Samsung Galaxy S22 review: A pocket-sized powerhouse

With a compact size, fast speed and great cameras, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is solid upgrade for Android users that’s unlikely to disappoint. But with the higher end of the smartphone price spectrum currently bursting at the seams with feature-packed devices, it’s not the only option for buyers wanting a quality handset.

Early 2022 has been a banner period for smartphone releases, with new premium devices from Apple, OPPO, Samsung, and Motorola all hitting Australian shores. One of the biggest launches has been this year’s flagship Samsung Galaxy S22 series, which builds upon the much-loved Galaxy S range by offering upgraded processors, better cameras, and brighter screens.

Samsung’s S22 family includes the super-sized Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, in-between Samsung Galaxy S22+, and the standard Samsung Galaxy S22. With the S22 being the most affordable of the three, we’ve spent several weeks hands-on with the in-demand device, putting everything from battery life to camera capabilities to the test to see if it deserves your dollars. If you’re considering picking up the Samsung Galaxy S22, read on to see how the high-end handset stacks up.

How we tested the Samsung Galaxy S22

I used the Galaxy S22 as my primary phone for a number of weeks. Rather than running detailed benchmarking and performance tests, I monitored how the device managed with common everyday usage over WiFi, 4G and 5G networks, and also tested the quality of the camera app over a number of days under varying conditions.

Samsung Galaxy S22: key features and specs

Green Samsung Galaxy S22 phone

Here are some of the key features and specifications of the Samsung Galaxy S22:

  • Priced from $1,249 (also available on plans from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Woolworths Mobile)
  • 6.1-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen
  • ‘Contour cut’ 10MP front camera
  • Triple camera setup in rear (50MP, 12MP, 10MP)
  • In-screen ultra-sonic fingerprint sensor and facial recognition
  • Android 12 operating system
  • 3,700mAh battery, up to 25W wired & 15W wireless charging, PowerShare
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • 4nm processor
  • 5G connectivity
  • Available in 128GB and 256GB storage sizes and Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green and Pink Gold colours

 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Pros Samsung Galaxy S22 Cons
 

  • Excellent performance
  • Improved cameras
  • Premium design
 

  • Average battery life
  • Smaller than other flagship devices
  • Not a huge update from the Galaxy S21

 

 

Design and Functionality

  • Slightly smaller than last year’s Galaxy S21
  • More durable than previous models

Immediately on unboxing the Samsung Galaxy S22, two things come to mind. Firstly, the phone seems smaller than expected; although it’s far from a ‘mini’ smartphone, its 6.1-inch display is comparatively compact next to the 6.4-inch Google Pixel 6 or 6.55-inch OPPO Find X5. Last year’s Galaxy S21 packed a 6.2-inch screen, so Samsung has shrunk its standard phone size ever-so-slightly — but with the S22+ measuring at 6.6 inches, and the S22 Ultra a massive 6.8 inches, the S22 is a great option for buyers who prefer a smaller device.

Secondly, despite the small change in dimensions, there’s no real notable evolution in design since the Samsung Galaxy S21. The S22 features the same ‘Contour Cut’ edge-to-edge display in front, and like the S21 includes a top-left vertical bump in the back to house the triple-lens camera system. The main difference is the Gorilla Glass Victus Plus used in the S22’s front and back, which makes the phone a little glossier compared to the S21, although it’s still fairly matte overall. The upgrade to Gorilla Glass, alongside the aluminium frame, should make the S22 more durable in the event of a device drop, and the combination of size and design makes the phone feel comfortable in the hand. It’s not as slippery as other expensive smartphones, and the Green colour supplied by Samsung is striking — our photos don’t do the hue justice.

Besides the build and feel, the Galaxy S22 features the same right-size power and volume buttons as the 2021 model, with the USB-C port and SIM tray along the bottom along with one of the phone’s stereo speakers (the second being hidden under the device’s top edge). Samsung says that the S22 range is IP68-certified, which means it can be submerged in up to 1.5 metres of fresh water for as long as 30 minutes without damage. I didn’t put the phone through quite that much torture, but did find it can easily withstand splashes and a quick dip in the bath.

Despite its more modest size, the screen itself is vivid and sharp, featuring a Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O display with Samsung’s Vision Booster technology. Samsung claims this offers higher visibility outdoors and in bright lights, and the device does a good job of preventing glare even in direct sunlight. The 120Hz adaptive refresh rate also makes scrolling silky smooth, which is noticeable if you’re using visually-focused apps such as Instagram or TikTok. The S22’s display may seem small when compared to the size and quality of the S22+ or S22 Ultra, but on its own delivers vibrant colours and an all-round great experience.

Green Samsung Galaxy S22 in hand

Performance and battery

  • Fast processor, perfect for multi-tasking
  • Battery life decent, but not outstanding

While the S22 has kept the aesthetics of the S21 more or less intact, Samsung has made several notable changes under the hood. The biggest is the seriously upgraded chipset, which features the first-ever 4-nanometer processor on a Samsung phone. Samsung and chip manufacturer Qualcomm have promised massive performance gains from the included octa-core CPU, and the phone looks and feels fast when in use, whether its over WiFi or 5G.

Swapping between apps and multitasking was easy, and even opening often-slow applications such as the camera felt instant: while other smartphones can show noticeable lag when booting up the camera, the S22 doesn’t leave you hanging. While benchmarking tests show the Galaxy S22’s processor to be slower than the blistering A15 Bionic found on the iPhone 13 series, for the most part users won’t miss out if they opt for the Samsung flagship over Apple’s 2021 range. And if you’re upgrading from an older device, the boost in speeds will be clear from the moment you switch on your new phone. The only caveat is that the S22 does get noticeably warm during intensive activities or long phone calls, but this is a problem that’s not uncommon with Samsung devices.

The Galaxy S22 is loaded with Samsung’s own One U1 4.1 interface for Android 12, which offers plenty of customisation via widgets and themes. Loyal Android users may prefer to skip the in-built Samsung apps, such as Gallery and Calendar, and make Google’s suite of tried-and-tested apps the default; but otherwise, the S22 is easy to navigate. I also had no performance issues with the under-screen fingerprint scanner when unlocking the device. In good news, Samsung has confirmed the S22 will be supported by up to four generations of OS upgrades, plus five years of security updates — giving your phone a little extra longevity if you prefer to hold on to your devices.

Although the software and processor have undergone glow-ups, Samsung has actually downgraded the Galaxy S22’s battery size, skimping on the 4,000mAh of the S21 in favour of a smaller 3,700mAh capacity. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a huge drop in battery life, as Samsung does pack power-saving features into the S22 that adapt to how you’re using your device (e.g. the adaptive refresh rate can drop down to about 48Hz to conserve juice during the day).

In general, I found the S22’s battery to be satisfying, although intense users with longer days will definitely need a top-up to get by. For example, after streaming high-definition Netflix at around 50% screen brightness for a full hour, battery life had drained by 8%; not a big deal if that time more than covers your daily commute. But typically battery-draining activities such as downloading and 5G network use can add up quickly, so pairing your phone with a compatible 25-watt fast charger, or taking advantage of its wireless charging capabilities, will help the S22 go the distance.

Front of Samsung Galaxy S22 phone

Cameras

  • Bigger pixel sensor means better performance in low light
  • Great Portrait Mode feature

The Galaxy S22 line-up continues Samsung’s tradition of stellar flagship phone cameras, with the standard S22 packing a 10-megapixel selfie camera and a triple-lens setup in the rear. As with the Galaxy S21, the S22 features a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 10-megapixel telephoto camera, and a massive 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, giving users a wide field of view and up to 3x Optical Zoom.

Multicoloured balloons
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 12MP rear camera

Colours stay fairly consistent, although seem a little cooler when compared to the same shots taken on iPhone. For the most part, you’ll get sharp detail and crisp pictures, and intelligent features such as Best Shot offer on-screen directions to ensure your photo turns out top-notch. If you’re snapping scenes from a distance, the S22 also includes up to 30x digital zoom, but there’s a definite (although expected) loss of quality if you’re heavily zoomed out.

Close-up of a ring with purple pansy detail
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 12MP rear camera

The camera app itself gives users the choice of a range of features and modes, including Pro photo and video, Panorama, Super Slow-Mo, Hyperlapse, Food Mode, Portrait Mode and Director’s View for simultaneous front-and-back angles. You’re also able to access camera settings directly from the app itself, rather than needing to exit and open Settings separately, which is huge plus: this allows users to adjust everything from picture formats to location tags without missing a beat.

Black cat on grey couch
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 rear camera in Portrait Mode

Portrait Mode lets you focus on your subject through automatic background blur, but can be a little hit-and-miss when it comes to non-human models. Similarly, Food Mode is designed to highlight your meal for blog and Instagram-perfect shots, but you may need to play around with the focus to get the best picture of your plate. However, selfies and face photography look great, even without direct lighting, and there’s plenty of filters and effects available to enhance the finished product.

Smiling woman in white top in restaurant
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 12MP camera in Portrait Mode

Samsung is all about #nightography with its S22 range, even using the aforementioned hashtag in its Galaxy advertising. The S22 includes a larger pixel sensor, which is designed to automatically pull in more light in darker environments. This upgrade — combined with the S22’s specially-engineered, low-reflection front glass to reduce lens flare — means improved night and low-light photos, such as the below examples.

A pool bar at night
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 12MP camera in Night Mode

In terms of video, the Galaxy S22 also offers 8K recording at up to 24 frames per second, and footage-improving enhancements including Digital Image Stabilisation and the ability to track up to 10 different video subjects.  Overall, while you won’t get the same hands-down amazing camera experience as you’ll find with the premium Galaxy S22 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max, the standard S22 is unlikely to disappoint, and offers plenty of modes and extras to up your photography game.

Espresso martini
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22 rear camera in Night Mode

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S22?

  • The Samsung Galaxy S22 is a good ‘just right’ option for Android fans
  • However, it’s not a huge upgrade from last year’s Galaxy S21

It’s been great spending time with the Samsung Galaxy S22, and the device is perfect for the average phone user looking for a solid, speedy smartphone that won’t take up too much pocket or purse space. The S22 is more than capable of handling the demands of everyday use, and if you’re not one to be glued to your screen for hours on end, the battery should easily take you from morning to night without the need to recharge.

The S22’s triple cameras aren’t quite as good as the quad-camera line-up found in the premium Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but the improved low-light performance and pro in-app modes will offer satisfying shots in most conditions. However, you may also want to compare with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, which includes excellent cameras for a similarly-priced $1,299. Android loyalists may prefer to shell out that extra $20 for a more pro-grade camera stack, as well as the Pixel 6 Pro’s bigger 6.7-inch screen and large 5,000mAh battery.


Related: Google Pixel 6 Pro review: a big, bright and bold smartphone


For Samsung fans looking to upgrade from a previous Galaxy release, the S22 should tick all the boxes depending on the model of your existing device. However, if you’re currently using last year’s Galaxy S21, you’re unlikely to be wowed by any of the S22’s updated features; if your phone is still in good working order, save your dollars and wait for the Galaxy S23, which is likely to be unveiled early next year. Or, consider going for the bigger S22+ or S22 Ultra if you really can’t wait and you’re happy to spend extra.

If budget is a factor, you may want to take a look at the cheaper Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G, which was released in February and retails for $999. While this device features a bigger battery (4,500mAh), bigger screen and bigger front camera, it does trail behind the S22 in terms of processor and overall camera set-up. We’ve also compared the Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 FE 5G to help you decide which high-end Galaxy phone is the better fit.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is a ‘just right’ option for Android fans wanting a more compact device that doesn’t skimp on must-haves such as 5G, a premium chipset and a good camera. However, with Google’s high-end Pixel 6 Pro in a similar price bracket — and OPPO’s new camera-focused flagship the OPPO Find X5 also arriving in Australian stores this month — there’s several great alternatives worth considering while you shop around.

Consider the Samsung Galaxy S22 if Don’t consider the Samsung Galaxy S22 if
You’re overdue for a phone upgrade and want an all-round excellent Android phone with a mid-sized screen. You already have the Samsung Galaxy S21, or want a bigger display and the best cameras on the market.

 


About the author

Tara
As Canstar Blue’s Telco Editor, Tara Donnelly covers the internet and mobile sectors – topics she’s spent a decade focused on, alongside consumer technology, within the comparison industry. Her telco expertise has seen her appear in national media including 9 News, 7 News, Sunrise, the ABC and The Sydney Morning Herald. You can follow Tara on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Learn more about Canstar Blue’s Editorial Team.


Compare Samsung Galaxy S22 plans

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S22+ Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22+ on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.


Product used for review/testing was a free sample provided by Samsung.

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