There are few phones in the market with the reverence accorded to Samsung’s Galaxy Note series. Loved for its massive displays, powerful performance and innovative S Pen stylus, the Galaxy Note series have remained the mainstay of power users since their inception in 2011 with new models arriving almost every year though there has been no new successor since the Galaxy Note20 series launched in 2020. Until now.
With the newly released Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has effectively resurrected the design ethos of the Galaxy Note series and melded it into the most powerful variant of the Galaxy S22 series but does it really work? Here’s our Galaxy S22 Ultra first look to see what Samsung’s most powerful phone has to offer, what’s in the box and if it really is one of the best flagship phones for 2022.
What is the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the resurrected heir to the Galaxy Note series that was thought to have passed on into history.
As the largest of the Galaxy S22 series alongside the smaller Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+, the top of the line Galaxy S22 Ultra has the best specifications out of the entire trio of new phones in terms of screen size and quality, the largest battery capacity, the most amount of RAM as well as a superior camera array though all Galaxy S22 series phones in Malaysia feature the same powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor running under the hood.
More importantly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the only phone in the new Galaxy S22 line-up that has the sole distinguishing feature which makes it a true Galaxy Note series successor – an integrated S Pen stylus.
You can check out our prior feature that covers where the Galaxy S22 Ultra is placed in Samsung’s current pantheon of flagship phones and how it stacks up to the rest of the Galaxy S22 series revealed at Unpacked 2022 here.
At its Malaysia debut, Samsung enjoyed preorders of such magnitude for the Galaxy S22 series that they’ve offered both a first and second preorder wave which is in line with what’s happening with the rest of the world.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra First Look – What’s in the Box
Our Galaxy S22 Ultra first look is specifically at a retail unit intended for the Malaysia market. You can acquire the Galaxy S22 Ultra in your choice of four colourways in Malaysia – Burgundy, Green, Phantom White and Phantom Black.
Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra features the bare minimum of accessories which makes the packaging extremely compact indeed.
@hitechcentury Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Burgundy first look and unboxing! #fyp #malaysia #viral #tech #galaxys22 @samsungmaiaysia @tiktok_malaysia ♬ Unstoppable – Sia
The box features a matte black and silvery motif with an S monogram on the front colour-matched to the paint job of the phone within with our Galaxy S22 Ultra first look sample coming in a deep reddish shade of Burgundy.
Once you’ve popped the phone out of the packaging, you get a quick start manual, a SIM ejector pin and a USB-C cable for charging and docking duties. The titular S Pen is stored in the phone itself.
Like last year’s Galaxy S21 series, Samsung has omitted a charger with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. If you need a charger, you’ll have to purchase one separately from Samsung or from a third party provider which has USB Power Delivery 3.0 support like UGreen’s range of GaN chargers.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra First Look – Specifications for Malaysia units
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in several configurations with some regions using the Exynos 2200 processor or the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. For the first time ever, the Galaxy S22 Ultra for Malaysia uses the latter; traditionally our region uses Exynos processors which makes the usage of a Snapdragon SoC a pleasant surprise.
In terms of hardware, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most powerful out of the Galaxy S22 range. The phone runs on the aforementioned Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor running the latest Android 12 under the hood overlaid with their One UI 4.1 interface. As par for the course, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has 5G, fast WiFi 6E and Ultra Wideband connectivity.
Of note here is that the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the best update policy thus far for an Android phone with 4 guaranteed years of Android updates and 5 years of security updates which means it’ll enjoy updates to Android 16 all the way in 2026.
In Malaysia, the Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in three possible RAM/storage variants with two versions having 12GB RAM and your choice of 256GB or 512GB of storage along with a pared down more affordable 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage variant.
All three possible variants can be acquired in all four listed colourways. One unique trick common to the Galaxy S22 series is the ability to use built-in storage as VRAM with the ability to assign up to 8GB of VRAM to augment the existing RAM; while it’s not replacement for dedicated RAM, it’s still something handy to have.
The rear quad camera is built around a primary 108MP camera, a 12 MP ultrawide angle camera and a unique pair of 10MP telephoto cameras with one featuring 10x optical zoom and another with 3x optical zoom to cover all zoom lengths.
While it seems somewhat similar to its predecessor the Galaxy S21 Ultra, this time around the phone also takes advantage of more powerful neural processing units (NPU) off the processor and computational photography for superior night shots, superior image quality and steadier zoom with the camera able to achieve a whopping 100x Space Zoom and up to 8K@24fps video. The front 40MP selfie camera is capable of up to 4K@60fps video.
Keeping the phone powered is a 5,000mAh battery but this time around, Samsung has enhanced it with even faster 45W charging versus the slower 25W charging in its predecessor the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Its other charging modes – 15W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging are otherwise identical. Boiled down, this is currently in the lead for being the most powerful Android phone that money can currently buy.
Here’s how it stacks up on paper:
|Price||RM5,899 (12GB RAM/512GB), RM5,499 (12GB RAM/256GB), RM5,099 (8GB RAM/128GB) | Burgundy, Green, Phantom White, Phantom Black (For Malaysia)|
|Display||6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1,440 x 3,088 pixels, 120Hz, HDR10+, 500ppi, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (Malaysia units)|
|OS||Android 12 w/ OneUI 4.1|
|Memory||12GB or 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB/512GB storage|
|Cameras||108MP F/1.8 w/ OIS, PDAF, Laser autofocus + 12MP F/2.2 ultrawide angle + 10MP F/4.9 w/ PDAF, OIS, 10x optical zoom + 10MP F/2.4 w/ PDAF, OIS, 3x optical zoom [rear] / 40MP F/2.2 w/ PDAF [front]|
|Battery||5,000mAh w/ 45W fast charging, 15W wireless charging, 4.5W reverse wireless charging|
|Size/Weight||163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm / 228g|
Galaxy S22 Ultra First Look – Design
In terms of design, our Galaxy S22 Ultra first look revealed that it bears closer similarity to the Galaxy Note20 Ultra than to its immediate predecessor, the Galaxy S21 Ultra with its distinctive flattened top and bottom along with its integrated S Pen silo.
Compared to the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is just 1g heavier while being slightly shorter and wider along with a similarly sized 5,000mAh battery which has several notable upgrades that include faster 45W wired charging; a trait only shared by the Galaxy S22+.
Up front, the Galaxy S22 Ultra retains a similarly sized 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display with a 120Hz refresh rate like the S21 Ultra even with the slightly more compact form factor though Samsung has managed to shave the bezels down even more to offer a more generous 90.2% screen-to-body ratio versus its predecessor’s 89.8% screen-to-body ratio.
An ultrasonic fingerprint reader for biometrics is integrated into the bottom quadrant of the phone and the display also has what Samsung calls Vision Booster tech that is able to dynamically apply tone mapping for better shadows and colours based on ambient lighting conditions for content played onscreen. The top features a tiny grille for a speaker that pairs up with the bottom mounted speaker to offer stereo sound along with a modest punch hole for a 40MP selfie camera.
On the rear, the camera array design for the Galaxy S22 Ultra is somewhat akin to the older Galaxy S21 Ultra in terms of how the cameras are aligned but the phone eschews the Contour Edge design of its predecessor and its siblings the Galaxy S22 and S22+ for a flatter, neater design where the cameras are flush with the backplate save for a slim camera ring around each lens.
Rather than curved corners and a rounded top and bottom like the Galaxy S22 and S22+, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the aforementioned flat top and bottom with steep edges though its flanks still retain slight curves to make it easier to grip.
While it has a strikingly different look, the Galaxy S22 Ultra does share some commonality with its Galaxy S22 series siblings in terms of the premium materials used in its construction.
The chassis is hewn from tough Armor Aluminum alloy, a compound unique to Samsung that is 10% tougher versus nicks and drops than the conventional aerospace grade aluminium used in many smartphones. This material was first deployed on the foldable Samsung Galaxy Z series last year with its inclusion here marking the first time it’s being used on a Galaxy S series phone.
That’s not all as Samsung has also paved the front and the back of the Galaxy S22 Ultra with tough Gorilla Glass Victus+ which is currently unique to the Galaxy S22 series and which is, on paper, tougher than standard issue Gorilla Glass Victus.
On top of enhanced toughness, this unique combination of materials and the matte Burgundy finish also wonderfully resists fingerprints and smudges.
Much like other Samsung flagship phones, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is also rated for IP68 water and dust resistance which is quite a feat seeing as it has a deep stylus well integrated halfway up into its casing. This means that the phone is effectively able to survive for up to 30 minutes in 1.5 metres of water which is an impressive achievement any way you slice it.
In our Galaxy S22 Ultra first look, I found the base of the phone to be somewhat busier this time around as Samsung has managed to cram in a dual nano SIM card tray, the customary USB-C port for charging, a speaker grille and an integrated S Pen silo.
Extracting the S Pen itself requires you to gently press it to trigger its spring-loaded mechanism and the stylus itself comes with a side-mounted button, Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity and a tiny clickable top that comes in a matching shade of Burgundy.
Much like its predecessors, the S Pen stylus is able to act as a remote control via BLE to control the phone along with its core task of writing and doodling on the display. This time around, they’ve also managed to vastly increase the responsiveness of the stylus to just 2.8ms.
Unfortunately there’s no 3.5mm jack nor is there expandable storage so it’s best that you shell out for the largest capacity model that your pockets can afford. The top of the phone along with its left side are otherwise unadorned.
At first blush, the Galaxy S22 Ultra in Burgundy is a breathtakingly beautiful phone that looks and feels exceptionally premium in keeping with its status as the most powerful phone in Samsung’s current 2022 line-up. It makes for an especially commanding presence when plonked on a table with its size and its distinctive deep reddish matte Burgundy finish. Stay tuned for our Galaxy S22 review where we share our findings after we put it to the test!
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra first look and unboxing sample courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. For more details visit https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-s22-ultra/buy/