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It’s that time of year again, and we have the new Galaxy S smartphones in our hands. We’ll start our reviewing spree with the Galaxy S22 Plus.
It’s important to approach this year’s devices with the right expectations. Maintaining the pace of innovation year after year is impossible, so as you’ll see, major changes are rather few and far between. Well, perhaps sans for the reincarnation of the Galaxy Note line in the S22 Ultra, but without the legendary “Note” branding.
While arguably getting increasingly boring (or tamer for lack of better words) over the last few years, Samsung‘s flagship offers are nothing if not consistent. That has a lot of merit in itself. Apple proved that much time and time again with its incremental year-over-year strategy. So, what’s new with the S22 this year? Well, summing things up before we dive into the nitty-gritty – you get a new camera setup, new chipsets and slightly less battery that Samsung promises it will offset through better chipset and display efficiency. The displays on the vanilla and plus are now slightly shorter but do promise certain technological improvements.
The Samsung Galaxy S22Plus 5G is the subject of this particular review. Compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 Plus 5G in a bit more detail, it has gotten a bit shorter and ever so slightly wider and just a bit thinner and at 195/196 grams, also slightly lighter. Those last two bits probably have to do with the battery capacity reduction from 4,800 mAh last year to 4,500 mAh.
This time around, the S22 Plus has 45W fast charging, up from 25W last year. The display, while slightly shorter, gets an impressive brightness boost this year, thanks to Samsung OLED development. Then there is the new camera setup – a new main 50MP camera, with a 23% larger sensor than last year’s 12MP model. Also, a new 10MP telephoto with optical rather than hybrid 3x zoom. The ultrawide and selfie cams are carried over from the S21 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus 5G specs at a glance:
- Body: 157.4×75.8×7.6mm, 195g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus+), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus+), aluminum frame; IP68 dust/water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins), Armour aluminum frame with tougher drop and scratch resistance (advertised).
- Display: 6.60″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1750 nits (peak), 1080x2340px resolution, 19.5:9 aspect ratio, 393ppi; Always-on display.
- Chipset: Europe: Exynos 2200 (4 nm), Octa-core CPU (1×2.8 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.50 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.8 GHz Cortex-A510), Xclipse 920 GPU; Rest Of World: Qualcomm SM8450 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4 nm), Octa-core CPU (1×3.00 GHz Cortex-X2 & 3×2.40 GHz Cortex-A710 & 4×1.70 GHz Cortex-A510), Adreno 730 GPU.
- Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
- OS/Software: Android 12, One UI 4.1.
- Rear camera: Wide (main): 50 MP, f/1.8, 24mm, 1/1.56″, 1.0µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Telephoto: 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm, 1/3.94″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚, 1/2.55″ 1.4µm, Super Steady video.
- Front camera: 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3.24″, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel PDAF.
- Video capture: Rear camera: 8K@24fps, 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30/60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+, stereo sound rec., gyro-EIS; Front camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@30fps.
- Battery: 4500mAh; Fast charging 45W, USB Power Delivery 3.0, Fast Qi/PMA wireless charging 15W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
- Misc: Fingerprint reader (under display, ultrasonic); NFC; Samsung DeX, Samsung Wireless DeX (desktop experience support), Bixby natural language commands and dictation, Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified), Ultra Wideband (UWB) support.
Another thing Samsung has been doing exceptionally well over the past few Galaxy S generations is segmentation. This year, obviously, the Ultra is in a league of its own, even if it’s lacking a “Note” moniker. Comparing the regular Galaxy S22 to the S22 Plus, however, basically comes down to size and, of course, price. The S22 Plus has a notably bigger 6.6-inch display that does get brighter, which we will discuss at length in the display section. Its body is proportionally bigger and houses a bigger battery, now with 45W charging support, as already mentioned. Though, that hasn’t proven to offer a huge practical advantage over Samsung’s 25W tech in the past.
The S22 Plus also gets Ultra Wideband (UWB) support. Other than that, the two phones are basically identical both inside and outside. This is truly great to see since all the user needs is to pick a size and/or budget.
Speaking of budget, Samsung has remained impressively consistent on that front as well. You can check detailed pricing on the entire S22 lineup and the Galaxy Tab S8 here, but the S22 Plus basically starts at $1,000, €1,050 or £950, which is essentially the original S21 Plus MSRP. Getting the same price point is not an insignificant feat given the ongoing tough situation regarding supply chain and material shortages in the tech industry as a whole.
So, that’s the S22 Plus in a nutshell – an incremental boring upgrade for some, a consistently-solid all-around flagship with no unexpected potentially deal-breaking surprises or price hikes for others. As usual, the devil is in the details. Follow along as we dig through them and really see what makes the Galaxy S22 Plus tick.
Unboxing the Galaxy S22 is not much of an “experience” in the conventional sense. If you were wondering, Samsung didn’t reverse its decision to exclude a charger from the retail box. That seemingly went away for good with the Galaxy S21 generation. The S22 family ships with a relatively short, sturdy USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a SIM ejector, plus some obligatory paperwork. And that’s it. As barren of a package as conceivable, but that’s the rule of the day.
On the flip side, though, there is almost no unneeded stuff in the box. The thin and compact two-piece box is made from 100% recycled paper, and Samsung has limited the use of plastics in the packaging as much as it can too. The printing is done with soy-based ink as well, making this among the most ecological retail packages around.
If you’re considering the Galaxy S22 Plus – a device that starts at $1,000, €1,050 or £950, as the saying goes, “the world is your oyster”. There’s no point in beating about the bush, that’s a lot of money to give up for a phone, so it better be good enough to live up to pretty much any expectation. Since you are effectively shopping in the top niche of the current smartphone market, phones in this price bracket are as good as smartphones get in 2022.
Premium buyers frequently tend to have at least some degree of “brand loyalty” for any number of reasons, be in pre-existing immersion into a given device ecosystem or experience with customer support or simply fastidious and specific care for any number of very particular aspects and features offered by one manufacturer or another.
Keeping that in mind, if you are in the market for an S22 Plus, it is very likely that you know for a fact you want a Samsung and you already considered and rejected the obvious alternatives of the vanilla Galaxy S22 and the S22 Ultra for any number of potential reasons. That’s what we mean by particular. Allow us to point you in a few less-obvious directions, like the Galaxy S21 FE 5G. It’s sort of the “sensible” alternative. You will have to “settle” for a slightly smaller and not as bright display, without automatic refresh rate switching, the older flagship Snapdragon 888 5G or Exynos 2100 chipset and some slightly-older camera sensors for the otherwise very comparable camera setup. Short of a few niche features like Samsung DeX and minor compromises in connectivity, that’s honestly about the extent of the “downgrade”. All the while, the potential savings are significant.
Beyond that, we have to admit that things are currently a bit weird in the flagship Android realm, mostly since some big-ticket phones are yet to get proper international availability. The Xiaomi 12 Pro’s European release is probably right around the corner, though. It is a great all-around device that comes very close to the Galaxy S22 Plus in terms of overall specs. Its most notable omission is probably ingress protection. Then again, it has many benefits of its own too. Since the older Xiaomi 11T Pro is already widely available and not far off in terms of specs, we’re mentioning it as well.
OnePlus is in a similar boat with the new OnePlus 10 Pro. We are currently expecting its global release sometime before the end of March. It is another solid all-around flagship offer with similar specs to the S22 Plus. Notably, a bigger 5,000 mAh battery, but also no ingress protection. It gets a soft recommendation as a viable alternative, mostly since the OnePlus 9 Pro is very similar specs-wise, widely available and does offer IP68 protection. Unfortunately, with a smaller 4,500 mAh battery.
Naturally, since we are talking about a Galaxy S22 device, arguably the definition of a “mainstream flagship”, we can’t fail to mention that an Apple iPhone is always a viable choice to make. Those do tend to be quite pricy, though, so the notably physically smaller iPhone 13 is probably the best you’ll be able to get off-contract without upping your budget over $1000.
It’s hard to find any significant faults with the Galaxy S22 Plus. We can keep on dreaming of microSD cards and 3.5mm jacks, but that’s clearly not happening. And sure, its battery life could have been better, and perhaps the Exynos 2200 overpromised a bit, compared to its initial delivery. Even so, the entire S22 lineup is as solid as ever. For better or worse, it is kind of the definition of “safe choice”. Consistency is the name of the game, and it’s arguably the most difficult game to play in the smartphone realm, particularly with flagships. While it’s cool to be disruptive, put out a “flagship killer” or go for an enticing title like “the first phone with…”, that’s not how you stay on top of the game. The likes of Samsung and Apple have proven time and time again that the key is relentless consistency and extremely calculated moves and incremental upgrades while always building on a solid foundation year over year. That’s how you get the new iPhone and the next Galaxy S device.
The flip side of that reality is that while the S22 Plus is engineered to be as good as possible for as many people as possible, it is pretty boring. Once again, boring in a dependable sense, but still hardly the device that is going to tickle a smartphone enthusiast’s fancy.
Keeping all of this in mind, the decision to get an S22 device is a simple and equally boring one – do you want and/or need the new Samsung flagship with all of the familiar positives and negatives that come with it? Nothing massive has really changed about this very same question going back at least a couple of Galaxy S flagship generations. The S22 Plus remains an ever-dependable default choice, and for a good reason. If “default” is not your style, there is a vast sea of more interesting and exciting devices out there for anyone willing to explore them.
- Industry-leading build quality with IP68 rating. Perfect weight distribution. The new flatter and more symmetrical design is still very recognizable.
- Excellent industry-leading 120Hz AMOLED display with major brightness improvements, improved sunlight legibility, superb color accuracy and a great HDR video experience.
- Great all-around hybrid stereo speaker system.
- Likable no-nonsense OneUI 4.1 OS with powerful features and extended software support (four OS updates and five years of security patches).
- Solid flagship camera experience both in photos and videos. Incrementally better or just as good as the S21 generation, it adds further small refinements here and there, particularly in low-light photography.
- No charger in the box and no pre-applied screen protector.
- 45W charging is still more wishful thinking that doesn’t translate to real-world gains and the charger situation is poorly communicated by the PR team.
- The new RDNA2-based Xclipse 920 AMD GPU collaboration looks very promising, but is experiencing some early bugs and we feel its potential is nowhere near fully utilized in practice yet.