Galaxy S22 vs S22+ (vs S22 Ultra) In-Depth Review | Better than the Ultra?
Ultra thats made the most noise on the tech scene with this all new design, which added the s pen. This in turn overshadowed the release of the s22 and s22 plus, which not only look very similar to last years phones. But the upgrades are minor and undeniably less exciting, and this might mean that a lot of people end up sleeping on these phones when they shouldnt in this review. Well cover all of the new specs and features in full everything. Thats changed from last year and also how these phones compare to the s22 ultra, because these arent just fantastic smartphones. They might even be better than the ultra unboxing. First then, and i went for what i think are the two best colors this year: a white s22 and the new green s22 plus no, your eyes, dont, deceive you. What samsung calls green does indeed look rather blue, depending on the light youre in aside from the phones, we have the usual paperwork, the usbc charging cable and the sim ejector tool inside the box, design wise things look very similar to last year, but there are some Subtle changes: the phones are now slightly more squared off, but still retain their rounded corners and this contoured now colour matching camera cut out, which i personally think looks really good. The design was awesome last year and is now just slightly more refined. I said in the ultra review that i think last years, rounded s21 ultra looks better than the new boxy note like ultra of this year, and for me, the regular s22 and plus models are also much better looking phones for once.
I actually prefer having the camera bump, especially when its this small and the rounded corners mean that these feel nicer. In your hand, the phones have the new, improved durability, armor aluminium frames, as well as the new gorilla glass victors plus on the front and back. This marks an important change from last year, where the s21 controversially had a plastic bag. Both the s22 and s22 plus have glass backs and do feel more premium compared to last year. One of the biggest advantages for me over the ultra is that these have flat displays which not only helps with durability, but i dont get any accidental screen touches, which are a problem again this year for the new ultra, comparing the bezels side by side. The curved screen really doesnt give that much of an aesthetic advantage anyway, plus i think the symmetry looks good on the regular s22s. The second major advantage, also related to usability, is their size. These are actually slightly smaller and thinner than last years. Models. Shaving 0.1 of an inch off the displays, a change likely designed to create a bigger step up to the ultra, but i actually think this was a great decision. The plus model still has a beautiful big screen, but is now easier to hold and use, and especially in the case of the smaller s22, this change accentuates the phones biggest advantage ergonomics. The small option is now even more comfortable than before, so the phones are not only easier to use compared to last years phones, but especially against the big s22 ultra.
I should also mention that these have the new x axis vibration motors, like the ultra, which are a bit weaker than on last years. S21S. Size is also the biggest factor separating the s22 from the plus model when it comes to usability, especially one handed, the smaller s22 is much easier to hold and use. It fits in your pocket more easily and in general i just find the user experience more enjoyable. A lot of this is down to personal preference, of course, and what you gain in usability. You obviously lose in battery life and display size, so theres a substantial trade off, but in a tech world dominated by huge smartphones, the s22 really is a joy to use and how it feels to hold and use. Each of these phones remains perhaps the biggest factor when choosing between them its something youll notice every single day. So you should think carefully about this. As i said, the displays are now 0.1 of an inch smaller than last year and spec wise things are very similar. As well, these are both 1080p with adaptive 120hz refresh rates, and these have the same second gen ultrasonic, fingerprint scanners, which work very reliably. They both get samsungs new vision, booster tech for optimizing, color contrast and in the case of the plus model, it also gains the ultras new super bright 1750 nits of peak brightness. Setting the brightness to max manually gives no difference in the displays and most of the time you wont notice a difference but weirdly.
I didnt notice a big difference outdoors with hdr content either. Both displays are brighter than last years, though thanks to the extra brightness toggle and are super readable in bright sunlight, since these are both 1080p displays. Your content actually looks a bit sharper on the smaller s22. The 6.6 inch s22 plus could really do with a 1440p resolution, like the ultra has the movie viewing or gaming experience is still superior on the plus model, though, and having that larger screen real estate gives you more space for your controls and is also a more Immersive experience not to mention the fact that the speakers get louder too. So, despite the curvature on the glass, the ultra does still offer a superior display, its larger sharper and the refresh rate is able to drop down as low as 1 hertz compared to 48. On the regular s22s, so this should help with efficiency. I think the only other display related feature to mention is the s pen, which of course, is only compatible with the ultra. I know most people dont care about the s pen and that those who do want it will already know that they need the s22 ultra instead, but its possibly the biggest factor separating them and worth pointing out for those still deciding between these phones or the ultra. The phones are running the new one ui 4.1 on android 12., a minor iteration on the recent major update which brought new features like color palettes, an updated privacy manager and now an extended version of ram plus.
But the s21 series has been updated to this as well so not much to discuss here. The hardware, however, is new. This year the s22 series gets the new snapdragon 8 gen 1 or exynos 2200 chipsets. I have the exynos versions here. The change brings a very minor difference, sometimes a bit lower, in fact, in the cpu test, and indeed the phones feel very similar to last year, with basic navigation opening, apps and load times. But when you look at the gpu scores, thats, really, where youll see a significant improvement with the new chipsets. I think more interesting than that, though, was the significant gap between the s22 and s22 plus. They might be packing the same processes in ram, but the plus model performs much better, and this is down to thermals. We know the new chips run, hotter and required new thermal management systems and the advantage the plus has is that theres, physically more space to dissipate heat. We can even see lower temperature readings from these tests and especially in the longer stress test, you can see better scores and stability. So not only is the gaming experience more enjoyable on the pluses bigger screen, its also literally better in terms of performance, but of course the regular s22 is still a very powerful and capable phone and will provide a more than adequate casual, gamer experience too. The pluses performance was very similar to the ultra close enough, in fact that, for the vast majority of situations, you wont notice a difference, but the ultra does have a slight edge, for example, a couple of extra frames per second in the 3dmark test, and it also Has an option for higher ram like last year, the s22 and plus are fixed at 8 gigabytes of ram where the ultra starts, but you can also get a 12 gigs of ram ultra instead, so the higher spec ultra does offer a slightly more capable gaming experience.
It will be better for heavy multitasking and holding multiple apps open in the background, its still the phone for power users with storage, all phones get 128 or 256 gigs, but only the ultra has the higher 512 or one terabyte options. None of these has expandable storage. So if you need lots of storage, then you may need to spend more for the ultra. Some smaller differences to mention are that the plus and ultra get ultra wideband support and wi fi 6e, whilst the s22 only has wi fi 6.. Realistically, no one has a wi fi, 6e router. Yet anyway, most of us dont even use wi fi 6. Yet so this isnt really important. The same goes for ultra wideband. If you dont have a digital car key, perhaps an ultra wideband galaxy smart tag, theres a fair chance, youll, never use ultrawide band anyway. Final performance aspect to consider is the battery life. If there was one thing to point out as a disappointing downgrade from last year, it would be battery life, the phones got smaller and so did the batteries and, despite comfortably making it through a full day with moderate to heavy use theyre, not as good as the S21 series, if you watched my ultra review youll, know that i took these phones on an extensive all day, shoot starting at 100 battery and ending the day with these results. This is how my daily screen on time average over one week compared to the ultra, and these results are around 30 to 40 minutes worse than last years models as much as i love the smaller s22.
If battery life is a concern to you definitely go for the plus. Instead, it will give you noticeably better battery life and it only slightly trails, the bigger ultra as well, for charging the plus and ultra both get 45 watt fast charging, whilst the regular s22 has 25w fast charging, but weve already seen that this gives no meaningful advantage In terms of speed anyway and theres really not much in it for the total charge time, i just find it interesting that the ultra charged faster than the plus, despite having a bigger battery moving on now to the cameras, weve, actually got entirely new main and telephoto Lenses alongside new image processing, the high res lens, is now the main lens at 50 megapixels, which is a sensible change. It has a bigger pixel sensor than last year and gets the new anti reflective coating just like the new ultra. Despite these changes, though, theres actually very little, thats changed from last year in terms of image quality, and i dont think thats necessarily a bad thing. Photos are sharp, detailed and have great dynamic range just like last year, and this is a versatile and reliable camera setup that i cant really. Certainly if you have an s21 or s21 plus, though there are no drastic camera improvements here, that should compel you to upgrade. You will sometimes notice images are slightly more detailed thanks to the new 50 megapixels on the main lens, but you probably have to zoom in to notice this.
The regular s22s get samsungs new detail, enhancer feature as well, so these are better than last year for detail and sharpness theyre, pretty much on par with the ultra. In fact, even though it has more than double the megapixel count, ignoring the color, since these were taken at different times of day, the photos are basically indistinguishable and i think, if you have to zoom in this much to nitpick the fine details, then its clear. The ultra has no major advantage. They also get the new ai stereo depth. Mapping tech support traits are the best theyve ever been, and i think the cutouts these phones create are the best on the market right now again, the performance is on par with the ultra, and you can see that the wind was blowing my jacket open in this Shot and testament to the phone, it was still able to generate an excellent cutout for the portrait effect. One thing i do like is the new optical zoom lens. The s21s do a great job, but the quality is slightly better here compared to the hybrid zoom, even though the megapixel count was obviously higher last year for this lens, despite having very similar specs, this isnt actually the same 3x lenses on the s22 ultra, although youll Find the image quality pretty much matches it in most situations, the ultra does obviously pull ahead when you get further into the zoom level, thanks to its extra 10x optical lens, the regular s22s start to struggle from 10x and above and they max out at 30, where The ultra can still take pretty good looking images so higher zoom level.
Photography is still the main camera benefit with getting the ultra the ultra wide lens, though youre going to get just as good performance here, as you would on the ultra. The only difference really is that the ultra has macro mode. So, if youre into super close up photography, that is still a benefit for the ultra. The main lens has a new larger sensor and although i didnt see a huge improvement in low light photos, the s22s were sometimes faster to capture night mode shots. Compared to last year. The phones seemed happy to preserve the natural darkness of shadows and didnt. Try to overly brighten them as much as the s21s, so theyre the minor changes. I noticed just like the ultra theres, far less of a need to have a switch to night mode now, which is great images, are often more realistic when you dont, but youll typically notice that night mode cleans up some of the noise so is still worth using. I actually found the performance really comparable to the s22 ultra, just occasionally when you zoom in you cannotice less noise, with the ultra thanks to its larger sensor. Most of the time they were extremely similar, though, and i didnt notice much faster autofocus with the ultra either. So i didnt miss the laser af sensor or, in general, have any ultra envy. These get the same knightography improvements to low light, video like auto frame rate and super night solution which give massive improvements, especially with noise reduction.
If you remember, this is what the s21 ultra footage looked like, so its video and samsungs new processing that brings the best low light improvement for the s22s. For me, the most interesting point to make about the new cameras is that they dont have that softening and noise issue plaguing the s22 ultra, which is obviously a huge benefit for these phones and, ultimately, the reason why i think these have better cameras than the ultra. The issue seems to be worse for exynos versions of the phone and were yet to see how much, if at all, samsung, can fix this on the ultra. But you can see that the edges are much sharper for the regular s22s, which made me think that this was a lens issue and not image processing, which sadly, would mean that samsung wont be able to fix this on the ultra weve. Seen from the ultra review that this isnt just a case of differences in the plane of focus due to the ultras larger sensor, the edges are abnormally soft and noisy, which you especially should not be seeing at all for shots in good lighting. Like this, you can clearly see the improvement you get with the regular s22s. The ultras lens inconsistency issue, however, is definitely present on the other s22s as well. You can see here the wildly varying color temperature for the different lenses on the phone and now the same shots from last years. Models in comparison, which are much more consistent.
So this seems to be a samsung processing issue, which hopefully means this is something they can later fix with an update, but for now this remains an area where last years, phones perform better and finally, the front cameras ive mentioned before that. I think selfies are the best yet for samsung phones and on the whole, look really good. They are over sharpened, but you can see theres virtually no difference from the ultra, including for portrait mode. When you compare them side by side, the ultra has a higher res 40 megapixel lens, and i must admit that the high res mode looks especially good this year. So if youre big on selfies, the ultra has an edge. The selfie video, however, gave me the most surprising results of all. Hopefully you can see here how the regular s22 video is so much sharper than on the ultra. The ultra again is demonstrating those same issues weve seen on the main lens. This obviously now raises the question: is it actually a processing issue? After all, with the ultra because were now seeing this on two different lenses? So a hardware fault seems less likely. I personally hope so because it means samsung could improve this with an update. But for now the regular s22s have yet another advantage over the ultra theres. Clearly not enough of an improvement to warrant an upgrade from the s21 series that much we expected and the cameras have undergone a minor upgrade with the latest generation.
But the performance compared to the ultra is what surprises and interests me most look. I wont argue that the ultra doesnt have the better camera on paper and theres certainly a lot to like about it. It has incredible zoom photography, a slight edge with night mode and selfies and for some people will offer exactly what they need, but i think those noise and softening issues spoil the experience enough that i personally cant enjoy the camera experience fully and for me, the regular S22 is not only match the ultra for most situations, but offer a better overall camera experience. Id sooner recommend those over the ultra to anyone deciding between them, and i guess really thats my main overall point with the phones in general, not just in terms of the camera. I think the s22 and s22 plus both offer better value for money than the ultra. Even more so this year than last, the price gap may be the same between phones, but i think theres far less value in that trade up from the plus to the ultra. The plus has all of the best parts of the ultra, including a super bright and fast display, though here it has the added benefit of being flat. It falls only just shy of the ultra for battery and performance, but will clearly be plenty fast and long lasting enough for most people, its also smaller, lighter and easier to use, theres, no s pen to potentially lose those camera advantages are highlighted and just on a Personal note: a superior design as well, but crucially, this all comes at a lower cost, and so i recognize the market for those power users and notes lovers, for which the ultra is the most suitable, its beaten for value in most cases by its smaller s22 siblings.
For me, its the regular s22 that just about wins for overall value this year as long time, viewers of the channel wont be surprised by this, because ive been quite vocal about my love of the smaller form factor. The pros list for the plus model might suggest its the better choice and id understand anybody who thinks this justifies the 200 step up in price. By contrast, the strengths of the smaller s22 are few in number, but no less significant in value that higher pixel density. For the display, the ergonomic advantage, comfort and usability traits are often overlooked, but they play a crucial daily role in smartphone enjoyment and, of course, theres that substantial price reduction against the bigger models that may entice you as compact flagship smartphones, go it doesnt, get much better Than this you sacrifice battery, which for many people is too big, a cost for the convenience of that smaller form factor, and i completely understand this its a heavy price to pay. If i was someone looking to keep my phone for many years, i might be skeptical about the smaller phone too. Current owners of an s21 device can feel satisfied. Theres no need to upgrade samsung didnt change much with these phones, and they didnt really need to the s21 and s21 plus were and still are, fantastic phones, and if you can handle not having the very latest tech, you should consider getting one of those now heavily Discounted phones, samsung, has gotten so good at creating a reliable flagship, android experience that either of these phones would be super easy to recommend because theres almost nothing to complain about.
But most of all really ask yourself if you need the ultra this year, because if you dont need an s pen, theres a good chance. The s22 and s22 plus are better options for you. Okay, so thats! My look now at the full s22 series lineup and do check out my full in depth review of the ultra and how it compares to previous samsung flagships. If you missed that, one still to come, is the s22 ultra vs iphone 13 pro max so make sure to subscribe and hit the bell icon, so you get notified when that video goes live. If you found this video helpful, then please give it a like.