The Samsung Galaxy S22 flagship series of smartphones was announced just a few weeks ago and many are waiting to get their hands on them to check out what Samsung have to offer this year.  This year they have once again announced three phones in the series including a top-of-the-line ultra-premium Galaxy S22 Ultra, a premium Galaxy S22+ and a more affordable Galaxy S22.  

I’ve had the Galaxy S22+ on hand for nearly two weeks now and have some thoughts to share – if you are interested in the Galaxy S22 Ultra Dan has his own opinions on that having used it for two weeks.  You can check out his review here but read on to hear what I thought of the Galaxy S22+.

This year the Galaxy S22+ is available in 128GB (100GB available) or 256GB of storage with 8GB of RAM alongside the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.  The Galaxy S22+ starts at $1,549 for the 128GB version and $1,649 for the 256GB variant.  Colour options available from Samsung online are Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold, Phantom Black, Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue and Violet with other retailers only having the first four colour options for sale.

Premium, sturdy designSub-par battery life
Improved fingerprint sensor with great displayNo charger in box
Incredible camera qualityKeyboard and launcher

Premium hardware and design

Samsung has opted for a new design for the Galaxy S22+ this year, retaining the rounded corners but squaring off the edges on both the back and front to define the edge more clearly around the flatter display. The sides (not corners) have a definite edge to them on both the front and rear unlike last year where the S21+ had curved edges.  At first this different design felt strange in the hand and not as comfortable but the more I used it the more I became used to it the more premium it felt.  It is so different to the other Android phones on the market that it stands out thanks to this shape.

The rear of the device is glass but the good news is that it is the latest Corning Gorilla Glass Victus which I/we can attest to be strong.  Two drops in one day – once from a loose shirt pocket onto a tiled floor and the other from the same pocket to a concrete floor – and there was not a single scratch on the device.  I did hold my breath after the drop onto the concrete floor given I was yet to take device photos for this review.

The Galaxy S22+ is available in Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold and Phantom Black in store.  Online through the Samsung website are also some exclusive colours such as Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue and Violet.  The review unit we were sent was the Pink Gold variant and it is something that is very feminine no doubt.  With the camera island a metallic version of the Pink Gold that matches the metallic frame of the phone it is a great looking device.  Checking out the other colours though I have to say my favourite is the white version.  It is great to see Samsung making so many colours available for Aussies and giving us choice.

We seem to have finally hit the extreme for sizing of smartphones and now it seems that some manufacturers are beginning to hear a growing volume of voices calling for smaller, more pocketable smartphones.  The Galaxy S22+, although still a decent size, is much more “handy” than the Ultra.  For sizing, it is approximately the size of the Pixel 6 – not the XL but the 6.

The Galaxy S22+ includes all the usual specs you would expect from a flagship series device such as 5G support, 4500mAh battery with 45W wired charging speed (if you use the Samsung charger – sold separately) and 15W wireless Qi charging support.  There is also reverse wireless charging should you ever need a quick top up of your other Qi-supported devices.  Add in IP68 support for water and dust resistance and you have most all of the usual premium features.

I have always been disappointed in the fingerprint sensors on the Samsung Galaxy smartphones with them being inconsistent and slow.  This year Samsung (or Qualcomm?) has improved the ultrasonic fingerprint sensor so that it is now both faster and more consistent.  Sure, it still isn’t quite at the OPPO level but it is not far behind.  

You can also use their 2D face unlock to unlock your device and while it is much faster than last year it is still slower than some other manufacturers’.  It is slower than the fingerprint sensor such that you’ll find yourself so rarely using it.  It’s nice as a backup should you have wet hands or gloves on but I wouldn’t be using it as my primary unlock method for the phone – it’s less secure anyway and Google Pay won’t work when unlocking device with face.

Display is amazing

Considering Samsung has been in the business of making smartphone displays for a long time it is not surprising that Samsung has always had some of the best displays in their phones.  The Galaxy S22+ is no exception with the flat 6.6-inch 1080P Dynamic AMOLED 2X display offering great colours and sharpness.  Sure, I’d love a 2K display but the difference between the two is barely noticeable. The flat display, although doesn’t “look” as premium as a curved display is a lot more user friendly in my opinion with the entire display usable unlike curved displays where it is difficult at best to use the curved part of the display.

The S22+ display supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz which, if you haven’t used it before, is far superior to the standard 60Hz we see in some other smartphones.  Premium Android smartphones all support this so it is no surprise this feature is included.  Even though the phone rarely sits at the 120Hz level due to it changing based on what is displayed on the phone and what refresh rate is “required” by the app currently being used, the hit to the battery life at 120Hz is large.

The display, like the back of the phone, is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and just as the rear survived the two drops, the display did too.  For those who like to customise their display to just how they like it Samsung has included those options for you 

How good is the camera?

The camera is great and is better than I expected given that it lacks the specs of the Ultra and “only” has three lenses. The three lenses are obviously decent though and include a 50MP main camera (wide angle), a 12MP ultra-wide angle camera and a 10MP telephoto camera. The front selfie camera is a 10MP camera which is also decent.

Imaging in all scenarios was easy and produced great results. Everytime I set the camera on auto and just let the software do the work. The results were something you’d expect from a flagship phone.

The camera supports up to 30X Space Zoom and it is surprisingly good. At 30X, even when taken hand-held, the images are impressive and far better than you’d expect with this zoom.

Samsung has done a great job with the camera software once again with Single Take once again my favourite piece of software. It takes a variety of pictures and video clips with a single capture of a few seconds. This allows the Samsung software to decide what it thinks is the best picture possible and what type in that scenario. Other great additions include the ability to change the background blur colours, features and intensity when using portrait mode — this was fun to use and produced some great images (you can see the results below).

The AI enhancement of images produced some life-like images even when the lighting was red or other colour. It may take a few seconds for it to perform said enhancements, but the results are worth the wait. Samsung is relatively new to the Night Mode scene but their night mode is really good and they have made great advancements in this area. It was relatively quick while capturing enough light to produce an accurately-coloured image without any issues with a grainy image.

The software has so many options

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ comes running Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1 out of the box which is to be expected in their flagship device for 2022.  Samsung has been great with their Android updates in recent years and the S22 series is promising more of the same with Samsung guaranteeing up to four years of software updates – both feature and security updates – which means you’ll see Android 16 and OneUI 8 down the track.

Samsung has included their own OneUI, now up to version 4.1, on top of Android 12 and it includes a lot of looks and styling from Android 11 – especially with their Quick Settings design.  I think I prefer the way Samsung has included their access to Device Controls than Google’s on the Pixel with it being easier to find and use.

One UI has never been my favourite UI on an Android smartphone and it remains so.  It can be made to look how you want it to, along with a metric tonne of options to make the UI behave how you want it to – possibly too many.  It is possible though that the sheer number of options are slowing down the user interface and also consuming more battery than it should.  Regular Samsung users will be comfortable with the consistent UI and experience though – there are a lot of useful additions to Android in there.  

If you don’t like the look of OneUI the good thing is that this is Android 12 – you can change it.  You can change out the keyboard, the launcher and the design of the UI easily within the settings given the new theming options within Android 12 – plus Samsung’s usual OneUI themes which are decent if you look through the selection.

Here I’m going to go into a small rant and it’s not just focused on Samsung but nearly every single Android manufacturer.  Samsung are not alone in it but read the next few paragraphs with my thoughts on the launcher and keyboard included.  Samsung is no different to others but I would hope they could be better and do better – maybe next year.  These issues are easily fixed though so shouldn’t affect your purchase of the phone.

The home screen, or launcher as it is called on Android, is, as the kids say, trash (yes its an Americanism but you can easily exchange rubbish for it here if you want – both words are fitting).  I consider it this because of what it tries to be but fails.  It has some options but far too many old Samsung defaults such as the horizontal-sliding app drawer for it to be considered modern, or good.

Sure, there are a lot of people who still use the stock launcher that comes with their phones and given how easy it is to replace I can only think they do so because they don’t know any better.  I’m here to tell you that if you are using ANY manufacturer’s stock launcher you are missing out.  They all, especially Samsung’s, pale in comparison to a multitude of third-party launchers on the market.  Samsung’s option is average for a stock launcher but that doesn’t mean it is great. It’s possibly not even good given its features are things that Android improved on and moved on from years ago.

IMO the first thing you should do is install a third-party launcher – my favourite is Nova Launcher (I’ve now bought it twice and considering you spend over 1k on a phone what’s a few dollars more for a launcher – there is a free version to test it out first) – it’s the app you will use the most on your phone so why not get something better?  There are so many different options, shortcuts and designs you can use for it.  You can also theme it yourself or buy one of the hundreds of compatible themes on the Play Store for it.  Go and check out the free version of it, or any other high-rated Android launcher, you won’t be sorry.

The Samsung keyboard is meh (continuing the theme of what the kids say these days). Once again it pales in comparison to many third-party keyboards – and way worse than Google’s Gboard.  The Pixel keyboard is so much better with its AI and its amazing voice typing that it is embarrassing Samsung included this as their keyboard offering.  The Galaxy S22+ does have Google voice typing but not the AI on-device typing that the Pixel 6 has.  The keyboard situation can be easily fixed though through the installation of a third-party keyboard such as SwiftKey.

Samsung uses so many Microsoft’s apps on their phones thanks to their partnership, so it is puzzling why they do not use/lease Microsoft’s SwiftKey keyboard, the best third-party keyboard on the market IMO.  It is my go-to keyboard on any device (that isn’t a pixel 6) and disappointing Samsung don’t stop wasting time working on theirs (as it certainly is not improving) and just work out some form of tradesies with Microsoft for the use of their keyboard. 

The Galaxy S22+ is finicky when it comes with Android Auto.  The wired connection to the car, when not using the Samsung cable that comes in the box, drops out a lot and is very inconsistent – when going over bumps, around severe corners etc. Using the Samsung cable mitigated the issue for me, but the cable is 1m long and is thus far from ideal. We are not alone in experiencing these issues with the new Samsung smartphones and Android Auto with the Internet abuzz with people experiencing connection issues. We are not sure what Samsung has done here but hopefully Samsung and Google sort out some kind of fix soon. 

For those who have a car infotainment system that supports wireless Android Auto you are in luck though as wireless Android Auto works spectacularly.  My car does not support wireless Android Auto so instead I used the AAWireless dongle with enormous success – review coming to EFTM shortly.

Charging and battery life – average but could be great

The S22+ review unit we were sent is a US Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 version, but the charging of the device is the same between this and the Aussie Snapdragon version (although they do have different 5G support – mmwave).  Although the Galaxy S22+ does now support 45W wired charging it is useless unless you fork out more money when purchasing the S22+ and buy the supporting Samsung charger.  This is a very poor solution – there is no point improving charging speeds each year if someone has to buy a whole new charger themselves each year to support this – ie. not including it in the box.  OPPO has 80W charging support in their new Find X5 Pro and the charger comes in the box, just as it did for their 65W charging last year.  Now that is user and customer friendly — but they don’t have the market Samsung does so cannot afford to alienate customers, especially here in Australia.

In the box

I am a power user of my smartphones given that I normally stream an hour or so of music at the gym followed by using the phone for various video streaming during the day while having it connected to my smartwatch – not many phones I’ve used last over a day but I’m happy if it lasts until dinner time from 6am.  Unfortunately, the Galaxy S22+ did not do that.

I used the phone using the adaptive refresh rate (up to 120Hz) and I struggled to get close to 4 hours of battery life and didn’t even get close to it lasting a full day.  Fixing it to the 60Hz refresh rate – now old technology – improved the battery life a lot but when other manufacturers are getting a full day with 120Hz it is disappointing that Samsung once again have a less than average battery life.  The 60Hz refresh rate resulted in the battery lasting closer to what most other premium phones last using 120Hz variable refresh rate.  If you don’t have a charger at your desk or don’t sit at your desk much then it might be a good idea to set it at 60Hz.

If you are forking out this much money for a phone I have to recommend you try and find another $69 to purchase the 45W charger required to truly charge the phone faster. Plug it in for less than half an hour and you’ll get another 50% of battery charge.

I have a wireless charger on my desk at work so I just left it on that when I was not using it.  The Galaxy S22+ does support 15W wireless charging so that is an easy charging/battery solution if you are at or near a desk most of the day.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy S22+?

When it comes to the Samsung Galaxy S22+ I feel a sense of déjà vu. Last year when reviewing the Galaxy S21 I found pretty much the same as what I found this year with the Galaxy S22+. The AMOLED display is fantastic, the camera is amazing and the software is feature-packed with the negative portions of it easily fixed and replaced.

Unfortunately, when operating the phone at its peak possibility (up to 120Hz refresh rate), the battery life is once again less than optimal. I struggled to get the phone to last a full day with 60Hz, let alone 120Hz refresh rate. Once again Samsung did not include a charger in the box so although the Galaxy S22+ does now support 45W charging you’ll have to purchase that separately for $69 from Samsung and other retailers.

In the end most people want a good-looking phone with a great camera and display and that is what you get from the Samsung Galaxy S22+. The display is amazing, as you’d expect from Samsung, albeit only 1080P and the camera is once again great thanks to decent hardware and some aggressive AI camera software. The phone can also be good looking with all retailers having four colour options but if you purchase the phone directly from Samsung’s online store you get either colour options.

Starting at $1,249 for the 128GB version, the Samsung Galaxy S22+ is not a cheap phone but if you buy it you are getting that display and camera quality along with Samsung support which cannot be understated — four years of both feature and security updates. If you have used Samsung smartphones before it’s a lot more of what you know — you will not be disappointed with what you get.

You can find the Samsung Galaxy S22+ just about everywhere in Australia, but for more details you can check out our where to buy guide here.