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Should you buy… The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra?
26 February 2022, 07:04
What happens when you bring together two popular smartphone lines into a single device for the first time?
Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S Series smartphone is one of the biggest revamps the device has ever been given, as the top-of-the-line Ultra model incorporates features from its sister Note Series range for the first time.
The big-screened, high-end camera system that has always been a signature of the S Series has now been given a power boost and the S-Pen stylus traditionally found in the Note phablet device, which is being phased out to make way for foldables.
But has Samsung’s bringing together of two of its ranges into one device been a success? Let’s take a closer look.
Anyone familiar with a Note device will be pleased with what they find in the S22 Ultra – it has a large 6.8in curved screen with flat panels on the top and bottom which are ever so slightly thicker than your average smartphone.
This is to allow room to store the S-Pen stylus, which is built into an S series device for the first time.
The result is the Ultra looks and feels larger than some other devices, but it is still easy enough to fit into a pocket and hold in the hand and at no point does it ever feel too big, which is a design feat in itself.
Flipping the phone over reveals the new quad-camera system which has been more seamlessly embedded into the device than last year’s S21 range, where the camera bump was substantial and in truth a little unsightly.
The S22 Ultra could not be further from that, with a simple and smart layout that enhances the look of the device rather than hindering it.
The biggest change though is the introduction of that stylus.
Much like previous Note devices, the S-Pen is fitted to the bottom left of the base of the phone, nearly completely flush to the device, bar a slight curve outwards. Users press in on the S-Pen to pop it out and release it.
All the key tools that have made the S-Pen so useful and therefore popular are still here too, including the ability to use it to make air gestures to navigate the phone hands-free, as well as the incredibly handy feature of being able to pop up the S-Pen and take a note even when the device is locked should you want to quickly scribble something down.
In design terms then, the S22 Ultra is a triumph – a successful merging of Samsung’s two biggest smartphone lines to create a new type of flagship that will rightfully intrigue those looking to upgrade and appeal to existing Note fans who have been pining for such a device again.
There are two key components at the heart of the S22 Ultra experience, its camera system and its standing as a productivity device – the aim being to excel at both.
In camera terms, it absolutely meets expectations thanks to the quad-camera system on the back of the device, which consists of a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens, a 108-megapixel wide-angle lens, and two 10 megapixel telephoto lenses.
In practice, thanks to these hardware updates and some software tweaks, low-light photography has taken another step forward, with images captured in darkness coming out impressively bright and detailed.
The 100x Super Resolution Zoom also provides significantly better zoomed-in images than any rivals or predecessors, though naturally these are not as crystal clear as other images.
This all means the kind of high-quality photos – and indeed video – you would expect from a flagship device.
What makes this even more important is how good the Ultra is as a productivity device too, thanks to the S-Pen and the features around it.
Pulling out the stylus to quickly make a note is just one aspect – combined with the large screen it means annotating and editing files is a comfortable process on the Ultra, not something you can say about many other smartphones.
The 120Hz screen refresh rate helps make using the S-Pen very smooth too – it is the best experience of a stylus and a phone screen so far, removing any possible concerns about it feeling unnatural to use.
There is also a range of Samsung productivity tools for easing linking the Ultra with your computer to work between the two – not the sort of features that are always of interest to potential buyers, but here, given the strengths of the Ultra, it is easy to see how anyone could get into the rhythm of using it extensively for work.
Crucially, the Ultra also has a large 5000mAh battery to see people through the day, and the device is able to do so comfortably.
In short, the Ultra makes a strong case for being the best Android smartphone you can buy right now.
The only real downside is the price, which is another of those eye-watering figures that has become a regular part of top-of-the-line phone launches, and not just from Samsung.
At £1,149, the S22 Ultra is expensive, but those looking to upgrade and with a device to trade in could find a suitable deal to ease the transition.
There is a lot here for your money too – a big, bright screen, a powerful processor to aid gaming or help photo-editing and multitasking and a big battery to back it all up.
It may be a hybrid of two smartphone lines, but Samsung’s S22 Ultra has hit the sweet spot of mobile experience.