3-Galaxy S22 Ultra Hands On CNN Underscored

Samsung is on a roll early in 2022. Just a month after unveiling the Galaxy S21 FE and the Freestyle Projector, the tech giant is back with a trio of new smartphones: the Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra, all of which offer a refreshed look, improved camera optics and include a fancy new processor from Qualcomm — the first ever Samsung devices to do so.

All three of the Samsung S22 line are up for preorder now, with some special deals available, and will ship on Feb. 25. We’ve spent some time with Samsung’s premium S22 Ultra so here is what’s impressive, what’s new and what stayed the same. We’re still testing all three and will have full reviews closer to the official launch.

Where to preorder the Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra is available for preorder and will begin shipping on Feb. 25.

Galaxy S22 Ultra
Colors: Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, and burgundy
Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB, paired with 8GB or 12GB of RAM.
Price: From $1,199 at Samsung or Amazon

Those who preorder the S22 Ultra from Samsung by Feb. 24 get a $200 credit to the Samsung store with your purchase and get your storage size increased.

Galaxy S22 Ultra: First impressions

Like the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the S20 Ultra before it, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is fully loaded with everything from a vibrant display to triple camera system, all powered by a fast processor.

The big change this year is the embedded S Pen, which is Samsung’s proprietary stylus first introduced on the Galaxy Note and which has since been supported by other devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and S21 Ultra. With both of those, though, the S Pen was an entirely optional — and expensive — accessory. And with this addition, it also effectively takes over as the new Galaxy Note.

Like the previous Samsung Note, this proprietary stylus lives on the bottom right of the phone and can easily pop out with a quick push. You’ll find that a hover menu appears when the S Pen is held above the screen, letting you easily take a note, capture a screenshot or just navigate the interface. We were able to quickly scribble on the display and noticed it felt a bit more like putting pen to paper, as it had noticeably lower latency than other Galaxy phones with an S Pen. Samsung says it’s improved latency by 70% over the S21 Ultra and even more over the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — a claim that we look forward to putting to the test. The S22 Ultra is also the only S22 phone that supports the S Pen.

The sharper edges and rectangular design of the Ultra, with a larger screen for writing, also make it clear that it will be taking over where the Note left off. The rear is a matte combination of glass and aluminum that is soft to the touch, doesn’t attract too many fingerprints and is comfortable to grip. The biggest design change is the removal of the camera bump for what Samsung calls a “floating layout,” wherein the lenses are lined up in perpendicular rows with each individual lens sticking out of the backside of S22 Ultra.

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The front of the S22 Ultra is entirely screen — it’s a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that offers vibrant colors and a crazy level of detail. In our testing, it was accurate and bright, and perfect for watching trailers from superhero movies and galaxies far, far away. We’re still waiting to test how it will look in direct sunlight.

The screen also has an adaptive refresh rate that spans 10Hz to 120Hz depending on what you’re viewing and supports the full color spectrum — ideal for gaming and watching content. It’s also fully borderless, with just a pinhole notch centered at the top that hides the 40-megapixel front-facing camera.

When it comes to software, the Galaxy S22 Ultra runs Android 12 with Samsung’s One UX 4.0 on top. Based on our time with the Galaxy S21 FE, we found that this updated interface doesn’t change anything major, but makes settings like privacy controls easier to find while improving the overall swiftness. We expect the S22 Ultra to be faster, since it’s powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. It certainly was fast in our hands-on time, but we need to test it in real-world scenarios. Samsung also promises at least all-day battery life from the 5,000mAh cell inside and will support Qi-enabled wireless charging — though of course, it can also be physically plugged in via USB-C. If it’s anything like the S21 Ultra, we expect it to stretch longer than a day.

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The camera setup may look different, but it only offers modest improvements from the previous generation. Like Apple’s iPhone 13 family, Samsung is focusing on larger sensors and improvements on the software side. We’re eager to see how the S22 Ultra stacks up against the iPhone 13 Pro and the Pixel 6 Pro. And eagle-eyed readers might notice the number of megapixels is the same as on the S21 Ultra.

  • 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera: This ultra-wide shot lets you capture large groups or cityscapes without physically moving. The 120-degree angle lens enables you to capture a lot and we expect the same good performance here.
  • 108-megapixel wide-camera: The primary camera on the S22 Ultra offers a high number of pixels, which should translate to lots of details and a high degree of overall sharpness. You’ll be able to take 12-megapixel photos with this lens that combines pixels together for better clarity or end up with a 108-megapixel image. Either route, the result should be more data captured, which in turn can create a better image. Samsung promises big improvements here, so we’re eager to test this in real life.
  • Dual 10-megapixel telephoto cameras: Like the S21 Ultra, Samsung’s offering 100x Space Zoom through two 10-megapixel lenses: one with 3x optical zoom and the other with 10x optical zoom.

While the hardware is similar, Samsung is promising improvements on the software side. For the first time, you’ll be able to shift focus when capturing portrait video (similar to Apple’s Cinematic Mode) and there is an improved Portrait Mode to better separate the background from the foreground.

Lastly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is also a fully 5G-enabled smartphone supporting C-Band, Sub-6 and mmWave standards in the United States. It also supports Wi-Fi 6.

Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+ & S22 Ultra specs

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Galaxy S22
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Galaxy S22+
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Galaxy S22 Ultra
Starting price





6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate

6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate

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


Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1




8GB or 12GB




128GB/256GB/ 512GB/1TB


12 megapixel ultra wide, 50 megapixel wide and 10 megapixel telephoto with flash (rear); 10 megapixel (front)

12 megapixel ultra wide, 50 megapixel wide and 10 megapixel telephoto with flash (rear); 10 megapixel (front)

12 megapixel ultra wide, 108 megapixel wide and dual 10 megapixel telephoto with flash (rear); 40 megapixel (front)





Size and weight

2.7 x 5.7 x 0.29 inches; 0.37 pounds

2.98 x 6.19 x 0.29 inches; 0.43 pounds

3.06 x 6.42 x 0.35 inches; 0.50 pounds