I was one of the many Samsung Galaxy Note die-hards who was disappointed when Samsung opted to skip a Note launch in 2021. As the build-up towards Samsung’s Galaxy S22 launch began and the rumours became more shrill, it was clear that the Note would return as the Ultra. That, however, was not the only reason I was excited to unbox the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. The Samsung S21 Ultra was among our favourite mobile shooters of 2021, and we needed to find out if the S22 Ultra takes it to the next level.

We’ll cut to the chase: the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the best Android device you can buy in India right now. But is it the one for you?

S22 Ultra

Best in Burgundy

Comparisons to the last Samsung Note device – the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in 2020 – are inevitable. In many ways, the S22 Ultra borrows more from the boxier design language of the 2020 Note than last year’s S21 Ultra, and we’re not complaining. Back then, we loved the Mystic Bronze colour version, and this year it’s the stunning Burgundy colour option that has our vote. It’s subtle yet stands out with its elegant matte finish. We also like how Samsung has placed the rear lenses with a minimal housing P-shaped design. This design element distinguishes it from the S22 and the S22+. At 228gm, it’s no lightweight but that’s something we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s top-of-the-line Ultra devices.

No Other Brighter Display

With a peak brightness of 1750 nits, the Samsung Ultra (and the S22+) sets a new benchmark for smartphone displays. Videos and gaming are ultra-smooth on the 6.8-inch Quad HD+ display (3088 x 1440 pixels) that packs a whopping 500 PPI (pixels per inch). You get a 120Hz refresh rate. All this means that battery life is impacted. You can opt for a lower screen resolution and standard 60Hz refresh rate. I managed to stretch the battery life (there’s a 5000mAh battery under the hood) for a whole day with maximum brightness. My usage tests included extensive camera usage and video playback for close to 2 hours.

S22 Ultra

Hardware Powerhouse

No surprises here. Samsung’s erstwhile Note devices have always boasted of best-in-class hardware. The S22 Ultra is propelled by a zippy Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor that combines with 12GB of RAM. Our review unit came with 256GB of internal storage, and there’s also a 512GB variant. The Ultra blazed through our intense gaming tests and clocked an impressive score of 3506 (multi-core) in our Geekbench benchmark test.  

Sharp Shooter

I still remember snapping images of an elusive black panther with the 10x zoom on the S21 Ultra last year at the Kabini wildlife sanctuary. That one moment showcased the value of a telephoto lens on a smartphone cam. The S22 Ultra doesn’t make any major changes to last year’s camera set up. You get a 40MP selfie cam and a rear cam that’s headlined by a 108MP primary lens (f/1.8 aperture). Dual telephoto lenses and an ultra-wide lens complete the set-up. The new camera is more about software improvisations that also benefit from a next-gen processor. It has a visible impact on portraits that look much better than the S21 Ultra as well as a slight improvement in lowlight results. This is the best Android shooter, by a distance.

S22 Ultra

Should You Go Ultra?

The main differentiators between the S22+ (stay tuned for our deep-dive review) and the Ultra are the S-Pen, the display size and the camera. I’ve enjoyed using the much improved S-Pen with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra but it’s not a feature that all users need. The Ultra offers 10x optical zoom that the S22+ misses out on. If these are not deal breakers for you, the S22+ offers a Rs 25K price advantage over the Ultra. But if you’re a Note loyalist or want to own the most formidable Android smartphone your money can buy, look no further.

S22 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra comes in Burgundy, Phantom White and Phantom Black. The 12GB/256GB variant costs Rs 109,999, while the 12GB/512GB variant is priced at Rs 118,999. Samsung has multiple offers that also include discounts on the Galaxy Watch 4 and the Galaxy Buds 2.