Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $799.99

Samsung Galaxy S22 in-hand with the Review Geek Editor's Choice award
Justin Duino

At a time when Google is battling non-stop bugs plaguing the Pixel 6 series, the Galaxy S22 shines. Samsung took a tried and true design, packed in the latest flagship processor, and made an Android smartphone that I could recommend to almost anyone. But, unfortunately, it’s not perfect.

Here’s What We Like

  • Best-in-class performance
  • Premium hardware
  • Fantastic cameras

And What We Don’t

  • Battery life could be better
  • Slower wired charging
  • No Wi-Fi 6E or UWB

Before we jump into this review, if you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. You’ll pay a hefty premium for it, but the South Korean company ensured the handset had every bell and whistle, including a built-in S Pen.

Now, if you’re looking for something more pocketable and less over-the-top, let’s talk about the Samsung Galaxy S22.

Hardware and Design

Samsung Galaxy S22's power and volume buttons
Justin Duino
  • 70.6 x 146.0 x 7.6mm, 168g
  • USB-C Port, No Headphone Jack
  • Aluminum Frame

Look no further than the Galaxy S series when it comes to premium hardware. Gone is the plastic back of the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 FE, and the Galaxy A series. This year, you’re met with a frosted glass back, an aluminum frame, and Corning Gorilla Glass Victus covering the screen.

Taking a look around the phone, you’ll find a USB-C port, speaker, microphone, and SIM card slot on the bottom of the Galaxy S22. Move to the right side, and you’ll be greeted by the power and volume buttons and a 5G antenna window. You can find one last microphone at the top, and that’s it.

Samsung Galaxy S22's USB-C port, speaker grill, and SIM card slot
Justin Duino

I’d typically say a phone like this would be too slippery to hold for an extended period, but the Galaxy S22’s small and compact size makes it extremely easy to keep ahold of. Of course, if you’re worried about breaking the glass on either side of the device, throwing on a case wouldn’t make it unwieldy.

My only real complaint is that I wish the frame had a matte finish to match the back glass. This change would make the phone less slippery and hide the fingerprints that permanently litter the sides of the device.

A substantial positive (for me, at least) is that the front glass is flat and doesn’t have curved edges. I know many prefer the look and feel of rounded displays, but I enjoyed not worrying about palm rejection working on the Galaxy S22.

The only other visual design difference compared to last year’s Galaxy S21 is that the camera bump’s casing is no longer a single piece of metal stemming from the frame. Instead, it’s a separate piece of metal that’s color-matched to the back glass.

If you want a two-tone design, you’ll have to buy your Galaxy S22 directly from Samsung. The company sells exclusive Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue, and Violet colors with contrasting camera bumps that match the frame’s paint job.

The Best Samsung Galaxy S22 Cases of 2022

Best Galaxy S22 Case Overall

Spigen Rugged Armor

Best Budget Galaxy S22 Case

Ringke Onyx

Best Galaxy S22 Wallet Case

Smartish Wallet Slayer Vol. 1

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Best Rugged Galaxy S22 Case

UAG Civilian

Best Clear Galaxy S22 Case

Caseology Skyfall

Best Thin Galaxy S22 Case

Spigen Thin Fit

Best Leather Galaxy S22 Case

Bellroy Leather Case

Display

Samsung Galaxy S22's App Drawer
Justin Duino
  • 6.1-inch FHD+ AMOLED
  • Super Smooth 120Hz refresh rate (48-120Hz)
  • 2340×1080, 425 PPI
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus

It’s no secret that Samsung makes some of the best-looking displays, whether those are for smartphones or TVs. And I have to say, the AMOLED screen on the Galaxy S22 is beyond beautiful. Colors are vivid, bright even when outdoors, and true-to-life.

Unfortunately, despite an early Samsung spec sheet stating that the Galaxy S22 could adjust its refresh rate between 10 and 120Hz on the fly, this handset does not include an LTPO display. So, unlike the Galaxy S22 Ultra, which has an LTPO 2.0 display and can adjust from 1 to 120Hz, the Galaxy S22 is limited to 48 to 120Hz.

Now that isn’t to say the smaller refresh rate window is terrible. Yes, dropping the rate down to 1Hz would be great for battery life, but it’s a feature you’ll probably forget about within a week. All that matters is that the 120Hz refresh rate display makes for enjoyable scrolling within apps.

Software and Performance

Samsung Galaxy S22's quick settings
Justin Duino
  • Android 12, One UI 4.1
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU
  • 8GB RAM + 128GB or 8GB RAM + 256GB

The Galaxy S22, being one of Samsung’s 2022 flagship smartphones, is running the latest and greatest processor from Qualcomm—the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. While I could run benchmarks all day and provide you with thousands of results—the phone got a 1203 single-core score and a 3113 multi-core score in Geekbench—all you need to know is that the handset is fast, lag-free, and can handle anything you throw at it.

I really want to commend Samsung on One UI 4.1 running on top of Android 12. I’ve never been a fan of Samsung’s skins (let’s not talk about TouchWiz), but this year, the South Korean company did an excellent job of stepping aside and letting Android shine.

For example, Android introduced an OS-level theming engine that can change the color of system elements (such as the notification shade) and some apps based on your wallpaper. While Samsung chose to keep and run its older icon pack-based theme implementation alongside Google’s Material You, you can jump into the Color Palette settings and change the look of your phone with ease.

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Samsung Galaxy S22's color pallet settings from Android 12

Justin Duino

Samsung Galaxy S22's ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Justin Duino

Samsung Galaxy S22's Google Discover and Samsung Free settings

Justin Duino

Something else that affects both the Galaxy S22 and other phones launched since 2019 is that Samsung now promises at least four years of security updates. The additional support is fantastic news for anyone looking to buy a new phone and hold onto it long-term.

On the flip side of that good news, Samsung is still not supporting Android’s Seamless Updates. If the Galaxy S22 supported the A/B partition system, firmware updates could install in the background while you continue to use the phone. All it would take is a simple reboot to finish the installation. Instead, the install process ends up taking more time, you can’t use the device, and there isn’t a partition to fall back to if the update ends up breaking anything.

It isn’t clear why Samsung refuses to switch to Seamless Updates, especially since it is one of the only Android manufacturers not to implement the system. Maybe next year?

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Lastly, I want to highlight the built-in ultrasonic fingerprint sensor. Although I still prefer the simplicity and ease of using a rear-facing fingerprint sensor or the infrared Face ID system on the iPhone, the biometric system on the Galaxy S22 is fantastic. Coming from the Pixel 6 Pro with an optical sensor that is slow and hardly works, I have had no issue quickly unlocking the phone.

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22's rear cameras
Justin Duino

I don’t think I could write anything about the Galaxy S22’s cameras that you don’t already know. For several years now, it has been safe to say that if you buy a phone from Samsung, Google, or Apple, the image quality will be incredible. That doesn’t change this year.

Take a look at the photo samples below to get a good idea of what you should expect from all of the different lenses and sensors.

Rear Cameras

  • 12MP Ultra-Wide Camera, F2.2, 120-Degree Field-of-View
  • 50MP Wide Camera, F1.8, 85-Degree Field-of-View, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
  • 10MP Telephoto Camera, 3x Optical Zoom, F2.4, 36-Degree Field-of-View, OIS

The Samsung Galaxy S22 has what I like to call the perfect trifecta of cameras: ultra-wide, wide, and telephoto. With the three sensors, you can capture almost any scene, though I definitely wouldn’t push the telephoto past 3x zoom if you want to retain quality.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 0.6x camera sample of a bush

Justin Duino 0.6x

Samsung Galaxy S22 1x camera sample of a bush

Justin Duino 1x

Samsung Galaxy S22 3x camera sample of a bush

Justin Duino 3x

Samsung Galaxy S22 0.6x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 0.6x

Samsung Galaxy S22 1x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 1x

Samsung Galaxy S22 2x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 2x

Samsung Galaxy S22 4x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 4x

Samsung Galaxy S22 10x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 10x

Samsung Galaxy S22 20x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 20x

Samsung Galaxy S22 30x camera sample of a ship

Justin Duino 30x

My only real complaint with Samsung’s shutter speed as a whole is its speed. There’s a definite second between when you press the camera button and when the image is captured and sent to the gallery. Although it has never made me miss a shot, it’s a small something you will pick up on when taking photos.

Now, if you hate letting Samsung’s camera app decide what makes a great photo, you can download the Expert RAW app from the Galaxy App Store. In addition to saving images in a RAW format that makes for easy editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, it also allows you to manually adjust the ISO, shutter speed, white balance, focus point, and more.

Front-Facing Camera

Samsung Galaxy S22's front-facing camera
Justin Duino
  • 10MP Front Camera, F2.2, 80-Degree Field-of-View

The selfie camera is just as solid as the three on the back. You might not want to use it to capture your next headshot, but the sensor does a great job of capturing quality and naturally separating subjects from the background.

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Samsung Galaxy S22's front-facing camera sample

Justin Duino Standard View

Samsung Galaxy S22's front-facing wide camera sample

Justin Duino Wide View

Samsung Galaxy S22's front-facing portrait camera sample

Justin Duino Portrait Mode

The Galaxy S22 series also comes with a new AI stereo depth map that will make Portrait mode better. According to Samsung, hair should no longer accidentally blend into the fake bokeh background. While that mostly is true in my Portrait mode image above, there is still a halo effect happening that is really visible around my hair.

Nightography

New this year is a low-light shooting mode that Samsung is calling “Nightography.” The company claims this new feature, using “enhanced AI technology powered by the new NPU,” allows you to capture more true-to-life colors and details when snapping photos at night.

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In practice, Night mode doesn’t appear to be doing much more than taking a long-exposure picture and then computationally removing grain and adding back some detail. I have included image samples below that show the difference between Night mode and just shooting a regular picture.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 1x low-light camera sample of a neighborhood

Justin Duino 1x, Night Mode Disabled

Samsung Galaxy S22 1x Night Mode camera sample of a neighborhood

Justin Duino 1x, Night Mode Enabled

Samsung Galaxy S22 3x low-light camera sample of a neighborhood

Justin Duino 3x, Night Mode Disabled

Samsung Galaxy S22 3x Night Mode camera sample of a neighborhood

Justin Duino 3x, Night Mode Enabled

If you plan on taking photos at night, I recommend sticking with the primary 50MP camera. It has the widest aperture and will let in the most light. Night mode on the other two sensors didn’t look nearly as sharp or clean.

Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy S22's overview menu
Justin Duino
  • 3,700mAh Battery
  • 25W Wired Charging, 15W Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare

During my two weeks of using the Galaxy S21 as my primary handset, I saw between 3 and 4 hours of screen-on time throughout a 14- to 16-hour day. This, honestly, was disappointing but expected with the smaller 3,700mAh battery (last year’s Galaxy S21 had a 4,000mAh battery) and 120Hz display.

The good news is that Samsung made this phone the idle king. When the screen was off, the battery drain stopped almost completely. If I ever forgot to charge the Galaxy S22 overnight, I saw a loss of maybe five to six percent over eight hours.

Open up some resource-heavy apps on the device such as YouTube, TikTok, your camera, or any game, though, and that battery will start to tick away. This wasn’t an issue most days as I sit at a desk for eight or more hours and can place the phone on a wireless charger. But when I took the Galaxy S22 with me on a weekend trip away, I consciously stopped myself from aimlessly scrolling Twitter in my downtime.

Regarding charging, Samsung capped the Galaxy S22 at 25W wired charging compared to the 45W fast charging found on the S22+ and S22 Ultra. It’s not the end of the world, but with the reduced battery life, it would be nice if you could juice it up a bit quicker (after you buy a charging brick since one isn’t included in the box).

The battery life also depended on if I was primarily on Wi-Fi or cellular. Days when I never left my home/Wi-Fi saw the best battery life compared to being on 5G for several hours. I will note that the handset would frequently disconnect from my Wi-Fi network if it wasn’t happy with its stability. Thankfully, it would reconnect within a couple of minutes.

Should You Buy the Samsung Galaxy S21?

Samsung Galaxy S22 in-hand
Justin Duino

The Galaxy S22 is so close to perfection. The phone’s only actual limitation is its battery life, which isn’t horrible—especially if you have a charger nearby—but it’s a reason to consider something else.

Personally, I would take the slightly bigger Galaxy S22+ over this base model. I’d hate to give up the “small” 6.1-inch display for a larger 6.6-inch screen, but the inclusion of a 4,500mAh battery (800mAh more than the Galaxy S22) more than makes up for the bump in size.

If you’re not too worried about battery life, I have no problem recommending the Samsung Galaxy S22. It’s a relatively small phone, offers one of the best Android experiences available, and costs less than $800. Grab a discount from Samsung or your carrier, and this purchase is a no-brainer.

Rating: 8/10

Price: $799.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Best-in-class performance
  • Premium hardware
  • Fantastic cameras

And What We Don’t

  • Battery life could be better
  • Slower wired charging
  • No Wi-Fi 6E or UWB