Samsung Galaxy S22 5G Review: Heartaches by the number

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With the Samsung Galaxy S22 5G there seems to be a change, a shift in pace that can cause heartaches to Samsung fans who want to move on. In this in-depth review of the Samsung Galaxy S22, we are going to take a look at the introductory flagship that made me toss and turn.

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Good

  • Really nice to look at
  • Great display
  • Adequate performance
  • Excellent cameras
  • The selfies are just right
  • Four years of OS updates and five years of security patches

Bad

  • Dysfunctional shape
  • Heats up easily
  • 3700 mAh is not enough
  • Very slow charging
  • Few changes from the S21

Samsung Galaxy S22 in a nutshell

To be brief, with the Samsung Galaxy S22 we do not see many changes, and those that we do see are undeniably mediocre. Samsung seems to be pressing the breaks across the board, keeping the most meaningful upgrades for the Samsung Galaxy S22+ and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.

NextPit Samsung Galaxy S22 Display
The Samsung Galaxy S22. / © NextPit

Now, for the price of $799 the S22 is a great smartphone, and will be for years to come. But I feel underwhelmed: A pause in innovation should be accompanied by refinement and in the Samsung Galaxy S22, the problems persist. If you liked the Samsung Galaxy S21, you will like this one too, but if you had any concerns with the previous device, you should wait for another year or look elsewhere.

Read our buying guide, buy the Samsung Galaxy S22 at the best prices!  

The Samsung Galaxy S22 was presented in February 2022 alongside the Samsung Galaxy S22+ and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The device comes with two different versions, one featuring the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 that was released in the US and other regions, and the other featuring the Exynos 2200 that we tested here, which is available in the EU. 

The prices are similar to the Samsung Galaxy S21 and begin from $799 for the Samsung Galaxy S22 with 128GB and $849 for the larger 128GB. 

Design: All form and no substance

The Samsung Galaxy S22 touts a strikingly similar design to its predecessor, 
taking a successful step down the minimalist path with a homogenous color scheme and an improved glass back.


What I liked

  • Really nice to look at
  • The different elements, materials, and colors match perfectly
  • Compact size and low weight

What I disliked

  • Edges of the frame are uncomfortable to hold
  • Too much wobbling when on a flat surface

NextPit Samsung Galaxy S22 Side
The compact size and the perfect balancing are the strongest design features of the S22. / © NextPit

The shape of the display is closer to the more squared approach that we see by Apple the past few years, which in combination with the relatively compact size (at 6.1 inches) makes the display of the S22 a beauty to look at. Aside from the punch hole, there is visually nothing to distract your eye and the smaller length also means that your eyes have to move less.

But this is where the heartaches begin. Samsung has invested so much in minimalism that forgot that smartphones are, in principle, functional devices that we use every day in many different environments. The most basic function of a phone is to be grasped by human hands and I found the Samsung Galaxy S22 weirdly uncomfortable to hold.

Even though the balancing is perfect and you will not feel tired holding it (the weight of just 167g also helps here), the edges of the frame are straight with a small gap that provides tactile feedback in your palm at the points of contact. To say it plainly; the device feels like touching the corner of a table.

NextPit Samsung Galaxy S22 USB
Aesthetically the S22 is a beauty to look at! / © NextPit

Another point where Samsung seems to have chosen aesthetic minimalism over functionality is stability. When the S22 is left on its back, functionality disappears. Trying to type is guaranteed to create considerable wobble and noise and even unlocking the device will cause it to move.

Samsungs boasts of a minimalist design and while they are technically right, this is the wrong kind of minimalism. Aesthetics should go alongside, or at least not hinder, function. Investing in a case is a must in my opinion, not for the protection of the Samsung Galaxy S22, but that of my sanity from the upsetting contact feedback and table noises.

Display: A sight you can’t resist

The S-Series always enjoyed some of the best innovations in the field.
 In the Samsung Galaxy S22, we have a similar story, with the device boasting a bright Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate and 1300 nits of peak brightness.


What I liked:

  • Visible under direct sunlight
  • Super smooth at 120Hz
  • Great customization options

What I didn’t like:

  • Smaller size is not ideal for competitive gaming
  • Consumes a lot of battery

NextPit Samsung Galaxy S22 Front Camera
The display of the S22 is very bright, with the only dark spot being the selfie camera. / © NextPit

Whatever ends up in the display is simply beautiful to look at, enabled by the resolution of 1080 x 2340 (~425 ppi), the smooth refresh rate, and the HDR10+ capabilities. The obvious competitor, the iPhone 13, is fighting outside its league. The customization abilities through the settings, that allow you to fine-tune the colors to your liking also have no match right now.

What I also really liked is the ability to lock the full brightness of the display which allowed me to get the best possible experience when playing games or watching both SDR and HDR content. The brightness is enough that even under direct sunlight, it is perfectly visible.

So if you want striking visuals and great content reproduction the Samsung Galaxy S22 is a solid choice, but if you want something better, the S22+ is worthy of consideration.

Software: Coming back to stay

Samsung has done an excellent job in the software side of things.
One UI 4.0 is a well-balanced Android 12 skin that is easy to just set up and forget for casual users. If you want to learn everything you can do with it, I highly recommend that you read our One UI 4.0 Review.

Here I mostly want to talk about the update policies and what you can expect from your Samsung Galaxy S22 in that sense. In terms of software updates, Samsung has promised four years for the Samsung Galaxy S22, which means that it will be receiving the latest Android versions up to around 2025. If the release cycle of Android does not change, the S22 will stop receiving updates with Android 16!

At this point, software support will probably outlast the hardware which shows that Samsung is expecting you to keep your device for longer. This also demonstrates Samsungs confidence that the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S22 will be relevant at least four years down the line.

Performance: “Troubles by the storm”

Testing the performance of the Samsung Galaxy S22 was quite tricky.  
Samsung has once again fragmented its products by using two different chips
. The one we are testing here is the European version, which features the Exynos 2200 that was co-developed with AMD which fails to impress us.


What I liked:

  • Competent for 2022
  • Exynos 2200 SoC is on par with the competition in CPU
  • Good thermal throttling won’t burn your hands off

What I didn’t like:

  • GPU cant keep up with the benchmarks
  • Very wide variation between each test run
  • Almost constantly warm to the touch

In the CPU tests, the Exynos 2200 manages a considerable score of 1,158 in single-core and 3,414 in multi-core in GeekBench 5. This is a bit better than with the Snapdragon 8g1 that we had the chance to test in the Oppo Find X5 Pro, which scored 846 / 3,324. But keep in mind that this performance is different even between devices with the same SoC, so the Samsung S22 with the Snapdragon could be anywhere between.

But graphics is where it underperforms. For all the gravitas of the RDNA2 name, the Xclipse 920 GPU has little to flex in graphical performance. In our test, we did not manage to get satisfying results and the performance was all over the place. 

Before we look at the specific benchmarks, I want to say that all games run smoothly with the Exynos 2200. The thermal throttling is pretty severe, but under normal gaming circumstances, users should not see a huge difference in performance. Gaming for a few hours in PUBG: New State was a pretty fun experience, with no perceivable drops, and this is one of the most graphically intense games out there, so I can confidently recommend the Samsung Galaxy S22 to Android gamers out there.

In the 3DMark Wildlife test, the results were all over the place. Our top result was 7035, while our lowest was halved at 3,535 with several passes in between. Digging deeper, we find that to be the outcome of some very aggressive thermal throttling. Even if the temperatures are generally increased, they do not pass the 44c threshold, to the detriment of performance.

In the Wildlife stress test, we had a top score of 6,508 and a low of 3.939. For comparison, the Snapdragon 8g1 of the Oppo Find X5 Pro pulled nearly double the results at 9,192 / 6,069.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Performance comparison

Benchmark Samsung Galaxy S22 Oppo Find X5 Oppo Find X5 Pro Asus Zenfone 8 OnePlus 9 Xiaomi Mi 11
3D Mark Wildlife 7035 at 42.10 fps 5,830 at 34.9 fps 9,300 at 55.7 fps 5,753 5,683 5,702
3D Mark Wildlife Stress Test (best / worst) 5581 / 3537 4,723 / 3217 9,192 / 6,069 5,825 5,716 5,697
Geekbench 5 (single / multi) 1,158 / 3,414 1,097 / 3,155 846 / 3,324 1,124 / 3,738 1,119 / 3,657 1,085/3,490
Passmark RAM 29,030 26,490 26,978 32,247 32,124 26,333
Passmark storage 77,489 99,707 87,842 11,2318 11,5311 120,430

Cameras: Captivating stare

In terms of cameras, Samsung has not made huge changes over the Samsung Galaxy S21, but by itself, 
the S22 impressed me with the color accuracy and the details in well-lit environments.
The S22 is a serious choice for people who need the best out of their cameras. 


What I liked:

  • The main camera images have great color accuracy and details
  • Zoom up to x10 works like a charm
  • Selfies are really good

What I didn’t like:

  • Night mode is almost unusable
  • Background blur can be problematic

The primary camera is a 50MP wide-angle camera with an aperture of f/1.8 and optical image stabilization. Under good lighting conditions, I was impressed by how easily you could capture beautiful pictures with the vibrant colors that Samsung has us used to.

The same is true for the 12MP ultra-wide camera with an aperture of f/2.2. The lower megapixels do contribute to fewer details and worse edges, especially in objects with strong shadows, but this is mostly inconceivable to the average user and the results from the Ultrawide are more than usable.

The last of the main cameras is the 10 MP telephoto lens with an aperture of f/2.4, which constitutes an upgrade over the S21’s x1.1 lens. This camera can create some nicely detailed zoomed-in images. With x3 optical zoom, the OIS was very much appreciated when trying to capture steady pictures of objects that were further away.

Zooming in further produced mixed results. The digital zoom can produce some decent pictures but the quality drops considerably with every increase. Personally, I would remain within single-digit zooming numbers.

In portraits and selfies, I was truly surprised. The selfie camera, a 10MP wide lens with an f/2.2 aperture, is almost too good for its own good. The vibrancy of the colors can, under the “wrong” conditions, capture the good and the bad of your skin. This little guy in the front of your display can shoot a 4K video at 60fps.

My only issue was that in open areas, the auto blur feature struggled to recognize me and sometimes looked like a bad photoshop job. In one of the included examples, it cropped half of my ear, probably confused by the earbuds that I was wearing.

Lastly, we have night photography. This is another big heartache because Samsung advertised this point quite heavily, only to fall flat. The results were very circumstantial, with straight-up distracting highlights and over-exposed light sources. In completely dark environments you will basically need a tripod, as any micromovement will ruin a shot and the results are not guaranteed either.

 

Battery: “I waited (two hours) but you must have lost your way.”

The battery is admittedly the biggest disappointment from Samsung this year.
Alongside the smaller size, the S22 received a downgrade in battery size to 3700 mAh. On top of that, we find no charger in the box and the charging speeds are stuck at 2018 with 25W. 


What I liked:

  • Plenty of customization options to tune the device to your needs.

What I didn’t like:

  • No included charger.
  • Only 25W in 2022 is bad
  • 3700 mAh is too little
  • Battery life of only one day

NextPit Samsung Galaxy S22 Camera
The camera island is visually pleasing but hinders the functionality. / © NextPit

To charge the battery from 0 to 100%, you will need two hours with a conventional charger and about one hour and thirty minutes with a charger capable of quick charging. Unfortunately, I did not have an original Samsung charger readily available, so I could not test the speeds with the official charger, which will set you back another $35.

Under normal conditions, you should expect your device to last you for about one whole day with some concessions. If the charging speeds were better, this would have been respectable but remaining hooked to a plug for two hours every day is less than ideal, especially when the competition, like the Oppo Find X5, can go from 0-100% in 45 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy S22 technical specifications

Samsung Galaxy S22 Technical Specifications
Product
Image Samsung Galaxy S22
Colors White, Graphite, Phantom Black, Pink Gold, Sky Blue, Violet, Cream
Dimensions & Weight     146 x 70.6 x 7.6 mm at 167g
Screen 6.1 inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1080 x 2340 pixels, 120 Hz
Memory 128/256 GB ROM and 8 GB RAM
CPU & GPU Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (Global) / Exynos 2200 (Europe, tested model)
OS Android 12 with One UI 4.0
Camera Module – Wide-angle main lens: 50 MP, f/1.8, 23mm, 1/1.56″, 1.0 µm | Dual Pixel PDAF | OIS
– Ultra wide-angle lens: 12 MP, f/2.2, 13mm, 120˚ FoV, 1/2.55″, 1.4 µm | Super Steady Video
– Telephoto: 10 MP, f/2.4, 70mm, 1.4 µm | PDAF | OIS | 3x optical zoom
– Selfie: 10 MP, f/2.2, 1/3.24″, 1.22 µm | Auto-HDR
Video – Back: 8K at 24 fps | 4K at 30/60 fps | 1080p at 30/60/120 fps | HDR10+|
– Selfie: 4K at 30/60 FPS | 1080 at 30 fps
Battery 3700 mAh | Fast charging 25W | Fast wireless charging 15W | Reverse wireless charging at 4.5W | USB Power Delivery
IP Certification IP68 Water/Dust resistant (up to 1.5m at 30 mins)
Audio Dual stereo speakers tuned by AKG | No 3.5 mm jack

Final verdict: A love you can’t win

I am conflicted, dizzied like a lover who struggles to decide if his S.O is the right one. The cameras and the aesthetics are pretty good, while the display remains excellent and future support is encouraging. But these are pretty much all the good things about the Samsung Galaxy S22. Yes, they are very attractive things, especially for mainstream users and you would be forgiven for ignoring the rough grip and the inconsistent night mode.

Hell, even the performance may be all over the place, but it is not bad in any sense. Just underwhelming when you look at other offerings. I would like to be excited about the Samsung Galaxy S22, but unfortunately, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is not for me. The slow charging and the absence of the charger can’t fully cover modern needs, and it will be a significant burden for most users. 

Even though I can recommend the Samsung Galaxy S22 to users with older phones looking to try their way with an S-series, you have to be aware of the red flags. Now, for Samsung fans looking for a meaningful upgrade, if you bought a device within the past two years, Samsung has equipped the Samsung Galaxy S22+ with features worth the extra cash, like a 45W charging speed and a brighter screen.

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