Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions: A Note-worthy crossover

One that was bound to happen at some point.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions
Galaxy S22 Ultra price in India is starts at Rs 1,09,999.

The Note is dead. Long live Galaxy S Ultra.

While the writing had been on the wall, for a while, at Mobile World Congress 2022, Samsung finally confirmed the death of the Galaxy Note. The iconic product line, that made its debut a decade ago, will now come out as the Galaxy S Ultra. You can say that it’s the end of an era.

The crossover was bound to happen at some point, though. With Samsung charting new frontiers on the foldable front and making its latest and greatest folding phones work with the S-Pen, too, there was a big chance the Galaxy Note—as iconic as it may be—would have been lost in translation. There could be counter arguments how the Note was one-of-its-kind but to be clear, the transition seems only in name, at least at the time of writing. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, the first of—we’re hoping—many such crossovers, is a repurposed Galaxy Note for all intents and purposes.

The move is financially viable. Having two different product lines vying for more or less the same kind of buyer, isn’t always a good idea. But there’s another potentially big benefit. A leaner portfolio, especially on the flagship side, means Samsung can give a phone like the Galaxy S22 Ultra more attention, software-wise—tune it better over time and improve the experience by leaps and bounds over the course of its lifecycle. That’s probably why it was able to announce extended support for it (among others) with four major OS and five years of security updates guaranteed, giving Google something to think about while putting every other brand on notice.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions
The S-Pen has a touch latency of 2.8ms. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

Samsung has hit gold with One UI, lately, pushing out updates faster than any other brand we can think of. While in the West, its phones are largely seen as the only good alternative to an iPhone, in India, there is lots of competition. That competition may be catching up in hardware, but Samsung’s renewed commitment to software straight-up rockets it past every competing brand making it the undisputed flagship leader, once again. Speaking of which, our review unit of the S22 Ultra runs Android 12-based One UI 4.1 with the latest February 2022 patch.

As for hardware, it’s textbook Samsung. It is a repurposed Galaxy Note in design, alright, but rocking the latest and greatest in build materials, and what lies under the hood.

Watch | Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Unboxing & First Look

The back is made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ and has a nice, satin finish. The frame is made of metal. This is glossy. Even though it is as big and bulky—228g, 8.9mm—as the S21 Ultra, the front is much boxier—like the Note—so it feels bigger, and bulkier. There is no getting around this fact. But for what it’s worth, the sides are rounded so it does not dig into your palm as much as say, the Note 20 Ultra. The build, expectedly, is solid. The fit and finish, very premium.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions
The back is made of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

On the front you get a 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X LTPO display with a 1440p resolution (3080x1440p) and variable 1Hz-120Hz refresh rate. The panel can top a “ridiculously high” 1750nits, supports up to 240Hz touch sampling (in game mode), and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+. There is a punch hole cut-out at the centre of the display. This houses a 40MP (f/2.2) selfie camera. Biometrics are handled by an ultrasonic fingerprint reader.

Breaking with convention, the S22 Ultra is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip in India. This is paired with up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB storage. This is not expandable. Powering the phone is a 5,000mAh battery with 45W fast wired and 15W wireless charging. There is no charger in the box, just a USB C to USB C cable. Wireless powershare is also available for charging other compatible devices wirelessly. Rounding off the package are IP68 dust and water resistance, dual stereo speakers, and a dual-SIM slot along with support for 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and ultra-wideband (UWB).

For photography, the phone has four cameras on the back—a 108MP main sensor that sits behind an optically stabilised f/1.8 lens, a 12MP sensor behind an ultrawide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and 120-degree field-of-view, a 10MP sensor behind an optically stabilised f/2.4 aperture 3x telephoto lens, and another 10MP periscope-style 10x zoom camera.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first impressions
S22 Ultra runs Android 12-based One UI 4.1. (Photo credit: Saurabh Singh/Financial Express)

The S22 Ultra packs lots of power, clearly, but it’s the bundled S-Pen that makes it a productivity powerhouse. Those who know, would know. The thing becomes habit, instantly, and because Samsung has been doing it for so long—and the only brand doing it at such scale— it’s been crafted to near perfection. While feature set remains largely the same as the Note 20 Ultra—from general notetaking to being a handy camera shutter—Samsung has improved latency, even further, to 2.8ms (this was 9ms in the Note 20 Ultra) which brings the whole experience extremely close to that of writing on an actual sheet of paper—it doesn’t get any better than this.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra price in India is set at Rs 1,09,999 for 12GB/256GB while a version with 12GB/512GB configuration will set you back by Rs 1,18,999.

With the S22 Ultra, we have a Note-worthy crossover, one that was bound to happen at some point. The Note will surely be missed, but, as of today, it lives by another name—the S22 Ultra—and as far as first impressions are concerned, it lives up to the hype. Watch this space for our full review of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

Also Read | Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra revisited: Galaxy S22 Ultra better be this good

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First published on: 02-03-2022 at 16:45 IST