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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review

The Galaxy S22 Plus takes everything we loved about the Galaxy S21 Plus and refines it to a new level

galaxy s22 plus in pink leaning against glass case
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

Think of the Galaxy S22 Plus as a refined version of the Galaxy S21 Plus. From the design to the beautiful display, the Galaxy S22 Plus is certainly a good Android phone, even if the improvements are marginal. Still, if you’ve got an older phone, this is a solid upgrade.

Pros

  • +

    Beautiful and very bright display

  • +

    Powerful performance

  • +

    Faster 45W charging

  • +

    Strong telephoto camera

Cons

  • -

    Most camera improvements still can’t match Google Pixel

  • -

    Battery life barely better than last year

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus Specs

Starting price: $999
Display size: 6.6-inch AMOLED (2340 x 1080)
Refresh rate: 48-120Hz adaptive
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US); Exynos 2200 (UK)
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB
Rear cameras: 50MP wide (f/1.8); 12MP ultrawide (f/2.2); 10MP telephoto (f/2.4) with 3x optical zoom
Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)
Battery size: 4,500 mAh
Battery life (Hrs:Mins): 9:46 (adaptive), 9:57 (60Hz)
Size: 6.2 x 3 x 0.3 inches
Weight: 6.9 ounces
Colors: Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus is the epitome of an iterative upgrade. It looks and performs similarly to its predecessor, enough so that I find it difficult to truly distinguish this phone from the Galaxy S21 Plus that came before it — mostly. Thankfully, last year’s middle Galaxy S child was a very good handset on its own, and our Galaxy S22 Plus review finds that this follow-up is also a solid device.

If you’re coming from a Galaxy S21 Plus, then I strongly encourage you to hold on to what you’ve got. The Galaxy S22 Plus ticks the right boxes, but the generational gap is not substantial enough to warrant an upgrade. But if you’re rocking an older phone, like the Galaxy S20 Plus, then the Galaxy S22 Plus is certainly worth your consideration.

With its camera and display upgrades, the Galaxy S22 Plus is definitely a force to be reckoned within the Android space. And for $999, it’s not a bad value proposition, though the $899 Pixel 6 Pro gives the S22 Plus a real run for its money when it comes to cameras. Samsung has done a great job with photography this year, but Google maintains its lead in some areas.

Curious about what this phone has to offer? Read on for our full Galaxy S22 Plus review.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Price and availability

The Galaxy S22 Plus is available to buy right now, starting at $999. it comes in black, white, green, and Pink Gold colors, with Graphite, Cream, Sky Blue and Violet available as online-only options.

We're keeping track of the best Galaxy S22 deals, including ways to save on the Galaxy S22 Plus.

galaxy s22 plus in pink leaning against antique books

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

At $999 and going up to $1,049, the Galaxy S22 Plus is in the tricky position of directly competing with the similarly priced iPhone 13 Pro. Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs. iPhone 13 Pro face-off for more details on that.

The S22 Plus is also $100 more expensive than the rather excellent $899 Google Pixel 6 Pro. Granted, the latter has run into a few bugs, but the Pixel’s specs sheet, original design and custom chip make it rather appealing for under the $1,000 mark. 

Samsung commands almost the same retail presence as Apple, which means that when the phone ships on February 25, you’ll be able to walk into any electronics or carrier store and pick up a Galaxy S22 Plus. That’s not so true for all Android phones. Whether you want to cash in on the Samsung.com pre-order bonuses or exclusive colors, or get a device on a carrier payment plan, you have tons of options, now that preorders are underway.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Design

Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Galaxy S22 Plus looks remarkably similar to the Galaxy S21 Plus last year, except that the camera module is the same color as the body. If you’ve seen the Galaxy S21 FE, it’s the same effect. For the S21 Plus, the camera contour area was a different color.

galaxy s22 plus in pink resting in hand

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Around front, the Galaxy S22 Plus once again looks very familiar. The body colored frame outlines the flat display, which has slim bezels all the way around. A hole-punch cutout for the front-facing camera is the only thing that breaks up the phone’s all-display look.

The Galaxy S22 Plus’ metal back is very smooth to the touch without being too slippery. The contour cut design — where the camera module blends in seamlessly with the frame — still looks nice a year after its introduciton. On the edges, Samsung used a reflective aluminum material, but it’s surprisingly grippy.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus hands-on review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In a word, the Galaxy S22 Plus is boring, but boring in the best kind of way. Samsung decided to stick with the design it started last year and save all of its aesthetic chops for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Display

While we wait for the final test results for the Galaxy S22 Plus and its FHD+ display, I can talk about how nice that screen is. This is the best display I’ve ever seen on a smartphone, even beating out the identically-priced iPhone 13 Pro. With a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, outdoor visibility is not a problem with the Galaxy S22 Plus. 

galaxy s22 plus with display on leaning against a pot

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Dynamic AMOLED 2X display is 0.1 inches smaller (6.6 inches) than the 6.7-inch panel on the Galaxy S21 Plus. The Galaxy S22 Plus still goes from 48Hz to 120Hz for its refresh rate, but some backend processing means things can be rendered for 10Hz use and sent to the screen, thus making for a more efficient display. 

Galaxy S22 Plus (Vivid / Natural)Galaxy S21 Plus (Vivid / Natural)iPhone 13 Pro
sRGB (%)212 / 150212 / 104117
DCI-P3 (%)150 / 90150 / 7483
Delta-E0.35 / 0.230.31 / 0.180.27
Brightness (average)648 nits747 nits1,024 nits
Brightness (peak)1,750 nits1.300 nits1,200 nits

As you can see from the data above, the Galaxy S22 Plus has a similar display to the Galaxy S21 Plus. The newer phone, interestingly enough, had worse Delta-E color accuracy scores (where 0 is perfect). The S22 Plus also had a lower average brightness in our SDR testing (with adaptive brightness on), and it's well shy of the iPhone 13 Pro's 1,024 nits.

In my hand, I loved watching Blade Runner 2049 and playing Genshin Impact on the S22 Plus display. Colors pop, contrast is punchy, and the smooth refresh rate is definitely enjoyable. No matter what you’re looking at, images and video look superb and text is very sharp.

galaxy s22 plus with display on laying on blueprint

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung hyped up its new Vision Booster technology, which ties into the Galaxy S22 Plus’ crazy bright display. The feature uses AI to intelligently scale the brightness and contrast depending on the lighting conditions. This helps make sure that you can always see the phone’s screen, no matter where you are. Vision Booster certainly helps with direct sunlight, something that even the iPhone 13 Pro Max can struggle with.

When compared side-by-side to the Galaxy S21 Plus, the only truly noticeable difference with the Galaxy S22 Plus screen is the peak brightness outdoors. Indoors, they’re functionally identical to my eye. Samsung really nails the displays on its phones, and the Galaxy S22 Plus is no exception.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: Cameras 

This is the first place where I can safely say that the Galaxy S22 Plus is a true upgrade over its predecessor. Samsung improved the cameras almost across the board — notably the main wide-angle and telephoto shooters. The latter is especially interesting because it offers a true 3x optical zoom versus the Galaxy S21 Plus and its 3x hybrid zoom.

galaxy s22 plus in pink leaning against a rock

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the front, you get a 10MP selfie cam. The main rear sensor is 50MP, with a 12MP ultrawide and the 10MP telephoto joining it. Samsung says the main sensor is larger this year, so it can let in more light. In theory, that means better nighttime photos. But in practice, Samsung still struggles with low-light photos that are too yellow with notable white balance problems. Still, it looks like it can hold its own; check out our  Samsung Galaxy S22 vs iPhone 13 Pro Max low-light photography comparison.

Kicking things off in this photo comparison against the excellent Google Pixel 6 Pro is this shot of a bridge spanning a railway. The Galaxy S22 Plus produced a brighter image, though at the cost of some color accuracy (look at the saturation on worn green graffiti). It’s by no means bad, but the Pixel 6 Pro does a better job with more accurate colors. I think the Pixel wins because of the subdued color profile, sharper focus, and a better sense of depth looking down the length of the bridge.

For a second outdoor shot, I took a photo of the decor on my front door. Right away, you can see the trademark Samsung oversaturation effect  in the flower wreath — to the Galaxy S22 Plus’ credit, it’s less pronounced this year. The Pixel 6 Pro produced more true-to-life colors, as The Lord of the Rings sign looks much more natural than what you see in the S22’s shot. The wood in the latter looks too orange. The Pixel wins here.

Taking another angle of the bridge from earlier, the Galaxy S22 Plus’ ultrawide camera does a pretty good job. It zooms out a bit further than the Pixel (0.6x versus 0.7x) and actually has more natural colors than the Pixel 6 Pro’s image.Overall, I think the S22’s shot is more inviting and captures the vibe of the scene better.

For this first telephoto sample, we tested the Galaxy S22 Plus against the iPhone 13 Pro Max at both phones' max 3x zoom. The S22 Plus produced a dimmer image than the iPhone's, though it still contains plenty of sharp detail.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max's photo is certainly brighter, but I think it crushes the blacks just a tad too much in the shadows on the stone wall behind the sign. It also lost some of the red tones in the bricks. It's a hard one to call, but I think the Galaxy S22 Plus is just a bit better. Exposure is easily addressed in editing later and I like the sharper details that the Samsung phone managed.

Heading indoors, the first test features a bookshelf with a lot of books and knick knacks. Both phones did a great job here given the dying light. In fact, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. The Pixel is a bit sharper around some of the crystals’ edges, but colors are equally vibrant while still lifelike in the Galaxy S22 Plus’ image. 

Testing the Galaxy S22 Plus’ indoor capabilities with harsher lighting and more vivid colors told a different story. The Pixel came out ahead by quite a ways with a picture that accounted for the fluorescent lighting and the apple colors without getting too warm or overexposed. 

Now, look at what the Galaxy S22 Plus managed. Some of the reflections on the apples look blown out and while the colors are indeed brighter, I find the S22’s picture to be a bit hard on the eyes.

To test the night modes, I challenged both phones to photograph this Mass Effect helmet in a nearly lightless room. The results speak for themselves. The Galaxy S22 Plus produced a grossly warm shot that looks unappealing. The Pixel 6 Pro gave me something cooler and more accurate, given the dimness. The grey of the helmet is more natural in the Pixel’s image, whereas it has a grimy yellow tinge in the S22’s. I noticed this same problem with some of Samsung’s older phones, too, something that the Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t seem to struggle with.

I think the results of the portrait test were surprising given Samsung’s focus on the portrait mode with this year’s phone. Samsung says it refined portrait mode to better recognize the fringes of human and pet hair. But in the test I did, the Pixel won out. For one, the blur radius is much better than Samsung’s.

One thing I noted was that the Galaxy S22 Plus lumped in the gnome behind me in the portrait, probably because of its proximity to my hair. While I had trouble recreating the position with the Pixel 6 Pro, the gnome is still visible behind me — and notably blurred out as part of the background.

Finally, for selfies, you get to see yours truly rocking my suave sunglasses. Right off the bat, you can spot the difference between the two images. For the Galaxy S22 Plus, the selfie shows signs of over-aggressive face smoothing to the point where I look unnatural — my ruddy complexion looks ridiculous. There’s also a green tinge in the background.

The Pixel didn’t apply any face smoothing that I can see. My hair is blonder, my beard redder, and the background warmer — this is more accurate given the direct late evening sunlight. The Galaxy S22 Plus’ selfie would be an insta-delete for me.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus hands-on review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

From these comparisons, the Pixel 6 Pro is still a better choice for an Android camera phone. Other than the telephoto images and, to a lesser extent, the ultrawide example, the Pixel matched or beat the Galaxy S22 Plus in all of my photo tests (including ones you didn’t see here). For all of Samsung’s talk around camera improvements, Google is still the obvious winner for most things here. And again, it costs $100 less than the Galaxy S22 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Video

The Galaxy S22 Plus can shoot video up to 8K at 24 frames per second (fps). That’s some crazy high-res video and certainly excessive given the displays most people have available to them. The Galaxy S22 Plus only has a 1080p screen after all.

galaxy s22 plus in pink laying on a blueprint

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But that’s just part of the story. The phone features plenty of other video features, too, specifically around stabilization. I took the Galaxy S22 Plus out for a walk alongside the Pixel 6 Pro to see how they compared. In some areas, the phones were neck and neck, but Samsung surged ahead in the HDR department.

Simply put, the Galaxy S22 Plus did a better job handling the harsh setting sun. The Pixel 6 Pro has some lens flares and distortions to contend with, and although the Galaxy S22 Plus faced the same challenges, it came out ahead with a higher quality video overall.

galax ys22 plus in pink leaning against a wood block

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S22 Plus' new Auto Framing feature can detect and track up to 10 people in a frame and automatically adjust the camera so that everyone is in focus. It can also track people as they move around. It’s a neat feature that will probably come in handy for people who want to capture videos of their children or active pets.

Overall, video capture on the Galaxy S22 Plus also feels a little smoother than it was on the Galaxy S21 range, but more testing is needed before I can say that for sure. 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Performance and battery life

In the US, the Galaxy S22 Plus features a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, which is the latest top-tier chip from Qualcomm. It’s powerful, although it only offers a marginal bump in performance over the Snapdragon 888 from last year.

galaxy s22 plus with display on laying on old license plates

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We're still waiting for the full suite of benchmarks, but next to the Galaxy S21 Plus (which has the Snapdragon 888), the Galaxy S22 Plus feels essentially identical to its predecessor. Apps open extremely quickly, animations and transitions are smooth, and games play without a hitch.

Galaxy S22 PlusGalaxy S21 PlusiPhone 13 Pro
Geekbench 5 (single / multicore)1214 / 33611116 / 33001733 / 4718
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited (Score / FPS)10,027 / 605571 / 3311,693 / 70
3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited (Score / FPS)2449 / 151447 / 92766 / 17
Adobe Premiere Rush (Mins:Secs)0:481:000:26

There’s very little you can do to make the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 trip on itself — then again, we said the same about the Snapdragon 888 last year. In Geekbench 5, the Galaxy S22 Plus barely beat out the Galaxy S21 Plus while still trailing the iPhone 13 Pro. The latest Galaxy also beat its predecessor in the graphics test while still falling behind Apple's 2021 powerhouse. While not bad at all, especially with the improved Adobe Premiere Rush video transcoding result, the Galaxy S22 Plus is not going to challenge the pace-setting A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13 models.

It's worth noting that some Samsung Galaxy S22 users found that certain apps were being throttled in terms of performance due to Samsung’s Game Optimizing Service. But Samsung is letting you turn off throttling through a Game Performance Management Mode being added through an update.

As for the battery, the Galaxy S22 Plus uses a 4,500 mAh power pack. That’s smaller than the Galaxy S21 Plus’ 4,800 mAh, which is odd considering the lackluster battery life of the S22 Plus’ predecessor. I’m still not sure why Samsung opted for a smaller battery this year. Perhaps it banked on the more power-efficient display and 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip to make up for the 300 mAh loss.

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In in the Tom's Guide battery life test — 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.

Compare that to the Galaxy S21 Plus and its 9:53 and 9:41 in adaptive and 60Hz, respectively. We like to see most phones last 10 hours or more The iPhone 13 Pro, which costs the same as the Galaxy S22 Plus, turned in a much more impressive 12:18. It also features a 120Hz adaptive display and a power-hungry 5G modem.

galaxy s22 plus in pink laying on leatherbound book

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Galaxy S22 Plus received a big bump to 45W wired charging up from 25W last year, with Samsung claiming you can get from 0 to 50% in 20 minutes. The charger still isn’t included, though, and we couldn't test the recharge speed for ourselves at time of writing.

However, from testing the Galaxy S22 Ultra's 45W charging, it doesn't appear the $50 optional 45W charger is worth it

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Software

The Galaxy S22 Plus ships with Android 12 with One UI 4.1 running on top. You get access to the new version’s system-wide theming options, privacy dashboard, and the whole host of other smaller security features you don’t always see. In short, you get the latest and greatest version of Android with the Galaxy S22 Plus.

galaxy s22 plus display on leaning against old kitchen scale

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One UI 4.1 is a refinement of One UI 4 released late last year. It sports a lot of bug fixes — which have plagued Android 12 since launch — but Samsung hasn’t divulged everything that’s new at time of writing. Instead, the focus is on the customization and privacy features. For example, you can see every app that has requested some of your permissions, notably location, camera and microphone.

You can also manage permissions at your leisure, including revoking those you no longer want used by certain apps. It’s as simple as heading into the Settings menu, then checking out the Privacy section. Android 12 also shows indicators when an app is actively using your camera and/or microphone, much like iOS does. 

galaxy s22 plus review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One UI 4.1 will roll out to older Galaxy devices in due time. Like most of the Galaxy S22 Plus as a whole, it’s quite iterative. And in this case, that’s just fine.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: Verdict

I’m left ambivalent about the Galaxy S22 Plus. On the one hand, it’s a very good phone with plenty to offer and cameras that are more than good enough in most circumstances. 

galaxy s22 plus in pink leaning against sheets of paper

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

On the other, it’s a marginal upgrade at best over the Galaxy S21 Plus, further cementing the idea that you don’t need to upgrade your phone every year. Your Galaxy S21 or Galaxy S21 Plus right now have basically the same software and cameras that are almost as good.

In fact, the S22 Plus only stands out from its predecessor with its display. That 1,750 nits sure does come in handy while outdoors. With a more efficient display, but with the smaller power pack, the S22 Plus is very close to the 21 Plus.

That said, if you’re on a Galaxy S20, Galaxy Note 20, or anything older, then the Galaxy S22 Plus is a great upgrade. It’s powerful, it’s beautiful, and that display will certainly wow you if you’re coming from previous generations. 

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.