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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Which one is best for you?

galaxy s22 family
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung's Galaxy S22 lineup is out, with all three models jockeying for position to be the best Samsung phone. Each one certainly has their strengths, but the truth is that the best device for you is the one that checks off the most boxes on your wish list, whether it's premium features of the Galaxy S22 Ultra or the lower price and slender size of the Galaxy S22.

We've spent time testing and using each phone, and you can find out what we think about each phone in our reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra. But how do these three models compare to one another? We can answer that question, too, having completed enough testing for a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22 breakdown.

Generally speaking, the standard Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus are modest upgrades over their Galaxy S21 counterparts, but the Ultra is a major shift for a Galaxy S device. That’s because it’s basically a Galaxy Note in everything but name. Here's a closer look at the similarities and differences between the three latest additions to Samsung's flagship offerings.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Specs

Galaxy S22 UltraGalaxy S22 PlusGalaxy S22
Price$1,199$999$799
Android version12, One UI 4.112, One UI 4.112, One UI 4.1
Display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED QHD+6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED FHD+6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED FHD+
Refresh rate1-120Hz48-120Hz48-120Hz
CPUSnapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Gen 1Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
RAM8GB, 12GB8GB8GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras108MP (f/2.2) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 10x telephoto, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto 50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto50MP (f/1.8) main, 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide, 10MP (f/2.4) 3x telephoto
Front camera40MP (f/2.2)40MP (f/2.2)40MP (f/2.2)
VideoUp to 8K 24 fpsUp to 8K 24 fpsUp to 8K 24 fps
Battery5,000 mAh4,500 mAh3,700 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins)8:50 (adaptive), 10:18 (60Hz)9:46 (adaptive), 9:57 (60Hz)7:51 (adaptive), 8:02 (60Hz)
Charging45W wired, 15W wireless45W wired, 15W wireless25W wired, 15W wireless
Size3.1 x 6.4 x 0.4 inches3 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches2.8 x 5.7 x 0.3 inches
Weight8.1 ounces6.9 ounces5.9 ounces
ConnectivityEmbedded S Pen, Wi-Fi 6E, UWB, 5G (mmWave/sub6)Wi-Fi 6E, UWB, 5G (mmWave/Sub6)Wi-Fi 6E, UWB, 5G (mmWave/Sub6)
ColorsPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, BurgundyPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink GoldPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Price and availability

All three Galaxy S22 models are available to buy right now, with prices starting from  $799 for the standard phone, $999 for the Plus model, and $1,199 for the Galaxy S22 Ultra in its 8GB/128GB configuration.  Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S22 deals for ways to save on all three models.

The standard and Plus come in black, white, green, and Pink Gold colors, with Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue and Violet available as online-only options. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra also comes in black, white, green, but also has a burgundy option. Online you can get the larger phone in Graphite, Sky Blue  and red.

galaxy s22 ultra laying on floor

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S22 Plus starts at $999 for the 8GB/128GB version, while the Galaxy S22 kicks off at $799 for the 8GB/128GB variant. Both phones come in black, white, green, and pink gold colorways.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Design

For starters, the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 look alike, even though they’re different sizes. They bear the same contour design Samsung introduced on the Galaxy S21 last year, just refined for a cleaner look this year. 

galaxy s22 family face down

(Image credit: Samsung)

In fact, the only difference between the regular S22 and Plus is the physical size, with the 6.2 x 3 x 0.3-inch Galaxy S22 Plus looming over the 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3-inch S22. That allows the S22 Plus to house a larger battery, too. 

The Galaxy S22 Ultra, meanwhile, looks like a wholly different device than the rest of the S22 family. It has very little resemblance to its littler brothers and instead looks much more akin to the blocky Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. The P-shaped camera module on the back doesn’t have the contour design that the Plus and S22 have. Instead, the lenses stick out individually from the back, though barely at that.

The Ultra includes a slot for the S Pen, again exactly like a Galaxy Note. Samsung obviously learned that skipping the Note series in 2021 was a mistake, so the S22 Ultra is recompense for that decision.

While all three phones have proven to be pretty durable thanks to their use of Gorilla Glass Victus Plus to reinforce their glass backs, we'd still recommend a case no matter what Galaxy S22 model you pick. You can find various options depending on which model you buy:

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Display

All three phones feature Dynamic AMOLED displays, meaning that the screen on every model refreshes all the way up to 120Hz. The Galaxy S22 Ultra can adjust its refresh rate down to 1Hz for static images and scale it up intelligently. The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus go down to 48Hz, like the non-Ultra S21 models from last year.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra front with S Pen

(Image credit: Future)

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has a big 6.8-inch QHD+ display, while the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 come in at 6.6 and 6.1 inches, respectively. They sport FHD+ resolutions.

All three phones have Samsung’s VisionBooster technology, which intelligently scales the brightness, contrast and color calibration based on your environment. Samsung has not revealed if the Ultra and Plus have the insane 1,750 nits of brightness just yet, as the rumors claimed.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Cameras

Cameras are a big focus this year, with Samsung hoping to catch up to Apple and Google. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the obvious star of the show with its quad camera setup. The big boy has a 108MP main shooter, along with a 12MP ultrawide. For telephoto, the Ultra follows in the footsteps of its predecessor and has two 10MP telephoto cameras. One of those telephoto lenses on the Ultra is capable of a 10x optical zoom, while the other maxes out at 3x. Together, they team up to let the S22 Ultra reach 100x digital zoom.

galaxy s22 taking photo of dog

(Image credit: Samsung)

Comparatively, the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S22 are a bit more mundane, but don’t count them out yet. They both have 50MP main sensors, along with 12MP ultrawide and 10MP telephoto cameras (with 3x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom).

Around front, the Ultra sports  a 40MP selfie camera with an 80-degree field of view. The non-Ultra models also get a 80-degree FOV selfie cam, but it’s 10MP.

Not content to simply pack in powerful camera hardware, Samsung has also gone all in on computational photography. This isn’t surprising, since that’s how Apple and Google do their magic with the best camera phones. But Samsung is focusing on more than its algorithms and calibrations. 

galaxy s22 ultra taking photo of woman

(Image credit: Samsung)

One standout feature is the new enhanced portrait mode. Basically, this is a better portrait mode with a stronger bokeh effect and a better understanding of both humans and animals, as well as where the foreground and background collide. One problem we’ve seen with software-based portraits is that, sometimes, the phone can be too aggressive with its blur radius and cut off some people’s hair. This is especially prevalent for people with curly hair.

Of course, we can expect camera features from last year to return, like Zoom Lock which uses AI to steady your zoomed-in shots. Samsung is hoping to win the Android photography crown this year, and on paper, it seems like Google might want to start worrying.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Performance and battery life

This year, all three Galaxy S22 models use a new 4nm octa-core processor. While Samsung beat around the bush in our briefing, this is very likely the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in the US and the Exynos 2200 in European markets. Why Samsung had to be dodgy remains unclear. In terms of performance there's no appreciable difference between the three phones, other than that the Galaxy S22 Ultra features a model with 12GB of RAM (8GB on the base model).

galaxy s22 ultra laying flat on table

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S22 Plus uses a 4,500 mAh, which is 300 mAh smaller than last year's Galaxy S21 Plus. In our testing, where we set a phone's display to 150 nits and task the device to endlessly load web pages over a 5G connection,  the Galaxy S22 Plus turned in a result at 9 hours and 46 minutes in the 120Hz adaptive refresh mode and 9 hours and 57 minutes in the 60Hz mode. Comparatively the Galaxy S21 Plus managed 9 hours 53 minutes in adaptive mode and 9 hours and 41 minutes set at 60Hz. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a large 5,000 mAH battery and managed 10 hours and 18 minutes over T-Mobile's network with the 60Hz mode turned on. This falls short of the 11 hours and 25 minutes we saw from the S21 Ultra. 

The 3,700 mAh battery in the Galaxy S22 turned in the most disappointing time, with the standard model falling short of 8 hours on our battery test with its 120Hz adaptive rate turned on. That's roughly two hours shy of the average smartphone. If you want good battery life, you may have to wait until next year's Galaxy S23, which will reportedly see bigger battery sizes.

galaxy s22 plus laying flat on table

(Image credit: Samsung)

The two larger phones charge at 45W wired, while the regular S22 charges at a slower 25W. All three phones support up to 15W wireless charging. And we can expect no included chargers this year, just like with the S21 series.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Software

The nice thing about the three Galaxy S22 models is that they all run Android 12 underneath Samsung’s One UI 4.1. That means greater customization options, stronger privacy features, and a whole host of new tweaks and bug fixes that Samsung has added on top of Google’s work.

two women using a galaxy s22

(Image credit: Samsung)

The biggest differences will come down to the Note-like features present on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. These will include notetaking additions, like saving handwritten notes to Office 365 and Outlook. Samsung also mentioned that you can copy content from images and messages and save them to notes, too. The system also uses AI to predict your handwriting and direction, helping the writing process feel more seamless and lifelike.

Samsung has committed to four years of platform updates and an additional year of security patches for all of its phones, including the Galaxy S22. That means each new model will see Android 16 in 2026 and will get their last security patch also in 2027. While it’s still not Apple-levels of support, that’s a long time for an Android phone. In fact, it beats Google’s current offering.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S22 Plus vs. Galaxy S22: Outlook

While the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus are iterative upgrades over their predecessors, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is on a completely different level. The return of the Galaxy Note was overdue, and we’re glad Samsung realized the folly of trying to replace it with the foldable Galaxy Z Fold line. The Fold series will remain the cream of the crop for Samsung, but for most people, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will be the ultimate smartphone.

galaxy s22 with galaxy watch 4

(Image credit: Samsung)

Besides the Ultra, all three phones should see some nice camera upgrades. The hardware is there, now Samsung just needs to nail the software side. Up to this point, we’ve had some complaints about how Samsung phones handle color reproduction and exposure. But the new portrait and night modes should impress.

Jordan Palmer
Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over five years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.