Sorry iPhone 14 Pro — the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is my best phone of 2022

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with best of the year award tag
(Image credit: Future)

Given I was a big fan of the Galaxy Note phones, it’s no surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is my phone of 2022. 

With its squared-off design, large display and S Pen support, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is basically the spiritual successor to the now defunct Note line. It’s got all the do-everything features seen in prior Notes, as well as the high-end specs that makes such Android phones compelling to power users. 

And as a fan of such phones, despite not always being a power user type, it’s a no-brainer that I would like the Galaxy S22 Ultra. But it was never a slam dunk, as I’m also a big fan of Google Pixel phones, and had thought the Pixel 7 Pro with its improvements over its predecessor would win my attention. 

Yet, it’s the Galaxy S22 Ultra that I carry with me as my Android phone go-to alongside the iPhone 13 Pro that remains my ‘daily driver’ even after a year of swapping from Android to iOS

But I think simply calling the Galaxy S22 Ultra a Note successor is ignoring why this phone is so good and tops our best Android phones list. 

Galaxy S22 Ultra: a phone for everything

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra gaming stardew valley

(Image credit: Future)

Despite the Note-like design, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is still very much an S-series phone. 

For example, cameras get a significant amount of attention from Samsung, which could have simply extolled the virtues of the S Pen and the gorgeous display. Rather, Samsung has given the Galaxy S22 Ultra a quartet of rear cameras that are very impressive indeed. 

Despite the Galaxy S22 Ultra having basically the same camera specs as its predecessor, it produces better photos thanks to Samsung continuing to improve its computational photography and color science. Heck, even the Scene Optimizer is now so good that you can keep it on.

Then you have the pair of 10-megapixel telephoto cameras, which put in some properly impressive zoomed in shots, further bolstered by Samsung’s work on camera software. The S22 Ultra did particularly well on our camera zoom shootout with the Pixel 7 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, putting Apple to shame. 

Photos shot on the camera system then look great on that big 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED. And they are easy to tweak thanks to the S Pen, which allows for finer manipulation of pixels and edges than my clumsy fingers can manage.

It’s this marriage of S-series photography and Note feature set that makes the Galaxy S22 Ultra standout from other top Android phones of 2022.

Gaming on the Galaxy S22 Ultra is also stellar, not that the Note series ever struggled with this either. But the use of the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip (or Exynos 2200 in the U.K. and other nations other than the U.S. and China) coupled with that rectangular TV-like display and S Pen navigation really makes the S22 Ultra a joy to play games; so much so it rekindled my interest in mobile gaming.

S22 Ultra vs iPhone 14 Pro vs Pixel 7 Pro

While I love the simplicity and consistency of using an iPhone, it’s arguably a bit if a dull device thanks to incremental upgrades year-to-year. Sure, the Dynamic Island is eye-catching on the iPhone 14 Pro, but it’s hard to see it really being a killer feature one would use all the time.

In comparison, I find myself utterly enthralled with digging into the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s features, from exploring the camera features to tapping away at web pages with the S Pen. It might sound dumb, but I reckon the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most fun phone to use; it’s not always initiative, yet it’s never a dull phone to use with so much to tweak should you wish to dive into the settings and submenus.

Granted, the Google Pixel 7 phones feel smarter, I find the iPhone is more polished when it comes to user experience, and the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is a more exciting device as it keeps evolving folding phones. But as a phone that’s chock full of capabilities, has plenty of customization on offer, and a flexible camera system, it’s hard to forget about the Galaxy S22 Ultra.

I'll grab my iPhone 13 Pro if I need a consistent phone for daily tasks and snapping photos without a second thought. Yet any time I want to do a bit more or experimenting with photography, I’ll wrap my fingers around the Galaxy S22 Ultra. 

That’s why it's my phone of 2022, and why I’m keeping a keen eye on the horizon to see what the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra brings to the table next year.

More: How to improve the audio output from Galaxy phones.  

Read next: I ditched Android for iPhone a year ago — and I’m not going back.

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face. 

  • joeroyhud
    The logic here is twisted. The Samsung is not good enough to be your daily driver. So last year's iPhone beats this year's Samsung. But this year's iPhone is worse somehow?