Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, S22 Ultra Review: Expensive Excellence

Samsung Galaxy S22, S22+, S22 Ultra Review: Expensive Excellence

Pixel and iPhone photos are generally a bit sharper with more natural tones and often better high dynamic range, but Samsung stands its ground. Its Night mode produced images with much less grain, and its Portrait mode is also significantly better than before. I ran into a few issues: sometimes there’s a little delay when you tap the shutter, which can lead to some blurring; 10X optical zoom is pretty blurry when combined with Samsung’s night mode; and there was a time when the 10X zoom took some weird shots of traffic and street lights (which I haven’t been able to replicate since). Still, I’ve been pretty happy overall.

I could go on and on with the minute details of the cameras, but I’ll spare you. There is just one last thing I want to mention. Samsung has included so many camera features that its camera app is turning into a bloated and confusing mess.

For example, the new Adaptive Pixel feature that Samsung touts everywhere isn’t even enabled by default. Supposedly it allows you to take advantage of those high-megapixel cameras. and still get brilliant photos in low light, but it will only work when you enter 108 or 50 megapixel mode. And even then it will work only in specific lighting conditions, so it’s really hard to test. You can use night mode with Adaptive Pixel, but not in the actual night mode tab; if you switch to that tab in the camera app, you’ll be kicked out of 108 or 50-megapixel mode. When you enter this high-megapixel mode, your access to the phone’s other cameras disappears in favor of different levels of digital zoom, which will frankly confuse a lot of people. Initially, I also had no guidance on whether I was supposed to rely on Adaptive Pixel or stick with normal night mode. After doing some tests, I recommend the latter. It generally produced a sharper image with less grain.

And if you want to take RAW photos with some of Samsung’s image processing, you have to use an entirely different Expert RAW app from the Galaxy Store. Compare that to Apple’s approach, where you can toggle ProRaw mode in settings and use it in the same camera app. (Did I mention that in the main Samsung Camera app there are separate modes for Pro, Pro Video, and Director’s View?)

And Samsung’s Super Steady mode, which adds even better stabilization for videos, feels a bit redundant now that stabilization improvements have been made to the standard video mode, especially since it’s limited to 1080p in Super Steady and the quality it’s pretty poor in any condition other than a bright, sunny day. Stick to 4K at 60 frames per second (and yes, 8K video capture is still overrated right now).

There’s a lot of choice and control here, but Samsung just needs to find a better way to present everything that makes it easier to use.

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galaxy s22

Photography: Samsung

Of the three Galaxy S22 phones, you should probably buy the standard S22. It offers the most features for the least money, and its smaller size makes it easier to manage. If you don’t like the 10X zoom camera or the S Pen but want a bigger screen, then there’s a place for the S22+. But if those features do talk to you, then the Ultra won’t let you down.

These three phones will receive four Android OS updates and up to five years of security updates from Samsung. That software policy is even better than what you’ll find on Pixel phones from Google, the company that runs Android. These phones are going to get some love for a long time to come, which is better for your wallet and better for the planet.

You can be just as happy (and save more money) if you stick with a phone like the Google Pixel 6 ($599). Google phones come with some notable software features that I missed during my time testing Galaxy phones, such as Wait for me, which I would have loved to use when I had to wait nearly two hours to speak with a Delta Airlines customer service representative. Still, these Samsung phones are polished and feature-packed, and are some of the best Android phones on the market. just don’t forget grab a case.

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