The day has finally come, a little over a year on from Samsung’s well-received S21 series, on 9 February, the Korean mobile giant was finally ready to unleash its successors; punctuated by the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Having gone hands-on with this newest Ultra though, there’s no doubt that Samsung is in denial about what this phone actually is.
Cast your eyes across the range and the S22 Ultra sticks out like a sore thumb. What Samsung calls “Galaxy Note DNA” effectively means this year’s Ultra drops any pretence of being a member of the Galaxy S family, aesthetically; having effectively cribbed its core design from 2020’s Note 20 Ultra, instead.
The move sets it apart from the Galaxy S22 and S22+ (which it launched alongside), in dramatic fashion; with that distinct Note 20-like flat top and bottom edge, heavily rounded sides and pill-shaped profile.
The final nail in the Note line’s coffin though comes in the form of an integrated S Pen. Last year’s S21 Ultra was the first Galaxy S phone to offer S Pen support, but to capitalise on this functionality, users had to buy a separate S Pen or S Pen Pro, alongside a special case with storage for the stylus.
This year’s Ultra does exactly what the Note 20 Ultra did, with regards to its S Pen: sporting a channel housing a spring-loaded S Pen that slots into its bottom edge. What’s more, the Bluetooth-capable S Pen found on the S22 Ultra actually does its job better than the last Note’s offering.
Not only does it retain Air Actions (shortcut gestures that can be performed by moving the S Pen around in the air near the phone, without having to touch nib to screen), but with the help of new AI prediction smarts (no doubt facilitated by the upgrade to a 4nm Exynos 2200 or Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset – depending on market) the latency of the S Pen experience has dropped from an already rapid 9ms, down to just 2.8ms.
Beyond the design and S Pen, the S22 Ultra does, admittedly, read a lot more like a direct follow-up to last year’s equivalent; with a familiar quad rear camera setup (a near-identical assortment of resolutions and fields of view across its four upgraded sensors), whose biggest enhancement lies in image processing and new software features.
Auto FPS, which adjusts frame rate dynamically when shooting video to allow for better low light capture, is one notable addition to the camera system; along with one of the first examples of Gorilla Glass DX protecting those rear sensors (intended to offer great clarity, while still sporting Corning-backed levels of protection).
Having handled the S22 Ultra, the combination of the Note 20 Ultra’s squatter 19.3:9 aspect ratio, paired with the S21 Ultra’s smaller 6.8in display size, creates a device that offers the best of both worlds, or at least that appears to be Samsung’s intention with it.
Despite the advantageous melding of these two lines, however, it’s a bittersweet release that marks the end of an era, at least symbolically. While Galaxy Note DNA looks as though it has the potential to live on in the Galaxy S line, the Note name ends here.
Tempted to pick one up? Check out our ‘Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 series’ feature.