For me, the Samsung Galaxy Note series was always ahead of all other flagships phones, not because it was the best phone, but because it was the only one with a stylus that actually gave its users an advantage. But then the Samsung Galaxy Note is dead… or so we are to believe. Naah… the Note is alive and kicking. It’s just called the Ultra now.
This year’s Samsung flagship S22 series comes with this Ultra version as the pinnacle of what the Korean tech giant can offer and what you can spend your money on. And for the first time, S22 Ultra gets the weapon that takes it ahead of the competition — the S Pen from the Note.
Galaxy S22 Ultra (12/512GB) price in India: Rs 118,999
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review
The Galaxy S22 Ultra looks clearly like a top-end Samsung phone. In fact, there are remnants here of the Note series too while clearly carrying forward the design language of the S series. The big change for me is in the camera module, which no longer offers a bump and instead lets the lens rings poke out a bit. This might look like a small design change but would have needed some serious work.
The phone has a reassuring weight to it… sort of suggesting that it means business and is no flyweight phone. The phone offers a good grip despite its size and weight as well as the slightly curved glass. The S Pen is tucked in at the bottom of the chassis like before, but is now on the left side. As someone who has used the Note before, this takes some getting used to.
Like with most Samsung phones, the one thing that gives the reassurance you have spent your money well is the display. And it stuns you every single time it pops to life and you don’t even need to toggle the brightness up. The screen is critical this time, given that you need to use this for the S Pen as well as for the amped up camera inside.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: How good is the S Pen?
The S Pen has always been the best stylus you can use on a mobile device. I would say with the S22 Ultra it just feels better. Why do I say this? Well, the moment you put pen to screen you feel like you are scribbling on paper, it even sounds like that. With the many options for pens and colours, it is as if you have every writing tool you could ever ask for in your pocket. Also, the pressure sensitivity is stunningly good and you can go to the extent of using the pencil tip to shade the background of your drawings as you would do with an actual pen. It is an added advantage that you can use the S Pen also as a remote like you could do with the Note devices earlier.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: What’s the best feature?
But then is the S Pen the best feature of the S22 Ultra? Maybe not quite. Because this phone has a stunning camera where Samsung seems to have gone out of its skin in many ways. Again, why do I say this? Well, Samsung phones have always had good cameras, especially the flagships. But their results have mostly been in the too-good-to-be-true range for me, a bit too colourful than what I could see with my own eyes. With this new camera, the pictures are much more natural, especially when the lighting is not amped up. This is more in the iPhone space, if I may dare say so.
The images coming out of all four cameras are sharp, vibrant yet natural and rich with details. The lenses shift as you come near a subject and you don’t need to figure out what works in which scenario.
In low light, the camera falls back on AI to figure out the best composition for the given situation. This means the images are brighter, but with less noise too.
There is also the 10x optical zoom which is much more stable than what I have used on a smartphone before. As you move towards the 100x digital zoom, it’s all up to how stable your hands are and in my case the answer was not so stable.
Then there is the Pro mode that make this phone better than most others, especially in the hands of those who know what they are doing. There is of course RAW mode where you can change almost everything in post edit, but then the camera itself gives you so much as you shoot.
The best thing here is that the mode works on all the four lenses this camera offers. Plus there is the Pro video mode where most of these settings can be translated beyond stills.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: How good is the performance?
It is pointless talking about the performance of a Samsung flagship phone, but still I need to say this will rise up to any challenge you can throw at it. For instance, during the review period I was studying user data of over 20,000 rows on the phone thanks to the fact that I could easily zoom in and out and use the S Pen to annotate where needed.
The battery life is good for over a full day depending on what you have been using the phone for. Even with bad connectivity, 24 hours is never going to be a problem. In fact, often I was using the wireless power share to help out others who needed some juice at the end of the day.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: What’s not good?
I could not really find anything wrong with this phone other than the fact that this is not for everyone. One, this is a large and slightly heavy phone. Two, you need a strong use case for the S Pen to push yourself to spend extra on the S22 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review: Should you buy?
Yes, if you need the best Android phone in town when it comes to specifications, capabilities and possibilities. But if you are not going to pop-out that S Pen at least once a day, maybe consider a regular S22 Plus model in place of the Ultra. The Ultra is clearly for those who are creative and restless. It is also the new Note, catering to those who mean business.