If you were to make an yearly list of landmarks in personal tech, it would just have to include the launch of Samsung’s flagship S series of smartphones. For 2022, Samsung recently launched a trio of phones — the S22, S22 Plus and the ultimate S22 Ultra. I have all three of them with me and will enjoy exploring each, starting with first impressions of the Ultra. 

Design noteworthy

The S22 Ultra looks and feels like the ultimate flagship it is from the instant you take it out of its slim box. Slim because it doesn’t even have a charger inside. But for now, let nothing distract me from the admiring this beautiful machine. I use the word machine and not gadget or device because the Ultra really has it all. I have this smartphone in an unusual shade of burgundy, a warm tone reminiscent of wine. If silk were to turn into glass, this is what it would feel like — smooth and sensual to the touch. The Ultra is a large phone, both tall and broad. And slippery because of the smoothness on the back. You will have to carefully select a case to avoid adding weight to what is not exactly a light phone. 

Why this smartphone couldn’t have been much smaller is because it now includes — or literally is — Samsung’s Note. For several years, I would react to the review unit of the Note by shooting out and buying one. Until all other phones caught up in size. I haven’t been a heavy user of the S-Pen but rather a moderate one, feeling the better for having the option to use it any time. But I did definitely pull the S-Pen out several times a day for one thing or the other. Now, that pen has a slot built into the S22 Ultra; the more boxy shape of the phone makes it a proper merging of the S top-liner and the Note. It’s an expensive phone, of course, at a starting price of ₹1,09,999. From initial reports, it, and the rest of the series, is selling well. In India, there’ll even be a slight wait before it can be delivered. 

Bright, vivid colours

The 6.8 inch screen is unsurprisingly brilliant, crisply clear, bright, and with a vivid handling of colours and a high refresh rate. The bezels are at a minimum with a tiny camera dot the only interruption. The metal frame matches the colour on the back of the phone and on the relatively flat boxy design of the S22 Ultra, looks like extreme premium.

The bottom edge of the phone has that one thing that none other does — the slim slot that houses the S-Pen, with the pen tucked inside. One press ejects it and you can slip it out to write on the screen or do a number of other things unique to this digital pen. One of the first things I did was write on the screen with the phone in semi-sleep and it feels faster than ever with no lag whatsoever. You still get the nice sound of pencil on paper. 

Superphone, but not lightweight

The S22 Ultra comes with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and not Samsung’s own Exynos SoC this time. Tech savvy customers have been clamouring for the Snapdragon version for a while now as it’s supposed to have better performance and battery efficiency. There’s 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage on our unit. At this stage, everything is smooth and fast — more on how it performs in the upcoming review. 

The S22 Ultra is not lightweight. It has a 5,000mAh battery with 45W charging. But it’s up to you to find the appropriate charger. Battery life doesn’t seem to have issues on this phone, but it is a superphone and will be heavily used bought by the user it’s meant for, so one will have to see when it’s reviewed with that sort of usage. 

This top-of-the-line phone would never have been forgiven for turning up with Android 11 and it doesn’t. It’s on Android 12 and Samsung’s newly refreshed OneUI 4.0. There are many improvements and additions, but it remains an intuitive interface. 

Five big camera circles are prominent on the back of the S22 Ultra. On the earlier Ultra, the module was with a raised metallic portion that curved into the side of the phone. I do miss seeing that as it was quite elegant. But the camera circles are not on a flat smooth surface and more Note-like. In this, it’s different from the other two S22 phones, making a clear statement about the integration with the Note — and that makes sense. 

The cameras are not so different from Samsung’s earlier flagship. But there are more enhancements with software, specially night photography which Samsung calls Nightography. The main camera is a 108MP with OIS. There’s a 10MP, f/4.9, 230mm periscope telephoto lens with OIS and 10x optical zoom, a 10MP 70mm telephoto with OIS and 3x optical zoom, and a 12MP ultra wide with 120-degree field of view. The front camera is a 40MP. The cameras are stellar, neck-to-neck with the iPhone 13 Pro’s. 

Samsung is about to go in for major promotion and mega unboxing events, so if you’re interested in the S22 series, stay alert.