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Galaxy S22 Review
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, S22+, and vanilla S22 are finally available for purchase in India. The phones were launched last month, while the pre-order phase was recently concluded with handsets finally reaching Indian consumers. The focus of our review is the vanilla Samsung Galaxy S22, which fetches a starting price of Rs 72,999 in India.
As mentioned in our first impressions, the Galaxy S22 improves on a tried and tested formula rather than going over the top, like the Galaxy S22 Ultra (Review). It is true, no risk, no reward, but it also means no consequences. My initial impressions of the S22 were an excellent flagship smartphone that is a no-brainer for consumers in the market for a good flagship. However, this Galaxy S22 review will take a deep dive into the specifications of the device.
Design and Build
Unlike the Galaxy S22+ and Galaxy S22 Ultra, the vanilla S22 boasts a compact form factor. The overall design of the Galaxy S22 is similar to that of its predecessor with the ‘Contour Cut’ design for the camera housing. The phone also has chamfered edges that are sharper and rounded to make it feel really good in the hand. The Galaxy S22’s build has also been updated, with Gorilla Glass Victus protection on the front and back and an Armour Aluminium frame.
The rest of the design is pretty standard with volume and power buttons on the right side and a USB Type-C port, speaker grille, and SIM tray on the bottom. The Galaxy S22 is available in Phantom White, Green, and Phantom Black colours, while the matte finish resists fingerprints quite well. You also get the standard IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. I figured it might be difficult getting used to the small form factor, but the S22 made the transition seamless.
Samsung uses a 6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel that is sharper thanks to its higher pixel density. The screen also gets quite bright, peaking at 1,300 nits and allowing you to view just about anything under direct sunlight. Unlike the Galaxy S22 Ultra, there’s no LTPO display here, with the refresh rate scaling between 48Hz and 120Hz or you can even lock it at 60Hz.
The panel also has great viewing angles and colour accuracy. The in-display fingerprint reader also works pretty well. The Galaxy S22’s screen is arguably one of the best in its class and despite its small size, it doesn’t feel like a compromise.
With the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung trades the Exynos chip for a Snapdragon one. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip here is paired with 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. I have to say that performance here is top-notch, with the S22 capable of effortlessly handling multi-tasking, while games run smoothly on the highest setting. In Geekbench, the Galaxy S22 scored 1,207 points in the single-core test and 3,221 points in the multi-core test. The phone also ran just about any title on the highest settings, some of these we tried included Asphalt 9: Legends, Raid: Shadow Legends, Call of Duty Mobile, BGMI, and Star Wars: Hunters.
It is worth noting that the phone runs hot when gaming, although this seems to be a trend with the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset. I didn’t find the heat unbearable; it just felt a little uncomfortable. The phone also got hot while using the camera app. However, despite the S22 running just about as smooth as any 2022 flagship, Samsung might be in hot water for throttling the performance of apps on its top-tier smartphones. All in all, the addition of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was a superb decision by Samsung and the S22, for the most part as the phone performs exceptionally, but tends to heat up way too often.
For optics, the Galaxy S22 gets a much-needed upgrade. The new 50 MP, f/1.8 primary sensor uses “Tetra binning” technology to output photos in 12 megapixels. The main camera is paired with a 12 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide shooter and a 10 MP, f/2.4 telephoto unit with 3x optical zoom. Upfront, you get a 12 MP selfie camera that can record 4K video at 60fps. The rear cameras can record 8K video at 24fps or 4K video at up to 60fps. So, let’s take an in-depth look at the camera performance of the S22.
First off, the main camera takes excellent photos in daylight with good dynamic range and vibrant yet accurate colour reproduction. The camera pumps out warner photos with no over-sharpening or oversaturation. I also found white balance and good exposure to be on point for the most part. The bigger sensor also means you get a natural bokeh effect when snapping close-ups of objects.
You can take portrait shots on both the main and telephoto camera, the latter better tailored towards snapping portraits of smaller subjects. Additionally, an AI Stereo Depth Map feature uses AI to offer better subject separation from the background. The camera also does a solid job in low light and switches to night mode automatically when there’s not enough light in a scene. Additionally, night mode can also be accessed in the camera app.
The main camera on the S22 uses software and a larger sensor to capture more light, less noise, good dynamic range, and more details in Night mode. While the phone maintains good colour consistency between the main, telephoto, and ultrawide cameras using night mode, noise tends to creep in, and images tend to look soft with slightly less detail when shooting with the ultrawide and telephoto cameras. And since we’re on that subject let’s move on to the ultrawide shooter.
During the day, the 12 MP ultrawide camera keeps pace with the main 50 MP sensor, maintaining excellent consistency, although it does lose out on some detail. However, overall detail and exposure are good, while noise is kept under control. The 10 MP telephoto camera here takes crisp photos and does a good job of maintaining colour consistency, even when getting up-close to subjects. You can go all the way to 30x magnification, although images look pretty blurry at that range.
The 10 MP selfie camera on the front takes sharp selfies with good dynamic range. Selfies taken during the day have good detail and exposure, while night shots with the front camera are softer and slightly grainer. Portrait selfies offer good edge detection and perfectly separate the subject from the background. Moving on to video!
The Galaxy S22 can take 4K video at 60fps on all three rear cameras and the front camera. However, only the main camera can take 8K video and you’ll have to stick to 4K at 30fps if you want to switch between the three lenses while recording a video. Video captured in daylight reproduces excellent clarity, colour, exposure, and dynamic range. At night software takes decent looking video and makes it much better.
The selfie camera can also capture clear videos with good colours but is slightly less sharp than the main camera. While the name Nightography might be a poor choice on Samsung’s part, I think the difference it makes goes a long way towards making footage usable. Samsung Digital Image Stabilisation ensures videos aren’t a shaky mess, while the Auto Framing capability is able to track up to 10 people and automatically shift focus. Director’s View allows you to record videos on all four cameras simultaneously. Apart from a Pro photo mode, you also get a Pro Video mode as well as Hyerlapse Video, Portrait Video, and Slow-Motion Video.
Overall, all three rear cameras and the front camera on the Galaxy S22 do a solid job capturing both photos and videos. Samsung isn’t messing around here and can go toe-to-toe with any phone in the segment. The cameras here aren’t going to blow your mind, but they are going to give you good, consistence performance across different scenarios. On top of some very good cameras, the Galaxy S22 brings a ton of camera modes and features to play around with.
The 3,700 mAh battery here is just about enough to get through a full day under average use. While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip is the best in its class, it runs pretty hot when indulging in heavy workloads, so you can expect much higher power draws in such instances. When idle, the battery consumption is much slower. Battery life is decent under regular use, but for those who spend hours on their phone during work, battery life becomes a major issue. Under heavy use, the battery on the S22 died out well before the full-day mark.
Moving on to the issue of the charging. However, battery life was not so much of an issue as charging, which seems fine at 25W, but with no power adapter included in the box, I was left charging it through the laptop or using a power brick from another brand, which doesn’t give you the full 25W support. Again, 25W charging is not the issue here, the issue is requiring the right adapter to get the fastest charging support. And buying the right adapter will entail getting a new brick in a new box.
So while Samsung going with the smaller packaging is admirable, the package that comes with a new adapter does tend to defeat the purpose of small packaging. However, if you can live with the slow charging, and I was one of those people who could, then there’s not much to complain about. For a small battery, the amount of life Samsung squeezes out of it is admirable. That being said, it still wasn’t enough for me.
Samsung has delivered in terms of software on the Galaxy S22 or the Galaxy S22 series in general. The S22 runs Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1 interface, which is just getting better with time. I’d go as far as to say that One UI is the most reliable skin for Android. Samsung is also guaranteeing four years of major Android updates, which is higher than the three offered by Google, only falling short of the Fairphone. And this long-term software support is also being offered with the new Galaxy A series models, which is quite admirable.
As for OneUI 4.0, the overall experience is smooth and snappy with a relatively clean interface. Samsung has also added a bunch of customisations as well as security and privacy features. It is now easier to manage app permissions, while Google Duo also has a feature that allows you to stream your phone’s screen to other people on chat, which is known as “Live Share”. Dynamic themes allows Google apps to use the same accent colours from your wallpaper. There are only a few Samsung apps to contend with, but apart from that, the experience is relatively bloat-free.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 ticks all the right boxes, it offers flagship-grade performance, excellent cameras, a superb display, solid build and convenient design, and lastly, the unrivalled software support. One of the things I loved about the S22 was the in-hand feel, not to mention the cameras, which don’t only excel in the quality department but also offer a ton of software features. The only drawbacks of the vanilla S22 were battery life and the phone being uncomfortably hot in some instances. So is the Galaxy S22 boring; Yes! But is that a bad thing; No!
Battery life aside, the Galaxy S22 is pretty much the perfect flagship. If you are working with a 70K budget, the Galaxy S22 would be the default phone I’d recommend 90 percent of the time. The Ultra or top-end flagships from OnePlus, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, etc., all tend to debut in and around this segment, but even those phones will face tough opposition from the vanilla Galaxy S22. All things considered, if you can overlook the battery life, the Galaxy S22 should be your default first choice in this segment. It is also the best Android phone for someone looking to buy a flagship for the first time.