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Samsung Galaxy S22 hands-on review: Iterative innovations

Price when reviewed 
769
inc VAT

It might be the cheapest of the three, but the Galaxy S22 isn’t lacking key features

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There’s no doubt that the Galaxy S22 Ultra – the priciest of Samsung’s newest flagships – is the phone that will inevitably steal all the headlines. It looks like a Note and walks like a Note, and since it’s the only place where you can find all sorts of exclusive features, it’s quite clearly the smartphone that Samsung wants you to buy in 2022.

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But what about the rest of the lineup? After all, we aren’t all blessed with bulging bank accounts, and for that reason, the entry-level Galaxy S22 is looking like the ideal blend of must-have features and affordability. Except, sadly, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer to buy one.

Buy Samsung Galaxy S22 on EE


Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Key specifications, UK price and release date

  • 6.1in, 120Hz FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display
  • Octa-core 2.8GHz Samsung Exynos 2200 processor
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB of storage
  • Quad rear camera: 50MP (f/1.8), 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto, 12MP (f/2.2) 120-degree ultra-wide
  • Selfie camera: 10MP (f/2.2)
  • 3,700mAh battery
  • IP68-rated waterproofing
  • 146 x 70 x 7.6 mm
  • 168g
  • Phantom White, Phantom Black, Green, Pink Gold
  • UK release date: Preorder from 9 February, available from 11 March
  • UK price: £769 (128GB), £819 (256GB)

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Design, key features and first impressions

The Galaxy S22 and its bigger brother, the S22 Plus, both release on 11 March, which is an excruciating two-week wait following the first arrival of the Galaxy S22 Ultra. There’s no official reason why this is, but if you’re already itching to get your latest Samsung fix, then there’s a good chance you’re going to splurge on the Ultra instead, aren’t you?

But cool your jets for just a moment. Let’s not write off the S22 just yet – if you’re in the market for a new Android flagship, then there’s a good chance you’ve found it here, provided you don’t mind sacrificing just a few of the Ultra’s high-end features. And, of course, can tolerate the wait as well.

What’s new this year, then? To start with, Samsung has applied subtle tweaks to the overall design of the S22, and it now shares the slightly harsher, flatter sides of the iPhone 13. The slightly curved back is now completely flat, too, albeit with the return of the “Contour Cut” rear camera housing, with its curved corners that blend neatly into the phone’s new “Armour Aluminium” metal frame – which Samsung says is much more durable than last year’s model.

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I particularly like that the S22’s camera housing matches the colour of the phone, too. Whether you choose Phantom White, Phantom Black or the new Green and Pink Gold models, it looks suitably swish, and it’s clear that a lot of attention has been paid to the phone’s aesthetics. The S22 is a bit of a design statement.

Of the three new phones, the regular S22 is also the more comfortable to use one-handed. Due to its dinky size – it’s smaller than the iPhone 13 in every metric and lighter, too – it feels snug in the hand, with the added bonus of being able to fit in a small pocket or handbag, too. You’d struggle to squeeze the S22 Ultra in, that’s for sure.

Apart from the chassis’ increased durability, it’s also the best-protected Galaxy yet. Sandwiched between layers of Gorilla Glass Victus Plus, Samsung says that the S22 is 12.5% more durable against scratches and scrapes than the previous model and it’s IP68 certified against the elements, too.

The size of the phone’s display has decreased slightly, but don’t get your pitchforks out just yet. The S22’s FHD+ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X display still measures 6.1in from corner to corner, which is a negligible 0.1in change. You’d be lying if you said you noticed a difference when using it, especially since it looks as good as ever.

A new display algorithm called “Vision Booster” supposedly maps the ideal tone of an image by maximising colour contrast based on its surroundings and content. Samsung says that by tweaking colour contrast in the image and making the colours more vivid, this should boost image visibility when viewed in direct sunlight. The minimum starting refresh rate has also been lowered from 10Hz down to 1Hz, which could help save energy.

And it might need all the help it can get, too, since the S22’s battery capacity has been reduced slightly to 3,750mAh. A small 6% decrease on the S21’s 4,000mAh cell, Samsung that since the handset is more power-efficient than the previous model, they could reduce the footprint by 5% without compromising battery life.

Of course, we’ll find out whether this is true or not when I receive a model for review, but at this early stage, the S22’s internal specifications are looking pretty great. Samsung’s new Exynos 2200 chipset powers things, which ushers in a handful of new GPU features such as Variable Rate Shading (VRS) and ray-traced shadows. You get a choice of either 128GB or 256GB of (non-expandable) storage, with 8GB of RAM on both models.

This is true for both the S22 and S22 Plus, but a key area of difference (aside from size and price) is in charging speeds. The S22 Plus matches the 45W wired USB-C charging of the Ultra, but the S22 has to make do with just 25W wired charging. Topping up the battery will be slower on the regular model, that’s for sure, but at least it also supports 15W wireless charging as well as reverse wireless PowerShare.

Software-wise, the Galaxy S22 runs Android 12, re-skinned with Samsung’s One UI 4. Improvements for this year include a variety of new colour palette options and themes, with a wider selection of emoji and stickers at your disposal, too. A new dashboard brings all of your privacy settings and controls into one handy place, and there’s now a green indicator on the phone’s status bar whenever an app is using your microphone or camera – just like iOS.

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Finally, we get to the cameras. Unlike the Ultra, there’s not a huge amount of note when it comes to photography, and the S22’s cameras weren’t the main focus during my demo sessions, either. On the back, you’ll find a new 50MP primary camera, flanked by a 12MP ultrawide unit with a 120-degree field of view, as well as a 10MP 3x optical zoom.

Both the telephoto and main cameras are optically stabilised, and a 10MP selfie camera with an 80-degree field of view can be found inside a hole-punch notch on the front of the phone. Samsung says that a new lens coating should reduce camera glare, and all three phones can record video at up to 8K resolution at 24fps.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: Early verdict

It might be the cheapest of the three, but the Galaxy S22 is still shaping up to be a bit of a class act. There aren’t many concessions in terms of features, and for the price you’ll be hard-pressed to find a flagship that’s quite as complete and well-rounded as this.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 starts at £769 for the 128GB model, with double the storage (256GB) costing £819.

Buy Samsung Galaxy S22 on EE


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