Samsung Galaxy S22 review

GSMArena Team, 23 March 2022.

A gorgeous, compact 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz display

Samsung is unquestionably the leader in the mobile display space. Its OLED panels are second to none, and the Korean giant is far from complacent in its leading position. Quite the contrary. Samsung Display is constantly innovating, and the Galaxy S22 gets to reap the benefits of the latest and greatest up on offer. However, to varying degrees. Unfortunately, Samsung has been struggling a bit to properly communicate the subtle display performance nuances within the Galaxy S22 line and has been forced to clarify certain points multiple times already.

As far as differences between the S22 trio go, the S22+ and S22 Ultra get a higher max brightness than the vanilla S22. Also, only the S22 Ultra gets LTPO 2.0 technology for its dynamic refresh rate, while the S22+ and S22 get LTPS. There are some nuances to cover, however.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

Let's start with brightness. There are major brightness improvements across the board on the Galaxy S22 phones. However, the S22+ and S22 Ultra are expected to reach higher max brightness values than the vanilla S22. You might have heard the insane 1,750 nits peak brightness figure advertised for those two already, which we confirmed in our testing.

The vanilla S22 can't manage quite the same peak brightness figures, but its panel remains among the brightest we've measured to date, with 982 nits at full blast.

That's notably more than we measured on its Galaxy S21 predecessor and right around as bright as the iPhone 13 Pro gets.

Official information on Samsung's OLED panel tech is a bit scarce, and sources seem to offer conflicting information, but the numbers we measured fall in line nicely with the theory that the S22 Ultra and S22+ use Samsung's new M12 OLED tech, with about 16% better light efficiency. All the while, the vanilla Galaxy S22 seems to still be using M11 OLED substrates, which as far as scattered resources go are apparently also found in the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. Once again, our actual test numbers seem to back this theory up nicely.

Display test 100% brightness
Black,cd/m2 White,cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Max Auto) 0 1266
Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Max Auto) 0 1214
Apple iPhone 13 Pro (Max Auto) 0 1063
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Max Auto) 0 1023
Samsung Galaxy S22 (Max Auto) 0 982
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (Max Auto) 0 922
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (Max Auto) 0 856
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 0 856
Google Pixel 6 (Max Auto) 0 846
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro (Max Auto) 0 837
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (Extra brightness) 0 829
Samsung Galaxy A72 (Max Auto) 0 825
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Max Auto) 0 823
Apple iPhone 13 0 802
Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G (Max Auto) 0 800
Asus Zenfone 8 (Max Auto) 0 800
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G 0 792
Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Extra brightness) 0 782
Samsung Galaxy M52 5G (Max Auto) 0 777
Samsung Galaxy S22 (Extra brightness) 0 757
Huawei P50 Pro (Max Auto) 0 754
Huawei P50 Pro 0 609
Xiaomi Mi 11T Pro 0 516
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 0 494
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G 0 489
Google Pixel 6 0 477
Samsung Galaxy S22+ 0 468
Samsung Galaxy S22 0 465
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G 0 458
Asus Zenfone 8 0 440
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G 0 416
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 0 404
Samsung Galaxy A72 0 396
Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G 0 383

There are a few other notable aspects related to display brightness. Particularly the way it is controlled. With the S22 line, Samsung has added a separate display option, called "Extra brightness". It is different from the absolute maximum brightness achievable in sunlight and only works with auto-brightness turned off. It is meant to unlock some extra "manual brightness" on the slider. Using it, we measured 757 nits of max brightness on the Galaxy S22 with the same unit only going up to 465 nits on the slider with Extra brightness turned off.

New Extra brightness toggle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
New Extra brightness toggle

But simply shining brighter is just part of the battle to make the display more legible under bright sunlight. Samsung also aims to deliver the best possible picture in terms of contrast and colors. For this, the S22 family debuts a technology called Vision Booster.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

It uses data from the phone's light sensor to determine the properties of the surrounding ambient light and then does per-pixel tone mapping to get the best possible picture. The said picture will, by definition, be extremely distorted color and contrast-wise in absolute terms, but the goal is to counteract the ambient light in any way possible.

It is hard to judge the effectiveness of Vision Booster in any quantifiable terms. Still, we noticed a slightly better image on the S22 than the Galaxy S21 outdoors in broad daylight. We can't say how much the placebo effect of actually knowing about Vision Booster is, but in any case, the difference is not game-changing. Let's say it's a nice to have rather than a revolutionary feature.

On the subject of colors the Galaxy S22 expectedly does not disappoint. In typical Samsung fashion there are just two color modes - Vivid and Natural. The first aims for the DCI-P3 color space and gets pretty close to what we would consider color-accurate. However, the default palette is just a bit too cold. Using the manual slider to warm up the colors by one move on the slider results in deviation within what we would consider DCI-P3 color accurate.

Color settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Color settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Color settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Color settings

Then there is the natural mode, which aims for sRGB and basically nails that on the head. The S22 is incredibly color-accurate against sRGB.

Even if our research on the topic is right and the vanilla Galaxy S22 does rely on slightly older OLED panel tech than its siblings, it is clearly not compromising a whole lot, neither in terms of brightness and contrast nor colors. The same goes for HDR support. The S22 reports HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG support in software. The only standard that is missing is Dolby Vision. Naturally, it also has Google's highest Widevine L1 DRM certification that allows it to stream high-definition video from services like Netflix.

HDR support - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Widevine DRM - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Netflix playback capabilities - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
HDR support • Widevine DRM • Netflix playback capabilities

Netflix was more than happy to serve us the maximum 1080p resolution needed to saturate the native 1080p+ resolution of the S22 in gorgeous HDR.

Even with its relatively small diagonal, the Galaxy S22 delivers an HDR experience like few other devices can, not just mobile phones.

High refresh rate handling

The Galaxy S22 has a Dynamic AMOLED 2x display that can refresh at up to 120Hz. There is also automatic refresh rate switching. Both parts are true for the entire S22 lineup. However, this is another area in which Samsung kind of dropped the ball while communicating just how the refresh rate works and how it is handled on the S22 and S22+, which are in fact different from the S22 Ultra in this respect.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

To quote the latest official Samsung statement first: "We would like to clarify any confusion relating to the display refresh rate for Galaxy S22 and S22+. While the display component of both devices supports between 48 to 120Hz, Samsung's proprietary technology offers adjustable display refresh rates, where data transfer rates from AP to display can be minimized to as low as 10Hz in order to save power consumption. The display refresh rate was originally listed between 10 and 120Hz (10 to 120 frames per second), and we later opted to update how we communicate this specification in order to be in line with the more widely-recognized industry standard. Consumers can be assured there has been no change of hardware specifications, and both devices support up to 120Hz for super-smooth scrolling.

From what we managed to gather, only the S22 Ultra actually uses an LTPO 2.0 substrate for its OLED panel, allowing it much better flexibility in automatic refresh rate adjustment. The S22+ and vanilla S22 rely on the simpler LTPS tech, which Samsung still managed to expand for this generation.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

To properly explain our findings, we need to distinguish between screen refresh rate and UI rendering or framerate. Checking the Android 12 support APIs on the S22 reveals that its panel can refresh in one of the following modes: 10Hz, 24Hz, 30Hz, 48Hz, 60hz, 96Hz and 120Hz. The exact same modes as the S22+. The actual fps the UI is being rendered at is not the same figure as the ones quoted above. To monitor that, Samsung has included a nifty tool in the Developer menu called GPU Watch, which exposes an overlay for what the Android SurfaceFlinger is outputting to the graphical buffer. In other words, this is an fps counter rather than a refresh rate setting for the display.

Supported refresh rate modes - Samsung Galaxy S22 review GPU Watch - Samsung Galaxy S22 review GPU Watch - Samsung Galaxy S22 review GPU Watch - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Supported refresh rate modes • GPU Watch

Keeping all of this in mind in our testing, we discovered that the S22 does a very efficient job of managing the refresh rate of its display. The basic logic is that whenever you interact with the display in any way, the refresh rate instantly shoots up to 120Hz for the best possible responsiveness. Leaving the phone alone almost instantly drops the refresh rate to a suitable one to accommodate the fps of what is happening on screen.

24Hz at idle in the UI - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz at idle in the UI - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
24Hz at idle in the UI

The lowest refresh rate the S22 reaches while idling on a static image is actually 24Hz. Despite the phone's display reporting in software that it can switch down to 10Hz, we never actually managed to get that figure in any scenario during our testing. What we did manage to see, however, were fps readings from the Android SurfaceFlinger as low as 1fps, though not officially advertised. Oddly, this falls in line reasonably well with Samsung's revised statements regarding the behavior of the S22 and S22+ and how they achieve battery savings. What is happening in practice is a refresh rate drop to as low as 24Hz accompanied by an fps drop to as low as 1fps in order to save power.

24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review 24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
24Hz or 60Hz in most apps once left idle

Beyond that, the algorithms in place do a very decent job of actually matching screen refresh rate to the fps occurring on screen. Once left idle and with a static image on the screen, most apps drop the refresh rate to 24Hz. If they are displaying something, that number is most often 60Hz to accommodate movement. 120Hz is triggered upon interaction for the smoothest possible animations and best responsiveness.

While this generally works well, we found it unfortunate that we couldn't lock certain apps to 120Hz, like web browsers. All of the ones we tried dropped down to 60Hz when not touching the display. This is easily testable by running the excellent UFO test by BlurBusters.

Browsers idling at 60Hz - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Browsers idling at 60Hz - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Browsers idling at 60Hz - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Browsers idling at 60Hz

Then again, we can't think of any practical scenarios where the browser would be showing something at higher than 60fps without user interaction with the display, so Samsung might have actually made the right choice.

Refresh rate handling while playing video is particularly nifty and tends to follow the fps of the video being played. Play a 24 fps clip - the Galaxy S22 is smart enough to run its display at 24Hz. 30fps results in 30Hz, and 60fps does 60Hz - you get the point. We only rarely managed to trip up this logic. It works impressively well.

Display refresh rate following video fps - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Display refresh rate following video fps - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Display refresh rate following video fps

Better still, we verified this behavior is present and working just as well with local video playback and while streaming video from the likes of YouTube or Netflix. It also works both ways, lowering the refresh rate and elevating it to, say, match an odd 120fps video. Though, we should note that Samsung seems to be tweaking this aspect since 48fps videos on YouTube now keep the display at 60Hz on our S22 unit, whereas they used to trigger 48Hz on the S22+ at the time of its review. A bit of a step backward, but not a major one.

Display refresh rate following video fps while streaming - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Display refresh rate following video fps while streaming - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Display refresh rate following video fps while streaming - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Display refresh rate following video fps while streaming - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Display refresh rate following video fps while streaming

Speaking of refresh rate behavior changes, Samsung seemingly managed to fix its handling of HDR video, which no longer locks the display at 120Hz, as used to be the case on the S22+ at the time of writing that review. Now a 60fps HDR video will still play at 60Hz HDR, and 30fps will do 30Hz HDR. We originally thought this kind of automatic refresh rate switching in HDR mode was limited to the Galaxy S22 Ultra and its superior LTPO 2.0 OLED display. It turns out that while LTPO 2.0 still offers some advantages and a more dynamic refresh rate switching behavior, HDR refresh rate switching is possible on the LTPS S22 as well.

HDR playback no longer pins the display at 120Hz and now does automatic refresh rate switching - Samsung Galaxy S22 review HDR playback no longer pins the display at 120Hz and now does automatic refresh rate switching - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
HDR playback no longer pins the display at 120Hz and now does automatic refresh rate switching

Finally, we tried a few games we know can render at over 60fps. These all worked as expected, with the S22 switching its display to 120Hz to get the highest fps number possible.

Thanks to Samsung's new GPU Watch overlay, we can actually now get what is effectively an in-game fps counter or at least a close approximation as well to prove that the games are indeed running at over 60fps. Previously we had to rely on a visual estimate.

Games making the most out of the 120Hz refresh rate - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Games making the most out of the 120Hz refresh rate - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Games making the most out of the 120Hz refresh rate - Samsung Galaxy S22 review Games making the most out of the 120Hz refresh rate - Samsung Galaxy S22 review
Games making the most out of the 120Hz refresh rate

While we stand by that statement, since Samsung still lacks a built-in game FPS counter within its Game Spaces you could download the plugin called Perf Z, which adds an in-game FPS counter, presumably taken from hooking directly into the graphics rendering pipeline. You need to obtain it through the Game Plugins app available for many Samsung phones on the Samsung app store. We wish Samsung would figure out a way to better advertise such obscure features. Like NiceLock, which remains criminally underappreciated. But, we digress. Here are some FPS readouts from Perf Z as well.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 handles the high refresh rate and adaptive refresh rate nearly perfectly based on the actual content that is being displayed and the user's needs. Display refresh rate can now drop even lower. Samsung has created some unfortunate commotion with its marketing communication, but besides that, we can only praise what we see here.

Battery life

In one of Samsung's more controversial decisions this generation, the Galaxy S22+ and S22 have both lost battery capacity over last year - 300mAh each, to be exact. That has left the S22 with 3,700 mAh instead of the 4,000 mAh in the S21 5G. Samsung's hope was likely to make the difference up through its more efficient 4nm chipsets and software and specifically adaptive refresh rate tricks.

Unfortunately, that's not exactly the case. Just like its bigger sibling, the vanilla S22 does not excel in the battery department, scoring 85 hours in our standardized test. To be fair, that's still a decent showing from the S22, especially given its battery and overall size, but not impressive by any means.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

All of the on-screen numbers are acceptable, and so is the in-call endurance. The weakest link we found was honestly 3G standby, which is a bit lacking on the Exynos 2200. Then again, it is a new chipset, and standby performance could potentially be improved through software. At least we can hope.

In its current state, however, the S22 manages fewer hours on a single charge than its S21 predecessor. We can still see some generational technology improvements show through, as the higher web browser score than on the S21. We are talking about the Exynos 2200 and Exynos 2100 versions, respectively.

Speaking of potential software updates and improvements, we did experience a bit of weirdness related to the dynamic refresh rate on the S22 and the rest of the S22 generation, for that matter, that we hope gets ironed out. Currently, using the automatic refresh rate for our video playback test behaves as it should and runs the display at 24Hz, but still somehow manages to waste more power than playing the same video at 60Hz. The results are all over the place, and it might be an app-compatibility issue with our SmartViser testing suite or some system-wide issue. Either way, there is room for improvement.

Our battery tests were automated thanks to SmartViser, using its viSerDevice app. The endurance rating denotes how long the battery charge will last you if you use the device for an hour of telephony, web browsing, and video playback daily. More details can be found here.

Video test carried out in 60Hz refresh rate mode. Web browsing test done at the display's highest refresh rate whenever possible. Refer to the respective reviews for specifics. To adjust the endurance rating formula to match your own usage patterns check out our all-time battery test results chart where you can also find all phones we've tested.

Charging speed

Samsung continues to stick by its guns and does not really participate in the industry trend of ever-higher battery charging rates. Don't get us wrong, we appreciate the convenience. Still, current battery tech just hasn't caught up with our desires for rapid charging and ultimately, pumping power faster and faster into a cell still leads to its eventual degradation and ultimate deprecation, at worst and most often alongside the rest of a perfectly-usable phone. Even if not by you personally, by somebody else and the best you can hope to recycle at least some of what is an increasingly-complicated and difficult to recycle gadget. But that's a topic for a much more serious discussion altogether. The bottom line is that we are not holding the 25W charging support of the Galaxy S22 against it. A rate, by the way, which is not too dissimilar from those on current Apple iPhones, so Samsung is not alone in its position on battery charging.

30min charging test (from 0%)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (65W PD)
    65%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (45W)
    64%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22
    63%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (25W)
    62%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (25W)
    61%
  • Apple iPhone 13 mini
    61%
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (45W)
    60%
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    60%
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro (20W Apple)
    60%
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (25W)
    57%
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
    57%
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (25W PD)
    55%
  • Samsung Galaxy A72
    54%
  • Apple iPhone 13
    54%
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    53%
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 (25W)
    52%
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    51%
  • Samsung Galaxy M52 5G (25W)
    50%
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    50%
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    49%
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    40%
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    33%
  • Sony Xperia 10 III (Sony 30W PD)
    28%

Time to full charge (from 0%)

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (45W)
    0:59h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (45W)
    1:01h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+ (25W)
    1:02h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (65W PD)
    1:02h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22
    1:03h
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (25W)
    1:04h
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (25W)
    1:10h
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (25W PD)
    1:13h
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
    1:13h
  • Samsung Galaxy A72
    1:15h
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G
    1:15h
  • Samsung Galaxy M52 5G (25W)
    1:19h
  • Apple iPhone 13 mini
    1:24h
  • Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G
    1:28h
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    1:28h
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 (25W)
    1:30h
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    1:30h
  • Apple iPhone 13 Pro (20W Apple)
    1:38h
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    1:46h
  • Apple iPhone 13
    1:46h
  • Sony Xperia 1 III
    1:50h
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    1:50h
  • Sony Xperia 10 III (Sony 30W PD)
    2:30h

Having said all that, the Galaxy S22 falls in line perfectly with recent Samsung charging expectations - you can expect to get the phone from dead to a bit over 60% in 30 minutes, and a full charge takes a bit over an hour. As evident from the table, that is basically true for most recent Galaxy phones, except for models from the Z Fold and Z Flip series that have two separate battery packs to charge on the inside.

We tested the Galaxy S22 with an official Samsung 25W charger (EP-TA800) - the one that some sellers and carriers are actually bundling with the S22, although Samsung does not include it in the package. This is actually an older charger model. Though, having already tested the S22+ and the S22 Ultra, the older Samsung 45W, and the new 45W ones, we can mostly conclude that any of the Galaxy S22 trio charges in a bit over an hour from 0%. As simple and consistent as that.

Speakers

The Galaxy S22 has a hybrid stereo setup with its amplified earpiece acting as the second channel. It's a common way of doing things. It scored a "Good" loudness rating in our testing, just narrowly missing the cutoff point for the Very Good mark.

In practical terms, it is about as loud as the Galaxy S22+ and pretty much identical to last year's Galaxy S21. We are always happy to see consistency. Samsung did a decent job balancing the two speakers, but there is only so much that can be done given their major difference in size, both internally with the earpiece barely having an echo chamber, as well as the size of their output "holes", for lack of a better term.

Samsung Galaxy S22 review

The bottom speaker produces most of the sound with a wider sound stage and better frequency response. Without purposefully covering any of the two, though, the setup sounds really impressive in practice.

The vanilla S22 is tuned similarly to its S22+ sibling in terms of actual sound quality. It offers a slightly tighter response curve than last-gen S21 flagships with a nice and wide sound stage. We tend to like how the S22 sounds a bit better compared to the S21. That being said, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro has both handily beat in this department.

In terms of additional options, the S22 is packing Dolby Atmos with general multimedia profiles and a version specifically for games. Both do take away from the max loudness of the phone, though. There is also an equalizer, a UHQ upscaler and Adapt sound that lets you tune the sound to your liking or hearing needs. Separate app sound is a particularly nifty trick that lets you play the sound from just a given app on a separate audio device like a Bluetooth speaker or headset while the phone is free to play other audio.

Use the Playback controls to listen to the phone sample recordings (best use headphones). We measure the average loudness of the speakers in LUFS. A lower absolute value means a louder sound. A look at the frequency response chart will tell you how far off the ideal "0db" flat line is the reproduction of the bass, treble, and mid frequencies. You can add more phones to compare how they differ. The scores and ratings are not comparable with our older loudspeaker test. Learn more about how we test here.

Reader comments

  • Nicknack
  • 18 Jul 2022
  • aXR

People who don't use screen protectors and people with soft and moist hands probably won't have any issues with the sensor. So it's all good for most women, children, teenagers and pencil pushers.

  • Vik
  • 16 Jul 2022
  • vGc

It works perfectly fine in my phone, pretty fast. Even in this review he mentioned it.

  • Nicknack
  • 14 Jul 2022
  • 8we

Do NOT buy the S22. I repeat, Do NOT buy the S22. It is riddled with problems and the HW sucks as well. 1. Rubbish fingerprint sensor (even if you put your finger in the right place, which is a challenge, it rarely works) 2. Rubbish picture quali...