Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has weird camera quirk — this would never happen with iPhone

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra camera close up
(Image credit: Future)

Your Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra may take better or worse photos and video than other Galaxy S22 Ultras, and for a reason you can't control: the chipset.

According to the camera testers at DxOMark (opens in new tab), the camera performance of the U.S. Galaxy S22 Ultra model and the international model is subtly different. Both handsets end up with the same overall score and position on the leaderboard, but it's interesting to see that this difference exists in their photo, zoom and video abilities. A difference you'd never find on other brands of phone.

In case you need a reminder, the U.S. and Chinese versions of the three Galaxy S22 series phones use Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipsets, while the international versions (including the U.K.) get an Exynos 2200 chip. While the camera hardware is the same between these versions, their image processing abilities differ as a result of the different ISPs used by either chip. There's also a slight performance difference, as we discovered when comparing two Galaxy S22 Plus handsets.

Going by DxOMarks' overall scoring, neither phone comes out definitively on top. However, in its scoring breakdown, the Exynos 2200-equipped S22 Ultra performs better in zoom testing, offering more detail and less noise. It's also a touch better at recording video, as its clips contain fewer unwanted artifacts and less noise in low-light shots. On the other hand, the Snapdragon version generally does better when taking regular photos, offering improved lighting and texture to subjects in shot.

While this is interesting, don't take this as enough reason to source a Galaxy S22 model that's not normally available in your country. The differences in performance aren't going to be worth the additional costs of importing. So if you like the sound of any Galaxy S22 model, pick up the ones available locally that we've highlighted in our best Samsung Galaxy S22 deals.

A uniquely weird problem

That said, this is still a very odd issue that rivals like Apple or Google would never encounter. iPhones and Pixels use the same chip the world over, making for a unified experience for all users. We've known for some time that the two-chip approach Samsung currently has caused a performance difference between U.S. and international Galaxy S phones, but it looks like it extends to the cameras as well.

Samsung, due to it striking a deal with Snapdragon maker Qualcomm several years ago, appears stuck with this split in its flagship phone range for the time being. Until that stops, some users, whether they're in the U.S. or abroad, are going to get a better or worse experience with some aspects of the phone, which simply isn't fair given they're all paying the same (rather high) price for the privilege of buying a Samsung flagship.

If you're looking for the best Android phones, or the best phones overall, the Galaxy S22 series, and particularly the Ultra, are worth a buy for more than just their cameras. All three phones have excellent displays and strong performance, whether they have Snapdragon or Exynos chips, and the Galaxy S22 Ultra also gets the benefit of a built-in stylus.

Richard Priday
Staff Writer

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.