The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus is the high-end Android phone most shoppers in the US should buy in 2022. The Plus, and the smaller-but-similar standard S22, aren’t perfect. Battery life, for one, is a weak point, and that’s something to consider seriously. There are better options if you’re looking for something a little more stylish or with a few more bells and whistles. But the vast majority of people who are just looking for a fast, reliable Android device to hold on to for the next few years need to look no further than the S22 duo.
They’re also two of a precious few options we have Stateside, which makes this recommendation sound like a backhanded compliment. But they also happen to be really good phones capable of handling just about any task you can throw at them, with top-notch cameras and the best support policy you can get for an Android phone on this continent.
It’s also worth stressing that these are iterative updates to the S21. There are some welcome improvements to the camera capabilities, the latest Qualcomm chipset, and… that’s kind of it. They’re nice upgrades but nothing that should compel an S21 owner to trade in their current phone.
The S22 and S22 Plus offer flat displays with modest bezels and slightly curved rails. The glass back panel has returned after the S21’s stint with a “glasstic” rear, and both phones are IP68 rated. The whole thing feels solid, understated, and a little fancy. Last year’s design was a little bolder, with metal camera bumps blending seamlessly into the rails, but I like this toned-down approach. I’m also a fan of the handsome green color option, which I didn’t expect to like so much.
The S22 Plus has a bigger 6.6-inch screen, while the S22 feels downright petite in comparison with its 6.1-inch display. (Don’t read that as the S22 being “small,” but it’s about as small as you can get in the Android world at this point.) Both are 1080p OLED screens with up to 120Hz refresh rate, but the S22 Plus’ features a peak outdoor brightness of 1750 nits versus the S22’s 1300 nits. Both are bright enough to use comfortably in direct sunlight.
In any conditions, they’re very good screens. The fast refresh rate makes the experience of using the phone to scroll through social media and flip through menu screens smooth and polished. Samsung knows how to make a good OLED, with rich blacks and vivid colors, and it has outfitted both phones with such a display.
I’m less positive on battery life. When I tested the S22 Ultra, the battery drained faster than I expected, though I was able to get through even a day of heavy use. The S22 and S22 Plus seem to draw power even faster. The little S22 also gets a smaller 3,700mAh battery versus the Plus model’s 4,500mAh cell.
I saw the S22 battery take an alarming plunge from 30 percent to 20 percent over half an hour of downloading apps and logging into accounts, and in a day of typical use, the S22 was down to 58 percent by 3PM. That’s without even really trying to push the battery in any challenging way, like streaming video or playing a game. Downloading and playing Genshin Impact for about 30 minutes brought that percentage right down to the low single digits. The S22 Plus doesn’t fare much better. Though it has a bigger battery, there’s also a bigger screen to power, so stamina feels about the same.
If seeing a number lower than 20 percent on your battery level indicator makes you break out in hives, then the S22 may not be for you. Generally speaking, both the S22 and S22 Plus will get through a day of use, but even a moderate user might be coasting on fumes at the end of the day. Gaming takes a big toll on the already-shaky battery life, too, making a midday recharge or a backup battery a necessity.
The better news is that both phones support fast charging: 45W in the S22 Plus and 25W for the S22. The S22 Plus charges from 0 to 100 percent in just over an hour with Samsung’s 45W charger (sold separately). Both support 15W wireless charging, and no matter how you plan to power up the phone, you’ll need to bring your own adapter because you won’t find a charger of any kind in the box.
The S22 and S22 Plus use the Snapdragon 8 gen 1 chipset in the US, which is Qualcomm’s latest and greatest processor for Android phones. Both devices come with 8GB of RAM, and performance overall is excellent. If I really push it, I can spot a slight stutter occasionally jumping quickly between apps. But in daily use, I don’t see any lag that would bother me.
I did notice the S22 getting surprisingly warm with moderate tasks that I wouldn’t expect to be taxing on the processor, but if there was any performance throttling as a result, I couldn’t see it. The standard S22 runs Genshin Impact well, with some slight stuttering here and there. After playing for 30 minutes, the phone was very warm, though not uncomfortable to hold, and I couldn’t see any difference in performance.
The S22 and S22 Plus ship with One UI 4.1, which adds some nice customization options to the interface. You can’t take it quite as far as with the Pixel 6, but you can choose a color palette based on your phone wallpaper and apply it to system controls and app icons. I like the colors it suggested for me, and the overall effect does make it feel more personal.
During setup, you can opt out of adding Samsung’s many proprietary apps to your home screen, which helps tame the clutter the company’s software can sometimes tend toward. Samsung has also mercifully removed the ads that once sullied the top of the weather app. But then there are the hallmarks of a Samsung phone, like having two app stores and two digital assistants and sometimes seeing a Samsung Pay offer slide across your screen when you’re just trying to open up Hulu and doom-watch Handmaid’s Tale. Samsung gonna Samsung.
In any case, Samsung offers one of the best support policies among Android device makers and says the S22 series will get “up to” four generations of Android OS updates. That’s one year better than even Google promises for its devices. It’s a great policy, and the company seems to be speeding up the rate at which it provides OS version upgrades, which we truly love to see.
The S22 and S22 Plus feature a 50-megapixel f/1.8 main camera with stabilization, a 10-megapixel stabilized 3x telephoto, a 12-megapixel ultra-wide, and a 10-megapixel selfie camera. Samsung’s 10x optical zoom and giant 108-megapixel sensors are reserved for the Ultra. Video specs are on par with last year: up to 8K / 24p recording from the main camera, and 4K at 30 or 60p from the front-facing camera. There’s not a whole lot that’s new and exciting about the hardware — this year’s camera improvements are mostly software-based, and they’re subtle but worthwhile.