It's a great phone, but it could be even better
Samsung's latest super-phone is finally out, and it's as good as we hoped it would be. With an incredible display, excellent performance, and a built-in S Pen, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the Note20 successor we've been dreaming of for the last two years. That said, no phone is perfect, and Samsung has plenty of room for improvement with next year's device. These are the five things we'd change about the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
I know, I know. This complaint is nothing new, and it's clear that the general smartphone audience wants as big a screen as possible. Still, there are plenty of us who want a cutting-edge flagship without having to deal with a screen pushing up against the 7" mark. The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a genuinely fantastic display, but even with its minimized bezels, it's simply going to be too big for some people.ANDROIDPOLICE VIDEO OF THE DAY
Imagine a smaller S22 Ultra, keeping everything we love about it while making it easier to fit in your pocket. Sure, it might result in a minuscule S Pen — think Nintendo DS-sized — and reduced battery capacity, but it would also help spread the phone's unique features and design to customers that would otherwise be interested.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra's size is, in part, a leftover relic from the days of the Note. With that series now dead, there's never been a better time to bring the S Pen and other Ultra-exclusive tools to devices that can actually fit in everyone's hands and pockets.
It's no secret smartphone prices have skyrocketed over the last few years. Early rumors even pegged the S22 Ultra facing a $100 increase over last year's phones, but thankfully, that didn't turn out to be the case. Still, at $1,200, this is one expensive phone, especially if you don't have a device to trade in. Sure, many buyers will save cash upfront or pick up the phone on a 36-month contract. But for those of us who like to build out a collection, it's hard to justify splurging on the S22 Ultra.
If you're dropping more than a grand on a phone, you probably want to make the most of it. One of the marquee features this year is 45W charging, but if you want ultra-fast speeds — with some potential caveats — Samsung requires you to pick up your own compatible charger. It does sell a brick designed for the S22 Ultra, but for a $50 surcharge on top of the cash you have to drop upfront. Third-party chargers are a decent alternative, but even then, you're paying top dollar to take advantage of ultra-fast charging speeds. It's one thing to stop including basic USB power adapters in the box with smartphones — especially in the quest to eliminate electronic waste — and another altogether to not include some necessary hardware for the phone.
Look — we're an Android enthusiast website, right? It takes a lot to truly wow us these days, and sometimes, it can be tough to differentiate all of the various black slabs that hit our desks. The Galaxy S22 — and the Ultra, in particular — feels like the definitive version of this sort of form factor, without much more to improve on. This hardware is up to snuff with what we'd expect from the likes of Apple, and arguably, it's even better.
But it's impossible to escape the feeling that smartphones have gotten a little boring, and the S22 Ultra is a prime example. It builds on the legacy of the Note, sure, but is there much here to actually get excited about? Does this say much about the future of the smartphone, or is it simply refining what was already there? We think it falls into the latter category, and for some, that might not be such a bad thing. But if you spend all day thinking about technology, it's hard not to hope next year's S23 Ultra gets a little more inventive. Of course, that might be what the Z-series is for these days.oneui-4
Samsung's software is much better than it used to be, even for those who consider themselves Pixel purists. Its latest phones are running Android 12 alongside One UI 4.1, building on the excellent foundation released last fall. There's a lot to love about its software, but a couple of minor sticking points keep us from feeling completely satisfied. First, the current setup process is simply miserable. From navigation buttons automatically set as the default over gestures — an experience two-thirds of our readers do not prefer — to a dated app drawer that still sorts icons in a nonsensical manner, One UI could use some work to make the user's first few hours a whole lot simpler.
Then there's the Material You situation. With Android 12, the company decided to include its own take on dynamic theming. It's not a 1:1 copy, of course, with harsher colors that don't quite line up with the pastels Google uses on the Pixel. It also doesn't currently support app icons aside from Samsung's own, which could make for an odd-looking home screen layout without icon packs.
Granted, the issues with dynamic theming in Android 12 aren't limited to Samsung — in fact, they have more to do with Google than anything — but it's still a distracting part of the One UI experience. This situation should get much better with future updates, with Android 13 set to open dynamic icons to third-party apps. Still, at launch, it feels slightly unfinished compared to the rest of the software.
All told, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a fantastic phone. There's always room to improve, of course, but that just makes us all the more excited for whatever the Galaxy S23 Ultra ends up being next year. Who knows — maybe we'll even be able to hold it in one hand.Android 13 DP2 is resurrecting the bygone app drawer icon Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorWill Sattelberg(906 Articles Published)
Will has been an Android enthusiast since he got his first smartphone in 2011. He loves watching movies, has a never-ending backlog of video games, and produces podcasts in his spare time. He lives in Buffalo, NY and is willing to give you chicken wing recommendations at any time. Just ask.