Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: a good phone playing it safe – The Guardian

Premium Android has good screen and camera, longer updates and recycled materials – but lacks wow factor
Last modified on Mon 7 Mar 2022 07.01 GMT
The Galaxy S22+ is Samsung’s big-screen premium phone for 2022, offering top specs and good quality hardware, but little in the way of novel or exciting features. It’s a safe, solid device.
With an RRP of £949 ($999/A$1,549) that doesn’t mean low cost, but it is £200 cheaper than the all-singing, all-dancing £1,149 S22 Ultra superphone with its Galaxy Note-like design. Shop around, though, and you should soon be able to find it for less.
The S22+ is similar to last year’s S21+ with a flat glass front and back and solid-feeling aluminium sides. It looks and feels refined rather than flashy, and while it has a big 6.6in screen it is fairly easy to hold with sharper edges to grip with your fingers and a relatively light 195g weight.
The 120Hz AMOLED display looks fantastic with vibrant colours, good viewing angles and an extremely high peak brightness of 1,750nits (a standard measure of screen brightness), which is enabled when in direct sunlight making it easier to see outdoors than its rivals.
Main screen: 6.6in FHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X (393ppi) 120Hz
Processor: Samsung Exynos 2200 (EU) or Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US)
RAM: 8GB of RAM
Storage: 128 or 256GB
Operating system: One UI 4.1 based on Android 12
Camera: Triple rear camera: 50MP wide, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP 3x telephoto; 10MP front-facing
Connectivity: 5G, dual nano sim, USB-C, wifi 6E, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, UWB and GNSS
Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 mins)
Dimensions: 157.4 x 75.8 x 7.6mm
Weight: 195g
In the US the S22+ has the standard top Android chip for 2022 from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. But in the EU it has a Samsung Exynos 2200 with the first mobile graphics processor designed by AMD, the company behind the chips used in the Xbox Series X and PS5 games consoles.
Testing the EU version, general performance was excellent, although not perceptibly faster than the already snappy models of last year. Gaming performance of the AMD graphics was more variable than Qualcomm-using competitors, likely requiring optimisation for games.
The battery lasts for about 35 hours between charges, on 5G for two hours and wifi for the rest, using the screen for about five hours in various chat apps, the camera, Spotify, Chrome and a light spot of gaming. That’s enough for a good day of use, but slightly shorter than last year’s model and miles behind the market-leading 48-hour-plus Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Samsung does not provide an expected lifespan for the battery. Those in similar devices typically maintain at least 80% of their original capacity for at least 500 full charge cycles.
The phone is generally repairable. Screen repairs cost £179, while the battery is replaceable by authorised service centres. But the phone only scores a three out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability ranking.
Several internal components are made from 20% recycled nylon or plastic. Samsung offers trade-in and recycling schemes for old devices. The company publishes annual sustainability reports but not impact assessments for individual products.
The S22+ ships with OneUI 4.1, which is based on the latest version of Android 12 and receives prompt updates unlike some competitors. It is a refined version of Android that offers plenty of customisation options and useful tools.
The S22+ will receive at least five years of software updates from release, including four major Android version updates and monthly security patches, making it one of the longest-lasting Android devices available and just behind Apple’s six-year-plus support for its iPhones.
The S22+ has a triple camera system on the back: a 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide and a 10MP 3x telephoto camera.
The main camera is excellent, capturing really good images in a variety of lighting conditions. Its low-light performance is significantly improved over previous models, dramatically brightening scenes. It does, however, sometimes lose contrast in the process with a tendency to make people look like you’ve shone a flash in their face.
The telephoto camera has a 3x optical zoom and produces sharper images in good light than last year’s model, but it still struggles in low light settings producing bright but heavily processed images.
The ultra-wide camera produces slightly crisper images in good light and handles lower light levels better than before. The 10MP selfie camera did an excellent job of balancing detail and grain in fairly challenging light, producing pleasing, detailed shots the majority of the time.
Samsung’s video capture remains ahead of most of the Android pack shooting up to 8K at 24 frames a second and with plenty of features, including a new auto-framing system that tries to keep up to 10 people in focus and in shot at any one time.
Overall the S22+’s camera is very good, but falls slightly short of the very best on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy S22+ costs from £949 ($999/A$1,549) with 128GB of storage.
For comparison, the Galaxy S22 costs £769, the S22 Ultra costs £1,149, the Z Flip 3 costs £949, the Google Pixel 6 Pro costs £849 and the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max costs £1,049.
Everything about the Galaxy S22+ feels premium but it lacks a certain wow factor, particularly next to Samsung’s other £949 folding flip phone.
The screen is great, the camera is good, performance is snappy and the battery life is reasonable. These are all big upgrades on old models, but no more than expected in a top phone in 2022.
The S22+ feels nicer and is easier to hold than many rivals. In theory it is more durable, made from stronger aluminium and the hardest smartphone glass available.
It will receive at least five years of software updates from release, making it the longest-lasting Android phone available and only slightly behind Apple’s iPhone. It is the first Samsung phone to be partially made from recycled materials, too.
Buy it at lower than RRP, around the £750-£800 that previous models have been readily been available, and it offers a lot of phone for the money. Keep it for the five years you can safely use it thanks to security updates and it offers better value than many cheaper rivals.
Pros: 120Hz screen, good camera, One UI 4.1/Android 12, good performance, decent battery life, fast fingerprint scanner, five years of software support, contains recycled materials, premium feel.
Cons: big, expensive, no headphone socket, battery life and camera bettered by others, no flashy features.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: Samsung’s cheaper, better hi-tech flip phone
Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: Samsung’s cutting-edge water resistant phone-tablet hybrid
Pixel 6 review: the cut-price Google flagship phone
Pixel 6 Pro review: the very best Google phone
iPhone 13 Pro review: Apple’s very best

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