If you have a person in your life who’s holding onto an old Galaxy Note in the hopes Samsung will revive its giant flagship phone, today’s the day: Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is here, and it’s a Note in every way but its name. (My mom can finally give up her Galaxy Note 8—hallelujah.)
Samsung just announced a trio of new phones, with the Galaxy S22 and S22+ joining the Ultra, but it’s the latter that’s the highlight of the lineup for its Note-like qualities. Note users loved the old flagship’s gigantic screen, angled corners, and the S Pen. The Ultra has all of that, and more.
I went hands-on with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and its smaller siblings, the Galaxy S22 and S22+, and though I didn’t get to put the phones through their paces (stay tuned for the review), I did get to check out the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s Note-like functions. It’s safe to say that if you’ve been missing the Note, the Ultra checks basically every box.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the largest of the S22 lineup at about 6.4 inches long and a little more than 3 inches wide, which are nearly the exact dimensions of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It comes in several colors, including Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and a rich Burgundy, which you see here in the photos. The deep red is stunning in person.
The Ultra sports a a 6.8-inch Edge QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, which means it’s Samsung-grade gorgeous. It is as crisp and clear as you can imagine in person. The screen also has a 120Hz refresh rate that goes up to a 240Hz touch sampling rate when used in Game Mode.
When it comes to design, Samsung didn’t stray far from the Galaxy Note’s classic look. The rectangular corners set it apart from the Galaxy S22 and S22+, and the built-in S Pen still clicks in and out of the bottom left (which remains a very satisfying experience). Samsung said it improved the latency of the stylus on the S22 Ultra by 70% over the S Pen for last year’s S21 Ultra.
The S Pen is capable of all the same gestures on the S22 Ultra as it was on the Note, including Smart Select, which lets you crop out a portion of the screen and annotate on it, and Air Actions, which allows you to use the S Pen as a remote of sorts. The S22 Ultra’s S Pen also features enhanced Smart Capture abilities, and you can scribble directly into text fields like a URL bar in a browser to navigate around.
The Ultra has a 5,000 mAh battery that charges up to 45W when wired and up to 15W wirelessly. You can also use the Note—sorry, I mean Ultra—like a battery pack to charge another device, like a pair of earbuds. There are also wireless power-sharing capabilities for Qi-enabled devices.
The Ultra packs in a quadruple-lens rear camera array with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens (f/2.2); a 108-MP wide-angle lens with dual-pixel AF, an 85-degree field-of-view, and an f/1.8 aperture; and two 10-MP telephoto lenses, one with a 3x optical zoom, and the other with a 10x optical zoom. The 40-MP front-facing lens seems like overkill for selfies, but I’ll put it to the test.
The Ultra is powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor with either 8GB or 12GB of memory and anywhere from 128GB to 1TB of storage. Note that once you bump up to 256GB of storage, the Ultra gets 12GB of RAM. Basically, this thing looks to be a powerhouse, and I can’t wait to put it through its paces on our benchmarking tests.
The Galaxy S22 and S22+ are for those who don’t want a gigantic rectangle with a built-in stylus.
If you prefer a smaller phone, the Galaxy S22, the smaller of the two, is so comfy to hold with its 6.1-inch FHD+ display, while the Galaxy S22+ is a bit bigger with a 6.6-inch FHD+ display. Both offer a 120Hz refresh rate and can bump up to 240Hz like the Ultra if you’re into gaming. They’re both stylish smartphones and have metal trim around the edges like the S22 Ultra. I preferred the smaller one for my grip.
Like the Ultra, the Galaxy S22 and S22+ are powered by Qualcomm’s latest 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, though both phones are limited to 8GB of memory and up to 256GB of storage space. Their batteries are a little smaller, too. The Galaxy S22 has a 3,700mAh battery, while the Galaxy S22+ has a significantly larger 4,500 mAh battery.
There is also a slight difference in network connectivity. The S22 doesn’t have Wi-Fi 6E or ultra-wideband capabilities so they’re not future-proofed.
The S22 and S22+ both offer a triple-lens rear camera array with a 50-MP wide-angle lens, a 12-MP ultra-wide-angle lens with a 120-degree field of view, and a 10-MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom. The 10-MP front-facing camera seems is underpowered compared to the Ultra, but a little more my speed.
One of the biggest gripes of being a Samsung smartphone user is that its version of Android is different from Google’s. Samsung’s One UI interface has its upsides (and its downsides), but it’s nice when Android flavors offer similar features across devices.
The Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra all run Samsung’s One UI 4 on top of Android 12. And Google has announced some good news: Material You theming is coming to the Galaxy S22 series. The ability wasn’t available on Samsung devices with Android 12 before this, and the result was an interface with a Settings panel that didn’t match the Home screen. You can expect the new phones to come with Material You out of the box, ready to customize.
The Galaxy S22 series will also be the first to introduce live sharing on Google Duo, which lets you do things like watch videos with another person on YouTube and draw together in apps like Jamboard. And Samsung’s new smartphones will be the first to get YouTube video previews in the Google Messages app. These features are coming to other Android phones eventually, except for Android Go edition devices.
The Galaxy S22 will have Voice Access available right out of the box, so you won’t need to download a separate app to tap, scroll, and navigate the different phones with your voice. This is important for accessibility purposes.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 starts at $800, and the Galaxy S22+ starts at $1,000. Both models will be on sale beginning Feb. 25 through the company’s website and select carriers and retailers. Preorders for both devices start today. Samsung is even offering a few deals, including one that saves you $100 on a Galaxy Watch 4, plus 25% off of the Galaxy Tab S8.
Note lovers, you can also preorder the Galaxy S22 Ultra today. It starts at $1,200 and will ship Feb. 25.