Samsung Galaxy S22+ Review: The Candy Bar Phone for Everyone

Samsung Galaxy S22+ Review: The Candy Bar Phone for Everyone
Image: Samsung

It’s new Samsung phone time, just a month after the last new Samsung phone time. Following February tradition, this time around it’s the flagship Galaxy S series (as opposed to last month’s Galaxy S21 FE release). The range this year includes the Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+ (like the S22, but a little bigger), and the S22 Ultra (like the S22+, but larger and secretly a Note).

The big selling point for the S22 range this year is a fancier camera array and better night-mode photos. Aside from that, the changes are relatively minor, but at least the price is the same as last year. Reflecting how hard it’s been to get people to upgrade to fancier phones the last couple of years, the big news is all the pre-order freebies you can get if you order from particular carriers.

That said, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel: the Galaxy S range has always included solid, dependable phones with impressive cameras. Much like the iPhone and the Pixel, though, it is becoming harder to justify these phones having annual release cycles when each only offers a standard spec bump and nothing else to write home about.

So, without further ado, here are my thoughts after five days with the Samsung Galaxy S22+ (from $1,549).

Design and screen

The screen of the Samsung Galaxy S22+ on a wooden table
The screen of the Samsung Galaxy S22+. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

There are a couple of interesting choices that have been made in this year’s design. It’s 6.6-inches, as opposed to last year’s 6.7-inches, and the resolution is oh-so-slightly lower (you won’t be able to tell, though). But it can go brighter, 1750nits as opposed to last year’s 1300nits. The standard S22 only goes to 1300nits, which you’ll really only notice if you’re in bright sunshine, or are one of those people who need their phone screens set to “stun”.

Even though the resolution is technically lower than last year’s (which I did not see), the picture looks really good to my eye. Next to the iPhone 13 Pro Max, Google Pixel 6 Pro and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, it fits right in.

The back is also really nice. It doesn’t attract fingerprints and the little camera protuberance is understated.

The pink back of a Samsung Galaxy S22+
The back just looks like a phone. There’s neither anything exciting nor hideous about it. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

What I really love about the S22+ design is that it’s made to be held. It’s not the most innovative phone shape design, and it harkens back to the early days of candy bar phones, but it’s comfortable to use and hold. The 6.6-inch screen is the perfect size for my hand. Better still, it doesn’t have the fancy Infinity O Display, where the screen spills over the edges, so you’re not constantly accidentally pressing things with the side of your palm. It’s the same as last year, but I don’t think I got to hold the S21+, so I didn’t get to know the joy. Where the iPhone 13 Pro Max can sometimes feel a touch wide for my hands of above average size, this feels just right. I would like a little extra screen width to read books on and play games, but the body is just perfect. Your mileage may very, but whichever out of the S22 and S22+ fits best in your hand will be good. It’s about time more phone companies considered the ergonomics of their devices.

Performance

A bridge with a cyclist on it, Melbourne city skyline in the background.
The camera is pretty good. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

As usual, this is the fastest Galaxy SXX ever. In fact, the S22 range is one of the fastest Android phone ranges I’ve tested. Much faster than the Google Pixel 6 Pro, and a bit faster than the S21 Ultra. That said, the iPhone 13 still crushes it on speed, because Apple silicon is smoking everyone at the moment. But, in smartphones, speed isn’t everything (though it is a lot), and I never felt like I was having to wait for the S22+ to do anything. It did get a bit uncomfortably warm at times when playing games, though not as hot as the S22 Ultra or iPhone 13 Pro Max.

I did get some weird benchmarking results on my S22+ unit. It behaved like a super-fast phone, but the Geekbench 5 results came out significantly lower than the S22 Ultra with the same chipset, and were lower than the phones of colleagues who are also writing reviews. I’m not sure what that means, it might just be the app glitching, or a process in the test going wrong somehow. But these are my multi-core CPU Geekbench 5 results for a variety of phones:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max: 4618
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3: 3447
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: 3336
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+: 2052* (*Which is weirdly low and doesn’t reflect my experience with the phone. A colleague got 3075, which still seems a little low, but is closer to what I’d expect.)
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro: 2590

Unfortunately, I can’t let you know about the 5G performance, because the overseas models of the phone sent for review aren’t compatible with Australian 5G. But the Australian model will have 5G, so that’s nice.

Camera

A photo of some boats on water on a clear day
Taken with the telephoto lens on the Samsung Galaxy S22+. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

As always, the biggest upgrades on these phones are to the cameras, because phone companies nailed the “phone” part a while ago and have run out of ways to encourage people to buy more phones other than “make the camera a bit better”.

I can confirm, the camera is better. All of the sensors have been upgraded, with the wide going to 50MP over last year’s 12MP. Pictures seem a bit crisper, and very much continue the “Samsung” look of photos, where everything seems great but a touch over processed.

Regular photography

I want to love these cameras, but I think I’ve just been spoiled by other phones. On this 0.6X wide angle shot, everything looks a bit distorted, which is to be expected, but the details also just aren’t quite there. Zooming in on the water is just disappointing. It looks great from a distance, but with such a big photo I would expect to be able to see good details, and I just don’t here. The photo looks good, but you can see the AI more than I’d like.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Wide angle shot on the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Wide angle shot on the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Wide angle shot on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

I much prefer the 1X photo. The water still looks like a simulation, but the other details look a bit better.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

1X photo on the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

1X photo on the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

1X photo on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

I go back to being disappointed on the 3X photo. The colours on the Samsung are much better and look a touch more accurate than on the iPhone, but zooming in on the iPhone gives me much more detail on the duckling’s feathers, while the S22+ just zooms to fluff. Again, good from a distance as long as you don’t look too hard or too deeply. The S22 Ultra (which you can read more about in my dedicated review) smokes them both, with gorgeous details on both ducks and bubbles on the water at 10X.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Telephoto on the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

2X on the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Telephoto on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Things get better on the Lego photography. The colours really pop, and the details are so good I noticed dents on my display case that I’d never seen before and now cannot unsee.

Rainbow Lego figures on a shelf
I can never unsee those dents in the shelf now. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

But on the portrait shot of this fruit, things look good until you zoom in and the image gets noisy, particularly on the kiwi fruit.

A bowl of sliced fruit on a wooden board in front of a vase and flowers and a candle.
Perfect… from a distance. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

On the bright side, the selfie camera is nice. The colours look good and it’s more than enough for capturing the moment. It’s not the most incredible selfie camera I’ve ever used, I prefer how the selfies on the Google Pixel 6 Pro came out, but this is a super subjective thing and there’s nothing objectively wrong with it.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Selfie camera on the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Selfie camera on the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Selfie camera on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

If you’re looking for daytime photography, the S22+ is quite good. It’s not as good as its rivals, but it’ll capture the moments you need it to.

A navy ship on a sunny day with the Melbourne skyline behind it
Shot on Samsung Galaxy S22+. Photo credit: Alice Clarke

Night mode photography

This is where things get impressive. Which is good, because night photography is the thing they’re advertising most. Next to the iPhone, you can already see that the tones on the S22+ are warmer, and you can see more detail. We’re now fairly used to night photography modes, so it no longer seems like the witchcraft it once did, but this still looks pretty darn good for a darkened room.

The cold tones of the iPhone make this look like the monstera’s mugshot, but you can see if super clearly. Meanwhile the warmer tones of the S22+ make it look like the monstera is at a party, having a great time. Again, this is really subjective stuff, and one might speak more to your aesthetic, but I prefer the S22+ here because the warmer tones are closer to the light that was in the room at the time and better suits my photography vibe.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Samsung Galaxy S22+ night mode off.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Samsung Galaxy S22+ night mode on.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra night mode.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

Google Pixel 6 Pro night mode.

 Image: Alice Clarke.

Image: Alice Clarke.

iPhone 13 Pro Max night mode.

On the more objective stuff, I feel like the S22+ and S22 Ultra were better at guessing what my floor and Lego looked like. The Pixel 6 Pro made the floor super fuzzy, and the iPhone did an OK job of figuring out the floorboard situation. The iPhone also did a better job of the skirting board, but the S22+ did a better job on the detail on the plant pot, which is the more key detail in the foreground.

From how much Samsung has been advertising Nightography, I thought the night mode photos were going to be in a whole new league. But this to just seems like an incremental increase.

Should you buy it?

I don’t know, I’m not your real mum. If you have a phone to trade in for the Vodafone trade in deal, or genuinely like one of the pre-order offers, I think it’s a no brainer. This is a great phone. It’s comfortable to use and hold, and does everything it says it does. It doesn’t have the best camera array ever, but it’s still very good and you have to spend a few hundred dollars more to get better from any brand, which isn’t going to be worth it for most people.

It’s absolutely not worth upgrading to from an S20 or newer, unless you have a non-5G model. But if you have an older phone, or are moving from a budget phone, then the Samsung Galaxy S22+ strikes the right balance between power, comfort, camera and price.

The Samsung Galaxy S22+ is available in stores, through carriers and from Samsung online from March 4.