Amateur Photographer verdict

Given the all-round attributes of the cameras on the Galaxy S22 compared with those of subsequent models, we think this is a great value smartphone for aspiring photographers to enjoy.
  • Flagship level triple camera
  • Selfie camera with AF/4K
  • 8K/4K video
  • Compact
  • Great value
  • Sub-optimum battery life

Superceded by the S23 in Samsung’s flagship S series, the Samsung Galaxy S22 is now available for mid-range prices as last years entry-level model. Does this place it among the best mid-range phones available? Find out in our review by expert Joshua Waller.

Samsung Galaxy S22 – now a year older it is great value for money. Photo: Joshua Waller

Key Features at a glance:

  • 50MP main wide-angle, f/1.8, OIS, 23mm equivalent
  • 12MP ultra-wide-angle, f/2.2, 13mm equivalent
  • 10MP telephoto, f/2.4, 3x/70mm equivalent, OIS
  • 10MP selfie camera with AF, 25mm equivalent (and 4K video)
  • 6.1inch screen, AMOLED, 120Hz, Gorilla Glass Victus+
  • 3700mAh battery, wireless charging
  • 8GB ram / 128GB/256GB storage options
  • Android 12, upgrades to 13
  • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
  • 167g weight

How we test smartphones

We review smartphones from the perspective of choosing one for it’s photography and camera performance. Here we look at what the Samsung Galaxy S22 cameras offer, and the features included for photography and video.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Hardware, design and features

Not everyone has the $1000 / £1000 needed for the flagship smartphones, and not everyone wants to pay huge monthly fees for mobile phone contracts. Samsung and Apple offer know this, and offer better value smartphones accordingly. These are often smaller, but still offer high-end cameras. If you’re prepared to go for last year’s model, you can save even more money. Step forward the Samsung Galaxy S22.

Samsung Galaxy S22 in white. Photo: Joshua Waller

Available for $700 or £440 it comes at a price more like mid-range smartphones from Google (such as the Google Pixel 7A) and Samsung’s own mid-range smartphones like the Galaxy A54. But importantly it has a triple camera system with a telephoto camera, as well as higher spec selfie camera with autofocus and 4K video recording.

The S22 is a different animal to the S22 Ultra and S23 Ultra with their respective 108MP and 200MP main cameras, and fourth 10x telephoto camera. Its combination of 50MP main camera with OIS, a 12MP ultra-wide-angle, and 10MP 3x telephoto camera with OIS, is a great set in its own right. It puts it ahead of many other dual-camera mid-range smartphones.

Those who want a smaller model should note that the Samsung S22 (and S23) is one of few options – among alternatives are ASUS’s Zenfone 9 and10, and Apple’s iPhone 14. The Xiaomi 13 is another worth considering.

Samsung Galaxy S22 – the screen is flat rather than curved. Photo: Joshua Waller

The phone is stylish looking, with shiny silver sides and a premium feel, as you would expect from a flagship model. The in-screen fingerprint reader works well, and with wireless charging available it features all the main luxury items. There’s an always-on AMOLED display with a fast refresh rate of 120Hz; and with an IP68 waterproof rating, a rain shower won’t be fatal.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Performance

Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S series of phones tend to give great colour, with good levels of saturation and generally consistent results between the different camera units. Dynamic range is handled well with automatic HDR (high-dynamic range) combining a number of shots for greatly enhanced dynamic range.

Bishop’s House, Sheffield, UK, taken with the main camera on the Samsung Galaxy S22. Photo Joshua Waller.

The main 50MP wide-angle camera gives pixel-binned 12MP images, and has an f/1.8 aperture as well as optical image stabilisation (OIS). Gone are the days when Samsung offered a variable aperture lens, but this is less of an issue now that software can give a much more blurred background in portrait mode.

Ultra-wide-angle shot with the Samsung Galaxy S22 – colours are great, but purple fringing is visible in the corners. Photo Joshua Waller

The ultra-wide-angle camera gives good results, with great colour, and good levels of detail. However, some purple fringing can be seen when photographing scenes with trees, or areas of high-contrast, particularly towards the corners of the image.

Sunset taken with the Samsung Galaxy S22’s telephoto camera. Photo Joshua Waller

The 10MP telephoto camera gives a 3x view, which is a nice telephoto camera to have on a smartphone – rather than just 2x for example. The output is actually a 12MP image, which matches the other cameras nicely.

Close-up photo taken with the 3x telephoto camera on the S22. Photo Joshua Waller

Results from the telephoto camera are good. Like most other phones with a telephoto camera, though, once light levels drop low enough, or when shooting outside the focus range of the lens, the camera will switch to digital zoom. Lower quality results are the outcome.

Close up photos are possible using the main camera on the Samsung Galaxy S22. Photo: Joshua Waller

Macro performance – one difference noticeable with the S22 compared to the S22 / S23 Ultra is the fixed-focus ultra-wide-angle camera, which means it doesn’t have a dedicated macro mode. However, you can use the telephoto camera to get closer to subjects, and the main camera provides close enough focus for acceptable close-up photographs.

Samsung Galaxy S22 selfie camera features AF which makes a big difference to detail in self-portraits. Photo Joshua Waller

The 10MP selfie camera comes with AF – giving much better focus than smartphones with fixed focus, meaning it doesn’t matter how close or far away you are from the lens. This also makes a big difference when using the selfie camera for video recording.

The phone offers 8K video recording at 24fps, as well as 4K video from the rear camera, as well as the selfie camera. Stabilisation is good, helping keep video stable when recording without a gimbal.

Value for Money

Comparing the Samsung Galaxy S22 to the S23 reveals few key differences between them. The S23 offers an upgraded selfie camera (12MP vs 10MP on the S22), as well as a larger battery (3900mAh vs 3700mAh). If you can live without these, then the S22 you can save you a decent chunk of money.

Cat portrait taken with the 3x telephoto camera on the Samsung Galaxy S22. Photo Joshua Waller

The S22 has advantages over other smartphones around this price. The Google Pixel 7A and Nothing Phone 1 have dual-camera systems. The Samsung Galaxy A54 has a triple camera system, but its third camera is a 5MP macro camera; not a telephoto. The S22 also comes in different colours.

Samsung Galaxy S22, Asus Zenfone 9, Xiaomi 13, Photo Joshua Waller
From left to right: Samsung Galaxy S22, Asus Zenfone 9, Xiaomi 13, Photo Joshua Waller

Samsung Galaxy S22 Verdict

Some would argue that the standard of flagship smartphones has been set so high for so long that the newest versions are only incremental improvements on their predecessors. If this is true, last years flagship smartphones are an increasingly good place to look for a decent camera phone, as their prices keep on dropping.

Samsung Galaxy S22 next to the dual camera Nothing Phone 1
Samsung Galaxy S22 next to the dual camera Nothing Phone 1. Photo: Joshua Waller

Now that the Samsung Galaxy S22 is available for around $450 / £450 (or less, renewed!), this makes it incredible value for money, at roughly half the price when it was first released. It offers an impressive set of cameras, a good selfie camera with autofocus, and a flagship phone design, with all the features you’d expect on a flagship.

Amateur Photographer Recommended 4.5 stars

For more affordable options have a look at our guide to the best budget smartphones, or have a look at the best flagship camera phones if you have a higher budget to spend.

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