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Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Just right

Review
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Last updated: April 12th, 2022 at 13:28 UTC+02:00

For people who want the latest flagship smartphone from Samsung at the lowest price, there’s the Galaxy S22. For those who want the best, there’s the Galaxy S22 Ultra. This begs the question, who’s the Galaxy S22+ for?

Every year, the middle child of Samsung’s Galaxy S series needs to avoid an identity crisis. It needs to outshine the base model just enough to not overshadow the Ultra. The “+” model has been able to perform this tightrope walk quite well over the years.

Will it be business as usual in 2022? This Galaxy S22+ review has all the answers.

Note: This review is based on the Exynos 2200 variant of the Galaxy S22+. 5G connectivity was used sparingly.

Design

Samsung has released some beautifully designed devices, particularly over the past few years. It seems the company can now do that with its eyes closed. In the Galaxy S22+’s case, the design changes are subtle yet meaningful.

The Armor Aluminum chassis not only adds durability but also feels supremely premium to the touch. Fortunately, Samsung retains the glass back on the Galaxy S22+. Gorilla Glass Victus+ protects both the front and rear of the device.

It’s an absolute joy to look at those clean chamfered edges on the rear camera module

Samsung retains the “Contour Cut” design for the camera housing. It’s an absolute joy to look at those clean chamfered edges on the rear camera module. This isn’t a small device but it feels very secure in the hand. It’s great to see that the aluminum frame doesn’t make the device too slippery.

The smaller but flatter and sharper rounded edges bring it all together very nicely. Samsung has done a good job of mastering the design for this model, taking what was so unique about its predecessor and essentially making it perfect.

The Galaxy S22+ offers you little to complain about, at least in the design department. It looks great, feels premium in the hand and the available color options suit it very well. Kudos, Samsung!

Display

Much like its predecessor, the Galaxy S22+ has a flat Infinity-O display with slim bezels. The 6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display maxes out at FHD+ resolution with a variable 48Hz-120Hz refresh rate.

Its intelligent adjustment of the refresh rate is based on what you’re looking at. This enables the device to conserve battery life. One can never get tired of using a high refresh rate display, and we’re glad that this has now become a mainstay of Samsung’s Galaxy S flagship lineup.

Samsung has the best mobile OLED displays on the market and that puts the Galaxy S22+ in a league of its own

Samsung has the best mobile OLED displays on the market and that puts the Galaxy S22+ in a league of its own. The panel is noticeably brighter. The Galaxy S21+ could reach peak brightness of 1,300 nits while the Galaxy S22+ bumps that up to an impressive 1,750 nits.

Outdoor visibility is improved significantly as a result. The quality of the panel is excellent. You get colors that appear true-to-life with punchy contrast. The viewing angles are also great. When you couple that with the high refresh rate and an in-display fingerprint sensor that does what it’s supposed to do well, there’s not much else you need out of the display.

Camera

The Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21+ didn’t get any camera hardware upgrades over the Galaxy S20 and S20+. That’s not the case with the Galaxy S22 and S22+. There are some pretty big changes here. There’s a 50MP main camera instead of a 12MP one, and you get a proper 3x zoom lens instead of a regular 64MP camera, meaning there’s optical magnification instead of digital zoom, similar to what we saw on the Galaxy S20 FE and Galaxy S21 FE.

As you would expect from a Samsung flagship, the main camera produces some solid pictures in all kinds of lighting conditions, with plenty of detail in both bright and dark areas of the scene and colors that are pleasing and mostly similar to what you see with your actual eyes. Nighttime pics aren’t that sharp, which is a long-standing thing with Samsung phones, but the phone does a great job at keeping noise low.

That said, if you thought the jump from the 12MP sensor to the 50MP sensor would bring huge gains, you’re in for disappointment. In my experience, there’s no tangible difference between the 12MP photos taken by the S21+ and the 12MP shots produced by the S22+ (the phone combines four pixels into one, creating 12MP shots instead of 50MP shots by default) during the day. It’s the same story for videos.

Night pics have slightly higher sharpness, but overall, the bigger megapixel count is basically there for marketing purposes if you’re just going to do standard point-and-shoot photography in automatic mode. Should you want to, the S22+ does give you the option to switch to the full 50MP resolution mode, but once again, other than having more room to zoom in on a picture before all detail is lost, you’re not really getting anything worthwhile.

That also applies to the new detail enhancer feature Samsung has introduced with its new flagships. This feature uses AI trickery to bring out more detail in 50MP shots, but comparing photos taken with detail enhancer on and off made me realize it’s a hit-and-miss feature that needs some improvement through software updates going forward.

Sometimes, you can see clearer detail and reduced noise when zooming in on pictures captured with detail enhancer, but at other times (in artificial lighting, in particular), it tends to blur things out for some reason. Even when it does work well, I’m not sure most people will be able to tell the difference unless they’re going to view those pictures up close on a big TV or monitor.

I’m not saying detail enhancer is useless, though, only that it ultimately doesn’t add much to the experience. Here are a couple of pictures taken with detail enhancer off and detail enhancer on (right); both the regular pics and 100% crops are included:

The ultra-wide camera hasn’t changed, and neither has the quality of its photos. You get mostly noise-free pictures in daylight, and while noise is controlled well even at night, there’s a severe lack of fine detail. As for the zoom camera, the switch to a proper 3x telephoto lens results in slightly sharper pictures over the Galaxy S21 and S21+, especially when you move beyond 10x zoom.

But that doesn’t really matter as anything above 10x is almost always unusable. 10x pictures aren’t great, either, but they’re still usable as long as there’s enough light. Basically, if you want amazing zoom, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the phone you should be looking at. The S22+ is only really meant for 3x-4x zoom.

Here’s a gallery of pictures captured at 0.6x (ultra-wide), 1x, 3x, 10x, 20x, and 30x:

With the Galaxy S22 series, Samsung is boasting improved portrait bokeh pictures, but like the detail enhancer detailed above (no pun intended), the improvements aren’t really all that noticeable. I noticed that the S22 series phones are better at edge detection, particularly with loose strands of hair, but Samsung doesn’t seem to have fixed issues with portrait pictures of dogs – see how one of my dog’s ears is blurred out in the first picture in the gallery below.

When it comes to the camera app and shooting modes, not much has changed on the Galaxy S22+ (and the S22 and S22 Ultra), except the fact that you can now use the telephoto lens in Pro mode. Everything from Director’s View to Single Take mode has carried over pretty much as is from the Galaxy S21 series of phones, so feel free to read our Galaxy S21 Ultra review for more details on those. Oh, and yeah, that also means that 8K video recording is still a gimmick, in case you were wondering.

Lastly, let’s talk about selfies. The selfie camera is another aspect of the hardware that’s not been upgraded for the S22 and S22+ this year, so there’s not much to say about it. Daytime selfies offer plenty of detail while getting pretty close to your actual skin tone, while nighttime selfies are softer and have some fine noise.

Performance

Every year, the new Galaxy S flagships get the latest in mobile technology. The Galaxy S22+ is no different. Depending on your region, you’ll get it with either Samsung’s Exynos 2200 chipset or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Both have an integrated 5G modem. You can only get it with 8GB of RAM but with 128GB or 256GB of storage.

These are the first 4nm chipsets used for a Galaxy smartphone, and as such are backed by big claims about performance improvements. The fact is that the Galaxy S22+ performs as you’d expect a brand new flagship to. Apps and games are quick to launch, the device doesn’t get bogged down during multi-tasking and even the best mobile games can be played with ease.

The Galaxy S22+ is capable of handling almost everything that you can throw at a smartphone

Simply put, the Galaxy S22+ is capable of handling almost everything that you can throw at a smartphone in this day and age. It does that without overheating significantly and that’s a testament to its good thermal management capability (or the throttling of apps, as has been discovered recently).

Overall, the Galaxy S22+ provides great performance. We would have liked to have the option to select at least 12GB of RAM. That would have future-proofed it a bit, considering the software update guarantee that it has.

Software, audio quality

The Galaxy S22+ ships with Android 12 out of the box and One UI 4.1. The latter is a minor upgrade for Samsung’s custom skin with new improvements and features. Samsung has made improvements to the camera as well as other native apps. RAM Plus has been updated to enable users to choose how much virtual RAM they want. Some cosmetic improvements have also been made to refresh the look and feel of the UI.

It all works very well. We didn’t encounter any glitches or bugs that negatively affect the user experience. Apps will crash rarely, if they ever do at all. It goes to show that Samsung has made significant strides in improving the stability of its software.

This level of software support is unmatched, even by Google itself

Samsung has also committed to providing four years of Android OS upgrades for the Galaxy S22+. This ensures that the device is supported until Android 16. It will also get five years of security updates. This level of software support is unmatched, even by Google itself, and that’s a big reason why the new Galaxy S22 series is so appealing.

The audio quality is better compared to its predecessor. The dual speakers achieve more clarity, particularly going up all the way to max volume, all while keeping any noticeable distortion to a minimum. The speakers do get nice and loud which is always helpful since we consume so much media content on our devices now.

Battery life

It did come as a surprise when the Galaxy S22+ was confirmed to feature a 4,500mAh battery. It’s smaller than the Galaxy S21+’s 4,800mAh battery. In our Galaxy S21+ review, we highlighted that the device managed to achieve a screen on time of more than 6 hours while lasting 12-13 hours on a single charge with moderate use.

Samsung could opt for a smaller battery on the Galaxy S22+ due to the efficiency improvements of the new internals. Our testing indicates that the device can comfortably provide a screen on time of around 7 hours. Expect it to last almost 15 hours on a single charge.

However if you do push the device hard and use 5G consistently, you’d see those figures change. With that being said, there’s enough depth here to get you through the day on just one charge. The efficiency gains do speak for themselves here.

Samsung has made the Galaxy S22+ compatible with 45W wired charging. Its predecessor was at 25W. So you’d think that the Galaxy S22+ would charge at almost twice the speed, but that’s not really true. And yes, as you might have expected, there’s no charger in the box.

Our Galaxy S22+ charging test video tests the speed on both the 45W and 25W chargers. The results are rather surprising, watch the video below to find out more.

Verdict

Looking at the Galaxy S22+’s starting price point you might think some of its specs should have been better (more RAM, a high-resolution display, a microSD slot would all be nice to have), and I would agree. But I also think that Samsung’s decision to focus on the essentials and perfecting the core experience has paid off and and makes the Galaxy S22+ Samsung’s Goldilocks phone. That is to say this phone is just right, and in my belief the best choice of the three Galaxy S22 models for most customers.

Samsung
Galaxy S22+

What we like

  • Perfect design and build quality
  • A beautiful and crazy bright display
  • Fast performance
  • Four years of OS upgrades (up to Android 16!)
  • Excellent cameras
  • Good battery life, 45W charging support

What we don't

  • No microSD slot, no headphone jack
  • No charger in the box
  • 45W charging isn't all that faster than 25W
  • Not exactly a huge camera upgrade from two years ago
Review Galaxy S22 Plus
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