Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (2024)

TechRadar Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is small, fast, and offers a clean and reliable Android experience. It's an incremental update that keeps what was good in the S21, and upgrades the camera, processor, and materials to create a solid Android device.

Pros

  • +

    Small and solidly built

  • +

    Attractive design

  • +

    Excellent performance

Cons

  • -

    Not a major update

  • -

    Camera system pales in comparison to its Ultra cousin

  • -

    Small screen

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Two-minute review

It's hard to write a Samsung Galaxy S22 review without making reference to its big brother, the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Now there's a phone with a radical new idea. Okay, it's an idea borrowed from the Galaxy Note line, but still, the Ultra stands apart from the S22 and S22 Plus. In fact, it makes the Galaxy S22 feel a bit less-than.

Similarly, we need to mention that the Samsung Galaxy S23 series has now been unveiled - you can check out our complete Samsung Galaxy S23 review, our thorough Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review, and our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review for more information. But in short the Galaxy S22 feels slightly dated compared to them.

But these are also more expensive phones, so we’d be comparing apples to oranges to an extent. So let’s focus on what makes the Samsung Galaxy S22 such a fun, attractive, and palm-friendly device.

Jump to...

Release date and price
Design
Display
Camera
Performance and specs
Software
Battery life
Should I buy it?
Also consider

Put simply, the S22 has enough of everything. It pushes no boundaries in terms of photography, screen size, and battery life, yet it still compares favorably to Apple's $799 / £849 / AU$1,339 iPhone 14.

Samsung's flagship phone provides more megapixels and sensors for photos, and gives you 3x optical zoom. To get something similar on the iPhone, you'll have to jump up to the pricier Pro models.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is the kind of phone you get if your tastes are upscale but your budget is a bit downrange. Its 6.1-inch screen can feel cramped if you’re coming from virtually any similarly-priced Android phone from OnePlus and Xiaomi. However, placed side-by size with an iPhone 14, the dimensions are similar – and the resemblance is uncanny.

It's a handset that will quickly become a trusted companion. The cameras should satisfy most average mobile photography users, and the image quality is excellent. The adaptive screen-refresh technology does a nice job of keeping everything from fast scrolls to action games looking smooth, and you’ll have no trouble shooting and editing 4K, 30fps video. The Galaxy S22 can also shoot 8K, but the screen stuttered while shooting it so we’re not ready to say this is an 8K-winner.

Like the rest of the S22 line, the Galaxy S22 is running Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US, or Samsung’s own Exynos chip in the UK and elsewhere,) and both are backed by 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage. The mobile CPU is snappy and capable, but that storage limit without the ability to add a microSD card is frustrating.

Overall, if you like Samsung and Android together, this is an affordable and familiar (we see you, Galaxy S21) way to get in at the top of the Galaxy line, making it one of the best Samsung phones and even one of the best Android phones. For those who want a 5G Samsung Galaxy but want to pay hundreds less, they should look at the Galaxy A Series, including the attractive Galaxy A53.

If you're looking for the perfect Samsung Galaxy S22 audio partner, you may want to check out our Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S22 specs

Weight: 167g
Dimensions: 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
Display size: 6.q-inch
Resolution: 1080 x 2340
Chipset: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 / Exynos 2200
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128/256GB
Rear camera: 50MP + 10MP + 12MP
Front camera: 10MP
Pre-installed software: Android 12
Battery: 3,700mAh
Charging: 25W wired, 15W wireless

The Samsung Galaxy S22 went on sale on February 25, 2022, in the US, March 3, 2022, in Australia, and March 11, 2022, in the UK.

You can pick up the Galaxy S22 with 128GB storage for $799 / £769 / AU$1,249, or with 256GB for $849 / £819 / AU$1,349.That pricing has not changed since the Galaxy S21 line.

Note however that while those are the standard prices, you can now often find the Galaxy S22 for less than that, and now that the Samsung Galaxy S23 series has arrived the price is likely to keep on dropping.

Samsung Galaxy S22 design

  • Not a huge redesign over its predecessor
  • Comes in a few attractive color designs
  • Has a strong glass rear

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (1)

Samsung evidently opted not to stray far from the Galaxy S21 design from the previous year, but there are two differences - one is noticeable, the other not so much.

The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch display, making it 0.1 inches smaller than its predecessor, but it’s not something you’ll notice. What is noticeable is the new Gorilla Glass Victus Plus back – the rear was plastic last year. This change gives the phone a much more premium feel, and the Galaxy S22 now feels every bit as solid, and looks as elegant, as the iPhone 13.

This is a phone that’s small enough to slip into your pocket or bag and forget about. In today's world of oversized phones (like the larger Galaxy S22 Ultra), the S22's 70.6 x 146 x 7.6mm, 168g chassis feels puny. Apple's iPhone 13 mini, which Apple is discontinuing, previously held the ‘small flagship’ crown, though.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (2)
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Where Apple now favors a smooth flat metal band around its phones, the Galaxy S22's aluminum frame offers a small, albeit pleasing curve, which some may find slightly more comfortable to hold for long periods than the iPhone 14. The phone is IP68 rated, which makes it water and dust-resistant. In practice, a drop in the sink is no big deal.

We’re glad Samsung left the contour-cut camera module untouched. It's attractive and efficient. The brushed glass back looks and feels great, and does a nice job of highlighting our test unit's Forest Green color – it also doesn’t show fingerprints. Other color options include Phantom Black, Phantom White, Pink Gold, and Bora Purple.

There are just two buttons – power and the volume rocker – along one edge of the phone. On the top edge is a tiny hole for a microphone. The bottom houses one speaker (the other half of the decently-loud stereo speaker system is hidden along the top edge of the display), the SIM slot, another microphone hole, and the USB-C charging port (note that the S22 doesn’t support the 45W charger that Samsung sells for the Galaxy S22 Plus).

Samsung Galaxy S22 display

  • 6.1-inch screen, smaller than on the S21
  • Has a 2340 x 1080 resolution and 120Hz refresh rate
  • Bright and attractive display

The edge-to-edge Dynamic AMOLED display has a resolution of 2340 x 1080 pixels, which is good, though it is lower than the iPhone 14's Super Retina XDR 2532 x 1170 display. Samsung makes up for that deficit by having a smaller black bezel around the screen, and no intrusive notch.

To accommodate the 10MP front-facing camera, Samsung has cut a small circle in the display. It's not distracting, and didn’t break our immersion through long games of PUBG Mobile.

The screen is as bright and attractive as any we’ve seen. The adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz) makes every movement in scrolling, videos, and games look smooth. High refresh rates can burn through charge quickly, so you can lock the refresh rate at 60Hz if you want to extend battery life, or at 120Hz if this isn’t a concern for you.

The screen also promises to boost touch sampling (the speed at which it will recognize and respond to touch) for Game Mode. We had no responsiveness issues, but we also haven't noticed any gaming sluggishness in other flagship phones we've tested this year.

Underneath the display is the ultrasonic fingerprint reader. This lets you register your finger (or fingers) of choice and is an effective biometric security tool. The phone also supports face recognition, though there's also a warning that it's less secure on this device than fingerprint unlocking is.

Samsung Galaxy S22 cameras

  • 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto camera
  • 10MP selfie camera
  • A range of Samsung camera modes

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (6)

While the Samsung Galaxy S22 looks a lot like the S21, right down to the contour-cut camera array, Samsung has mixed things up a bit. There are still three lenses, but some of the sensors backing them are different.

The 12MP ultrawide f/2.2 camera is virtually unchanged, but it's now grouped with a new 50MP f/1.8 main camera and a 10MP f/2.3 telephoto. That last camera has far fewer pixels than the S21’s 64MP sensor but keeps the zoom at 3x (the S21 listed the zoom as hybrid; this is optical zoom). You can enjoy digital zoom up to 30x, which is fun, but not as good or exciting as the S22 Ultra's 100x Space Zoom. Still, it's nice to get 3x optical on a sub-$800 phone.

On the front is the 10MP selfie camera, which appears unchanged from the Galaxy S21.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (7)

You can adjust the bokeh effect before or after you take a portait mode photo.

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Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (9)

Photography across a range of styles (wide, ultrawide, portrait, night mode) and the available lenses are good. Samsung's over-bright colors are still in evidence; they have a tendency to make, for instance, the sky too blue, and the results almost never match what you see with the naked eye. Looking back at the photos, you can't help but be pleased, but if you want absolute color fidelity, you might look elsewhere.

Portrait mode photography, which lets you adjust the bokeh effect before or after you take the shot, is a strong point. The software does an excellent job of separating subjects – human, or otherwise – from their background for professional-looking results.

The 10MP, 3x optical zoom does a good job, though its capabilities break down when it comes to 10x and 30x. We’re not sure there are enough pixels to support this level of digital (even AI-backed) interpolation.

The camera app includes a rather deep set of shooting modes and controls, many of them hidden under ‘More’ (typical of an Android phone). There's Pro mode, for instance, which gives you control over shutter speed, ISO (film speed in old-school camera-speak), focus point, and white balance.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 doesn't include a Cinematic mode, as Apple does in the iPhone 13, but you can adjust the depth of focus while shooting video if you use the Pro Video mode setting. With that on, you can tap on any subject and the camera will refocus on them. It's a shame Samsung hides such a useful feature in this way.

Camera samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 performance and specs

  • Uses Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip in the US and Asia
  • Uses Exynos 2200 everywhere else
  • Powerful, with a fair amount of storage

Samsung has equipped all members of its S22 line with one of its latest mobile chipsets. In the US, that’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, while outside the US and Asia the Galaxy S22 runs on Samsung’s own Exynos 2200. Both processors are paired with 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB storage.

When we benchmarked the Galaxy S22 against the S22 Ultra, we found the Geekbench scores to be essentially equal. Both phones’ scores are still generally lower than Apple's A16 Bionic’s, though.

None of this is to say the Galaxy S22 feels slow. It has more than enough power for casual mobile tasks (web browsing, app work) and extra juice for videos, games, 4K video shooting, and editing. The 8K video shoot was a stuttering disaster, but otherwise, we were pleased.

We wish Samsung didn't skimp on storage (256GB max without the option of a microSD upgrade is simply not enough) and leave out WiFi 6E (it has WiFi 6), but these are relatively minor quibbles.

Samsung Galaxy S22 software

  • Android 12 with Samsung's One UI over the top
  • Lots of pre-installed Samsung apps
  • Has 5G connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (19)

The entire Samsung Galaxy S22 phone family runs on Samsung's One UI 4.1, laid over Android 12.

We like One UI because it mostly doesn't get in the way of a clean Android 12 experience. Yes, it still has its own web browser, which you can happily ignore (along with Samsung's Calendar and Contacts apps), and Bixby (which is tied to the power button for no good reason), but the Gallery app for photos and videos is passable (Google Photos, which is also present, is better).

This is also a 5G phone, which means you can enjoy blazing-fast mobile connectivity where you can get a decent signal. Indoors, however, that's often impossible. Even in the suburbs of most big cities, 5G coverage is spotty. But we did have fun streaming HD Netflix on the train ride home until we moved out of 5G range and back into LTE.

Samsung Galaxy S22 battery life

  • 3,700mAh battery - 300mAh smaller than before
  • USB-C cable, but no wall plug, included
  • Charges at 25W - also supports wireless

It's not clear why Samsung shrunk the Galaxy S22's battery down by 300mAh, from a capacity of 4,000mAh on the S21 to 3,700mAh here, but it doesn't appear to have much of an impact. We got roughly 12 hours of battery life with varied and almost constant use. Your mileage may vary.

The phone doesn’t ship with a charging adapter – just the USB-C cable – but you can use any compatible 25W adapter or charge wirelessly via a Qi adapter.

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S22?

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (20)

Buy it if...

You're on a budget
This isn't the cheapest Android phone, but it’s a good deal for atop-of-the-line Samsung S-series handset.

You want a small phone
The 6.1-inch Galaxy S22 is just what smaller hands ordered, so if you find most modern mobiles too big, this is a great alternative.

You need a powerful phone
The Samsung’s chipset will give you loads of power for gaming, video editing or anything else that needs lots of juice.

Don't buy it if...

You have big-screen dreams
A 6.1-inch display, even a FHD one like this, can feel a little cramped, especially if you've been living with a 6.5-inch or above handset.

Your budget stretches to the Ultra
We’ve not been shy about our preference for the S22 Ultra –- if you can afford that super-powered Android phone, we’d recommend you go for it.

You have a recent Samsung S phone
If you’re only upgrading from the S20 or S21, the fact that this is an incremental upgrade might put you off – not much is new here.

Also consider

If this Samsung Galaxy S22 review has you wondering what else is out there, here are some other similar mobiles that might also tempt you.

iPhone 14

The iPhone 14 is a capable smartphone with a seriously snappy CPU, lovely screen, and good cameras. It pales in comparison to the iPhone 14 Pro, but then you’re also saving $200 / £250 / AU$350. If you’re not looking for a big screen on a budget (for that, see the new iPhone 14 Plus), this solid, if unspectacular iPhone – with a couple of really cool next-gen features that you may never use – might be for you.

Read our iPhone 14 review

OnePlus 10T review
The OnePlus 10T is a worthy mid-range Android phone. Its good-looking screen, powerful chipset and fast charging make it a tempting buy for certain users. It’s not perfect – corners have clearly been cut in the camera, battery life and design departments to keep the price lower than it needs to be – but some users will find the lower price and different features make this a solid buy over the premium 10 Pro.

Read our OnePlus 10T review

Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (23)

Xiaomi 12
If you want a different small-form Android phone with top specs and a similar price to the S22, Xiaomi has you covered with its contemporary flagship phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z fold 4
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a do-everything device that presents few compromises. It is good for photography, multi-tasking your work, and watching Netflix, however, the high price might put off some buyers.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 review for more

  • First reviewed March 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 review: a small-form wonder (25)

Lance Ulanoff

Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of PCMag.com and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.

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