or tripod. Colors are accurate for the most part, though the camera ramps up exposure, so scenes look pleasing, but brighter than they actually were.
Focus is fast enough, but now camera phones can capture such shallow depth (likely helped along by digital blur), we’d appreciate a smaller focus point. If focus is off by a hair, you’ll likely see it, so tapping the screen with a finger to focus on the S22 Plus can feel a little clumsy.
The S22 Plus’s new, improved optical range is also such a welcome addition. It packs superior detail when compared to the S21 Plus, and its colors are also more accurate too. While it won’t outperform a periscope camera, it isn’t far behind that of the Pixel 6 Pro when it comes to reach.
With up to 8K video around the back, steady 4K video from the front and back, and super-steady Full HD video capture, the S22 Plus doesn’t drop the ball with videography. The manual video modes are also excellent, and Portrait Video is surprisingly accurate too.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: additional specs
With the 4nm Exynos 2200 powering the S22 Plus in global markets, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsets doing the job in the US and China, you won’t be left wanting for power. Each chip is matched with up to 256GB storage and 8GB RAM.
We reviewed the 256GB storage, Exynoss 2200 version of the Plus, and found that day-to-day tasks were handled smoothly with no slowdown. Interestingly, our phone didn’t benchmark as highly as competing Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 smartphones, and we experienced a few dropped frames when playing Genshin Impact on standard mode. Switching performance mode on helped this though, and only hardcore gamers should be concerned and keep tabs on gaming reviews of the Exynos 2200.
The 4500mAh battery is big enough to get through a full day with the S22 Plus, though not much more. While there’s no power brick in the box, the Galaxy S22 Ultra supports up to 45W charging using the same fast charger as the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra (opens in new tab).
The phone may not ship with a charger, but it does pack plenty of software highlights – One UI 4.1 and Android 12, so it runs the latest Google and Samsung software. It also supports Samsung DeX, so when hooked up to a big screen, displays a desktop interface for more comfortable working and multitasking across multiple windows.
5G speeds using the Exynos-powered S22 Plus also matched those of the iPhone 13 Pro Max, with our EE SIM registering download speeds of 250Mbps in a West London borough at peak times, which is perfectly respectable.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: verdict
The main reason to overlook the Galaxy S22 Plus is its price. At $999/£949, you can pick up an iPhone 13 Pro (opens in new tab), or a Google Pixel 6 Pro (opens in new tab) with a chunk of change left over. Alternatively, the OnePlus 9 Pro (opens in new tab), Xiaomi 12 Pro expected later this year, and even the 2021 Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra all make for great options.
The Pixel 6 Pro in particular is arguably a better package than the Galaxy S22 Plus for anyone who isn’t sold into the Samsung ecosystem. Its screen is QuadHD+ and curved, its design more unique, and its camera zooms further.
All that isn’t to say the Galaxy S22 Plus isn’t a great phone – it is. From the design to its screen, it looks a treat. The camera system is also reliable, and its interface and power also check all the boxes needed to shine.
If you find it at the right price, you should definitely consider it. Alternatively, if you want the best camera phone (opens in new tab) of 2022 so far, you’ll need to spend a bit extra for the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
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