Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus review: The best Android phone you can buy – Business Insider

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Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Plus is the company’s biggest premium phone before you get into the “Ultra” category. It’s basically the option for those who like big screens, but don’t necessarily need the hardware and features of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, or the price that comes with it. 
Samsung’s “Plus” models are typically bigger versions of the standard models with a few extras. Not counting a bigger battery, those extras are limited to faster charging speeds and support for the latest WiFi 6E standard. Neither of these should be reasons to pick the S22 Plus over the standard S22. 
It was always pretty easy to say that Samsung’s latest phones were the best Android phones you could buy, at least in the US. However, Google’s Pixel 6 series made the choice harder. That’s a good thing, as you actually have a choice now.
Samsung has yet to supply me with an S22 on loan for testing and review, but the majority of my critique can be applied to the standard S22, excluding battery life.
Galaxy S22
Galaxy S22 Plus
6.1-inch FHD AMOLED, adaptive 48-120Hz refresh rate  
6.6-inch FHD AMOLED, adaptive 48-120Hz refresh rate  
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US)
50-megapixel (MP) main camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, 10MP 3x optical zoom camera
50MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide camera, 10MP 3x optical zoom camera
Selfie camera
10MP camera
10MP camera
Battery and charging
3,700mAh, up to 25 watts (W) wired, up to 15W wireless
4,500mAh, up to 45W wired, up to15W wireless
Memory and storage
8GB RAM, 128GB / 256GB storage
8GB RAM, 128GB / 256GB storage
Biometric authentication
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor
Network support
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
The S22 Plus looks more conservative than last year’s S21 series: gone is the S21’s fancy camera module design, which was part of the metal frame that wrapped around the cameras. The result is a more standard phone design that actually looks cleaner, sleeker, and more mature.
As expected, the S22 Plus feels positively premium and solid with its glass and metal construction. It’s also boxier with flatter edges than previous Samsung phones with rounded edges. The glass back on the S22 Plus has a frosted matte texture, which looks and feels nicer than clear glass.
Samsung’s phone displays are second to none, and the S22 phones have stunning screens. Most premium phones sport some kind of OLED – or organic light-emitting diode – panel, which delivers beautiful contrast between darks and brights on a screen, as well as rich colors, through the way in which OLED displays individually illuminate each pixel behind the glass. 
However, Samsung’s AMOLED panels are simply a cut above. Few phones, if any, can make colors and details in apps, Android, photos, and videos pop like Samsung’s screens.
The S22 Plus is capped at 1080p resolution, which is unquestionably sharp enough for a phone. You also get a 48-120Hz variable refresh rate, which means the screen can refresh the displayed image between 48 times and 120 times per second. At 120Hz, animations on the screen look silky smooth and give the impression that the phone is fast and powerful compared to phones with more traditional 60Hz refresh rates. Among premium Android phones, a 120Hz refresh rate isn’t especially noteworthy. Compared to the iPhone 13’s 60Hz screen, however, the S22 Plus is handily superior. Apple does offer iPhones with 120Hz screens, but only in its Pro series. 
Running at high refresh rates uses up more battery life, which is where the variable aspect comes into play. When you’re looking at something static on the screen, the refresh rate reduces to 48Hz, which reduces power consumption – more on battery life below. 
As with every new premium phone, the S22 Plus opens and runs apps quickly and smoothly in normal, daily usage with common popular apps and games. 
Using the Geekbench 5 benchmarking app, the S22 Plus scored 1,230 for single-core performance, and 3,429 for multi-core performance. From personal experience, and looking at the scores below, S21 owners won’t find a perceivable boost in performance in the S22. 
As for Galaxy S20 owners, you may feel apps lagging ever so slightly — whether it’s bothersome enough to upgrade is up to you. By the numbers, you are seeing a considerable increase in single-core performance from S20 to S22.
Galaxy S20 Plus
Galaxy S21
Galaxy S22 Plus
Geekbench 5 Single-core
Geekbench 5 Multi-core
In our battery life test, where I stream a YouTube video continuously over WiFi at the S22 Plus’ default 1080p resolution on a 6.6-inch display at full brightness, the S22 Plus didn’t impress. The phone lasted 12 hours and 58 minutes, which is nearly identical to last year’s smaller S21, which lasted 12 hours and 46 minutes
The Pixel 6 with a 6.4-inch screen lasted 13 hours and 58 minutes. Still, at least it beat the 6.4-inch S21 FE’s battery, which lasted a mere 10 hours and 10 minutes in the same test. 
To compare, the iPhone 13 with a smaller 6.1-inch screen lasted 14 hours and 28 minutes in the same test. Considering the S22 Plus has a bigger battery – 4,500mAh to the iPhone 13’s estimated 3,240mAh in capacity – it really should be ahead of the iPhone 13 in this test.
Galaxy S22 Plus
Galaxy S21
Galaxy S21 FE
Pixel 6
iPhone 13
12 hours, 58 minutes
12 hours, 46 minutes
10 hours, 10 minutes
13 hours, 58 minutes
14 hours, 28 minutes
Tests aren’t everything and don’t necessarily represent battery drain during typical usage. However, in this case, I do feel like the S22 Plus’ battery drains faster than most other phones I’ve used that scored better in our battery test. That’s despite the fact that the S22 Plus would reduce its screen refresh rate when displaying static images.
Still, you’ll easily get a day’s worth of battery life, but you’ll likely feel more pressure to charge it overnight so you’re not stuck with a low battery level in the morning.
Samsung did upgrade the charging speeds in the S22 Plus, which can now support up to 45 Watts (W) compared to 25W in the standard S22 model and the S21 series. Samsung doesn’t include a charger in the box, so you’ll have to use an existing charger, or buy a new one – just be sure the charger supports 45W or more. 
Faster charging is great for getting a quick battery boost when time is precious, and it helps with the S22 Plus’ pedestrian battery life — you can give it a 15 minute charge sometime during the day to get some extra charge.
After getting funny looks from taking photos with the Galaxy S22 Plus, S22 Ultra, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 FE, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and Pixel 6 Pro at the same time, I find that the S22 cameras in bright daylight are excellent — but so are the other phones’ cameras. That’s to say that if camera quality is your number one priority, almost any premium phone will do the trick. The comparison against the S21 also serves to show that S21 owners thinking about upgrading shouldn’t feel like they’re missing out.
Below are some samples of Galaxy S22 photos in good lighting. You can also check out more Galaxy S22 samples here, as well as samples for the S22 Ultra, S21, S21 FE, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro Max, and Pixel 6 Pro.
Samsung declared the S22 phones have better low-light performance, thanks to new AI technology, and in my eyes, the S22 Plus does take among the best low-light photos out of all the phones I tested. You can check out the night photos I took with the S21, S21 FE, S22 Ultra, Pixel 6 Pro, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 Pro.
The company also brags about better portrait mode shots for pets, also thanks to new AI tech. Specifically, the improvements are meant to better capture pet hair that can otherwise blend into the blurry background. It’s surprisingly effective, but it’s not always perfect. 
The photo below shows a good portrait mode shot of my cat, where the camera was able to properly define his fur and shape.
In the photo below, the S22 Plus’ camera got confused with a small area right above my cat’s back. It’s not a huge deal, but it shows that portrait mode on the S22 Plus, at least for pets, isn’t perfect.
If the S22 Plus doesn’t appeal to you, the first alternative I’d suggest is Google’s $900 Pixel 6 Pro. Notably, it’s $100 less and has better battery life. You’ll also find equally good cameras and comparable performance. 
Even further, you might also consider the $600 Pixel 6 for $400 less than the S22 Plus. The major differences between the Pixel 6 and S22 Plus are screen size and cameras. Pixel 6’s screen is barely smaller at 6.4-inches than the S22 Plus’ 6.6-inch screen, and the Pixel 6 doesn’t have a zoom lens like the S22 Plus does. You can read my Pixel 6 review here
In Samsung’s ecosystem, the other alternative is the S21 FE, but we wouldn’t recommend it for its worse battery life. You can read my Galaxy S21 FE review here
The S22 Plus is a great phone that will leave you confident that you’ve bought the right device, at least if you like larger phones with screens in the 6.5-inch-plus range. You’re getting stellar cameras, performance, design, and the best screen in the business. Battery life is lackluster, but not as terrible as the S21 FE.
With that said, there’s another presence on the figurative smartphone runway that’s cramping the S22 Plus’ style: Google’s Pixel 6 phones. Samsung has real competition from Google in this release cycle, and you’d do well to seriously consider the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro – rather than just defaulting to Samsung – when buying your next Android phone.
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