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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus — 6 ways it beats my iPhone 13 Pro Max

galaxy s22 plus in pink laying on a blueprint
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After trying out the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus for a couple of weeks, the unexpected has happened. I'm seriously considering dropping my beloved iPhone 13 Pro Max for Samsung's latest flagship, and it's not even the top model in the range.

As someone who's happily been using iPhones for the past two years or so, this caught me off-guard, particularly since this is the Galaxy S22 Plus we're talking about. I knew from when the S22 family was announced that I'd love to try out a Galaxy S22 Ultra with its stylus, dual telephoto cameras and larger curved display, all unique features that you don't get on iPhones.

However. even the more conventional S22 Plus has done a lot to attract me to it. In fact, Samsung has announced that the Galaxy S22 series preorders are more than double than the Galaxy S21 (opens in new tab) series, which shows there is plenty of demand. In fact, were it not for the rest of my recent tech purchases, I'd not hesitate to swap my SIM over to the Samsung.

A design that's just better

The first thing I noticed when picking up the S22 Plus was, despite its 6.6-inch display almost matching the size of the 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, it's so much nicer to hold. It's skinnier and thinner, weighs less and despite having a flat display like the iPhone, has curved sides, possibly the most important thing for making larger phone screens accessible.

The S22 Plus is just as handsome as the iPhone. too. While I prefer the green color option to the rose gold of my review unit, it still looks excellent with its "contour cut" cameras and reintroduced glass back. The punch-hole selfie camera also helps the look of the phone in comparison to the notched iPhone, and lets you see a bit more of the display.

A brighter and always-on display

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speaking of the display, it is at least equal to that of the iPhone Pro Max overall. The FHD Galaxy S22 Plus does not offer as high a resolution, but it shares the same 120Hz refresh rate while also getting brighter. The highest rating we saw from the Galaxy S22 Plus was 1,326 nits in our testing, compared to 1,038 nits for the iPhone 13 Pro Max.  

You also get thinner bezels from the Galaxy S22 Plus. While the unused black space around the display is hardly the most exciting part of a phone, it does mean you get more screen for the size of the phone proportionally. 

I also love that the S22 Plus can use an Always On Display, something that Apple still doesn't offer on the iPhone. There's a fair proportion of my day where I'm only opening my phone to check the time or my notifications, which I can see at a glance on the S22 Plus.

Reliable fingerprint unlocking

While most of the time I don't have an issue with Apple's Face ID system, there are a couple of times a day — say when I'm wearing a mask or trying to use my phone at an awkward angle — that I have to give up on facial recognition and just enter my PIN. The under-display fingerprint sensor on the S22 Plus isn't new or unique, but it's still very reliable and fast in ways that Face ID currently can't match.

Also since Samsung uses ultrasonic readers rather than optical ones on other Android phones, you don't get that annoying flash of light when opening the phone that you do with other phones. Apple is making Face ID face mask friendly with its upcoming iOS 15.4 update, but there's no timetable for its release yet. 

Competitive cameras with better Pro features

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

After trying the cameras out, I still think the iPhone has a slight edge on the crispness of its shots, plus a more natural level of brightness and color saturation. But the Galaxy S22 Plus offers some unique perks, including its 3x optical zoom and 30x Super Res Zoom. The iPhone 13 Pro Max features a 3x optical zoom but only a 15x digital zoom. 

There's also the benefit of Samsung's Expert RAW camera app. The fact that I can have this level of control, as opposed to the more automated iPhone camera app, is an exciting proposition. You can tweak everything from ISO and shutter speed to white balance. This is something I'm going to be looking into more when I find some good subjects to shoot.

Faster charging

The Galaxy S22 Plus can't match up to the iPhone 13 Pro Max on battery life, but few phones can. Fortunately, it does offer much zippier 45W charging that's rated for a 50% charge in 20 minutes. That's faster charging than the 20W iPhone 13 Pro Max, which can only manage 50% charge in 30 minutes.

More flexible software

One UI has its perks compared to iOS. As an Android-based system, you get much more freedom in putting your apps and widgets just where you like them, rather than where Apple thinks you might want them. 

One particular feature I want to highlight on the S22 Plus is Samsung's Edge panel, which gives you quick access to apps, contacts and tools by swiping in from a specified point on the edge of the screen. There have been similar features on other Android devices, but it works really well here.

The reason I won't swap — my other Apple devices

The fact I'm so drawn to the S22 Plus is weird to me, given that the iPhone 13 Pro Max basically got everything right. What's more, the S22 Plus isn't a huge upgrade from the Galaxy S21 Plus, compared to how much has gone on with the move from S21 Ultra to S22 Ultra. And yet, here we are.

A potential move to Android from iOS carries with it several complications, due to my use of iOS exclusive apps and other Apple products like my iPad and my AirPods Pro. But the fact that the Galaxy S22 Plus has turned my head at all is an achievement in itself. 

f I had to buy myself a whole new loadout of gadgets today, and given the good things I've heard about the Galaxy Tab S8 and the Galaxy Buds Pro, perhaps I would dive into the Samsung ecosystem, with the Galaxy S22 Plus at the center.

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.