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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra unveiled — The Galaxy Note is reborn

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra arrived at Galaxy Unpacked 2022 today, and just as many rumors suggested, Samsung's top-tier flagship may as well be the Galaxy S22 Note Ultra rising like the phoenix from the ashes of the Galaxy Note line. 

The S22 Ultra brings an integrated S Pen to a Galaxy S for the first time and some bold design cues from the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. A new 4nm processor and dramatically faster-charging round out the notable updates, but is that enough to allow Samsung to keep its spot among the best smartphones

Here's a closer look at the reimagined Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra price and availability

Despite the Note-like upgrade, the Galaxy S22 Ultra matches the starting price of its predecessor at $1,199. That is for the base model with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. Upgrading to 256GB, 512GB or 1TB of storage also bumps your RAM to 12GB.

Galaxy S22 Ultra pre-orders start today (February 9) on Samsung.com, along with major retailers and carriers. If you order before the phone ships on February 25, you are eligible for a free upgrade to the next storage tier, up to $200 Samsung Credit and up to 25% off a Galaxy Tab 8.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra specs

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Display6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic Super AMOLED 2X with adaptive 120Hz
CPU4nm Octa-core
RAM8 or 12GB
Storage128/256/512GB or 1TB
Cameras (Rear)108MP f/1.8 wide angle, 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide, 10MP f/2.4 3x telephoto, 10MP f/4.9 10x telephoto
Camera (Front)40MP f/2.2
Battery5,000mAh
Dimensions6.4 x 3 x 0.35 inches
Weight8.08 ounces

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra design

The Galaxy S22 Ultra design will wash away the pain that mourning Galaxy Note fans have felt for the last year as it is unmistakable as the successor to the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The matte finish on the back curves beautifully into the waterfall display. The flat top and bottom of the phone starkly contrast with a shiny metallic finish, and of course, the base houses the silo for the S Pen with its clickable color-matched top.

Gone is the Contour Cut Camera housing Samsung introduced last year and that still defines the look of the Galaxy S22 and S22+. The Galaxy S22 Ultra's exposed camera lenses give it a much bolder industrial look; we'll have to see how that feels in use. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra rear casing

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung gives you a quartet of color options on the Galaxy S22 Ultra with Phantom Black, Phantom White, and Green returning this year, while the debuting signature option is a deep Burgundy that resembles a richer version of the Mystic Bronze from a couple of years ago.

Outside of some jewel-encrusted nonsense from Vertu, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was perhaps the most luxurious-looking premium phone that I've ever held, so I'm thrilled to see its spiritual and physical successor return in the S22 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra display

The Galaxy S22 Ultra features a 6.8-inch QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X adaptive 120Hz display. Those basic specs are unchanged from last year, but it does include some updates, with Samsung claiming a peak brightness of 1,750 nits with enhanced Vision Booster technology to help manage brightness. 

The LTPO panel again allows it to scale the refresh rate from 1Hz up to 120Hz depending on the content on your display, meaning you get both the best performance and the best efficiency. 

We'll need to test the display to see how it stacks up against the competition, but Samsung's dominance in the mobile display market is virtually unquestioned. Hence many of its competitors using Samsung displays, so we have little doubt it will once again be outstanding. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra cameras

Samsung's cameras in the Galaxy S21 Ultra were an absolute standout from the 108MP primary wide-angle to the 10x optical telephoto zoom. So while it is somewhat disappointing to see the same sensors return this year, it remains an array that would be the envy of most other flagship phones.

That 108MP f/1.8 wide-angle with its massive 2.4um pixels will still allow for excellent low-light photos and video from the primary sensor. Unlike many competitors, Samsung allows you to use that full resolution if you prefer, giving you considerable flexibility with editing. Samsung backs this up with software and the Expert RAW app giving you a level of control over your images typically reserved for DSLRs and the ability to save up to 16bit RAW images. 

The 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide is probably the weakest link in the chain for the Galaxy S22 Ultra, particularly when compared to the upgraded iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max f/1.8 ultra-wide. It should again be capable of solid photos in daylight, but it simply can't compare to Apple's ultra-wide in low-light.

While many other flagships compare favorably to the 3x optical telephoto zoom at f/2.4, the 10x optical zoom at f/4.9 remains a cut above the rest. It allows you to capture photos on the Galaxy S22 Ultra that no other phone touches. 

Though the hardware is unchanged, Samsung claims improvements to the software will deliver improved results, particularly with its new Nightography mode, Samsung's branding for its low-light photo mode. Samsung should also retain its lead in videography among Android manufacturers.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen

The S Pen is the most significant change coming to the Galaxy S22 Ultra this year. For longtime Galaxy Note fans, the S Pen hardware doesn't look any different than what you had with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, but it does feature some enhancements. Latency is down 70% versus using the S Pen with the S21 Ultra last year. 

Time will tell how Galaxy S Ultra fans respond to the inclusion of the S Pen, it's an incredible tool for creative and productivity work, as we'll explore in our review, but it may be a learning curve for those that passed on the Galaxy Note line in the past.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra battery and charging

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra boasts a 5,000mAh battery, matching most other top-tier flagships. We'll have to see if the new 4nm processor and further software optimizations allow it to improve over the already solid battery life of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

While the battery size didn't change, Samsung did upgrade fast charging on the Galaxy S22 Ultra with up to 45W compared to 25W last year. Though this may not challenge competitors like OnePlus or Xiaomi, it dramatically outperforms Apple's 20W "fast charging." 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Outlook

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the first true flagship of 2022, and while several features carry over from last year's Galaxy S21 Ultra, the introduction of the S Pen, the new 4nm processor, the dramatically upgraded fast-charging and other minor hardware and software upgrades are a pretty compelling package.

For Galaxy Note fans, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is going to seem like a sunbeam has burst through the clouds and delivered you from the perpetual twilight of your previously Note-less world. For Galaxy S Ultra fans, this is a far less compelling update; particularly those with the Galaxy S21 Ultra should feel comfortable that there is likely little reason to update. 

Of course, the on-paper breakdown of the phone can only tell us so much; we can't wait to get the Galaxy S22 Ultra in our hands and put its capabilities to the test. 

Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more.  Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.