Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

GSMArena Team, 25 February 2022.

OneUI 4.1 over Android 12, familiar S Pen functionality

The Galaxy S22 Ultra runs Android 12 with a thick layer of familiar and generally liked OneUI on top. Samsung's custom overlay is in its 4.1 version on the S22s, the number after the decimal being there more to make you feel superior to the S21s and their 4.0 software, rather than making significant changes. Naturally, this being a Note of sorts, it gets a healthy helping of S Pen related functionality. Let's start with that.

The S Pen is essentially the same unit as found on the Note20 Ultra and has those capabilities, plus a couple more. One of the new additions is called Quick Note and lets you add entire webpages as scrapbook items in Samsung Note. We ran into a few issues with cookie consent popups that would show up several times in the captured note, but if you're not in Europe, you should mostly be fine. Quick Note works with the Samsung Internet browser and not with third-party ones, however.

Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Quick Note - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Quick Note

The other new addition is called Collaboration View and it lets you use Samsung Notes on the S22 Ultra together with a Galaxy tablet. This mode turns the phone into your tool palette and the tablet is freed from that duty and only serves as a canvas.

This new generation of S Pen-having Galaxy also brings support for handwriting recognition for an additional 12 languages, bringing the total to 88. We can imagine this is just a Samsung Notes capability that will eventually become available on the S21 Ultra and the Note20 Ultra, at least.

This list has grown to 88 languages - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Handwriting regognition - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Handwriting regognition - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
This list has grown to 88 languages • Handwriting regognition

Samsung Notes is where you get to benefit from the new S Pen's improved latency. Introduced on the Note20 Ultra, AI point prediction is a feature that analyzes your S Pen input and anticipates where your writing may lead you so it's ready to fire up those pixels in 9ms, a substantial improvement over the 42ms of older Notes. The Galaxy S21 Ultra got those same 9ms. The S22 Ultra, on the other hand, brings that figure to as low as 2.8ms. Now, we'll have to take Samsung's word on those numbers, but side-by-side comparisons do make the S22 Ultra feel that little bit faster.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

The S Pen on the S22 Ultra is an active one and it has a battery inside as well as a gyro, an accelerometer and Bluetooth connectivity for communicating with the phone without immediate proximity. This enables Air actions - a set of gestures that can be set to execute actions in various apps including the Gallery and browsers (Samsung's own, but also Chrome), but perhaps most usefully - the Camera. Then again, we'd say button presses are a lot easier to master than the gestures, which we reckon take some dedicated effort to learn and put to use.

Air actions - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air actions - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air actions - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air actions - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air actions - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Air actions

Staples of S Pen functionality are here to stay, of course. Screen-off memo lets you just pull out the stylus when the phone is in standby and go right ahead and write a note on the black screen.

When you pull out the S Pen with the phone unlocked, the Air command menu appears (that's the default setting, you can turn it off). There are pre-set shortcuts here, which you can customize, and those can be either S Pen features or shortcuts to apps.

Screen off memo - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review S Pen settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review More settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Behavior upon removal - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air command - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air command settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Screen off memo • S Pen settings • More settings • Behavior upon removal • Air command • Air command settings

Advanced screenshot capture is one of the S Pen's main use cases. Smart select allows you to take differently shaped screenshots, extract text from them, or pin them on the screen. Alternatively, you can create short GIF animations. Then there's Screen write that takes a fullscreen snap that you can write on with the full set of different pens and brushes (and then crop, if you will). Screen Translate can translate single words into a pre-selected language if you just hover over them.

Screenshots and related functionality: Smart select - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Screenshots and related functionality: Smart select - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Screenshots and related functionality: Save link - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Screenshots and related functionality: Screen write - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Screenshots and related functionality: Translate - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Screenshots and related functionality: Smart select • Smart select • Save link • Screen write • Translate

There are numerous other smaller use cases for the S Pen as part of the Air view set of actions. For, example, you can hover over an image in the gallery for an enlarged preview, or over a calendar entry for more details. You can also scroll up and down by hovering the S-Pen over the edge of the screen.

Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Air view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Air view

Insert the S Pen back into its slot and the S22 Ultra becomes a Galaxy like any other. The lock screen looks the same as before with two monochrome shortcuts - dialer and camera.

The under-display fingerprint reader will likely be the primary method of unlocking for most, but you can still use face unlock either instead of or alongside it. It can be more convenient in certain situations, but it generally is less secure since it's just using the selfie camera, meaning tricking it isn't too hard.

Always-on display is available - it's the simplified version from One UI 3. You can choose between a few clock styles or opt for an Image Clock. Music info is also supported. The feature can be always-off, always-on, scheduled, shown only when new notifications are available, or you can opt for tap to show for 10s.

Lockscreen - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Lockscreen settings - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Clock style - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Always-on display options - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Lockscreen • Lockscreen settings • Clock style • Always-on display options

OneUI 4.1 looks even cleaner than v.3.x, but the basics remain the same - there are homescreen, widgets, notification center, task switcher and an app drawer.

OneUI 4.1: Homescreen - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review OneUI 4.1: Folder view - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review OneUI 4.1: App drawer - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review OneUI 4.1: Task Switcher - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review OneUI 4.1: Notifications - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review OneUI 4.1: Quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
OneUI 4.1: Homescreen • Folder view • App drawer • Task Switcher • Notifications • Quick toggles

Samsung's Smart Widgets can combine a few different pieces of data and take up less space. They are also much more customizable. The Samsung keyboard is now even more feature-rich and customizable than ever with the inclusion of more emoji and stickers.

Smart Widgets - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Smart Widgets - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review New emoji - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Stickers too - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Smart Widgets • Smart Widgets • New emoji • Stickers too

One of the new One UI 4 features is Color Palettes, an implementation of the vanilla Android 12's Wallpaper colors. There are usually four Color Palette suggestions in addition to the default One UI Blue/Black one. Those are picked automatically by the software, depending on your current wallpaper. The color you choose will become the main one in the newly created theme (think Windows' "accent color").

These accent colors are applied on the dialer, the quick toggles, and other tiny UI bits. You can choose to apply them to the app icons as well.

Color palettes - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Color palettes - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Color palettes - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Color palettes - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Color palettes - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Color palettes

The Settings menu contains a new Privacy Dashboard. Here you can easily see which apps are using some of the most important (for privacy) permissions. You can control the camera and control access across apps, opt for clipboard access alerts (useful if you copy passwords, social security numbers, IBANs, among others), and there is, of course, a full-blown permission manager of you like to dig deeper.

Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Privacy Dashboard - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Privacy Dashboard

You get a whole bunch of options for using your Galaxy with other devices to enable various use cases. DeX is the proprietary feature that lets you use the phone as the 'computer' and add a monitor and a keyboard for a productivity boost - it works wirelessly or over HDMI.

Alternatively, the Link to Windows feature provides you with an interface to your phone from your computer so you can exchange images, manage notifications on your PC or even make calls from it.

Another option along those lines but with more limited potential is Continue apps on other devices. This requires you to be logged in to your Samsung account on both devices, hook them up to the same Wi-Fi network with Bluetooth enabled and use Samsung Internet browser or Samsung Notes. You'll then be able to copy and paste text and images across and open the same tabs in the browser.

DeX - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Continue apps on other devices - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Link to Windows - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Link to Windows - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
DeX • Continue apps on other devices • Link to Windows

Other long-time proprietary Samsung features include the Edge panels - the panes that show up when you swipe in from the side and provide tools and shortcuts to apps and contacts. Game launcher, the hub for all your games, which also provides options for limiting distraction when gaming is here to stay as well. There's an in-house browser (Samsung Internet), which is instrumental to a lot of the advanced S Pen capabilities, as well as a reasonably powerful File manager. The Samsung Gallery also somehow still persists.

Edge panel - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Game Launcher - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Internet - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review File manager - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review Gallery - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
Edge panel • Game Launcher • Internet • File manager • Gallery

Performance and benchmarks

The Galaxy S22 generation maintains the same duality in chipset configuration that has been the source of academic arguments for years on end - handsets in some regions get a Snapdragon SoC, others are equipped with an in-house Exynos. This year, however, there appear to be changes in who gets what, with the most notable shift being the move from Exynos to Snapdragon for the Indian market. Our review unit has the Samsung chip inside, as is normally the case.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

Both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Exynos 2200 are manufactured on a 4nm production process and feature octa-core CPUs with the same base 1+3+4 core configuration. In either case you'd be getting one Cortex-X2 prime core, three Cortex-A710 cores and four Cortex-A510 with minor differences in the clock rate caps.

More principal differences can be found in the graphics department, where the Exynos variant's Xclipse 920 GPU is based on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture. Xclipse (very original use of the X)  features ray tracing for life-like rendition of light as well as variable rate shading (VRS) for optimal resource allocation across the image (prioritizing performance in parts of the image that are important over ones that you may not even see). The Adreno 720 in the Snapdragon variant supports VRS too, but lacks ray tracing capability.

Both chipsets feature advanced connectivity options, including built-in 5G modems, Wi-Fi 6e, and dual-band GPS. Latest-gen AI engines on either chip promise AI improvements that are hard to quantify, but Qualcomm says this one is 4x faster than their previous one, while Samsung only claims 2x.

Easier to comprehend are the memory options and those start from a base (and way too basic, we might add) 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage and go up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, with some sources pointing to a 16GB RAM version as well. Our review unit is a more reasonable 12GB/256GB spec.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review

We have yet to test Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 devices, so we'll be comparing the S22 Ultra and its Exynos 2200 to last-gen silicon for the time being. When it comes to CPU performance as measured in GeekBench, the 2200 isn't a massive leap forward, but it does manage to add a few points on top of the S21 Ultra's results in both single-core and multi-core testing. The S22+ isn't quite at the Ultra level either. Naturally, the two-year-old SoC in the Note20 Ultra is lagging behind. The SD888-equipped Zenfone 8 Flip is just barely ahead under multi-threaded load, a moderately surprising and not all that favorable outcome for the Galaxy.

 

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      3673
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      3657
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      3636
  •   Galaxy S22+
      3528
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      3521
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      3518
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      3469
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      3294
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      3244
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      3239
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      3191
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      3145
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      2603

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      1180
  •   Galaxy S22+
      1165
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      1126
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      1126
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      1126
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      1117
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      1109
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      1107
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      1106
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      1105
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      1095
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      988
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      880

The Ultra does take a more noticeable lead over last year's models in Antutu, where the improvements in GPU performance start to be felt. Again, the Plus is a notch below the Ultra.

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      968359
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      940400
  •   Galaxy S22+
      886916
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      837833
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      797484
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      794016
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      786215
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      752218
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      735588
Switching over to GFXBench and looking at the offscreen results to examine how the raw power of the Xclipse 920 compares to last year's efforts, we're seeing 10-20% higher scores than the S21 Ultra (whether Exynos or Snapdragon) and 35-50% improved numbers compared to the Note20 Ultra. 

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      32
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      31
  •   Galaxy S22+
      31
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      28
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      28
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      28
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      27
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      27
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      26
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      25
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      22
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      22
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      20

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      35
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      34
  •   Galaxy S22+
      34
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      31
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      31
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      31
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      30
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      29
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      29
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      28
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      25
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      23
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      19

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      76
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      76
  •   Galaxy S22+
      76
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      70
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      70
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      69
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      69
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      66
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      66
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      64
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      64
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      57
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      55
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      50

In the onscreen tests the S22 Ultra puts up class-leading performance with its display set to 1080p, while the 1440p setting inevitably causes a significant drop in fps numbers, though there's still a measurable advantage over last year's model.

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      51
  •   Galaxy S22+
      50
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      41
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      40
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      34
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      31
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      30
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      27
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      25
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      25
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      24
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      24
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      23
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      23

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22+
      51
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      46
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      45
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      42
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      34
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      29
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      27
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      26
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      26
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      25
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      25
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      23
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      20
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      18

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1080p)
      69
  •   Galaxy S22+
      68
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      62
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      59
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      51
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      44
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G
      42
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      38
  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      37
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      36
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      34
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      33
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      33
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      33

In 3DMark's Wild Life test the S22 Ultra and S22+ show a substantial 30% increase in scores, compared to the 2021 flagship crop.

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  •   Galaxy S22 Ultra (1440p)
      7437
  •   Galaxy S22+
      7405
  •   OnePlus 9 Pro
      5701
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
      5691
  •   Asus Zenfone 8 Flip
      5677
  •   Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra
      5676
  •   Huawei P50 Pro
      5651
  •   Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
      5635
  •   Asus ROG Phone 5s Pro
      5556
  •   Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      5547
  •   vivo X70 Pro+
      5332
  •   Galaxy Note20 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
      4194

The S22 Ultra has a lot of thought put into cooling its internals. Gel TIM (almost like gelatin) is the name they came up with for the thermal interface material applied on top of the SoC, which provides up to 3.5x improved heat transfer compared to what's used on the S21 Ultra. The Nano TIM on top of it helps move heat faster into the stainless steel vapor chamber, which then dissipates it over a wide-area graphite sheet.

This does a good enough job, apparently, at least given the circumstances, since the phone doesn't heat up beyond what we'd consider reasonable, and its body warms up evenly, with no hot spots - to the touch at least.

Having said that, thermal throttling is still a thing on our S22 Ultra. Maximum CPU load over prolonged periods of time leads to a gradual decline in performance and 30mins of non-stop torture will have you looking at around 70% of its maximum results. Still, it's a very reasonable behavior without sharp drops and spikes, so you can count on stable performance. Admittedly, there was a bit of a steeper drop at 40-something minutes in, but the phone did return to the 70-ish percent level a few minutes later.

GPU performance drops more rapidly. In 3DMark, the third run of Wild Life is already at 80% of peak performance (that's three minutes into the 20-minute stress test), and numbers quickly arrive at what appears to be the sustainable 60% mark.

CPU Throttling Test - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review 3DMark Wild Life stress test - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
CPU Throttling Test • 3DMark Wild Life stress test

Overall, the Galaxy S22 Ultra leaves nothing to be desired in terms of performance, as expected from a top-class device. Every flagship smartphone throttles under long-term load and the behavior of the Ultra in such circumstances is well controlled. Not to mention that extreme loading such as in these benchmarks is rarely a thing in the real world.

Reader comments

  • Pmcp
  • 18 hours ago
  • Jf{

I haven't tested it, but from what I've read, for the 45w charging to have an advantage, you need to activate the developers option and enable superfast charging.

Maybe lower the oled screen settings if you want longer battery life, I'm capping mine at 85%

  • Franklin
  • 13 Aug 2022
  • g3t

I have been using Note 10+. The body, display, battery and the camera are the only difference which I could feel. Definitely the best phone in today's world.