Samsung Galaxy S22 in review: One of the last compact flagships

Samsung Galaxy S22 image
Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung swims against the tide with the Galaxy S22 and has made the smartphone smaller compared to its predecessor. Especially in the Android segment, the manufacturer thus occupies a pretty exclusive position. Besides the ergonomics, the Galaxy S22 benefits from long-lasting updates, the display, the build quality, and the camera.

Galaxy S22 is smaller and cheaper

In addition to the Galaxy S22 + and Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has a third high-end smartphone in its quiver: the comparatively small Galaxy S22. This model is characterized above all by the reduced dimensions of 70.6 × 146.0 × 7.6 mm (W × H × D), which are becoming increasingly rare in the Android top class. Apart from this feature, the Galaxy S22 is the cheapest of the three new smartphones, as the table below shows. Samsung offers the S22 in two configurations, 128GB or 256GB, priced at €849 (931 USD) and €899 (986 USD) respectively.


Technical data at a glance

The Samsung Galaxy S22 has established itself as the Android go-to device even more than the Google Pixel.

Apart from the dimensions, the other specifications are almost identical to those of the Galaxy S22+. The only change is the smaller size. The only 6.1-inch OLED screen has a higher pixel density due to the same high resolution. In return, Samsung has no longer found room for the UWB module in the smartphone, so ultra-wideband transmissions, such as those used for digital car keys, are no longer possible. The biggest restriction concerns the battery, which is below the Galaxy S22+ with 800 mAh and below last year’s slightly larger Galaxy S21 with 300 mAh.

Design and feel

Mobile devices like the Galaxy S10e, the Pixel 5, the Zenfone 8, the iPhone 12 and 13 mini or now the Galaxy S22 are always a pleasure to test in the editorial office because they show how pleasant it can be to (temporarily) own a comparatively small smartphone. No annoying bumps in the pocket, no uncomfortable feeling when sitting down and no hand contortions when operating are some of the advantages that a small smartphone brings along. At 168 g, the S22 is also significantly lighter than the larger models in the same series, which start at 196 g.

Small smartphones at a glance

The new S22 does not quite come close to the then three-year-old Galaxy S10e with 69.9 × 142.2 × 7.9 mm, although it is only 4 mm longer. And the iPhone 13 mini remains the class leader among compact high-end smartphones with 64.2 × 131.5 × 7.65 mm. But Samsung hits the 70.4 × 144.7 × 8 mm of a Pixel 5 almost perfectly. The Zenfone 8 again turns out a touch bigger. It is remarkable that Samsung opted for a smaller design from the Galaxy S21 to the S22. That rarely happens nowadays; instead, smartphones have become bigger and bigger from generation to generation in the past few years because larger screens were installed. In contrast, the S22’s display has shrunk from 6.2 to 6.1 inches, so the dimensions have decreased from 71.2 × 151.7 × 7.9 mm to 70.6 × 146.0 × 7.6 mm.

S22 feels more comfortable

Video guide: Samsung Galaxy S22 [review] – The Samsung Galaxy S22 improves a lot in most of the areas, but also compromises on battery size.

Of the three Galaxy S22 smartphones tested, the regular S22 is by far the best in the hand. However, the material selection and build quality are on the same high level in all three devices. The S22 and S22+ have a clear line with a flat screen and integrated triple camera, while the S22 Ultra still has curved display edges, which have a negative impact on the stylus, and free-standing lenses for the camera.

Gorilla Glass Victus+ and IP68

Even Samsung’s smallest smartphone is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus+ on the front and back, and the glass on the back is matte, so it is only susceptible to marks from greasy fingers. Dirt is easy to wash off, as an IP68 certification protects against wet and dust.

The smaller screen feels almost the same

The disadvantage of a smaller smartphone is naturally the smaller screen. If you were previously in the 6.7 to 6.9-inch class for a long time, the compact S22 takes some getting used to at the beginning. Primarily, everything is displayed a bit smaller. However, you can only see less content to a certain extent because the S22 Ultra simply displays everything a bit bigger in direct comparison. The home screen still has a width of four apps by default, and the same applies to the 4 × 5 app grid in the app drawer.

In terms of applications, the S22 Ultra has a slight advantage over the S22. YouTube shows another subscribed channel at first glance and the channel name of the second video is visible in the subscription timeline. The situation is similar on Instagram, where one more story is visible at the top. The number of visible posts remains unchanged at one. A noticeable disadvantage due to the smaller screen could not be determined in this test.

Smaller display with higher pixel density

In return, the S22 rewards the omission of the 0.5-inch diagonal with a slightly sharper font, as Samsung leaves the S22+’s resolution unchanged at 1080 × 2340 pixels. The refresh rate is automatically adjusted between 48 and 120 Hz; continuous operation at 60 Hz is optional. The LTPO panel is reserved for the S22 Ultra and adjusts the frequency from 10 to 120 Hz.

Exactly as (less) bright as advertised by Samsung

However, the maximum brightness needs to be reduced again, although it is still very high despite the limitations. Samsung advertises the S22+ and S22 Ultra with 1,200 cd/m² on the display surface and 1,750 cd/m² at maximum brightness, while the S22 has “only” 900 cd/m² on the surface and 1,300 cd/m² at maximum brightness. The test candidate best fulfills the advertising promise with 911 cd/m² measured (area) or 1,278 cd/m² at an “Average Picture Level” (APL) of 10 percent.

A new boost is a nice bonus

Once again, the S22 achieves the highest brightness values with adaptive brightness alone. Checked manually, 505 cd/m² (100 percent APL) and 627 cd/m² (10 percent APL) could be determined. Fortunately, the smaller Galaxy S22 also has the actual boost in manual mode, allowing us to unlock 814 cd/m² (100 % APL) and 1,113 cd/m² (10 % APL). Although the S22 doesn’t reach the values of an S22+ or S22 Ultra, the brightness is more than enough for all everyday situations.

Fast ultrasonic fingerprint sensor

Although the S22 is a bit thinner, Qualcomm’s ultrasonic fingerprint sensor has also made it into the small smartphone. As with the larger models, the sensor scores above all with a very high speed when unlocking, but also with its compatibility with wet fingers. The position in the lower third of the screen has also been well chosen from an ergonomic perspective.

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