After a couple of affordable 5G phones that make too many sacrifices to give you next-generation cellular connectivity support, Samsung recently followed up with another such model, the Galaxy A22 5G. At the time of this review, it's the cheapest 5G phone in Samsung's A series lineup. Its highlights are the 5G support, MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset, a 90Hz Full HD+ display, and, well, that's about it.
The LTE version of the Galaxy A22 is better in some regards. It comes with a Super AMOLED display (though with a lower resolution), has four rear cameras instead of three, and supports optical image stabilization on the main camera. However, the differences between the LTE and 5G A22 aren't as many as, say, those between the Galaxy A32 and A32 5G, and the 5G model isn't as unattractive as a result.
But should your search for a cheap 5G phone end at the Galaxy A22 5G? Is it worth your hard-earned money? This review has the answer.
The Galaxy A22 5G's design is a double-sided coin: It's as ugly from the front as it is beautiful from the back. First, let's talk about the latter. The A22 5G has a plain matte finish similar to the one you find on the A32, A52, and A72, and our mint review unit looks cute and classy. The phone uses a plastic panel, as you expect from non-flagship Galaxy phones, but it doesn't feel cheap to the touch, though the back does attract plenty of fingerprints.
The front, unfortunately, is ruined by enormous bezels around the display. Not an issue when the screen is off, but turn it on and that large chin in particular will make many folks cringe. The display itself is more than decent, though that still doesn't make those bezels okay. I know we're talking about a fairly affordable device here, but bezels like these simply have no place on a phone in 2021.
One of the ways Samsung has cut costs here is by opting for the good old side-mounted fingerprint sensor instead of an in-display solution. It's a physical sensor so it's crazy accurate and fast, though there were a few times when the fingerprint reader simply didn't respond when the screen was off. It didn't throw any errors but failed to do anything, which I hope is something Samsung can fix through a software update.
Display, audio quality
I was pleasantly surprised by the display on the Galaxy A22 5G. It's a TFT LCD screen with a refresh rate of 90Hz and Full HD+ resolution, and the quality of the LCD here is noticeably higher than those used by other Galaxy devices in the A22 5G's price range. Except for the fact that you don't get the deep blacks of an AMOLED panel because LCD displays use a backlight, this screen is pretty good.
The Galaxy A22 5G's screen is surprisingly good
Also a good thing is that you're getting a 90Hz refresh rate. The MediaTek Dimensity 700 chipset is powerful enough to support the high refresh rate, so you will experience smooth animations and scrolling most of the time. The screen also gets sufficiently bright outdoors, and the Full HD+ resolution keeps all kinds of content sharp.
Audio quality is mediocre, as you expect from Galaxy devices in this segment. There's a single, not-so-loud bottom firing speaker that gets drowned out in noisy environments, and there are no earphones in the box so you will need to buy your own. There's Dolby Atmos support for enhanced stereo separation over earphones and Bluetooth audio, and it works fairly well.
The Galaxy A22 5G has a triple rear camera setup, with a 48MP main camera, a 5MP ultra-wide lens, and a 2MP depth sensor. The main camera surprised me with its quality – there's ample detail, wide dynamic range, and low noise in all but the most low-light environments, though the results can be a little too soft at times.
Samsung's also packed the phone with a powerful Night mode. Unlike other non-flagship phones from Samsung, this one actually does what Night mode is supposed to do: Extract more detail from the scene, increase overall brightness, and keep noise low. Each Night mode shot is captured for six seconds and the results you get are quite good.
Below are a couple of pictures taken in standard photo mode and Night mode. The images you get aren't that great, but for a phone in this segment, they are better than what other Galaxy devices have to offer.
The ultra-wide camera, on the other hand, is barely serviceable, and so is the 8MP selfie camera. Both produce soft results, and ultra-wide shots manage to be noisy even in bright daylight. Selfies, meanwhile, are often overexposed. The 2MP depth sensor works I guess, as portrait shots have deep blur and good foreground and background separation, but the photos you get don't look very natural.
For videos, the Galaxy A22 5G has a unique 2K recording resolution, which is slightly higher than Full HD. In practice, both resolutions offer similar results, with good enough detail and colors during the day but soft, noisy results at night. It's nothing special, in short. The same goes for shooting modes, which is a small list. You get food, panorama, night, slow motion, hyperlapse, and pro modes (pro mode is the basic version without shutter speed control).
Here are some pictures from the A22 5G's cameras:
Because smartphone chips with 5G capabilities are usually quite powerful, all of Samsung's mid-range and affordable 5G-equipped phones offer impressive performance, and the same is true for the Galaxy A22 5G. The MediaTek chip (Dimensity 700) that powers this phone is actually good. There are some slowdowns here and there in regular use, especially in the camera app (a problem not exclusive to Samsung's affordable phones), but the A22 5G works well a majority of the time.
The A22 5G works well a majority of the time
As mentioned in the display section above, the phone almost never has an issue driving the 90Hz refresh rate, unlike the Galaxy A32 that we found to be a little too slow for 2021. Gaming performance is excellent, too, as long as you stick to the default visual settings in graphically demanding games like Call of Duty. On the whole, there's nothing to complain about performance on this phone, especially for the asking price.
The 5G capabilities on this phone are quite good, too. It supports 11 5G bands according to Samsung so it should have pretty wide compatibility, just as long as 5G networks actually exist in your country. They don't here in India, so this wasn't something I was able to test. Still, the A22 5G is future-proof when it comes to cellular connectivity.
Network performance is generally excellent, with no issues connecting to Wi-Fi routers through thick walls or latching on to LTE networks. Sadly, call volume is stupidly low over both the loudspeaker and the earpiece when you're outdoors, which necessitates the use of earphones.
The Galaxy A22 5G runs Android 11 out of the box with One UI 3.1 Core on top, so it's a bare-bones version of Samsung's software. Features like Bixby, a screen recorder, Samsung Pay, Secure Folder, and more are missing as a result. Even gestures like Lift to wake are missing, though the options to double tap the screen to wake it and turn it off are present.
The A22 5G runs a bare-bones version of Samsung's software
Some of the One UI 3.1 stuff, like Google Discover on the home screen, Google Messages as the default SMS app, and the ability to remove location data from photos before sharing them is available. Quick Share is there, as well, along with the usual features like theme support, Dual Messenger, Game Launcher, Edge panels, and one-handed mode. But the basic software experience is disappointing, especially given the horsepower on this phone.
The Galaxy A22 5G should get two major OS upgrades over its lifetime and at least three years of security updates, which is standard fare for Galaxy devices of the A22 5G's caliber, at least until Samsung decides to change its software update game again.
The Galaxy A22 5G's 5,000 mAh battery can last you an entire day with a mix of medium to heavy use and still have a little charge left over to stay on until the next morning without having to resort to power saving modes. That said, you should charge this phone overnight if you don't have a lot of time in the morning, as it uses the outdated 15W fast charging, which takes over two hours to get you a full charge. A charger is included in the box, if you're wondering.
The Galaxy A22 5G's 5,000 mAh battery can last you an entire day
With light use, the Galaxy A22 5G can easily last until evening on the second day, so battery life is fantastic overall, especially since you don't have to disable the 90Hz refresh rate. Of course, just how well it will do with 5G networks enabled is another story. It should technically still be impressive as the Dimensity 700 is a 7nm chip and, hence, quite efficient, but it's impossible to say without real-world testing.
These days, I'm judging Samsung's affordable and mid-range phones based on how quickly I want to move back to a flagship device after the review, and the A22 5G passes with flying colors. All I missed were the considerably better cameras you get on flagships – nothing else truly bothered me, which is the highest praise I can give this phone.
The A22 5G has a smooth display, excellent performance and battery life, decent main camera, and a cute little design. On the flip side, the software is too basic, an AMOLED screen would have been much better, the bezels should have been smaller, and you're still having to make do with Samsung's old and slow 15W charging tech.
Still, as far as affordable 5G-equipped devices go, Samsung's finally gotten it right with the Galaxy A22 5G and the phone gets our recommendation.