Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: it could have been PERFECT, but instead ..

Okay, I know, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra might look anything but bold. Aesthetically, it's pretty much identical to the older Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, does everything you'd expect from a Galaxy (or a Note?), Is well built, fast, has the best cameras currently out there in a smartphone, and has basically been eliminated. the bump chamber. But so far, there is really something daring poco.

In reality, however, the wait for the first processor equipped with a graphics chip made in collaboration with AMD was enormous, especially among the most passionate, but the arrival of the Exynos 2200 with the Xclipse 920 GPU integrated in all the new Galxy S22 it was received without much fanfare.

Yet, after centuries of Mali and Adreno, the arrival of a new graphics processor animated by a new technology, called RDNA 2, which could be "compared" to those of the new game consoles is one of those innovations that should be told, is a novelty that could change the world of mobile gaming, but it is a novelty that not even Samsung itself has emphasized that much.

And there is a reason, and how. For this the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it is a bold smartphone (at least in the Exynos version sold by us), but at the same time it is a smartphone that needs time to demonstrate its full potential.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: giving it time will be (almost) perfect

Design and materials

From the point of view of the forms, the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Note 20 Ultra are practically nil. The edges of the new smartphone from Samsung are rounded, the upper and lower frame instead have a clean cut, the S-Pen is positioned on the left side, the structure is in metal and on the back a Gorilla Glass Victus glass has been used with an effect very nice to look at, which makes it practically immune to fingerprints but which also makes it more slippery.

I don't like using smartphones with covers, but with a product like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra using a protection becomes almost essential, especially to increase the grip of the handle which, otherwise, could be rather uncomfortable, also because it is 163,3 x 77,9 x 8,9 mm large and weighs 227g.

Those of Samsung Then, have done a great job of totally eliminating the camera bump, in favor of four single cameras set in the rear body, consisting of a main one, an ultra wide angle, a 3x optical zoom and a 10x periscope zoom.

The volume rocker is on the right, as is the power button, but if the latter is positioned at a practically perfect height, it will be difficult to adjust the volume of the device using it with only one hand.

Obviously as well as all the other members of the family, even the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it is resistant to water and dust and is IP68 certified, and the whole front area is occupied by the fantastic (and giant) 6.8-inch display protected by a Gorilla Glass Victus.

And I'll immediately answer two of the questions you wrote to me on Instagram: no, the screen does not have a pre-installed protective film and no, although those from Samsung have done a good job of optimizing the thickness of the upper and lower bezels. So, still no symmetrical front bezels.

Display

There's no need to go around it: when it comes to displays, Samsung is never wrong. The panel used in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a Dynamic AMOLED 2x with a resolution of 1440 × 3080 pixels, 6.8 inches large and with a 24-bit color depth. This is an LTPO 2.0 panel which, on paper, should be able to handle a variable refresh rate from 1Hz to 120Hz but which, as we shall see, works a little differently.

But let's think about image quality and brightness first. Remember last year's Galaxy S21 Ultra screen and its great peak 1500 nits? Here, forget them: the display of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it is able to reach an even higher peak brightness, which can reach 1750 nits. Basically it is a lighthouse that can be used at night, if necessary.

It can be used at maximum refresh rate and maximum resolution at the same time, and is one of the best panels I have tried in this early 2022. The images are sharp, the colors well balanced, the deep blacks and it has an excellent contrast ratio. . There is the always-on and all the customization features to which Samsung has accustomed its users are integrated and the minimum brightness problem that I encountered in the old generations of devices produced by the South Korean giant has been corrected: both in Note 20 Ultra that in S21 Ultra, even if the brightness was set to the minimum, the light produced was still a lot, and in dark places there was a risk that the eyes would get tired, while the panel of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in our tests it even managed to reach 2 nits with the brightness at minimum.

As for the variable refresh rate, even with this Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra worth the story we saw with OnePlus 10 Pro (review here), Xiaomi Mi 12 Ultra (review here) and all the smartphones we tested with LTPO 2.0 displays. In fact, none of these devices have ever managed to hit a 1Hz refresh rate. Furthermore, the refresh rate is directly related to the brightness.

With Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra however, the management of the variable refresh rate is better managed: even at low brightness, the display is able to drop to around 24 Hz, while most of the devices equipped with the same technology generally stopped at 60 Hz.

Hardware and Performance

And now let's get to the point, but first a premise: gaming has always been within the DNA of all Galaxy and, if you remember, some devices even gave away skins for Fortnite. Here, let's say that right now the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it is not the smartphone to buy to play. But first things first.

Unlike other markets, such as the US where the new Galaxy S22 have a Snap 8 Gen. 1, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (as well as its younger brothers) is animated by the new Exynos 2200 which, let's face it immediately, is a worthy evolution of the previous generation and is able to guarantee overall good performance, especially in relation to temperatures.

What is totally new, however, is that after years of Adreno and Mali, with the new smartphones from Samsung comes a new GPU that integrates a new technology from AMD. And no, it is not the first time that AMD has worked on a graphics standard for mobile devices, because the ADRENO technology itself is the daughter of the brand (have you ever noticed that ADRENO is the anagram of RADEON?).

Now, the point is this, in a world as fragmented as Android's, in producing a GPU with a new architecture like the Xclipse 920 that uses RDNA 2 technology, it might be a gamble not to be taken. poco. Because yes, this GPU promises to introduce hardware Raytracing also in smartphones together with the Variable Rate Shading (VRS), but for now it is not even able to run Call Of Duty Mobile in high resolution.

The problem therefore lies in compatibility, poco but sure. But also in the management that currently “slows” the Xclipse: the working frequencies of the GPU in the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for example, they are set on different fixed levels and if you could get to peaks of 1.3 Ghz clock, then the speed is immediately dropped (probably for a matter of temperatures).

And the same conservative management of the GPU can also be found in the Exynos: especially in the AnTuTu stress test it is quite clear how those of Samsung have decided to "cut" the legs of the processor, braking the performance of the CPU to avoid overheating. And I'll tell you: contrary to what you might think, they did well.

Because the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra they are very fast and suitable for any operation you could ask a smartphone, certainly numerically we are a tad bit below the numbers obtained with the Snap 8 Gen. 1 (especially those of the iQOO 9 Pro) but at the same time that phenomenon is not present of excessive overheating that we have seen in the other Exynos smartphones or in the 8 Gen. 1.

In short, Samsung with AMD has started a path, which is held back in evolution by the need to keep games and apps compatible with all the (many) models on sale. To date, the vast majority of games are still developed in OpenGL and there are still a few that use the Vulkan API which, among other things, have only introduced ray tracing for about a year and it has not yet been used by anyone.

The point is that in the Android world everything is developed to make apps and games work even with low-end smartphones (and this is a big limitation), and to be able to exploit the full potential of the GPU produced in collaboration with AMD it would be necessary seamless low-level integration with the operating system.

In a nutshell, the graphics of these S22s are still a work in progress, with the hope that at least the most important titles (such as CoD Mobile) will at least be made usable with the new South Korean smartphones.

But now let's get our feet back on the ground and think about the rest. From the point of view of connectivity, the most important innovation introduced by the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is support for WiFi 6E networks, which greatly speeds up the connection speed with compatible routers. The audio in the capsule is good, as is the reception of the cellular signal, although I have noticed that in some places where the iPhone connects in 5G, the Samsung remains stationary at 4G + for a few moments.

The audio is stereo and uses the ear capsule: it has a good spatial effect, but the frequency balance is aimed more at the highs than at the lows. In short, qualitatively it is a little lower than what we found in the Xiaomi 12 Pro.

Then there is a new S-Pen, which does not integrate any significant news other than a net decrease in latency time: it goes from 9 ms of the Note 20 Ultra to just 2.8 ms and even if it is microscopic times, the the difference is impressive and is noticeable even in everyday use.

Camera

As for the camera sector, I am of the idea that more than in the hardware with this one Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra the company has made great strides in software development. The main camera uses a 3 megapixel Samsung Isocell HM108 sensor, with an f / 1.8 lens equivalent to a 23mm, which is flanked by an ultra-wide 13 megapixel lens with f / 2.2 lens equivalent to a 13 mm, a 3x tele and a 10x periscope both with 10 megapixels.

And although the last two have a slightly smaller sensor than the one used in last year's S21 Ultra (moving from the Samsung S5K3J1 to the Sono IMX754), the photographs taken are significantly superior, especially thanks to the software processing.

In conditions of good brightness, the photos taken with all the lenses are of a very high quality, with excellent management of the dynamic range, a good balance of colors and without being too influenced by the excessive saturation typical of the company's devices. You can also shoot at 108 megapixels using an AI optimization system that improves the details of the photos, but Samsung has made the real steps forward with the periscopic zoom that is able to give excellent shots in 10x, clearly superior to previous generations. .

In short, the camera of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best expression of Samsung in this sector, and undoubtedly represents the most complete and quality sector of the entire market. And the same quality is also found in night shots: again thanks to the excellent software processing, it is possible to take fantastic shots at night, even in zero light conditions, freehand and above all also using the 10x periscope zoom. In a nutshell, even at night the photos taken with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra they are a cut above all other smartphones.

Good videos, which can be recorded up to 8k, and which enjoy excellent image stabilization with all three lenses, on average the 40 megapixel front camera, which however in some cases could take rather selfies " plates ”in terms of depth of field.

Software

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is animated by Android 12 customized by One UI 4.1. And even if the new version of Android has actually revolutionized the graphic experience with Material You, in the new Samsung smartphone the interface is very similar to what we have already seen in previous versions. The graphics, the icons, the functionalities are mostly the same. And the features associated with the S-Pen are also the usual, with which it is also possible to take advantage of the Air Gestures and all the utilities we have seen in the Notes.

However, this is not a bug-free GUI: everything always flows very quickly and the lags are practically non-existent, but (for example) with the application of Idealo a rather particular bug occurs when you try to move it to the home. In a nutshell, with a long tap on the app icon, the display turns off and the One UI restarts. This does not happen with the same app in the other smartphones we have tested.

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Battery and recharge

The battery of Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it's a 5000 mAh that is worth discussing a bit. Using the smartphone setting the maximum processing power, the maximum resolution and the maximum refresh rate, I was able to get to poco more than 1 hour and a half of display on. So, even if the company gives you the possibility, I suggest you always use the "Optimized" item in the performance selection section (it is present in the battery section).

Using this setting, but always at maximum resolution and refresh rate, with Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra I arrived at about 5 and a half hours of display on, with average use and not too stressful.

As for charging, support for fast charging at 45w is back, but there is no charger in the package. Wireless charging is 15w and reverse wireless charging is also present.

Price, promotions and considerations

The sale price of Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra starts at 1279,00 euros for the 8/128 version, a figure that reaches 1379,00 euros for the 12/256 version and 1489 euros for the 12/512 version. There is also another model, exclusively on the Samsung Store, which costs 1689 euros and which integrates 12 GB of RAM and 1 TB of internal memory.

Users who will purchase the Galaxy S22 Ultra between February 9 and March 10 they will receive for free the earphones Galaxy Buds Pro, after registering the device on the platform Samsung Members. Furthermore, by purchasing the super flagship by 10 March it is possible to have a super evaluation of your used smartphone.

Now, the point is this: I don't understand why in Europe and the UK Samsung wanted to continue differentiating the processor used in its Galaxy. Because if the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra sold by us had it been animated by a Snap 8 like in the United States, I would not have thought twice about recommending it, but with the Exynos and (above all) with the new GPU things get quite complicated.

Don't get me wrong though: Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra it is one of the best smartphones ever in terms of camera, materials, construction process and display, but you cannot turn a blind eye to the compatibility problem that holds back the GPU. The new Exynos 2200 will not do as many as the Snap 8 Gen. 1, but personally I prefer it in terms of stability and temperature management, but buying such a smartphone and not being able to immediately use the most popular games is something that can put definitely a spanner in the works at Samsung.

In short, I certainly would not have demanded Ray Tracing immediately, but that Samsung should have made sure that at least the most played titles were at least executable like what happens with a Snapdragon, and it is a real shame to have a GPU available with these potential and not being able to use it immediately. If, on the other hand, gaming doesn't interest you, then Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best choice you could make at the moment.




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