1-Galaxy S22 Ultra Hands On CNN Underscored

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone for 2022. And though we have described it as “the big-screen stylus phone we’ve been waiting for,” it’s not without stiff competition from Google’s Pixel 6 Pro. Both devices are at the top of their respective classes, but as we tested them side by side, we were able to see how differences in design, camera, specs and pricing might affect which one you choose.

Here’s what you need to know before you decide to upgrade to either the Google Pixel 6 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

You should buy the Pixel 6 Pro if…

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You want to be first in line for software updates

One of the biggest reasons to buy a Pixel phone is to ensure you always have the latest software. When Google releases a new update for Android, Pixel phones always get it first. This means you’ll get all the major updates (like Android 13) the day it’s released instead of having to wait for your carrier or phone manufacturer to approve it before rolling it out.

Samsung has gotten better at delivering timely updates, but nothing matches Google’s seemingly instantaneous delivery for its Pixel phones.

You like all of Google’s neat software tricks

Unlike Android competitors, Google’s phones also offer excellent software perks. For example, Now Playing can identify songs like Shazam but goes a step further and displays its name and artist right on your lock screen. Another useful software addition is Call Screening, which can help analyze spam but also uses the Google Assistant to further identify the caller by transcribing the conversation on your screen. If it’s somebody you want to talk to, you can simply pick up. Trust us, it can be super handy.

The Google Tensor processor also brings Live Transcriptions for all audio content played on the Pixel as well as improved dictation when typing with your voice — though, unfortunately, it won’t work on phone calls. These features mixed with Google’s clean approach to Android give the Pixel 6 Pro one of the best (if not the best) software experiences currently available on any smartphone.

You want fast wireless charging (with an added accessory)

Shockingly, Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra can only charge at up to 15W wirelessly, which is not fast by any modern standard. The Pixel 6 Pro, on the other hand, supports wireless charging at up to 23W. Granted, you’ll need to buy Google’s second-generation Pixel Stand at $79.99, but the option at least exists for faster wireless charging. In our testing, we were able to go from zero to 100% in under two hours using the Pixel Stand.

You want to save money

If you’re shopping on a budget, the Pixel 6 Pro is an excellent choice. For a whopping $300 less than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, you’ll get a comparably high-end phone with the exact same storage configuration.

You should buy the Galaxy S22 Ultra if…

22-samsung galaxy s22 ultra review cnn underscored

The S Pen is a must-have

The Galaxy S22 Ultra finally brought back Samsung’s S Pen from the Galaxy Note series, its signature stylus that has made the Note (and now the Ultra) unique for many years.

This stylus on steroids not only allows you to quickly take notes in Samsung’s Notes app and on the lock screen, but it also offers easy access to shortcut menus, the ability to quickly take a photo from afar and more. It also has the best responsiveness of any S Pen to date, which made writing almost as easy as pen to paper, as noted in our review.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t offer any sort of integrated stylus support. If you insist on using a pen on your Pixel, you’ll be stuck with using a cheap third-party stylus with a rubber tip.

You like a good zoom

Another big draw to Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is Space Zoom, which uses a combination of telephoto cameras and a digital image stabilization system to let you zoom 30x and up to 100x. The Pixel 6 Pro comes with a telephoto camera, but it can only zoom up to 20x using Google’s Super Res Zoom. That’s a fifth of what you can achieve with the S22 Ultra.

You want the latest specs

The Google Pixel 6 Pro is no slouch, but with Samsung’s recent S22 launch, it should come as no surprise that those shopping for the latest and greatest should consider the Galaxy S22 Ultra. With its gorgeous 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, 12GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, it is currently the Android phone to beat when it comes to advanced specs.

You’ll still get a solid experience with the Pixel 6 Pro despite its older specifications, but anyone looking to show off will want to have the Samsung phone in hand.

You enjoy Samsung’s take on Android

Over the past few years, Samsung’s software has had some major upgrades, so much so that many may prefer it to other Android renditions. The company’s One UI offers various multitasking tools, slick animations and a clean user interface that many find appealing. Better yet, Samsung is promising four years of Android OS updates, which greatly extends the value.

Bottom line

The Galaxy S22 Ultra and Pixel 6 Pro both offer premium experiences with fast performance, big screens and top-notch cameras. Yet, before you choose, you’ll need to consider all their differences, from the S Pen on the S22 Ultra to the exclusive software tricks on the 6 Pro.

Power users may want to consider the S22 Ultra, with its beefy specifications and utilitarian features. Meanwhile, the Pixel 6 Pro is perfect for those who want a friendly experience with speedy performance and useful perks, all for a significantly lower price.

Pixel 6 Pro vs. Galaxy S22 Ultra specs

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Pixel 6 Pro
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Galaxy S22 Ultra
Starting price

$899

$1,199

Display

6.7-inch AMOLED with 120Hz refresh rate

6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X with 120Hz refresh rate

Processor

Google Tensor

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

RAM

12GB

8GB/12GB

Storage

128GB/256GB/512GB

128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB

Cameras

50-megapixel f/1.9 wide, 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, 48-megapixel f/3.5 telephoto, 11.1-megapixel f/2.2 selfie

108-megapixel f/1.8 wide, 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide, 10-megapixel f/4.9 periscope telephoto, 10-megapixel f/2.4 telephoto, 40-megapixel f/2.2 selfie

Battery

5,003mAh

5,000mAh