Samsung Galaxy S22 Extremely assessment

Telephones in a flagship lineup have come to really feel like variations on a theme. There’s the bottom mannequin, the larger base mannequin, after which the largest mannequin with an additional digicam and another minor {hardware} upgrades. Options, display dimension, and price all improve in increments as you go up the chain, however you’re roughly getting the identical cellphone in three totally different flavors.

That’s been true of Samsung telephones for the previous few years, however it’s not the case anymore — the $1,199 Galaxy S22 Extremely sits on the high of this yr’s lineup as a wholly totally different choice. It’s the primary S collection cellphone to incorporate a built-in stylus, a characteristic it’s inheriting from the evidently now-retired Galaxy Be aware collection. On high of that, it nonetheless affords an excellent 10x optical zoom, in addition to some interesting updates to its pictures options. It occurs to be an important cellphone, too, however regardless of its place in Samsung’s mainstream S collection, it nonetheless feels just like the fanatic gadget that the Be aware collection represented.

Samsung has, a minimum of, made the job of deciding which of this trio of telephones is for you very straightforward. For those who miss the Be aware and you like the stylus life, get the S22 Extremely. There’s nothing else prefer it in Samsung’s lineup or wherever else in the marketplace, actually. For those who’re simply barely curious in regards to the stylus, or the 10x zoom, otherwise you simply need a very nice big-screened cellphone with out lots of fuss, you then’re in all probability higher off with the S22 Plus. It’s not for everybody, however for just a few, the S22 Extremely is a really nice gadget.

The Extremely clearly stands aside in Samsung’s S22 lineup.

Samsung S22 Extremely design and {hardware}

Completely different it might be, there’s nonetheless loads of widespread floor between the Extremely and its S22 and S22 Plus siblings. All three fashions embody (within the US) Qualcomm’s newest, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, in addition to IP68 climate sealing, and Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the back and front. The Extremely and S22 Plus have OLED screens with larger 1,750 nits peak brightness, however all three have a high refresh charge of 120Hz. Solely the Extremely makes use of an LTPO show, which permits the display to vary its refresh charge greater than the opposite fashions, which in concept helps save battery life. It’s an enormous, 6.8-inch 1440 x 3088 panel, so each little bit of energy saving could make an enormous distinction.

Not surprisingly, the show itself is great. At its default “vivid” setting, it’s somewhat on the nice and cozy aspect, however I solely observed this it aspect by aspect with the Pixel 6. Colours are, certainly, vivid however to not the purpose of oversaturation. There’s additionally a barely cool coloration shift when considered from excessive angles, however nothing that bothered me in day-to-day use. It was additionally a lot shiny for me exterior, however I stay in Seattle, so I didn’t precisely push it to the restrict right here.

The Extremely stands aside with a boxier design lifted straight from the Galaxy Be aware and, in fact, that in-built S Pen silo. Whereas the S22 and S22 Plus observe final yr’s design cues with rounded corners and a digicam bump that blends into the aspect rail of the cellphone, the S22 Extremely embraces chaos and skips the digicam bump altogether. 4 digicam lenses (and a laser autofocus sensor) protrude from the again plate of the gadget housed in… nothing in any respect. A couple of particular person on Twitter advised me it seems like a spider. And it’s bizarre at first, however I’ve grown to love it. Possibly extra cellphone makers will observe Samsung’s lead. Who is aware of? I’m right here for it.

I used to be somewhat fearful that the protruding lenses would catch on pockets, however that hasn’t been an issue. The areas between the lenses, nevertheless, are severe mud and lint traps. I’ve religion that the IP68 sealing will maintain mud out of the cameras, so it’s extra of an aesthetic factor when you’re meticulous about preserving your cellphone dust-free. And when you can’t stay your life at these sorts of speeds, Samsung sells a case that may very neatly get rid of the valleys between lenses.

The rear digicam array is a technique you’ll be able to instantly differentiate the Extremely from the S22 and S22 Plus, however it additionally stands aside with curved edges on the lengthy sides of its display, the place the others have flat shows. It seems good and makes the tiny bezels on the edges all however disappear, however I ran my stylus off the sting of the display one too many occasions, anticipating a flat floor the place there wasn’t one. Personally, I may stay with somewhat little bit of bezel to keep away from the entire scenario.

The S22 Extremely helps 45W quick wired charging, however you’ll want to purchase the $50 energy brick individually. Spending $1,200 on a cellphone and having to spend one other $50 on a charger is about as annoying as paying $12 for Wi-Fi on a $500 flight. For those who preordered the Extremely, I hope you place a few of your Samsung retailer credit score towards one. There’s additionally 15W wi-fi charging. I utilized this extensively throughout my assessment, and it normally charged the half-depleted battery again as much as 100% in underneath two hours, which is okay for me.

The S Pen comes with a robust set of stylus options that may be overwhelming to a newcomer.

Samsung S Pen

Whereas the S21 Extremely formally supported the S Pen, it didn’t embody a built-in silo for storage, which is kind of… half supporting the S Pen. The S22 Extremely consists of full help and stylus storage — the true deal. There’s not loads that’s new to the S Pen or stylus options this time round, although Samsung does say it has lowered latency by 70 p.c. It’s laborious to say if that’s correct because it’s a matter of milliseconds, however both means, writing with the S Pen feels fluid, and recognition is speedy.

Utilizing the S Pen could be so simple as placing the digital pen to display, scribbling your self a notice, and calling it a day. Or, you’ll be able to go actually deep with the stylus options, which I believe lots of Be aware energy customers do. It took me a short time to seek out my means round simply the whole lot you are able to do with the stylus all through the system, however particularly in Samsung’s Notes app. I discovered a minimum of three alternative ways to transform handwriting to textual content within the app, not counting the choice to make use of the keyboard in handwriting mode and go about it that means. It’s somewhat overwhelming.

There are different methods to make use of the S Pen all through the system except for scribbling notes and watching them magically change into human-readable textual content. It’s very useful for picture enhancing or grabbing a screenshot and circling vital data. You need to use it to hint a form and clip one thing out of a picture, like an image you took of your dishwasher mannequin quantity (I can attest that is very useful). There are Air Actions, too, through which you employ the S Pen as a type of distant management in sure apps with out touching the display, which work okay however don’t really feel like they resolve an actual downside.

You may go deep with the stylus options or keep on the floor degree, however when you suspect that you simply’re the type of one who would use the stylus just a few occasions after which overlook about it, then the S22 Extremely in all probability isn’t for you. I do assume it’s for somebody who likes to have the ability to scribble out a fast notice with out unlocking their cellphone or make a to-do checklist with a pen somewhat than a digital keyboard. I think about that digital artists would additionally make good use of the S Pen and its many digital brush stroke choices. It’s additionally extra responsive and versatile for sketching than a easy passive stylus. Be aware followers will really feel proper at residence, however except you’re certain you’ll be able to embrace the stylus life, you’re possible higher off with a daily outdated stylus-free cellphone.

The Extremely’s highly effective set of options and large, shiny display make it a power-hungry gadget.
Photograph by Allison Johnson / The Verge

Samsung S22 Extremely efficiency

In on a regular basis use, the S22 Extremely performs just like the $1,200 flagship that it’s. Leaping from app to app is fast, graphics-intensive video games run easily, and the whole lot seems buttery clean on the 120Hz show. In my testing, it was a really uncommon incidence to see the display stutter as I scrolled, and within the instances the place it did, I don’t assume it was the cellphone’s fault (I’m you, Twitter for Android).

The cellphone does get noticeably heat with intensive duties like gaming and utilizing the Knowledgeable RAW app. I by no means noticed slowdowns consequently whereas enjoying Genshin Influence for about half an hour, however Samsung’s Knowledgeable RAW app does take progressively longer to course of (very giant) RAW file after RAW file when you simply maintain urgent the shutter. You may’t take one other picture till the final one is finished processing, so there’s nothing to do besides wait.

The extra important dangerous information is that the Extremely’s 5,000mAh battery doesn’t carry out fairly as properly. On days of lighter use with lots of time on Wi-Fi, loads of social media scrolling however not a lot video or gameplay, I obtained by with about 50 p.c battery left by the night. It doesn’t take lots of effort, although, to empty the battery a lot decrease in a single day.

With display brightness cranked up, the always-on show all the time (not typically) on, and about an hour of video play and gaming, I used to be down beneath the 20 p.c mark by the top of the day. That’s not precisely a torture check, so the facility customers who’re actually the Extremely’s target market will in all probability must control battery life greater than they’d prefer to. That’s disappointing from a flagship cellphone with an enormous battery.

Two stabilized, telephoto cameras and a 108-megapixel fundamental digicam are a key a part of the S22 Extremely’s sturdy set of pictures options.

Samsung S22 Extremely digicam

There are just a few minor variations within the S22 Extremely’s digicam {hardware} in comparison with final yr’s — the telephoto lenses are just a bit wider, for instance — however it’s largely the identical setup. Right here’s what you get:

  • 108-megapixel f/1.8 normal large with OIS
  • 10-megapixel f/2.4 3x telephoto with OIS
  • 10-megapixel f/4.9 10x telephoto with OIS
  • 12-megapixel f/2.2 ultrawide
  • 40-megapixel f/2.2 selfie

For the reason that {hardware} is usually unchanged, what was true of final yr’s mannequin continues to be true this yr: it’s an important digicam system general, with a few quirks. The 10x optical zoom continues to be actually spectacular, Samsung continues to be cranking up the blue skies and the saturation to 11, and 100x “House Zoom” continues to be a gimmick.

Video capabilities are largely the identical, too. There’s a brand new autoframing characteristic, which is able to monitor as much as 10 folks and modify mechanically as folks transfer out and in of body. There’s additionally an auto body charge characteristic to regulate body charge on the fly to account for brighter or darker circumstances. Video recording decision nonetheless tops out at 8K/24p for the primary digicam and 4K/60p for the selfie cam.

It’s not excellent, however depth mapping does a greater job of preserving high quality element sharp somewhat than blurring it into the background

This yr’s picture enhancements are principally software-based, which makes them sound boring, however they’re not. Portrait mode photographs have been improved with higher, extra detailed depth mapping (and, importantly, official help for pet portraits). The cellphone is best capable of establish small particulars on a topic like particular person hairs and maintain them sharp somewhat than blurring them into the background.

This variation has resulted in a few of the most spectacular portrait mode photographs I’ve seen from a smartphone but. Portraits from the large lens nonetheless aren’t completely convincing — even when the depth mapping is best, components within the foreground are sharp the place they shouldn’t be. However photographs from the 3x zoom in good lighting look glorious — pets and people alike. It may nonetheless get tripped up on some particulars, however it will get loads proper, even wispy hair and glasses.

I’m rather less enthusiastic in regards to the night time pictures enhancements — they’re high quality, simply not as spectacular. Now you can use night time mode and shoot a 108-megapixel, full-res picture on the identical time the place beforehand you could possibly do one or the opposite. That is solely attainable in very darkish circumstances, the place somewhat moon icon will seem on-screen to allow night time mode. With out night time mode, a high-res picture in these circumstances seems fairly dangerous, so the bar is kind of low to start out with. You get a barely higher 108-megapixel picture somewhat than a really noisy one.

A 108-megapixel picture with out night time mode (left) and with night time mode enabled (proper).

It’s additionally attainable to use night time mode to the selfie digicam, and equally, it needs to be actually darkish for the choice to seem. I’m impressed that the digicam can discover sufficient gentle to make *any* usable picture of me sitting very nonetheless in near-total darkness, however the outcomes are so unflattering that I feel I’d somewhat simply haven’t any picture in any respect.

This is among the higher photographs I took with the selfie digicam with portrait and night time mode enabled, and reader, I don’t prefer it.

Samsung has additionally formally graduated its Knowledgeable RAW app out of beta with the S22 Extremely, a multi-frame RAW seize app much like Apple’s ProRAW. Knowledgeable RAW captures a number of frames and merges them right into a single DNG file, combining the advantages of computational pictures with the post-processing flexibility of a RAW file. To make use of the characteristic, it’s essential to obtain the Knowledgeable RAW app from the Galaxy app retailer — it’s a wholly separate digicam app, and it’s not preloaded on the cellphone. It offers entry to guide publicity controls, and you should use it with any of the rear cameras.

The ensuing RAW recordsdata are large, however they’re extra malleable than a conventional, single-frame RAW file from the usual digicam app. Pushing shadows all the best way up on a regular RAW picture reveals some disagreeable banding. The multi-frame RAW is noisy however tolerates the edit higher as a result of it has that rather more data to work with. Is that this a distinction you’re going to see on an Instagram-sized picture? Most likely not. However when you’re a photograph geek who likes to tinker with post-processing, it’s a very nice software to have readily available for the events that decision for it.

A normal RAW picture (left) in comparison with an Knowledgeable RAW picture (proper). Each have had shadows pushed +100 in Digicam Uncooked. The usual RAW reveals noticeable banding.

One logistical notice — there’s a shortcut within the Knowledgeable RAW app to take your picture straight into Lightroom for Samsung to edit it. This can be a model of Lightroom Cell that it’s essential to obtain from — you guessed it — the Galaxy app retailer. Samsung gives you a two-month free trial of the app, however after that, you’ll want an Adobe license, which is able to run you a minimal of $120 for a yr. Or, you realize, simply obtain Snapseed without cost — Knowledgeable RAW offers you a regular DNG file you’ll be able to take to any picture enhancing software program that helps it.

The S22 collection ships with One UI 4.1, which is Samsung’s Android 12 pores and skin.

Samsung S22 Extremely software program

The Galaxy S22 Extremely ships with One UI 4.1, Samsung’s tackle Android 12. I prefer it, for probably the most half. I wasn’t certain how I’d really feel about the entire “match the UX to your wallpaper” factor, however it’s really good. This can be a main new characteristic of Android 12, and although Samsung’s implementation doesn’t go practically so far as Google’s model for Pixel telephones, it’s simply sufficient to make the cellphone really feel somewhat extra private to me.

Samsung has additionally mercifully eliminated the advertisements that after sat on the high of the web page on the climate app. However simply after I really feel like the corporate is scaling again its usually in-your-face pre-downloads and advertisements, I get a push notification a couple of promotion for Samsung Credit score if I purchase an S22. On this S22 Extremely. Or a Samsung Pay money again provide slides throughout my display after I open Hulu. This feels particularly irritating and misplaced on a $1,200 cellphone, and I don’t look after it.

As a lot as I dislike a few of Samsung’s UI selections, the corporate comes by the place it counts with an excellent help coverage. The S22 collection will get “as much as” 4 generations of Android OS updates, which is another yr than Google guarantees for its personal gadgets and nearly the most effective coverage you’ll discover for an Android cellphone — if the corporate does make good on 4 OS upgrades. I’m not a local weather scientist, however I’m prepared to wager that not making folks purchase a brand new cellphone each two years has a much bigger environmental impression than recycling fishing nets into the cellphone chassis or no matter it’s doing.

The Galaxy S22 Extremely stands tall with a singular characteristic set amongst flagship smartphones.

It’s laborious to give you issues that the Galaxy S22 Extremely can’t do. Can I make a GIF from a video I took and paste it right into a notice that’s pinned to my residence display? Sure. Can I take a transparent picture of the highest of Seattle’s Smith Tower whereas standing a number of blocks away at road degree? Sure. Can I take an image of my dishwasher’s mannequin quantity, convert it to textual content, and paste it into Google as I seek for an element that mysteriously vanished into skinny air? Additionally sure.

It may do absolutely anything you’ll be able to moderately count on a slab-style cellphone in 2022 to do. However the S22 Extremely isn’t a cellphone for simply anybody. Do you actually need to embrace the stylus life, or are you merely stylus-curious? Will you actually use that 10x lens many times, or will you simply take just a few photographs with it and overlook that it’s there? Do you propose to take and edit 40-plus-MB RAW recordsdata in your cellphone greater than a few times? Take look within the mirror and ask your self these questions earlier than you spend $1,200 on this cellphone (and doubtlessly one other $50 on a charger).

Actually, Samsung has already performed the work of judging whether or not this cellphone is for you. For those who’re somebody who would get probably the most out of the Extremely, you in all probability already comprehend it. For those who’re questioning whether or not it could be price it, you then’d in all probability be simply high quality with the S22 Plus.

For somebody who does plan to make common use of its highly effective however somewhat area of interest options, the S22 Extremely can be a cellphone like no different in the marketplace. Some UI quirks stay, and battery life is disappointing. However when you can stay with these shortcomings and navigate the typically steep studying curve of the S Pen life, you then’ll be properly rewarded with a tool that’s actually certainly one of a form.

Pictures by Allison Johnson / The Verge.

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