Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: The best of Samsung takes on the best of OnePlus!
After launching in China over two months ago, the OnePlus 10 Pro has finally reached the global stage, and it is in an interesting position. While in Asia and even chunks of Europe, the OnePlus 10 Pro is already considered a late entry to the already crowded 2022 Android flagship scene, in North America, it is just the second major Android release of the year — which means in that specific market, the OnePlus 10 Pro is naturally going to be compared against the top-dog, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Specifications
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra||OnePlus 10 Pro|
|Dimensions & Weight||
|RAM & Storage||
|Battery & Charging||
|Security||Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner||Optical in-display fingerprint scanner|
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Software||One UI 4.1 over Android 12||
About this comparison: Samsung Hong Kong sent me a Galaxy S22 Ultra for review in February, and OnePlus US sent me a OnePlus 10 Pro for testing in late March. Neither company had input in this article.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Hardware and Design
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro are both glass-aluminum sandwich slabs with beautiful OLED displays. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s screen is a bit bigger at 6.8-inches with pointy corners as against the OnePlus 10 Pro’s 6.7-inches with more conventional rounded corners, which makes the latter phone a bit more comfortable to hold in my opinion (also helping matters is the OnePlus 10 Pro’s slightly lighter weight). Samsung’s screen gets a bit brighter, but you’d really only notice if you are out in intense sunlight and need to push brightness to the max. On the majority of occasions, I’d argue the OnePlus 10 Pro screen will look every bit as good as the Galaxy S22 Ultra panel: they’re both LTPO 2.0 OLED displays with WQHD+ resolution that can vary their refresh rate between 1Hz and 120Hz, wrapped by almost non-existent bezels, and interrupted by just a small hole-punch (center-top for the Galaxy S22 Ultra; top-left for the OnePlus 10 Pro). Both of these are very good, and unless you have them side by side, you likely will not notice any difference in quality.
Neither phone’s backplate attracts fingerprints; while the Galaxy S22 Ultra achieves this with a grippy matte finish, the OnePlus 10 Pro has this frosted coating that has a soft touch, despite the grainy microtextured appearance. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the latter’s coating, which was also seen in the Vivo X70 Pro Plus. But this depends on the user — I’ve heard another reviewer call the OnePlus 10 Pro the best feeling back he’s ever touched.
There’s some irony in the camera module design. Samsung introduced in last year’s Galaxy S21 series this unique design in which one side of the camera module blends into the aluminum chassis. Samsung brought back this design in the non-Ultra versions of the Galaxy S22 phones, but not the Ultra that’s being featured in this article. Instead, the Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t have a camera island at all, as the lenses just stick out directly from the phone’s back in individual mini-islands. Meanwhile, the OnePlus 10 Pro has “borrowed” the Galaxy S21 camera module for itself — the OnePlus 10 Pro’s rather large camera module has one side that curves into the aluminum chassis.
Both phones pack 5,000 mAh batteries and either 8GB or 12GB of RAM, but Samsung also has to house an S-Pen in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, so it’s a slightly wider phone — again, the OnePlus 10 Pro is more comfortable to hold for me because of this.
The brain is where these two phones begin to deviate in direction: the OnePlus 10 Pro runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 everywhere; but the Galaxy S22 Ultra only uses that chip in North America, China, and India. There may be other exceptions, but for the most part, in every other part of the world, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is powered by the Exynos 2200, which is not as capable a chip as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, as we’ve found in our Snapdragon vs Exynos testing.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra brings a pretty significant extra piece of hardware: the S-Pen stylus. The stylus not only allows for easier scribbling (say, signing a digital document on the phone screen), and more precise photo/video editing, but it can also double as a remote for the phone. I can use the S-Pen to control the camera shutter button from afar, for example.
Honestly, as great as those aforementioned situations are, they are still niche cases for most people. Basically, I have always seen the S-Pen as a great bonus to have when I’m testing an S-Pen phone. But the second I switch my SIM over to another phone, I never miss it.
The OnePlus 10 Pro’s one extra hardware feature is unique in Android — the alert slider. This is a physical switch that allows the user to quickly switch between mute, vibrate, or normal mode. This, too, is a nice to have feature when I’m using a OnePlus, but I don’t miss it at all when I’m on, say, a Pixel.
Still, if we have to judge the usefulness of these extra bits of hardware, I think the S-Pen is a sizable freebie that has more upside and use cases than the alert slider. The alert slider is very convenient, but you can achieve the same results within the software too.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Cameras
2022 seems to be the year of iterative camera hardware upgrades, as both devices here bring back mostly the same camera hardware as last year, so they’re relying mostly on software improvements. The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera hardware, in fact, is identical to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. So we’re talking about a 108MP main camera with a 1/1.33-inch image sensor; a 12MP ultra-wide; and a pair of zoom lenses covering the 3x and 10x optical zoom range, with the latter being a Periscope camera.
The OnePlus 10 Pro brings back the same 48MP, 1/1.43-inch main camera sensor and 8MP 3.3x telephoto zoom lens from the OnePlus 9 Pro, but the OnePlus 10 Pro’s ultra-wide is a new super-duper wide 150-degree lens that may technically be inferior to the IMX766 sensor used in the OnePlus 9 Pro as it has a smaller image sensor size.
Samsung’s software improvements mostly come from in-house technology like Adaptive Pixel, which sees the Galaxy S22 Ultra snap a 108MP and a binned 12MP shot every single time the shutter button is pressed. The two shots are then combined into one image that combines the best of both shots (108MP has better sharpness; 12MP shot captures more light).
The OnePlus 10 Pro, meanwhile, advertises year two of its collaboration with Swedish camera maker Hasselblad. According to OnePlus, its R&D team meets with Hasselblad’s counterparts once a month throughout the development cycle of the OnePlus 10 Pro to fine-tune the camera’s algorithms with a focus on “natural colors.”
Before I pixel peep and start nitpicking, I just want to say that both phones’ main cameras are really good. Smartphone cameras have improved by so much in the last few years that I think we (myself included) have begun taking them for granted. Every flagship phone now can capture a punchy shot with excellent HDR in any condition. And if you get close enough to a subject, there’s even some nice natural bokeh that separates it from the background — you just have to point and tap the shutter and you get a useable shot. This is a far cry from even four years ago, when photos against backlight could see completely blown out highlights or overly dark shadows, etc. Looking at the samples below, we can see that OnePlus images are generally warmer and a bit brighter, but brighter isn’t always better. Contrast and shadows can make a photo look striking, like the shots with the motorcycle riding down a road half-covered by shadows. We can also see that Samsung’s shots are consistently cooler.
Like I said, OnePlus’ main camera tends to pull in more light. It’s worth mentioning that both cameras bin down to 12MP shots, but Samsung uses a new tech named Adaptive Pixel which snaps both a 108MP and 12MP shot every single time a photo is taken. The point of this tech is to allow the Galaxy S22 Ultra to get the benefits of both 108MP shots (more details) and 12MP shots (better lighting).
Adaptive Pixel seems to be a bit hit and miss. If I zoom in and pixel peep, I can see superior sharpness and details in the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s shots, but not always. The below set of zoomed-in 100% crops, for example, is clearly in Galaxy S22 Ultra’s favor.
But then in the next set, zooming in 100% shows an even match in terms of details. Other than Samsung’s shots being cooler, these two photos are very close in quality.
Below are more samples, I think when it comes to the main camera, both cameras are neck-and-neck, and it comes down to personal preference (and for me, I think the Vivo X70 Pro Plus and Google Pixel 6 Pro’s main cameras are still the two best).
Ancillary cameras — Ultra-wide and Zoom lenses
Both the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the OnePlus 10 Pro do a respectable job of keeping the color temperature consistent across the three main focal ranges (ultra-wide, wide, telephoto), and I notice Samsung’s camera app can now switch from ultra-wide to wide, and vice versa, without that quarter-second hiccup like last year. This seamless lens switching has been a strength of OnePlus’s camera apps for a few years now.
Breaking down the ultra-wide cameras is similar to the main cameras: OnePlus 10 Pro’s ultra-wide consistently produces a brighter image, but then if we zoom, OnePlus’s shots are noticeably softer than Samsung’s too. Although for ultra-wide shots this is excusable because nobody shoots ultra-wide shots to zoom in, you do it primarily to zoom out.
The OnePlus 10 Pro’s ultra-wide has an extra trick — it can shoot in a full 150-degree field-of-view (by default it’s capped to around 120-degree). Shooting this wide results in major fisheye distortion, and I mostly don’t see the need for it — but there are rare circumstances when you’d need to grab a sweeping scene in one shot, I suppose.
For zoom shots, the OnePlus 10 Pro’s 3.3x telephoto keeps up very well with the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 3x zoom in terms of preserving details, but the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s extra 10x Periscope zoom lens gives it a major edge. You’ll notice Samsung’s samples below have a noticeably bluer sky — that’s Samsung taking liberties with adding some punch to the shot — it was an overcast day, so the OnePlus shot is more accurate to the scene.
Both telephoto lenses are also used for portraits, and I think both do a great job.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s 40MP selfie camera seems to find better exposure than the OnePlus 10 Pro’s 32MP front-facing camera, but Samsung’s selfies also apply a heavy unnatural skin smoothening filter that can’t be turned off.
Video performance is interesting, as the two phones swap color science philosophy. Whereas the OnePlus 10 Pro kept more natural colors compared to the Galaxy S22 Ultra in still photos, in videos, the OnePlus 10 Pro dials up vibrancy. Just look at the screenshot of videos captured by the phones below.
Notice the OnePlus 10 Pro’s videos also pull in a lot more light than the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s, to the point that shadows always look significantly darker in Samsung’s videos. However, while both phones have excellent video stabilization, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s edges it out a bit by having fewer micro-jitters. I also prefer the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s audio. The OnePlus 10 Pro’s video capabilities are very good and a major improvement from it was even a couple of years ago. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best video phone in Android right now and comes very close to matching the video king — iPhone 13 Pro.
Overall Camera Assessment
Although the OnePlus 10 Pro’s cameras are solid across the board — I particularly like the colors produced by the OnePlus 10 Pro’s main camera — the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s cameras are a bit better all around. You generally get better sharpness and details if you pixel peep, you get superior stabilization in video, and any zoom beyond 10x will be in Samsung’s favor. However, in really dark scenes, the OnePlus 10 Pro’s main camera can generally take in more light due to having fewer pixels to fill, and I prefer OnePlus’ camera app over Samsung’s. The OnePlus 10 Pro’s camera system is great, but the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera system is still the most versatile and well-rounded.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Software
Both phones run Android 12 with each company’s respective Android skin on top. I personally think OnePlus’ OxygenOS skin is visually more appealing than Samsung’s One UI, with noticeably more fluid (or flashy) animations, and better-looking app icons and fonts. But One UI is more feature-packed and more polished right now.
This is the opposite of what I would have said a couple of years ago when I absolutely adored OxygenOS and much preferred it over Samsung’s take on Android. But as has been reported by many, including my colleague Adam Conway in his OnePlus 10 Pro review that we’ve linked to at the beginning of this article, OxygenOS has lost its identity and is now essentially a branch of ColorOS. This normally wouldn’t be a bad thing — as I like ColorOS a lot — but this OxygenOS version has some quirks. Perhaps the announcement and subsequent backtrack of a planned ColorOS/OxygenOS merger left the OnePlus team with insufficient time to optimize the software?
For example, the OnePlus Shelf, which is a screen dedicated to widgets that had been previously been located as part of the home screens that you simply swipe over to, is now triggered via a swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen, similar to iOS’ Control Center. However, as my colleague Adam noticed, the OnePlus Shelf doesn’t open as a UI overlay, instead it opens as a stand-alone app. So even though you trigger it the same way you would bring down the notification panel, when you close the Shelf, it closes like an app, with animations of it zipping away from the bottom of the screen. You can also briefly have the Shelf show up in multi-task view (for a split second, before the app will disappear).
Also, OxygenOS cannot open apps in a floating window — split-screen multi-tasking is the only way to run more than one app at once. I know opening apps in a floating window is not a native Android feature, instead, it’s something Asian Android brands built in their UI. But I really enjoy having this feature as it makes multitasking easier. Its baffling that OxygenOS doesn’t have this feature, despite the fact ColorOS has it. And yes, Samsung’s OneUI can do this too.
OxygenOS did gain a one-hand mode for the first time ever, but it’s the official Google/Pixel version (which means it’s a ripoff of iOS’ “Reachability”). I much prefer Samsung’s one-hand mode, which shrinks the screen both vertically and horizontally.
One more gripe I have with this new OxygenOS is that it no longer tries to make the UI easier to use with one hand. Previous OxygenOS would show PIN code number pad and app folder icons in the lower third of the screen for easy thumb reach. That’s no more, as OxygenOS, like many other phones, shows the information in the center of the screen, making it potentially hard to reach for people with smaller hands. The awkwardly high positioning of the PIN-code number pad, in particular, is maddening. It’s iPhone 13 Pro Max level of hard to reach. The UI could have been optimized around the fingerprint sensor in this case.
This isn’t to say I have no nitpicks with Samsung’s One UI. I dislike how Samsung’s camera app stays in the last shooting mode instead of returning to the default mode even hours after I last used the camera. This means I’ll often open the Galaxy S22 Ultra app expecting to snap a quick photo just to see that the camera app is in video or portrait mode because I used it like four hours ago. I also find Samsung’s lockscreen annoying, as it doesn’t show notifications on the screen unless I tap on the notification icon. Couple this with the fact that I had to tap the screen, to begin with, means I need to do two to three taps just to read a notification.
But still, One UI doesn’t have weird quirks like the Shelf situation, is generally more reliable to use, and has Samsung DeX, which is a very useful feature that I feel gives the phone extra value, as you can use it as a desktop computer if you need.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra has one more victory over the OnePlus 10 Pro: Samsung is promising four years of updates for its OneUI version of Android, while OnePlus is only offering three. This plays into how long you want to keep your phone around. While updates in the latter parts of the product cycle will come in later, the promise is that they will arrive. So if you plan to use your phone for four years, it makes sense to go with the product that makes a better promise. Samsung is also performing better with its monthly security updates.
Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Overall Performance
Despite the fact that both my Hong Kong version of the Galaxy S22 Ultra and OnePlus 10 Pro are running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is slightly more capable, because OnePlus has apparently throttled the performance of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (perhaps to keep it from getting too hot, as it does on the Xiaomi 12 Pro?). We can see that in Geekbench and PC Mark, my Galaxy S22 Ultra scored higher numbers than the OnePlus 10 Pro, which was what my colleague Adam found as well. He did more in-depth benchmarks including app launch speeds and sustained performance and found that the OnePlus 10 Pro’s performance, while still very good in a vacuum, is generally more subdued than other Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 devices.
Do keep in mind that these are small victories for the Galaxy S22 Ultra in benchmark numbers. In real-world performance, I could hardly tell the difference. Granted, I am not a heavy mobile gamer, but neither are most average consumers. The OnePlus 10 Pro still behaves like a flagship phone in every sense.
Battery life and Charging
Both phones have 5,000 mAh cells that can get through an average work day with zero issues. On heavier usage days, like Sundays when I tend to go out for 12-13 hours before coming home, both phones will struggle to finish said 13 hour day if I am pushing it heavily (which for me is constant photo- and video-taking, social media, and Spotify streaming). I would say battery life can be considered strong because as recently as 2019 or 2020, I’d say very few phones outside of Huawei’s could actually last me a full 13-hour day regularly.
Charging is where OnePlus gets a very clear win: not only does the OnePlus 10 Pro charge much faster (65W in North America and 80W everywhere else — albeit there isn’t a practical difference between the two), the charging brick is also included with the package. The Galaxy S22 Ultra tops out at 45W and there’s no brick in the box. From my testing, my US model of the OnePlus 10 Pro charged from 0 to 100% in a little over 31 minutes using the 65W brick. I don’t have a dedicated 45W brick for my Galaxy S22 Ultra, but my colleagues do and reported that it takes about an hour to top up the Galaxy S22 Ultra from 0 to 100%. And with a 25W brick, you still get the same numbers on the Galaxy S22 Ultra, indicating that there are no practical benefits over 25W charging either. Basically, no matter how you cut it, the OnePlus 10 Pro charges twice as fast as the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
For those wondering, the difference in charging speeds for North American models of the OnePlus 10 Pro is due to the charging technology’s US-specific voltage. It doesn’t really matter because there’s only like a few minutes of difference between charging with a 65W and an 80W brick. And as far as 25W vs 45W goes for the Galaxy S22 Ultra, it’s the same story — only a few minutes of difference which you can ignore — it’s quite slow either way.
Speakers and Haptics
You get stereo speakers on both phones, but the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s speakers sound a bit more full to my ears. As for haptics, both phones bring premium haptics that feels excellent. It’s too hard for me to pick a winner here.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs OnePlus 10 Pro: Which flagship to buy?
While I am a fan of the OnePlus 10 Pro’s display, UI aesthetic, look and feel, and main camera, ultimately the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is a more capable device, with a better zoom system, slightly better video capabilities, and additions like Samsung DeX and the S-Pen. However, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, at $1,100, is $200 more expensive than the $899 OnePlus 10 Pro. There are deals for the Galaxy S22 Ultra that will shave the price a bit and make the phone more lucrative, but ultimately, the OnePlus 10 Pro is the more affordable phone.
In Europe, the OnePlus 10 Pro has another advantage, in that it is one of the few Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 phones available in that region right now since the Galaxy S22 Ultra is powered by the Exynos 2200. If you don’t care about the S-Pen or 10x zoom, the OnePlus 10 Pro is a great option to save a couple of hundred euros while also getting flagship performance. For Europe, we’d recommend the OnePlus 10 Pro over the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra simply because of the lottery with Exynos 2200.
For the rest of the world where it is Snapdragon vs Snapdragon, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra retains its pole position over the OnePlus 10 Pro.