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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the new big dog in the pack of Android smartphones. While Samsung renewed the whole Galaxy S line this year, The S22 Ultra is a special update that resurfaces the forlorn Galaxy Note series at the same time.

The S21 Ultra again, or is it a Note?

The phone’s design shows that it’s just as much a Galaxy Note as it is an Ultra variant of the Galaxy S series. With the Ultra starting at $1,199 – and up to $1,599 for the 1TB model – Samsung continues to charge premium prices for this phone, so it’s all the more important to make sure you’re getting a superior device when so many other quality phones are available for so much less.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra – Design and Features

While the rest of the Galaxy S22 lineup more or less stuck to last year’s design formula, the Galaxy S22 Ultra finds a middle ground with some cues from the Galaxy S series and some from the Note series.

Most notably, it has a flat top and bottom with squared-off corners, but it maintains rounded sides with a display that curves right into them. The camera modules on the back all come in individual silos instead of a unified camera bump.

Samsung has once again used its Armor Aluminum for the frame, which feels quite robust, especially with the larger blocks at the top and bottom and fairly thick strips along the sides. Samsung furthers the protection with updated Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the front and back, which hasn’t shown noticeable blemishing in my time testing the phone.

IP68 water and dust resistance is also on deck and fairly standard for phones in the class. The built-in S Pen stylus also gets that iP68 rating. Samsung notes that the phone can hold out in water at depths of five feet for up to 30 minutes, which is considerably shy of the bar Apple sets with resistance down to six meters (almost 20 feet) with the iPhone 13.

Aside from the few style changes and the inclusion of the built-in S-Pen, there’s not much to see on the Galaxy S22 Ultra that hasn’t already been seen on Samsung’s recent phones. There’s a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a variable refresh rate from 1 to 120Hz and a peak brightness of 1,750 nits.

That isn’t all that different from the display offered by the S21 Ultra, which had a 10 to 120Hz refresh rate range and a still plenty-bright peak of 1,500 nits. The S21 Ultra’s screen was also actually sharper with a 3,200 x 1,440 resolution while the newer model lands at 3,088 x 1,440. Also worth noting that the Galaxy S21 Ultra supported S-Pen input even though it didn’t have a built-in slot.

I can’t deny that the display on the S22 Ultra is stunning. It’s easy to see in broad daylight, and wonderfully rich for cinematic content like Netflix’s Silent Sea, which benefited from the pitch black of the OLED panel.

Samsung has introduced a Vision Booster feature that may bug image purists though, as it dynamically changes the look of the screen depending on ambient conditions, and it can noticeably change the appearance of colors.

The S-Pen is an occasionally handy little extra for the phone. It’s easy to get in and out of the silo, though not so much as to easily lose it. Writing on the display is incredibly responsive, though it’s a bit odd writing on such smooth glass.

The stylus supports handwriting and doodling in a number of apps and can write directly into text fields to have it transcribed. An extra useful feature of the S-Pen is its ability to double as a remote shutter for the camera.

As stylish and pleasing to look at as the phone is, it’s pretty much just as unwieldy and heavy in the hand as the S21 Ultra was. It’s also not bringing much else new. It has a 5,000mAh battery, 5G support, Bluetooth 5.2, Wi-Fi 6E, an under-display fingerprint scanner, and no microSD slot or 3.5mm jack in sight – just the same as the S21 Ultra. Though this model supports theoretically faster 45W charging (with a charger Samsung hasn’t included), Samsung had previously topped the S21 Ultra out at 25W charging speeds and explained to TechRadar last year that it was optimized in a way that the increase to 45W wouldn’t matter, making for a dubious re-introduction of 45W charging here.

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