The Samsung Galaxy S22 range is here, and the S22 itself is the standard model in the newest generation of the South Korean tech giants flagship phone line.

The new phones for 2022 are very much an iterative upgrade, and the Galaxy S22 isn’t that much different from the Galaxy S21, other than having a slightly smaller screen and battery. 

That’s not the case for the S22 Ultra, and we also have hands-on reviews of that phone and the S22 Plus, but we’re concentrating on the standard handset here.

Perhaps the main difference between the S22 and its predecessor is the rear camera array – it’s not so much an upgrade here as a reshuffle, with a lower-res telephoto but a higher-res main camera. This doesn’t make a great deal of difference to the overall photography experience though.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is going on sale on February 25 in the US, March 3 in Australia and March 11 in the UK. It was revealed on February 9, which is also when pre-orders opened in most countries.

That’s exactly the same price as the Galaxy S21 for both versions, so Samsung has clearly decided to change the price was a risky move.

Design and display

The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch display – that’s 0.1 inches smaller than its predecessor, a difference so minor you wouldn’t know it without comparing the devices side-by-side. The panel has an FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and 240Hz touch input rate, and uses AMOLED tech.

If you know Samsung phones, you’ll know they have good-looking displays, and the screen on the S22 is no exception, with colors that look bright and bold, dark blacks, and high max brightness.

Design-wise, the S22 is a doppelganger for the S21 down to the Contour Cut camera panel, the absence of a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the flat-edged front. One small change is that the back of the phone is made from glass, not plastic as before, making the phone feel a little more premium, but a little heavier too, in the hand.

You can pick up the phone in Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, or Green.

It’s a relatively small device, both compared to its siblings and to the Android phone market as a whole, making it a good choice for people who like to use their phone one-handed. We found it a comfortable alternative to the super-size smartphones that fill store shelves these days. 

Cameras and battery life

While the Samsung Galaxy S22 has the same 10MP front-facing camera and 12MP ultra-wide camera as its predecessor, its main and telephoto snappers are… different. Not better, not worse, just different.

The main camera has seen an upgrade from a 12MP sensor to 50MP, along with a jump to a superior sensor design, and that should make standard photos brighter and bolder. The telephoto camera has fallen from 64MP to 10MP, though with a better optical zoom of 3x – the S21 had only a 1.1x optical zoom.

Functionally, these changes will mean little to most users. Pictures still look bright and vibrant – one could say oversaturated at times – and you’ve got useful versatility between the ultra-wide and telephoto snappers.

The camera app again features the modes that have proven so useful for Samsung photography fans, like Single Take and Dual View, but the lack of any new modes for the 2022 phones means the camera experience doesn’t feel new in any way.

The battery capacity is surprisingly small at 3,700mAh, which is a downgrade of 300mAh from last year’s model, and we have to hope Samsung has introduced some optimizations to ensure that battery life doesn’t take a hit – we weren’t able to gauge the battery performance during our brief hands-on time with the phone.

The charging speed is 25W, which isn’t fast compared to what some rivals are offering, but thanks to the phone’s smaller battery charging should be faster than on the S21. 

There’s also wireless and reverse wireless power, but they’re at the same speeds as on the previous version of the mobile of 15W and 4.5W respectively.

Specs, performance and software

Samsung is sticking with its two-chipset policy for the S22 series: if you live in the US or Asia, you’re getting a phone with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, while people in Europe and the rest of the world will get Samsung’s own Exynos 2200.

The Exynos chip is marginally less powerful than the Snapdragon, but most users won’t really notice the difference. Both are top-end processors that’ll give you loads of juice for gaming, video editing, or AI tasks.

Both chips are paired with 8GB RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB storage depending on which version you opt for, and there’s 5G support.

The software here is Samsung’s One UI, which users of the brand’s devices will be familiar with, and it’s laid over Android 12. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 offers very few upgrades over last year’s model, so it’s not going to wow you if you have a recent Samsung phone. If you’re still using the Galaxy S9 or older, though, the upgrades here might sway you.

We’re hesitant to recommend the S22 when the Galaxy S21 has seen a year of price cuts, but perhaps some deals on the newer phone could make it a more tempting option. 

Saying that many other upcoming early-2022 flagships like the Xiaomi 12, OnePlus 10, Oppo Find X5, and Realme GT 2 could give the Galaxy a real run for its money.

EARLY VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is a hair smaller than its predecessor, and the cameras are slightly tweaked, but the changes begin and end there. It’s a fine phone, especially for people who like small-body compact mobiles, but it’s hard to get excited about the device.

FOR

  • Compact, hand-friendly size
  • Good-looking display

AGAINST

  • Limited upgrades over S21
  • Small battery and slow charging