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Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Explaining the differences in Samsung’s flagship lineup

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Explaining the differences in Samsung’s flagship lineup

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series is here. Just like the past three years, there are three models to choose from. Unlike the past three years, however, the gap that separates the highest end Ultra model from the other two devices is wider than ever. In fact, the Galaxy S22 Ultra feels like a different phone from the other two. And that’s because it basically is. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is essentially a new Galaxy Note. It looks like a clear evolution of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra than it does over the Galaxy S21 Ultra, from the boxy look with hard corners to the included S-Pen. The standard Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus, meanwhile, are clearly Galaxy S21 sequels, with the same camera module design and overall in-hand feel.

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This makes this comparison article easier to write than ever before. If you have always liked the Galaxy Note series better than the Galaxy S series, if you actually think the S-Pen is useful, then the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the clear phone to get. In fact, if you care about a stylus at all, you almost have no other choice, as the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the only game in town unless you settle for these mid-range Motorola devices. Yeah, it’s a bit pricey, but you’re getting the absolute best of everything — screen, cameras, processors, etc. It’s the kitchen sink phone.

If you don’t care about the stylus or you want to save a bit of money, then the Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus is for you. The good news is Samsung didn’t cut as many corners with the non-Ultra models this year. Last year’s S21 had a plastic back — ridiculous for a “flagship” phone that launched at $800 — and both S21 and S21 Plus had mediocre 12-megapixel main cameras. This time out, you’re getting Gorilla Glass Victus Plus backplates for both Galaxy S22 and S22 Ultra, and both phones got major camera upgrades to a 50MP main camera. In other words, these two phones don’t feel like afterthoughts.

Get the Galaxy S22, if:

  • You want a practical-sized flagship
  • You want great performance, great cameras, at a practical budget
  • You are fine with mediocre charging and battery life

Get the Galaxy S22 Plus, if:

  • You want a bigger screen and faster charging, alongside great cameras
  • You are okay with spending extra for the larger size and attached benefits

Get the Galaxy S22 Ultra, if:

  • You want an integrated S Pen, i.e you want a Galaxy Note
  • You want an overkill flagship with great performance, amazing cameras
  • You don’t mind spending money on a large body device

    The Galaxy S22 picks up where the Galaxy S21 left off by offering the same great Galaxy experience at a more affordable price, albeit with some choice trade-offs.

    The Galaxy S22 Plus does a better job than the Galaxy S21 Plus of bridging the gap between the entry-level Galaxy S22 and the fully-stocked Galaxy S22 Ultra. This year's middle child offers a bigger and better version of the Galaxy S22 experience, albeit it still has some trade-offs vs the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

    The Galaxy S22 Ultra takes a very good phone from last year, and makes a few tweaks. The same great camera experience remains, but now the Galaxy S22 Ultra can also claim to be the best for productivity as well, thanks to the S-Pen. Ultimately, it brings the very best of Samsung and fittingly continues the legacy of the Galaxy Note line.

Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Pricing and Availability

The Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus, and Galaxy S22 Ultra are all available for pre-order now in just about every part of the world. In the US, devices will officially go on sale on February 25th. The official starting retail price in the US is as follows:

  • Galaxy S22: $799
  • Galaxy S22 Plus: $999
  • Galaxy S22 Ultra: $1,199

However, there are plenty of pre-order deals depending on which store or carrier you shop from. Pre-ordering via the Samsung Store, for example, will get you a $200 gift card; meanwhile, carriers like Verizon offer monthly plans that start at as low as $22.22 a month. Be sure to check out our wrap up of deals to get the latest information.

Galaxy S22 Series


Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Specifications

Specification Samsung Galaxy S22 Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Build
  • Armor aluminum frame
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+
  • Armor aluminum frame
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+
  • Armor aluminum frame
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+
Dimensions & Weight
  • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
  • 168g
  • 157.4 x 75.8 x 7.6mm
  • 196g
  • 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
  • 229g
Display
  • 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • FHD+ (1080 x 2340)
  • 10-120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode
  • 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • FHD+ (1080 x 2340)
  • 10-120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode
  • 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • QHD+ (1440 x 3088)
  • 1-120Hz Adaptive Refresh Rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode
SoC (varies by region)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Exynos 2200
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Exynos 2200
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
  • Exynos 2200
RAM & Storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 + 128GB UFS 3.1
  • 8GB + 256GB
  • 8GB LPDDR5 + 128GB UFS 3.1
  • 8GB + 256GB
  • 8GB LPDDR5 + 128GB UFS 3.1
  • 12GB + 256GB
  • 12GB + 512GB
  • 12GB + 1TB
Battery & Charging
  • 3,700mAh
  • 25W wired fast charging support
  • 15W wireless charging support
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • USB-IF compliant
  • 4,500mAh
  • 45W wired fast charging support
  • 15W wireless charging support
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • USB-IF compliant
  • 5,000mAh
  • 45W wired fast charging support
  • 15W wireless charging support
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • USB-IF compliant
Security Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor (4x9mm) Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor (4x9mm) Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor (4x9mm)
Rear Camera(s)
  • Primary: 50MP, 1.0µm, 85° FoV, 23mm, f/1.8, DPAF, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.4µm, 120° FoV, 13mm, f/2.2
  • Telephoto: 10MP, 1.0µm, 36° FoV, 69mm, f/2.4, OIS, 3x optical zoom
  • Video:
    • 8K @24fps
    • 4K @60fps
  • Primary: 50MP, 1.0µm, 85° FoV, 23mm, f/1.8, DPAF, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.4µm, 120° FoV, 13mm, f/2.2
  • Telephoto: 10MP, 1.0µm, 36° FoV, 69mm, f/2.4, OIS, 3x optical zoom
  • Video:
    • 8K @24fps
    • 4K @60fps
  • Primary: 108MP, 0.8µm, 23mm, f/1.8, Adaptive Pixel (high-resolution photo and nona-binning), DPAF, 85° FoV
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.4µm, 120° FoV, 13mm, f/2.2
  • Telephoto: 10MP, 1.12µm, 230mm, f/4.9, 10x optical zoom, 11° FoV
  • Telephoto: 10MP, 1.12µm, 36°, 69mm, f/2.4, 3x optical zoom, 36° FoV
  • Laser autofocus
  • Video:
    • 8K @24fps
    • 4K @60fps
    • Auto-framing, Auto FPS, and Portrait night shots
Front Camera(s)
  • 10MP, 1.22µm, f/2.2, 80° FoV
  • Video:
    • 4K @60fps
  • 10MP, 1.22µm, f/2.2, 80° FoV
  • Video:
    • 4K @60fps
  • 40MP, 1.4µm, f/2.2, 80° FoV
  • Video:
    • 4K @60fps
Port(s) USB Type-C USB Type-C USB Type-C
Audio
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dolby Atmos certification
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dolby Atmos certification
  • Stereo speakers
  • Dolby Atmos certification
Connectivity
  • 5G (mmWave/sub6)
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • NFC
  • 5G (mmWave/sub6)
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • NFC
  • UWB
  • 5G (mmWave/sub6)
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • NFC
  • UWB
Software
  • One UI 4.1 based on Android 12
  • Promised four Android OS upgrades
  • Promised five years of security patches
  • One UI 4.1 based on Android 12
  • Promised four Android OS upgrades
  • Promised five years of security patches
  • One UI 4.1 based on Android 12
  • Promised four Android OS upgrades
  • Promised five years of security patches
Other features
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • IP68 dust and water resistance
  • Built-in S Pen

Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Hardware and Design

As we said, the Galaxy S22 series feels like two separate phone lines: there’s the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus, and then there’s the Galaxy S22 Ultra that’s almost like its own thing. Let’s look at the non-Ultra devices first. The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus look very similar to last year’s Galaxy S21 series, with the same contour cut camera module that spills over the side of the phone, blending into the aluminum chassis. It’s a look we liked a lot last year, and the sentiment returns this year.

Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus in green

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus are almost identical, except for these areas where they differ:

  • Screen dimensions:
    • Galaxy S22: 6.1-inch, 1080 x 2340 OLED screen
    • Galaxy S22 Plus: 6.6-inch, 1080 x 2340 OLED screen
  • Overall dimensions and weight:
    • Galaxy S22:
      • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
      • 168g
    • Galaxy S22 Plus:
      • 157.4 x 75.8 x 7.6mm
      • 196g
  • Battery capacity and charging speeds:
    • Galaxy S22 has a 3,700 mAh cell that can be charged at 25W
    • Galaxy S22 Plus’ 4,500 mAh battery that can be topped up at 45W speeds.
  • Connectivity:
    • Galaxy S22 uses “just” WiFi 6 standard, and skips out on Ultrawide Band support for precise indoor positioning
    • Galaxy S22 Plus has WiFi 6E and UWB support

Both the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus screens look great, with brilliant colors and zippy animations. The smaller model feels very small in the hand and should be popular for those who like small phones. But with that said, the Galaxy S22 Plus doesn’t feel particularly big either. Unlike iPhones, which use a wider aspect ratio and with a blocky build, the 6.6-inch screen of the Galaxy S22 Plus still feels easily usable with one hand for most adults.

Galaxy S22 Plus screen protectors

The Galaxy S22 Plus in the hand.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra, meanwhile, is unapologetically big, with a 6.8-inch display bumping up the phone’s dimensions and weight to 163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm and 229g. The screen is curved on the left and right side, however, which helps offset the wider build and gives a smoother, more seamless one-piece feel to the phone. Still, some people will find this phone a bit unwieldy to hold, particularly with the harder corners.

Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra in the hand.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also has a new back design not seen in a Samsung device yet: there is no camera island or bump to house the camera lenses, they just sort of jut out from the phone’s back. It’s a minimalistic vibe that some will like, some will not. It’s certainly unique.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s screen is a bit better than the two non-Ultra phones: its refresh rate can go as low as 1Hz (the other two can only get down to 10Hz) which helps it conserve more power, and can go up to 120Hz in the blink of an eye. The panel is also higher res, at 1440 x 3088, which puts it in “Quad HD” territory but to be honest, most people will not be able to spot the “superior sharpness” between the Galaxy S22 Ultra or the Galaxy S22 Plus — they’re all great panels.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra display can also support stylus input for the included S-Pen. Just like the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the S-Pen is housed in a silo in the bottom right corner. Honestly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra feels almost exactly in the hand as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Galaxy S22 Plus on top of a Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Plus (top) has flatter sides than the S22 Ultra and most other Android phones.

The in-display fingerprint reader is identical across all three Galaxy S22 phones — they use Qualcomm’s ultrasonic solution, and thankfully, they’re a bit faster and more responsive than before.

Cameras

The Galaxy S21 Ultra had the most well-rounded and versatile camera system of 2021: and the Galaxy S22 Ultra brings back the same setup, but with significant improvement promised by Samsung. While there are some subtle hardware improvements — the lenses are higher quality, for example — most of the improvements will come via software, as Samsung has built a new computational photography system.

I have only had limited time testing Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera system so far, but early testing shows it performs better in low light, produces sharper 10x zoom, superior video stabilization, and better bokeh videos compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra. It almost certainly will be the new standard for smartphone cameras in 2022 for at least the first half of the year.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra rear cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra rear camera specifications

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus, meanwhile, have a less capable camera system compared to its bigger brother — it lacks the Periscope 10x zoom, and its main camera is “just” a 50MP shooter instead of 108MP. However, the ultra-wide sensor is identical, as is the 3x telephoto zoom lens. Plus, compared to last year’s vanilla Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus, these cameras are a big upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Galaxy S22 Plus cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus camera specifications

Most of the camera upgrades come via software improvements

Most of the camera upgrades will come via software improvements, and Samsung is promising a lot. We have published a complete overview of the Galaxy S22 series’ new camera features, so do check that out if you want all the details. But to summarize here, both the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the non-Ultra models will use some form of pixel binning to produce a shot that has more image information than usual. For the 108MP sensor in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung uses nona-binning, which combines nine pixels worth of data into one super large pixel — in other words, the final image produced by the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a 12MP shot but with 108 million pixels’ worth of information. The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus’s 50 megapixel shooter use tetra-binning, which combines four pixels into one for a 12.5MP shot. Pixel binning is not new technology, and Samsung’s Ultra phones have been doing that for years, but Samsung promises it has reworked its computational photography which along with Qualcomm’s new ISP in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 bring significant improvements.

There’s also “Advanced Auto Framing,” where the phones’ cameras will detect the scene, recognize up to 10 objects, and adjust framing, including focal length, to grab a better image.

galaxy s22 ultra camera


Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Software

All three Galaxy S22 phones run on Samsung‘s One UI 4.1 over Android 12. One UI is, in my opinion, one of the best Android skins on the market, offering a ton of extra features that Google’s stock Android doesn’t, such as the ability to launch apps in a floating window, while not getting in the way of what Google has to offer.

New to the Galaxy S22 series are some exclusives that Samsung lined up with Google: there’s Live sharing support for various apps including Google Duo, YouTube previews in Google Messages, and built-in Voice Access support. These are features that even Google’s own Pixel phones don’t have yet.

Google Duo live sharing on Galaxy S22 ultra

Since the Galaxy S22 Ultra features an S-Pen, it of course has more software features compared to the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus. The S-Pen software experience for the Galaxy S22 Ultra will feel familiar to anyone who have used a Galaxy Note phone in recent years. Pull the stylus out from its slot and the Galaxy S22 Ultra reacts: if the screen is off, you jump straight to Screen-Off Memo, which allows you to jot notes on a sleeping screen without needing to light up the screen. If the phone has already been unlocked and the screen is on when the stylus is ejected, then the floating command menu pops up on the right side of the screen.

S-Pen in action

One more software feature that’s not new but can be very useful is Samsung DeX. Simply connect any of the three Galaxy S22 phones into a monitor or a smart TV (via a wireless connection or USB-C cable) and you can use the Samsung phone as a computer, with a Windows-like layout. I have used Samsung DeX on the road at hotels to get work done, and it’s just another feature that could make someone’s life easier.


Samsung Galaxy S22 series: Which one is for you?

All three Galaxy S22 phones offer cutting-edge technology and components, and I think they’re all relatively good value for the dollar compared to what Apple is asking. The Galaxy S22 Ultra in particular can do more things than any other smartphone on the market right now. Want to take extreme close-up macro shots? 100x zoom shots? 8k videos? The Galaxy S22 Ultra camera can do that. Want to run three apps on the screen at once? Or use a stylus to sign digital documents? Or use a PC desktop setup? You can do that too. If you have money to splurge and you want the most capable and powerful slab phone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is it.

Galaxy S22 series

All three Galaxy S22 phones are relatively good value for the dollar compared to what Apple is asking

If you want to save a bit of money, or if you simply do not care about the S-Pen or 10x zoom shots, then the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus are worthy candidates. From here on you just have to decide if you want a small phone that you can one-hand use anywhere with ease, or a slightly bigger phone for better media consumption.

No matter what, if you’re on the market for a new smartphone, you owe it to yourself to check out the Galaxy S22 series and at least have it as a contender on your potential purchase list.

    The Galaxy S22 picks up where the Galaxy S21 left off by offering the same great Galaxy experience at a more affordable price, albeit with some choice trade-offs.

    The Galaxy S22 Plus does a better job than the Galaxy S21 Plus of bridging the gap between the entry-level Galaxy S22 and the fully-stocked Galaxy S22 Ultra. This year's middle child offers a bigger and better version of the Galaxy S22 experience, albeit it still has some trade-offs vs the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

    The Galaxy S22 Ultra takes a very good phone from last year, and makes a few tweaks. The same great camera experience remains, but now the Galaxy S22 Ultra can also claim to be the best for productivity as well, thanks to the S-Pen. Ultimately, it brings the very best of Samsung and fittingly continues the legacy of the Galaxy Note line.

About author

Ben Sin
Ben Sin

I'm a senior editor at XDA Developers. I have been a journalist for a decade, the last five years covering the mobile tech scene closely, reviewing just about every phone and attending trade shows and launches. I also run a gadget review channel on YouTube.

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