Pulling back the curtain a little on the life of a dashing phone reviewer — or in my case, a reasonable facsimile — posting a review doesn't always mean we're done with the device. There are the inevitable follow-up articles, assorted how-tos to research and face-offs with rival handsets to conduct. And sometimes, we just want to spend more time with a phone to see how well our verdict holds up.
Which is how I've come to still be in possession of a Samsung Galaxy S22, even though I posted my review of that phone at the beginning of the month, I'm still using it fairly regularly. And that extra time with the phone has sharpened a few of my observations about the Galaxy S22.
At the time of my review, I concluded that the Galaxy S22 was a solid upgrade if not necessarily a revolutionary change for Samsung's flagship phone. That's still true. I reasoned that while Galaxy S21 owners would be content to stick with their current devices, owners of old Samsung flagships — or some other Android device — would like what they saw once they switched to the S22. That's true, too.
But with more Galaxy S22 time under my belt, I worry that it sounds like faint praise for Samsung's phone. The Galaxy S22 is a really good phone, offering the kind of polish you'd expect from a company that's sharing space with Apple at the top of the smartphone world.
Here's what I've really grown to like about the Galaxy S22 in my time with the phone, along with a few things that continue to bug me.
Galaxy S22 Pros
The Galaxy S22 takes gorgeous photos: When reviewing the Galaxy S22, you get focused on comparing the phone's photo-taking capabilities to the best camera phones. Limit yourself to Galaxy S22 vs. Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22 vs. iPhone 13 comparisons, and the Galaxy S22 is going to come up short. But they still give medals to third place finishers at the Olympics, and Samsung's phone is a solid choice behind the better camera phones from Google and Apple.
This point stood out to me when I was testing the Motorola Edge Plus (2022), a phone which wants to compete with flagships like the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus. When testing out the Motorola phone's main camera, it could certainly hang with the S22. But on other shots, particularly those requiring software help such as portraits with a background blur or photos with low or no light, the Galaxy S22 proved its superiority.
The telephoto lens is especially handy: Let's also not forget that the Galaxy S22 features a telephoto lens among its three rear cameras — a feature often missing from other phones in the $799 price range. Where other phones have to turn to digital zooms when you want to focus in on the details, the Galaxy S22 offers a crystal clear 3x optical zoom.
You can look at our comparisons of the Galaxy S22 zoom shots versus photos shot by the Pixel 6 and iPhone 13 to see for yourself, but this an area where Samsung's phone outperforms its rivals. The S22 keeps things in focus as you zoom in, minimizing the distortion that can creep into shots that rely on a digital zoom.
And that holds true even if you zoom beyond 10x. The Galaxy S22 has a 30x Super Resolution Zoom that allows you to get up close and personal with objects that are quite a ways away (though I'd suggest using a tripod to steady your shot). As part of my Galaxy S22 testing, I stood across the shoreline from downtown Oakland and zoomed in on the Tribune Tower. While not a completely clear shot, it's still pretty detailed — and something no other phone in this price range could match.
The Galaxy S22 is wonderfully compact: I prefer small phones as a rule, because I like the way they fit in my undersized hands. They also slip into a pocket easily in a way that phablets do not. But while my hands may prefer smaller phones, my eyes after decades of staring at screens are demanding something a little bit larger.
The Galaxy S22 strikes a nice compromise. You get a 6.1-inch display that's large enough for me to read without having to squint, but it's in a 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.3-inch form factor that's only slightly taller and wider than a truly compact phone like the iPhone SE (2022). At 5.9 ounces, the Galaxy S22 is so lightweight, I sometimes forget I'm carrying it around.
There's no mystery as to how Samsung managed to fit a 6-inch-plus screen into such a slender form. Edge-to-edge screens let phone makers get more screen real estate into regular-sized devices. Samsung's One Ui interface is also well-designed from the standpoint of being able to use your phone with one hand, so that helps the Galaxy S22 feel more compact as well.
Longer software support: The vast majority of my phone use has been on the iOS side of things, so I've never been able to understand why Android users put up with limited software support from phone makers. I've got an iPhone I bought back in 2016 that can still run the latest version of iOS — something no Android phone is going to be able to do.
Samsung is taking steps to address that disparity, starting with the Galaxy S22. You can now expect four years of Android software updates, along with an additional year of security updates. Now that everyone seems to be holding on to their phones longer, this is a great way to stretch the value of your Samsung flagship for longer than before.
Galaxy S22 Cons
I wish the battery life were longer: The Galaxy S22 isn't perfect, as our battery testing indicates. When we set the phone to surf the web over 5G, it lasted 7 hours and 51 minutes — 2 hours worse than the average smartphone. Turning off the adaptive display feature on the Galaxy S22 improved battery life somewhat, but it's not great that one of the phone's marquee features drains the battery so dramatically.
That said, our battery test is pretty demanding, as it subjects a phone to constant use. Using the S22 in a more conventional way, you don't see that kind of battery drain. I've been able to go through a day without having to charge up, though the iPhone 11 Pro Max I use regularly still gets better battery life two years after its release.
In the end, the Galaxy S22's battery life in everyday usage isn't a deal-killer, though it is disappointing to see Samsung fail to place any of its flagship phones on our best phone battery life list.
The Galaxy S22 colors are pretty drab: What makes for a good color comes down to subjective taste, but I wish Samsung offered brighter color options for its flagships. I've been using the green Galaxy S22, but the tone is so dark, it looks more black to my eye. It's certainly not as eye-catching as the new green versions of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.
Beyond green, Samsung gives you a pink option for the Galaxy S22 plus the standard (read: boring) choices of black and white. I realize that manufacturing constraints prevent phone makers from producing a rainbow of color options, but brighter choices would help Samsung's phones stand out from the monochromatic crowd.
Samsung Galaxy S22 bottom line
When you're complaining about color options for a phone, the list of cons is pretty limited. And that's the case with the Samsung Galaxy S22, which continues to impress me a month into using this handset.
Samsung's never really been at the top of my list for Android phones, as I've generally preferred efforts from OnePlus and Google over the Galaxy S flagships. But phones like the Galaxy S22 could change that perception — this phone really delivers what it promises.
Editor's note: Since Philip wrote this article, we've seen the arrival of the iPhone 14 range, complete with the brand-new iPhone 14 Plus, which offers a larger display for the standard iPhone without needing buyers to splash the cash on a Pro Max iPhone. As such, the Galaxy S22, while still impressive, has more competition from what is arguably its largest rival.
And added into the mix, we have the Google Pixel 7. Arriving after the Galaxy S22 and iPhone 14 phones, the Pixel 7 offers a few key upgrades over its predecessor, putting in excellent camera performance with some very clean and smart software; it's also priced very competitively.