Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S22 Plus vs S22 Ultra: all the differences
So… which one should you choose: the compact Galaxy S22, the larger Galaxy S22 Plus, or the Note-inspired Galaxy S22 Ultra that features the largest battery and comes with an S Pen?
S22 vs S22 Plus vs S22 Ultra Specs Differences
Before we explore each of the differences, we have a summary where you can get the bigger picture with all the specs differences between the three Galaxy S22 models:
Design and Size
Glass on all three models, wider form factor and uniform bezels
There are two big news on the design front: first one is that Samsung is going back to using glass on all three models. And not just any glass, you have Corning’s toughest Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the back and front of all three S22 versions. And did we say that the S22 and S22 Plus are noticeably smaller than last year’s models? That’s one big win for compact phone lovers.
It’s also worth noting that Samsung adopts a wider aspect ratio on all three models. Previous Galaxies used to be tall and narrow, with a 20:9 aspect ratio, while these newer phones are proportionately wider and not as tall, with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio on the S22 and S22 Plus, and an even wider, 19.3:9 aspect ratio on the S22 Ultra.
One small detail that will be particularly satisfying for the perfectionists out there is that the border around the screen on the S22 and S22 Plus is exactly the same on all four sides, while previously Galaxies used to have a slightly bigger bottom bezel, the so-called “chin”.
The rest is quite similar across all three: they all feature an aluminum frame. The power and volume buttons are located on the right hand side. All of them come protected from the elements with an IP68 water and dust certification that Samsung says ensures they can survive 30 minutes in up to 5ft deep fresh water, but of course they are still not recommended for pool or beach use.
- S22 and S22 Plus colors: Phantom White, Phantom Black, Green, Pink Gold
- S22 Ultra colors: Phantom White, Phantom Black, Green, Burgundy
You have the standard black and white versions that look classic, then you have a pink version for the smaller phones, and an exclusive burgundy red edition on the S22 Ultra.
By the way, speaking of colors the S Pen on the S22 Ultra is black no matter the color of the handset, in case you were wondering.
There is also no difference in what’s in the box on all three phones here. You only get a cable and there is no charger, nor headphones included.
We already touched upon the smaller physical size of the phones, but it’s worth mentioning that the displays on the S22 and S22 Plus have also gone down in size and now measure 6.1″ and 6.6″, while the Ultra model features the biggest, 6.8″ screen.
Samsung makes the best screens in the industry and it has saved the latest generation display technology for the S22 series, which it calls Dynamic AMOLED 2X. You get brilliant and accurate colors on all three, however there are certain differences.
First, while all models support up to 120Hz refresh rate for buttery smooth scrolling, only the S22 Ultra can modulate its refresh rate all the way down to 1Hz, while the lowest the other two can go is 10Hz.
Secondly, the max brightness on the small S22 models goes up to 1,500 nits, while the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra go even higher to 1,750 nits.
Performance and Software
Snapdragon for the US, Exynos in the UK and Europe
Samsung continues with its strategy of using different processors for different markets, and if you buy a Galaxy S22 series model in the United States, you will get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor inside, while in the UK and Europe, models ship with a Samsung-made Exynos 2200 processor.
It’s too early to say just how much of a difference there is between the two, but despite Samsung’s efforts, Exynos chips traditionally deliver just a bit less in terms of performance, battery life and the chip even affects image quality. This year, however, Samsung has partnered with AMD on the GPU front and is expected to deliver the goods, especially for gamers.
Another curious detail here is that the Ultra model which last year used to start at 12GB of RAM, will now come with 8GB of RAM in the base model in certain markets, a strange downgrade. On the other hand, those who want the very best, will have the option to pay more and get 12GB of storage and as much as 1TB of storage in some countries.
We will be updating this section with benchmarks from all three models that will show how their performance differs, but right now we have the benchmarks for the Ultra and the Plus.
*Keep in mind that we have the Exynos versions of the phones at the moment.
This is a good place to also say there is no microSD card slot on either of these phones, so you cannot expand the storage.
There is practically no difference in the software on all three: you get an up-to-date Android 12 version with the latest One UI 4.1 Samsung skin. Samsung now promises 4 years of major OS updates and 5 years of security updates, which is big news in the Android world where other phone makers and even Google only provide 3 years of OS updates.
Bigger main camera sensor and a periscope zoom lens on the Ultra give it the edge
Just looking at the camera systems, it’s obvious how the Ultra has the more firepower with larger sensors and an additional, fourth camera.
Here is how all of that breaks down in terms of camera specs: you get an improved version of the familiar 108MP sensor with a 1/1.33″ size on the Ultra vs a 50MP sensor with a smaller, 1/1.56″ size on the other two models. The three phones, however, share the same 12MP ultra-wide sensor, and the same 10MP 3X zoom lens. The Ultra, finally, has a 10X zoom periscope lens and can go up to 100X using digital zoom, while the other two lack a periscope zoom lens.
We will be taking a deeper look at how this actually reflects in photo and video quality. Samsung specifically promises to “break the night” with the Ultra, and we’ll see if the other two S22 models can match it up.
Audio Quality and Haptics
Let’s start with the obvious: there is no headphone jack on the S22 series. No surprise here.
All three phones use dual loudspeaker systems with a main bottom-firing speaker and a secondary speaker built in the earpiece at the top. One detail worth noting is that on the Ultra, the speaker grill on the bottom is to the left of the USB-C port, while the SIM card slot is to the right, in immediate proximity to the microphone, so be extra careful when trying to open the SIM slot and make sure you don’t pierce the microphone instead.
Battery Life and Charging
Bigger gap between the giant battery on the Ultra and the smaller batteries on the other two
Finally, the biggest compromise that Samsung has had to make this year is smaller battery sizes on the S22 and the S22 Plus.
The S22 is the one we are most worried about as it now comes with a 3,700mAh battery, down from a 4,000mAh battery on the S21. The Plus version features a 4,500mAh battery, also a downgrade from the 4,800mAh cell on the S21 Plus. And only the S22 Ultra has managed to stick with the same sized, gigantic 5,000mAh battery.
It’s way too early to give any real-life impressions, but we will be testing the phones in depth over the coming days and will update this section with our independent battery tests, so stay tuned for that.
Finally, in terms of charging speeds, Samsung is bringing back 45W charging speeds on the S22 Ultra and S22 Plus, while the smaller S22 will be limited to 25W charging speeds.
Keep in mind that in the box with the phones you only get a cable, and you’d need to purchase a charger separately. Also, if you plan on getting a 45W charger, you should know that it comes with a thicker cable in the package, and only with that cable you get the full 45W speeds, so avoid pairing the 45W charger with the thinner cable in the box (it will work, you just won’t get the full 45W charging speeds).
Of course, these are flagship phones and they also get wireless charging. The speeds here are 15W across all three, and Samsung is also introducing new wireless chargers that you can purchase separately. Reverse wireless charging, or PowerShare in Samsung lingo, is also available on all three, so you can use these phones as a kind of a wireless power bank.
Prices and Deals
Finally, good news is that there isn’t much of a price change compared to last year’s models. The only thing that has happened that we did not expect is that Samsung discontinued the S21 Ultra model from its official web store, which only shows how much it wants people to buy the new S22 Ultra. Good news is that all three S22 phones sell at about the same prices as last year’s models.
- Galaxy S22: from $800 (8GB RAM/128GB storage)
- Galaxy S22 Plus: from $1,000 (8/128GB)
- Galaxy S22 Ultra: from $1,200
At these prices, the new Galaxies remain competitive. Higher prices would have been a tough pill to swallow as even arch-rival Apple would have had lower prices.
Summary and Final Verdict
So… which Galaxy S22 model should you choose?
First of all, it’s about size. This is something you know best for yourself and if you don’t, we recommend you just try out the different sized models in a store first. Yours truly is a compact phone person, and I will be going with the smaller S22 version, despite it not quite having the best feature set.
The S22 Plus is in a bit of a weird place, though: it’s still a bit phone, even if lighter than the Ultra, but we imagine many people would see the S Pen, bigger battery, periscope camera and overall feature set on the Ultra, and decide that phone offers a lot more at a bit higher price.
At the end of the day, the S22 Ultra is the heavy hitter, a device that brings the best of the Note series and Galaxy S series together, and it’s the most exciting one to try out.