Samsung Galaxy S22 series includes S22 Ultra with built-in S-Pen… Is this the end of the Note?

Every year, we get new generations of smartphones and this week Samsung has revealed their latest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S22 series phones.

While the cameras, performance, battery life all get the now expected boost, it’s the inclusion of an S-pen in the S22 Ultra that is the big story this year.

For those who had flirted with the idea of getting a Galaxy Note, but opted for the form factor the S series, can now have the best of both worlds, with an S22 Ultra that comes with a stylus built-in.

When you need to take notes, annotate a picture, or digitally sign a document, simply pop the S-pen out from the bottom of the device and get to work. Samsung Notes is included, but the S-pen will work with most common apps like OneNote etc.

When using the S-Pen, you should see and feel improved responsiveness, as Samsung engineers worked hard to reduce latency from 9ms, all the way down to 2.8ms. To do this, they’re leveraging some pretty impressive AI, which predicts its next coordinates based on your previous inputs, an upgrade of Wacom’s handwriting component.

Collaboration view

Samsung has introduced a new feature that allows you to pair your device with a Tab S8 series device. This enables you to use your phone and tablet together, with your tool panes in drawing apps on the phone, leaving your entire tablet as a full canvas to create on.

While not every Galaxy S22 Ultra owner will own a Samsung Tablet, for those that do, this looks like a really great bonus for staying on brand.

Nightography

While phones have had night modes for a few years now, Samsung is now calling their latest low-light photography ‘Nightography’. This combines a great hardware array of cameras, with some AI magic to ensure your photos at night remain sharp and bright, avoiding the grain commonly found in low-light situations.

Cameras

Photography and the insane cameras that Samsung install in their phones each year, continues to be one of the largest motivators to upgrade. Capturing the world around us and the lives of our loved ones, are some of the most important aspects of owning a modern smartphone.

This year Samsung has ditched the massive camera bump, instead placing 5 circles (6 if you could the flash) directly on the back of the device. This is a much better look, but we’ll have to get hands-on to know if this creates rocking when placed on a table.

If you’re a social, creative type, then you could exploit the brand new camera array more than ever before to create amazing photos and videos. The final photo you capture today, is not just a result of the cameras you have and your photography skills, there’s a lot of AI magic behind the scenes to ensure the exposure, colours, focus are all as good as they can be.

This year, Samsung has doubled their Neural Processing Unit (NPU) performance, which powers this AI magic we leverage in our photos and videos. This additional speed means the processing should happen so fast, you basically won’t even see it.

For those who love to go deep on editing, Samsung allows you to capture 16-bit RAW files with the S22 Ultra, preserving as much data as possible to make intricate edits with creating that perfect shot. 

This year the S22 Ultra features a 4-camera system on the rear and a massive 40MP front-facing camera:

  • 12MP Ultra-wide camera (F2.2, 120 degree FOV)
  • 108MP Wide Camera (Dual Pixel SF, F1.8, 85 degree FOV)
  • 10MP Telephoto Camera (3x Optical Zoom, F2.4, 36 degree FOV)
  • 10MP Telephoto Camera (10x Optical Zoom, F4.9, 11 degree FOV)
  • 40MP Front Camera (F2.2, 80 degree FOV)

For those familiar with Samsung’s crazy 100x hybrid zoom, its back, includes 10x optical zoom and 100x digital zoom that leverages AI Super Resolution technology to reduce pixelation as you get closer to the moon.

Samsung demonstrated a really neat auto-framing feature. This expands the field of view automatically, based on how many people it detects in the shot. This means you never leave people out and it can track as many as 10 people in a single shot, great for group family or friend photos.

Performance

Competition in the smartphone race has never been higher, so Samsung is going all out with their next-gen phones. Included in the S22 Ultra is a new processor, built on a crazy small 4nm processor, the fastest ever on a Galaxy device.

This processor is supported by up to 12GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, all powering the user experience through a 6.8″ Edge QHD+ AMOLED display. This new display offers a slick 120Hz refresh rate, making the content super smooth and can achieve a peak brightness of 1,750 nits). This not only has the benefit of being clearly visible in direct sunlight, but also improves the contrast between light and dark aspects of the picture, great for watching movies or playing games.

Battery life

With all that performance, Samsung focused on the battery and recharging rapidly, in the event you chew through the large 5,000mAh inside. The S22 will rapidly charge to 50% in less than 20 minutes, that’s amazing. If you forgot to charge your phone overnight and come home for lunch. Just connect it to a 45W charger and you could easily boost your battery to get you through the rest of the day (and maybe the next).

Software & Networking

The S22 series phones all run Android 12, customised with Samsung’s ideas and apps, known as One UI 4.1. The phone offers 5G connectivity, as well as support for WiFi 6 and WiFi Direct Bluetooth version 5.2.

Samsung has included an ultrasonic fingerprint reader in the display but appears that face unlock is not included.

This year, Samsung is working with your favourite social apps to allow you to use the native camera modes inside the app. This is great, as previously the camera features inside apps like Snapchat, are determined by the app developer and if you wanted to use the fancy modes the manufacturer included, you’d have to jump out of the social app, open the default camera, take the picture, then upload the photo to the social app.

That is simply way more steps than it needs to be, so this native inclusion is certainly, very welcome.

Gorilla Glass Victus+

The phones we carry in our pockets are essentially large slabs of glass and if you drop it, there’s a high likelihood that your display, worth hundreds of dollars, will be damaged. On the S22 series, Samsung has included the latest generation glass from Corning, known as Gorilla Glass Victus+.

While this certainly doesn’t mean you can be careless with your phone, Corning says Gorilla Glass Victus survived drops onto hard, rough surfaces from up to 2 meters, while other manufacturers, typically fail when dropped from 0.8 meters.

Outside the improved drop performance, this should also offer superior scratch resistance. The great news here is that you’ll find Gorilla Glass Victus+ glass on both the front and back of the device, so placing it down on the table should not result in scratches.

Price and Availability

Samsung’s Galaxy S22 series starts at A$1,249 with the S22 (8GB + 128GB). The S22 is also available with double the storage, 256GB for just an extra $100, a pretty good deal.

The Galaxy S22+ starts at A$1,549 and again starts at 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage. For A$1,649 you can upgrade to the 256GB model.

Finally, we have the flagship S22 Ultra that is offered in 4 specs.

  • 8GB + 128GB – A$1,849
  • 12GB + 256GB – A1,999
  • 12GB + 512GB – $2,149
  • 12GB + 1TB – $2,449

All models come in a variety of colours, Pink Gold, Phantom Black, Phantom White and Green. If you buy through Samsung’s eStore, they have some exclusive colours, including Violet, Light Blue, Grey, Cream, Red and Grey (not all colours available for all models).

They also come with dual-sim capability with a single SIM slot and eSim option.

The new Galaxy S22 family of devices will go on-sale and be available to purchase in retail from March 4, 2022. While top-end smartphones are expensive, it is worth remembering that the Galaxy S21 range of launched in January 2021 and were priced from $1,249 for the entry level model. Pricing has been maintained across the range with the 512GB Galaxy S22 Ultra the only model that has increased in price (by $50). Of course those who have the largest of storage requirements, the 1TB is a new entrant and comes at a premium price.

If you pre-order a Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22+ or Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung or its participating partners (Telstra, Optus or Vodafone), they are offering a bonus offer. This offer is available via redemption including a travel pack, power pack or audio pack, all valued over A$300 when you buy the Ultra.

“With the Galaxy S22 we are anticipating the needs of tomorrow with the technology we’re bringing to market today. The S22 series includes three unique flagship models that meet the premium priorities and personal preferences to empower and connect our customers.

S22 and S22+ bring the best for those who want to create – dynamic cameras, enhanced image processing and bright displays make for a beautifully designed and powerful smartphone. The S22 Ultra brings the very best of S Series and the DNA of Note together in a whole new experience. The built-in S-Pen is set to unleash new productivity and creative
possibilities.

We know Australians’ smartphone usage has increased by 40% after another year of prolonged pandemic living. Because of this and extended working from home arrangements, 44% of people purchasing a new smartphone are buying premium because they need higher performance devices. People also use their smartphone for escapism through entertainment and other leisure activities so having a device that powers both work and play has never been more important.

Samsung is known for working in lock step with our partners to deliver premium experiences for our customers like no one else. Whether it’s getting the fastest mobile network performance from our telco partners or market leading pre-order offers – now has never been a better time to purchase a smartphone.”

Garry McGregor, VP:IT & Mobile, Samsung Electronics Australia Pty Ltd

Sample Photos

Overall 

With all the additional performance, camera tech, and AI, it’s hard to imagine anyone will be disappointed with what’s on offer with the S22 and particularly the flagship S22 Ultra.

The biggest change in the line-up this year is definitely the inclusion of the S-Pen and it seems fairly likely to me that this is the end of the line for the Note series, there’s just no reason to keep it around if the S22 Ultra can service all the same needs, but better.

While Samsung has improved portrait mode and even supports night shots with the front-facing camera,  it doesn’t appear that they have a response to Apple’s Cinematic mode, which allows you to adjust the depth of field on video in post. Portrait mode does work on dogs though, so there is that.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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