Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22+

The S22 Ultra stole Samsung’s show when it launched its latest Galaxy S phones. It’s not hard to see why – the Ultra is a new Galaxy Note in everything but name. However, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 and S22+ are also impressive, even if they are largely iterative over last year’s S21 and S21+.

The S22 and S22+ have a slight redesign, as well as a minor bump in spec, and feel more refined than their predecessors. I have had a mostly positive experience with both phones so far. As a long-time Pixel user, for the first time in a long time, I’m not looking forward to switching from a Samsung phone back to my Google phone.

The Galaxy S22+ is not perfect. I’ve had some issues with software and performance – nothing I’d consider to be a deal-breaker, but problems worth keeping in mind. The S22 series will be a great choice for those who like the modern Samsung smartphone experience. If you’ve avoided Samsung phones because of software concerns, the S22 and S22+ improve (but don’t eliminate) those issues.

Most importantly, if you have an Android smartphone released anytime in the last few years, there’s a good chance the S22 series won’t offer anything to make the cost of upgrading worth it.

If you’re interested in reading about the Galaxy S22 Ultra, check out the full ArticledeskTeamReview here.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

Before we get to the review, I’d like to note that this review covers both Galaxy S22+ as well as S22+. They are almost identical. There is little to no difference between these smartphones, other than the sizes of the screens and batteries. With that in mind, almost everything that follows in this review applies to both phones (and I’ll specify on the rare occasions things do differ). Below is a comparison of the specs between the S22+, S22+ and S21+.

6.1-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+, 240Hz Touch Sampling in Games

6.2-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+

6.6-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+, 240Hz Touch Sampling in Games

6.7-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+

50-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 10-megapixel (f/2.4, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

12-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 64-megapixel (f/2.0, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

50-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 10-megapixel (f/2.4, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

12-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 64-megapixel (f/2.0, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Colours: ‘Phantom Black,’ ‘Phantom White,’ ‘Green’ and ‘Pink Gold’ as well as Samsung exclusive colours ‘Gray,’ ‘Cream,’ ‘Violet’ and ‘Light Blue.’

Colours: Phantom Gray and Phantom White, Phantom Pink and Phantom Violet

Colours: ‘Phantom Black,’ ‘Phantom White,’ ‘Green’ and ‘Pink Gold’ as well as Samsung exclusive colours ‘Gray,’ ‘Cream,’ ‘Violet’ and ‘Light Blue.’

Colours: Phantom Silver, Phantom Black, Phantom Violet, ultra wideband

6.1-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+, 240Hz Touch Sampling in Games

6.2-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+

6.6-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+, 240Hz Touch Sampling in Games

6.7-inch Flat Dynamic AMOLED, 1,080 x 2,400 pixels, 20:9 aspect ratio, 120Hz display, HDR10+

50-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 10-megapixel (f/2.4, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

12-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 64-megapixel (f/2.0, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

50-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 10-megapixel (f/2.4, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

12-megapixel (f/1.8, wide) + 64-megapixel (f/2.0, 3x zoom) + 12-megapixel (f/2.2, 120-degree FOV, ultrawide)

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Fingerprint (indisplay), accelerometor. Gyro, proximity. Compass

Colours: ‘Phantom Black,’ ‘Phantom White,’ ‘Green’ and ‘Pink Gold’ as well as Samsung exclusive colours ‘Gray,’ ‘Cream,’ ‘Violet’ and ‘Light Blue.’

Colours: Phantom Gray and Phantom White, Phantom Pink and Phantom Violet

Colours: ‘Phantom Black,’ ‘Phantom White,’ ‘Green’ and ‘Pink Gold’ as well as Samsung exclusive colours ‘Gray,’ ‘Cream,’ ‘Violet’ and ‘Light Blue.’

Colours: Phantom Silver, Phantom Black, Phantom Violet, ultra wideband

Best-feeling Samsung phone I’ve ever held

1645796419 849 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

It’s a great design change, whether you love it or not. The S22 series is significantly different from the S21 line in terms of the squared-off edges. I fall squarely (pardon the pun) in the ‘love it’ camp, but I understand why some people won’t. Although the phone’s square edges can feel uncomfortable, I think Samsung has mastered the feel. The S22 series never felt slippery to me – I had no qualms using the phones without a case, unlike some of the more slippery options out there (I’m looking at you, Pixel 6). I wouldn’t recommend going case-less – but if you want to, I think you can with the S22 and S22+.

This is made possible by the matte glass back panel. As far as I’m concerned, every phone should have a grippy matte finish on the rear. Although I preferred the smaller S22, I am one of those few who still prefers smaller devices, the grippiness of the larger S22+ was enough to make me feel comfortable using it. The grip makes the phones feel more premium.

The S21 line’s frustrating button placement returns, with the power button located below the volume rocker. Although it is a minor issue, it took me some time to stop pressing the volume button when I wanted to turn the phone on. An easy solution, if Samsung’s committed to the button placement, would be to add a texture to the power button so it’s easier to find by feel.

It is still frustrating to have the camera bump. I love how it looks, but I keep hitting it with my finger when holding the phone in my right hand (especially on the smaller S22 since there’s less vertical space). It feels really uncomfortable – I swear Samsung made the edge of the bump sharper this year.

Faster, but still not as fast

1645796420 500 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

We already detailed the odd performance situation with the S22, S22+ and S22 Ultra in a separate article, but I’ll reiterate the main points here. The S22 series sports Qualcomm’s latest flagship chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. In benchmark tests, all the phones performed well but did not score noticeably higher than last year’s Snapdragon 888-equipped S21 Ultra. Some phones performed worse than the S21 Ultra.

It’s not entirely clear what’s going on here, but ArticledeskTeam wasn’t the only publication that encountered the issues. It’s likely that some kind of thermal throttling is at play – my S22+ performed the best and never got noticeably warm in tests, while the S22 and my colleague Dean Daley’s S22 Ultra did get warm and had worse performance.

But benchmarks aren’t the only thing. The S22 and S22+ perform well in everyday use. The 8GB RAM allows me to keep most of my apps open, allowing for faster launches and easier switching between tasks. The phones were so good at keeping apps alive in the background that I ran into issues with a few apps not switching between light and dark mode – some apps wait until they’re not in use to make the switch.

1645796421 495 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

Games also performed well, although I didn’t play many since I’m not much of a mobile gamer. The experience was great. Apps loaded quickly, navigation was easy and fast. Twitter was the only app I had trouble with. It seemed to have a problem with the 120Hz display. It had really janky scrolling – if I did a ‘fast’ scroll where I quickly flicked my finger to zoom through tweets, it’d stutter. It worked fine with a slow scroll. I’m not entirely sure what was causing the weird, stuttery scroll but an update will (hopefully) fix the problem. I didn’t encounter that issue in any other app.

Overall, I was happy with the performance on offer from the S22 and S22+, but I wouldn’t list it as a reason to get the phone. Given the marginal (at best) performance improvement over the S21 series and other phones with the Snapdragon 888, anyone with a 2021 smartphone could save their cash and stick with Qualcomm’s older chip.

The battery life question

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There’s been a lot of concern over the battery life with the S22 series considering the smaller batteries compared to previous models. The S22’s battery capacity is 3,700mAh, while the S22+ can hold 4,500mAh. This compares with the S21’s 4,000mAh and S21+’s 4,800mAh. Coupled with a higher resolution display, there’s definitely good reason to be concerned.

The frequency you use the phone will determine how long your battery life experience. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 has a higher power consumption, which helps extend the S22’s battery life on light-use days. However, if you do a lot of gaming or other heavy tasks, you’ll still burn through the battery quickly.

On days where I used the S22 a ‘typical’ amount for me – which involves browsing social media, messaging friends and co-workers, and watching the occasional YouTube video – I’d get to the end of the day with about 30 percent left in the tank and somewhere between three-and-a-half to four hours of screen on time (with the 120Hz adaptive display option turned on). You may be able to eke out a little more battery by locking the phone to 60Hz, but I’m not sure it’s enough to warrant going back to 60Hz.

The S22 required a refill every hour on days when it was used more than averagely (like when I ran benchmarks or tested games). The S22+ fared better thanks to its larger cell and, despite having a bigger screen, it’s the same number of pixels. I didn’t find the difference made a significant impact. If you’re planning to buy either phone and really want the best battery life, the S22+ is the way to go.

One UI 4.1 is the best Samsung skin yet, but it’s still a Samsung skin

1645796422 483 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

As is usually the case with Samsung phones, the hardware is excellent and the software is… not.

One UI has mixed feelings. I think it’s much, much better than TouchWiz, but it’s still a far cry from the more consistent experience you get from a Pixel phone or iPhone (granted, Pixel phones have their own share of UI problems, but I’d still take it over One UI).

One UI4.1 is the default on the Galaxy S22 Series. It runs on top Android 12. One UI 4.1 supports the colour-changing theme engine Google introduced with Android 12 – it’s a nice touch, but limited. Samsung’s take on it only applies colours to certain UI elements, like the quick settings toggles, while maintaining the same colours in apps. It can result in a disjointed experience, compared to the theming of Pixel phones, where apps adapt accordingly. This is mostly true for the default apps. Third-party applications don’t follow the colour schemes of either phone.

1645796423 230 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

One UI 4.1 still utilizes Samsung’s somewhat unique app layout that pushes content down to the bottom half of the screen, making it easier to reach stuff. However, while I like that feature, it remains available only in a select few Samsung apps that I don’t use, or awkwardly shoe-horned into the Samsung-ified Google Messages app, where it looks completely out of place alongside the rest of the app’s design.

Other things I’ve come to appreciate on the S22 include the Edge Panel for quickly launching apps – I’ve avoided this in the past, but I actually really like it now that I’ve tried it. Samsung’s Clock app puts this handy little widget on screen when you set a timer so you can keep an eye on how much time is left while you do other things. Many aspects of the UI can be customized. It’s great if you want to take the time to tweak things, but annoying since the defaults often aren’t great – that leaves most people with a mediocre experience when better options are hidden a few taps away.

Problems with pre-installed apps and setting up

1645796424 498 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

In-display fingerprint scanner in action — works well.

I also really like Samsung’s default launcher, although it isn’t without issue. The initial setup is where many of the problems begin. Android Police so eloquently put it, is the “worst part” of using a Samsung phone.

I had to do it twice as I was reviewing both S22+ and S22+. On the first go ‘round with the S22+, I tried to bring over my data from the Pixel 6 I was using. Samsung tried to force me into using its Smart Switch app, which didn’t work at all. I was eventually able to bypass Smart Switch and restore a backup of my Pixel 6 through Android’s default data transfer system. It worked fine, but my apps were in a messy mess because Samsung insists on organizing my app drawer in the order of installation, and not alphabetically, like most smartphones.

Perhaps more frustrating was that many of my other settings didn’t translate over, which meant for the first time since I last used a Samsung phone, I had to go through and set up all my automated features like dark mode, Night Light, Do Not Disturb, and my carefully-curated notification settings that help keep the unending spam out of my notification shade. These settings can be transferred to other Android phones without any problems.

1645796428 834 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

With the S22, I thought it’d be better to use Smart Switch and copy the data from the S22+ after the problems moving from the Pixel 6 to the S22+. Smart Switch was worse. Not only did it fail to copy all my settings again, but it also didn’t bring over any of my app data, which meant I had to log into all my apps again (and lost progress in the few games I had tried). Great.

On top of this, there’s plenty of bloatware that comes pre-installed on Samsung phones, often in the form of duplicate (or sometimes triplicate) apps. Samsung offers a default email application, but most Android phones come pre-installed Gmail. Samsung also has a deal signed with Microsoft that allows it to pre-install several Office apps, such as Outlook. That’s three email apps installed on a phone out-of-the-box with no option for users to pick the one they’ll actually need or use. Samsung phones can also install apps from your carrier when you insert your SIM card.

You can remove some of these apps, but others you can’t – with the S22, I deleted over 10 pre-installed apps, and there are still 12 apps on the phone I don’t want, don’t use, and can’t remove. Perhaps the most annoying is Samsung’s Calendar app, which insists on taking over the phone with a fullscreen alert whenever I have an upcoming calendar event instead of, you know, using the standard banner notification that every other app uses.

1645796423 230 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

Some of you will take to the comments to argue that these are just “little inconveniences” that don’t really matter much. They are minor inconveniences that add up. Given that Samsung is still the most popular Android phone maker, the company’s phones These areAndroid is not a popular choice for many people outside of the tech world. And for those people, little inconveniences can be a deal-breaker when things don’t “just work” and fixes aren’t readily available.

At least Samsung’s apps don’t have ads in them anymore – it’s a small win, but one I’ll take anyway.

Camera blues

1645796429 181 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

I liked the S22+ and S22+ cameras. Once again, this aspect of the phones is the same – you can check the comparison shots below:

S22

S22+

Pixel 6

The S22/S22+ camera leaning blue in most photos was something I noticed in many of them. This worked well in some photos, but not in others. I found it improved the appearance of sky in some shots, even though the Pixel 6 captured greys more accurately.

1645796451 238 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

The S22 shot is a little closer to the blue paint on the gazebo poles than the Pixel 6, while the Pixel 6 renders them greyer. The S22 was able to retain contrast better, while the Pixel 6 HDR did a better job brightening shadows. This wasn’t always true. In the example below, the S22 was too bright and the Pixel 6 HDR kept it under control with a darker overall image.

1645796452 321 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

When it comes to zoom, Samsung’s camera can get closer, but the quality definitely falls off as you zoom. While the 3x zoom looks good, the visual quality drops to 10x at max zoom. Images appear blurry at 30x zoom. I start to wonder about the value of the extra zoom, as it often looks very rough when you look at the images.

Samsung’s portrait mode has seen a significant improvement, with its edge detection matching or beating the Pixel 6 in my tests.

1645796453 848 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

The above shot shows how the Pixel 6 failed in blurring a small portion of the bookshelf that is behind the subject’s ears. The S22 camera however, did a great job with edge detection. The S22 zooms in further for portrait shots. This is a great example of Samsung’s camera tending to lighten or smooth skin tones, which results in a less accurate image.

1645796454 918 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

The selfie camera was also very good, but I found it produced less exposed images. The quality is still exceptional. The Pixel 6 image isn’t as sharp when zoomed in, and both cameras struggle with edge detection for my hair. However, messy hair is difficult to photograph in any portrait mode.

Don’t buy for 5G

1645796455 378 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

The S22+ has a 5G mmWave antenna placed on its side. This isn’t on the S22+.

If you’re thinking about picking up an S22 or S22+ to get in on some of that much-hyped 5G action, don’t. Both phones will be great if 5G comes to Canada, but 5G is currently not available in many places.

I was only able to run 5G tests on the S22 since, for some reason, the S22+ unit Samsung provided me would not connect to 5G (the S22+ also didn’t download any carrier apps when I set it up, so I wonder if maybe it needed some carrier software to get 5G working, but I’m not totally sure). The S22 did download carrier apps and connected to 5G with ease, although I’m not sure it was worth doing. One final note, I ran the tests with a Bell SIM and I’m based in Whitby, Ontario – other carriers and people in other regions might get better results.

First, my 5G speed testing results showed inconsistent results. Scores ranged between 88Mbps down on low end to high end and 153Mbps on high end. Granted, that was faster than Bell’s 5G on the Pixel 6, which scored between 66.5Mbps and 86.1Mbps. On LTE, the Pixel 6 pulled 104Mbps down compared to the S22’s 74.4 down on LTE. The S22+ was better at 92Mbps down on LTE – again, I couldn’t test 5G on it.

1645796455 418 Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Review Excellent isnt enough anymore

I don’t attribute these mediocre scores to the S22 series being bad – I think Bell’s coverage, at least where I am in Whitby, Ontario, sucks. I switched to Bell in early 2021 after the carrier offered me a sweet deal – before that, I was on Koodo. My Pixel 4a 5G review was based on speed tests I did with my Koodo SIM. It showed LTE speeds as high as 431Mbps. Koodo doesn’t offer 5G service, but then again, it doesn’t seem to need it considering how much faster the LTE was compared to Bell’s 5G. That said, Koodo recently added speed caps to its plans, so new customers won’t be able to enjoy 400+Mbps download speeds on Koodo anymore.

All of this is to say that 5G is not a compelling reason to purchase these phones. Although this may change in the near future, Canadian 5G continues be disappointing.

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