Recently unveiled at a Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event, the Samsung Galaxy S22 series already looks set to be a winner. Made up of three phones, the Samsung Galaxy S22, the Samsung Galaxy S22+ and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the devices in this series are the best Samsung phones yet.
I managed to get my hands on the new handsets, and straight off the bat, I can tell you that they’re likely to be some of the best phones of the year.
While the Ultra has had quite a substantial shakeup, the Samsung Galaxy S22 has just had a bit of a refresh, carrying over everything we loved about the Samsung Galaxy S21 and taking them a step further to keep the S series bang up to date.
The more modest Samsung Galaxy devices are sure to continue their reign as the best Android phones for most people.
Here I’ll take you through everything I thought about the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Samsung Galaxy S22+ after having spent a short time with them, you’ll have to check back later for a full review.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): video overview
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): what’s new
While the Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22+ don’t look that different from last year’s models, there have been a few changes worth talking about.
Samsung has done away with the two-tone design and introduced two sleek new colourways: pink and green.
The Dynamic AMOLED 2X screens remain about the same although they are slightly smaller than they were before, at 6.1-inches in the Samsung Galaxy S22 and 6.6-inches in the S22+.
The refresh rate is still 120Hz, but the minimum has been reduced down to 10Hz (from 48Hz) which should help you conserve battery life. You also get the new Vision Booster feature which makes it more visible in all types of lighting.
When it comes to performance, the CPU has been upgraded to the latest 4nm processor while the NPU (Neural Processing Unit) is twice as fast as in the Galaxy S21 so should go a long way to improving the efficiency of the phone’s AI-based features.
The camera is packed full of new and improved features, as well as there being a few changes to the lenses. You’ll now get a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 50MP wide camera (up from 12MP on the S21) and a 10MP telephoto camera (down from 64MP before) with a 10MP selfie camera on the front. The camera has a better Night Mode that now works across both photography and video as well as an improved Portrait mode. You’ll also now be able to use camera features like Super Resolution and Night Mode directly from your social media apps.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 series runs on brand new Android 12 with Samsung’s latest One UI 4.0 interface.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): price and release date
Announced on February 9th 2022, you can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S22 now starting from $799 in the US, £649 in the UK and AU$1,249 in Australia for the model with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. For 256GB of storage, it will cost $849 / £819 / AU$1,349. See the widgets on this page to see where you can buy one.
For a bigger screen and more battery power, you can buy the Samsung Galaxy S22+ with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $999 / £949 / AU$1549, or to get 256GB of storage, it’ll cost $1,050 / £999 / AU$1,650.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): design and display
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S22 is not that different from last year’s S21. You'll find the same rounded corners and a linear three-lens camera notch on the back that seamlessly wraps around the top right corner of the handset.
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 in three simple colours Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold or Green - all of them look sleek and elegant with a shiny metal frame and a matte finish across the back.
For the first time in the Galaxy S series, the phones are all made from Armor Aluminium, so the build is strong enough to survive all sorts of knocks, bumps and drops. Not only does that make them look more premium but that also bodes well for the longevity of the device, especially given the fact that it’s paired with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus which is the toughest Gorilla glass yet.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 is IP68 rated which means it will survive being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to thirty minutes, and it’ll also resist damage from dust and dirt.
Samsung has repurposed ocean-bound plastics, like discarded fishing nets, to build the phones and has made sure that all of the packaging is recyclable. It’s great to see a more eco-conscious use of materials.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22+ will be the two most popular handsets from the series, partly because of their size. The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the smallest of the two, measuring 70.6 x 146 x 7.6mm and weighing just 168g, while the Samsung Galaxy S22+ measures 75.8 x 157.4 x 7.6mm and weighs 196g.
In comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, the dimensions of these phones is much more manageable, you’ll have no problems fitting either into your pocket and they’ll be fine to use one-handed, even if you have small hands.
When it comes to the screen, Samsung never disappoints. Both handsets use a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with FHD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. The Samsung Galaxy S22’s is 6.1-inches while the S22+ is 6.6-inches. It’s very flat, gone are the days of the curved screen, but I must say it looks very smart.
With bright colours and clear, sharp details the screen looks fantastic. It’ll be great for everything from streaming video to photo editing.
The Adaptive Refresh Rate will automatically set itself according to the task at hand, and it now varies from as little as 10Hz right up to 120Hz to conserve battery life. As we have come to expect from higher-end handsets, the screen seems seriously smooth to tap, flick and scroll on even though I didn't spend that much time using it.
Vision Booster is another feature worth knowing about, it analyses your environment and the on-screen content to make adjustments so you’ll be able to see the display in all lights, even under direct sunlight. I couldn’t try this out properly when I got hands-on with the new devices but it’s something I am looking forward to testing out - it’s got the potential to be game-changing!
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): camera system
Snapping shots with the camera is likely to be even more efficient this time around thanks to the new AI-based camera features, but before I get onto that, let’s go through the specs. You get a 12MP ultra-wide camera, a 50MP wide camera and a 10MP telephoto camera with a 10MP selfie camera on the front.
Now onto the fun stuff, there are loads of cool camera features to try out and while I couldn’t give them a full test run, I did give a few of them a bit of a go during my time with the new devices. You’ll have to check back later for the full lowdown on them.
For the first time in the Galaxy S series, you can use the Night Mode across both photography and video, and the quality of it has improved as well. You’ll easily be able to snap Instagrammable shots and videos in the evening on the Samsung Galaxy S22.
The new Portrait Mode is just as impressive. It’s driven by deep learning to pick out even the smallest details, like a strand of hair, while blurring everything else out. It takes a couple of seconds to make those edits post-capture, but the results seemed to be excellent even though I couldn't look too closely at them.
You’ll also get new studio lighting features to use on your selfies and you can snap those in low light as well thanks to the Automatic Night Portrait Mode. Not only does the new Portrait Mode make you and your friends look great but it’ll even work on your pets. Finally, there could be a way to take professional-looking pictures of your furry family members.
Another feature worth mentioning is the 3x optical zoom which does a great job at keeping the focus, it didn’t need any time to adjust when I tested it out. The shots pack in plenty of detail from what I could tell.
Once you’ve got your shots, there are loads of handy editing tools to spruce them up, although you may not even need to faff around with that because you can use some of the camera features, like Super Resolution and the Night Mode, directly from your social media apps as well.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict): performance and battery
Powering the Samsung Galaxy S22 is the latest 4nm processor, which could mean either the Exynos 2200 or the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, depending on your region. That’s alongside 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage.
You should be able to rely on the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Samsung Galaxy S22+ for good speed and efficiency across the board. And they should be able to cope with larger apps and games as well. The performance appeared to be on point when I gave them a go but without spending more time with them, it’ll be hard to come to more concrete conclusions than that.
Guaranteeing fast internet speeds if your home network supports it, the Samsung Galaxy S22 has Wi-Fi 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S22+ takes things a step further with Wi-Fi 6E. Both handsets have 5G support.
The battery wasn’t really something I could put through its paces in the short time that I had with the phones, but that’s an area where Samsung devices are usually quite strong. The Samsung Galaxy S22 packs a 3,700mAh battery with 25W wired charging while the S22+ has a 4,500mAh battery with 45W wired charging. Neither comes with a charger in the box though, just a cable. Both support wireless charging.
Running the show is Android 12 with Samsung's One UI 4.0 interface, and I can tell you, it’s a beauty. You get tools to personalise more than just your wallpaper, you can change the colour palette of the whole system including your icons and home screen. There are also more emojis, GIFs and stickers on the Samsung keyboard than ever before.
Privacy has been improved in One UI 4.0 as well. There’s a new privacy dashboard that puts all of your security controls in one easily accessible place, and you’ll be able to see when your camera or microphone are in use thanks to the tiny green indicator in the top right of the screen. If it’s showing up more often than you’d like, you can actually choose to switch off the camera entirely as well.
Samsung has a few new or improved partnerships that help improve the user experience in their latest interface. For instance, Google Duo makes sharing your screen, apps and videos with friends really easy - you can look at them together with just a tap of a button while you’re on a call. There’s also a new collaboration with Microsoft that lets you use your phone on your PC, so you can access your favourite mobile apps as well as easily transfer photos between the two.
Samsung Galaxy S22 review (early verdict)
I’ll be putting the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the Samsung Galaxy S22+ through more rigorous testing at a later date, but after having spent a short amount of time with the new phones, I must say I was impressed.
Both pack high-end tech and clever AI into compact and sophisticated devices. So far I’m struggling to find any deal-breaking downsides, other than the lack of a MicroSD card slot and the fact that you’ll need to buy the charger separately. The only reason I wouldn't recommend buying one is if you just bought the Samsung Galaxy S21 because they aren't really different enough to justify it.
For anyone else though, this is an excellent piece of kit. Although the Ultra is the cream of the crop, it’s these cheaper models that are likely to convince the most people.