Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Long-Term Review: The Zoom Capabilities Are Still Unmatched

With the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and now refined in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has taken the world by storm. Samsung has been zoomed in, on the zoom

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra long-term
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra long-term

It’s only been a few days since Samsung took the wraps off their latest and shiniest smartphones; Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Galaxy Z Fold 4. While I’m eager to test out the new foldable, there’s one primary reason why the Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung, has been my preferred daily driver, even months after its release.

Back in February, when Samsung took the wraps off the Galaxy S22 series, there was one theme that stuck with me. That was the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera setup. Smartphone manufacturers have been focusing on their cameras for quite some time now. Google has focused on computational imaging, while the likes of Oppo and Vivo have been focusing on selfies and low-light photography. With the Galaxy S21 Ultra, and now refined in the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung has taken the world by storm. Samsung has been zoomed in, on the zoom.

For years, telephoto cameras on smartphones, have disappointed. At times they had come in handy (whenever I was at events), but there was no denying that they lacked in quality as compared to the primary and ultrawide lenses. Moreso, the zoom beyond a point, was hardly useable. 

Since the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s launch, and now the Galaxy S22 Ultra, no smartphone on the market is capable of delivering a comparable zoom experience. Gone were the days when I had to fight my way to the front of a concert or cross the road to read what is written on the shops' signage. The zoom capabilities opened my eyes to a multitude of new perspectives.

The camera sensors may not have changed between the two models, but significantly improved algorithms and a greater image signal processor make for a lot of difference. Samsung included the new 18-bit Snapdragon Sight ISP in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. The sensor can capture a larger number of data points. Along with the AI algorithms, the photos are stunning.

Let’s Back Up For A Minute

There’s the much loved 108MP main camera with an f/1.8 aperture, an 85-degree field of view, and Dual Pixel AF. It’s flanked by the 12MP ultra-wide camera that comes with an f/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree filed of view. Finally, there’s the 10MP telephoto camera with three times zoom (f/2.4) and another 10MP telephoto camera with 10 times zoom (f/4.9).

That’s a pretty versatile camera, if I may say so.

If You’re Squarely Zoomed In Then The Z Flip 4 And Z Fold 4 Are No Match

I’m eager to test out the new foldable from Samsung and I personally know many people who are willing to shell out their hard-earned money to own these gadgets. They are top-notch devices, no doubt. They’ve got their advantages.

The Z Flip 4, for one, is truly compact. The Z Flip 4 folds into a square and can be stored in many different places. Portable to the extreme. It’s shorter and narrower than its predecessor. The borders around the inside screen have been made narrower as well. That’s an advantage many people would be instantly happy with. 

While the cameras on the Z Flip 4 have gotten better - better optical image stabilization and electronic image stabilization, and the main camera that allows for 65% more light - there is still no match for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. There’s no 10x optical zoom. In fact, you get 0x optical zoom. There’s also no 108MP main sensor as on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. You get a 12MP main sensor instead.

The main advantage of the Z Fold 4 is the screen real estate. Multitasking on the Z Fold 4 is a dream come true. You can group up to three apps at once. There’s also a new taskbar that makes it more like a PC and easier to navigate. 

The Z Fold 4 has upgraded the cameras. We’re now treated to a 50MP main camera, a 12MP ultra-wide, and a 10MP telephoto (with a 3x optical and 30x space zoom). Again, good on paper, but no match for the 100x zoom of the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

The advantages of the Z Flip 4 and the Z Fold 4 are that you can use the rear cameras (undoubedtly better than the selfie camera) for just about anything. And using the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 in Flex Mode helps while taking zoom calls. It basically acts as a tripod and can benefit in many ways. Still, I keep coming back to that zoom.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra Has Held Up Well

It’s been months since I first reviewed the Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung, and for the most part since then, it has been my daily driver. I haven’t noticed any substantial drop-off in any of the key areas of a smartphone. The battery life still holds up well. I routinely get a day’s worth and more. There hasn’t been any noticeable lag, even when pushing it to its limits and playing games for hours on end.

Samsung is also the best in the game (apart from Google itself) with respect to updates. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is on the August 2022 security patch and there is already an One UI 5.0 beta (based on Android 13) available in certain countries. 

Moon Shots For The Win!

One of my favorite aspects of the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s camera system is the fact that it can take moon shots! Yes, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can capture moon shots with aplomb. How cool is it to be able to point your smartphone at the sky and capture moon shots? I regularly have a friend asking me for photos of the moon and I’m able to deliver them with relative ease. I don’t need a DSLR with an insanely expensive lens. I just need to open the camera app on my Galaxy S22 Ultra and that’s it.

Zooming In To Some Quality Photos

Yes, the Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4 will sell well. In fact, they might sell the most ever foldable phones in Samsung’s history. There’s also no doubt that they’re excellent phones in their own regard. As I begin to test them out, I’ll find out exactly how good they are. 

No doubt each phone has its advantages, and no doubt they all have a unique place in Samsung’s smartphone lineup. Still, the zoom capabilities of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is what has me coming back/swooning over it on a daily basis. 

It’s just so versatile in real-world situations. From concerts to street signs and more, the Galaxy S22 Ultra just keeps delivering and never disappoints.

To top it off, the Galaxy S22 Ultra can be found cheaper than its launch price. Routinely there are discounts that pop-up and that makes it an even more attractive proposition.