Reintroducing the Galaxy Note
Samsung has knocked it out of the park yet again with the Galaxy S22 Ultra, a phone that feels as ultra as the name implies. Camera zoom levels and video recording performance blow away the competition in every single way, and Samsung's One UI is an absolute joy to use and customize. The phone's design is less comfortable to hold than last year's, but that's easily fixed with a case.
+ Superb low light and zoom photos
+ The best video recording on Android
+ One UI is extremely customizable
+ Five years of guaranteed software updates
+ S Pen
+ The best display in the business
- Steep unlocked price
- Has trouble capturing photos of moving subjects
- Design is less friendly to hold without a case
Go Pro or go home
Google's most premium Pixel ever debuted at a surprisingly low price tag and is one of the reasons it's so easy to recommend. It's got the most reliable camera on any phone, even if it's outclassed in other ways, but the regularly annoying bugs and weird software glitches have marred the experience over the past few months since its release.
+ Excellent, reliable camera
+ Captures great photos of pets and kids
+ Pixel exclusive features
+ Good performance
+ Solid battery life
+ Great unlocked price
- Lots of software bugs
- Not as customizable as Samsung's One UI
- Low light video is grainy
- One less year of software support than the S22 Ultra
When it comes down to Android phones, these two are some of the best in the bunch. The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra was released this past February, while Google's Pixel 6 Pro debuted in October of 2021. Both phones offer great cameras, solid battery life, and stunning design, however, which of the two should you purchase? Let's look into the ways in which these powerful phones are different.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Price versus value
Which phone provides the best value? Right off the top, the price difference between the Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Pixel 6 Pro might very well answer that question for you. At $899, the Pixel 6 Pro is a whopping 25% less expensive than the Galaxy S22 Ultra. In real-world terms, that means $300 left in your wallet to spend on more important things than a smartphone.
But the unlocked price isn’t likely the one you’ll actually be paying, especially if you’re going to buy one of these phones through a cell carrier like T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon. In some cases, both phones might end up being the same price.
Taking a cursory glance at T-Mobile’s website tells me the Pixel 6 Pro is $40 less per month than the S22 Ultra, further widening that price gap. But, if you have a phone to trade in, T-Mobile will give you both phones for $400 so long as you meet certain requirements.
But value in a modern smartphone means a lot more than the price itself. Case in point, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will get Android 16, while the Pixel 6 Pro is only scheduled to receive updates through Android 15. If it’s important to you to have a phone that has software support and updates throughout your time of ownership — and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t it be — then the Galaxy S22 Ultra will more than make up that $300 difference by letting you keep it for an additional year.
Both companies have a history of supporting their flagship phones with new features and updates for a notable period of time, but Samsung offers more features out the gate than Google. Samsung’s One UI offers an experience that’s both friendlier for one-handed use and more customizable, leading many to prefer it over the Pixel UI.
But the term features doesn't really quite cover the actual difference between the two. While Google offers a more unique and colorful interface, many of Samsung’s additions include quality-of-life add-ons that are hard to live without once you’ve experienced them.
Power users and note-takers, alike, will also revel in the magic feeling that only the S Pen can deliver. While it’s not an accessory that everyone will use, having it built into the Galaxy S22 Ultra means it’s more likely that you’ll at least try it out before writing it off. Galaxy Note lovers will find that the S22 Ultra is everything they’ve ever wanted and more thanks to the further reduced latency from the pen, which truly makes it feel like writing with an actual pen.
|Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra||Google Pixel 6 Pro|
|Operating system||Android 12 (One UI 4.1)||Android 12 (Pixel UI)|
|Dimensions||163.3 mm x 77.9 mm x 8.9 mm||163.9mm x 75.9mm x 8.9mm|
|Display||6.8-inches Edge, Dynamic AMOLED 2x, 3088 x 1440 1-120Hz refresh rate, 240Hz touch sampling (game mode)||6.7-inch, 1440 x 3120 resolution (512 ppi), LTPO OLED, 10-120Hz refresh rate|
|Colors||Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Burgundy Samsung.com exclusive: Red, Blue, Grey||Stormy Black, Cloudy White, Sorta Sunny|
|Processor||Snapdragon 8 Gen 1||Google Tensor|
|Memory||8GB or 12GB||12GB|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||128GB, 256GB, or 512GB|
|Rear Camera (main)||108MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.8μm, 85-degree-angle||50MP, ƒ/1.85, 1.2μm, 82-degree-angle|
|Rear Camera (ultra-wide)||12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm, 120-degree-angle||12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.25μm, 114-degree-angle|
|Rear Camera (telephoto)||10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.12μm, 3x optical zoom||48MP, ƒ/3.5, 0.8μm, 4x optical zoom|
|Rear Camera 4 (telephoto)||10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.12μm, 10x optical zoom||N/A|
|Front Camera||40MP, ƒ/2.2, 80-degree wide-angle||11.1MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22μm|
|Software support||Android 16 + 1 additional year of security updates||Android 15 + 1 additional year of security updates|
|Security||In-display ultrasonic fingerprint scanner (4x9 mm size)||In-display fingerprint scanner (optical)|
|Protection||IP68, Gorilla Glass Victus+||IP68, IP68 Gorilla Glass Victus|
|Audio||Stereo speakers||Stereo speakers|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6 sub-6 and mmWave 5G UWB||Wi-Fi 6 sub-6 and mmWave 5G UWB|
|Ports||USB Type-C||USB Type-C|
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: What’s in a build?
There’s no doubting that Samsung and Google have attended two very different schools of thought for these phones. Sure, they both feature “waterfall edges” on the left and right sides of the screen — which makes it easier to perform gestures but more difficult to find a good screen protector — but that’s the extent of the similarities.
Starting with the frame, you’ll find the Pixel 6 Pro is a much more comfortable phone to hold on its own. That’s because the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s corners come to a hard 90-degree angle all around, which tend to dig into the palms of your hands when holding it. Meanwhile, The Pixel 6 Pro’s corners are nicely rounded and feel great to grasp onto.
Both phones are super slippery, but the S22 Ultra’s perfectly curved left and right sides make it a bit more difficult to pick up from flat surfaces like tables, and much easier to accidentally drop while holding it, so you'll want to grab a case or screen protector for it.
While the visual appeal of the design of the back of either phone is going to be in the eye of the beholder, Google’s camera bar serves a purpose beyond just visual flair: it keeps the phone from wobbling on a table when it’s placed down. Many modern phones suffer from a wobble factor caused by giant camera humps placed asymmetrically — usually caused by the bump being on the top-left corner — but the Pixel 6 Pro doesn’t have this issue.
Not only that, but the Pixel 6 Pro’s camera hump means the phone sits at a slight upward angle when placed flat on a table. That, combined with the easier-to-grip edges, makes the Pixel 6 Pro an easier phone to pick up and less likely that you’ll accidentally drop it when reaching for it.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: How do the cameras compare?
The age-old question of which smartphone camera is best never seems to end. With the Galaxy S22 Ultra, Samsung debuted a new set of camera sensors and updated software that, more times than not, wins in a head-to-head photography competition. Not everyone will love the way a Samsung photo looks — that’s usually a bit vibrant and slightly oversharpened at times — but there’s no denying how good photos taken with the Galaxy S22 Ultra look on its display.
Folks who love to zoom in on subjects — whether that’s the small details on a building downtown or their kids reciting a line on stage for a performance at school — will absolutely love the Galaxy S22 Ultra. With the ability to clearly zoom in up to 100x away, it blows away the competition in almost every single scenario.
While the Pixel line has been the nighttime photography champ for generations, our nighttime camera comparison shows that the Galaxy S22 Ultra has finally overtaken Google’s computational photography prowess with a combination of cutting-edge hardware and improved software. Not only that, but the Galaxy S22 Ultra records the best quality video of any Android smartphone and even includes powerful manual controls for folks who like more control.
The big exception? Kids and pets that tend to move around a lot. Google made some significant strides in ensuring that faces, in particular, are captured clearly almost no matter how much movement is happening. Samsung, on the other hand, still hasn’t quite mastered this skill, but this can be overcome by using the burst mode on the Galaxy S22 Ultra and sifting through the group of photos for a clear shot afterward.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: A note on battery life and performance
The Pixel 6 Pro uses Google’s first-ever in-house designed processor, the Google Tensor. With Tensor, Google was able to develop a number of clever AI-driven solutions to make user experiences better. One great example of this is found in the phone’s camera, which can capture certain types of shots that other phones cannot — the motion mode and clear shot tweaks, for example.
But Tensor isn’t designed to be an absolute general computing beast in the way Qualcomm’s chipsets are. While users won’t see any real difference in everyday apps like Twitter, Facebook, or messaging apps, gamers and certain kinds of power users will find the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor inside the Galaxy S22 Ultra the better pick. That is, most of the time.
That’s because, while the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is a powerful processor that’s up to 30% faster than its 2021 predecessor, it’s a processor that tends to run a bit hot. When playing competitive online games, this could be the difference between nailing the shot and missing it due to a slight performance hitch. I’ve experienced this more than once while playing Fortnite on the phone, and it can be very frustrating.
Samsung is working on addressing these performance issues — as well as the throttling that happens when the phone starts to run hot — but it’s probably going to be a little while before they’re truly solved. So while the Pixel 6 Pro won’t give you the same peak level of performance the Galaxy S22 Ultra can, it’s capable of delivering a more consistent experience for these types of intense processing experiences.
That performance increase also translates into slightly worse battery life than the previous year and, at least in my experience, worse battery life than the Pixel 6 Pro. Both phones will get you through a full day on a single charge without any worry — and the Galaxy S22 Ultra will charge slightly faster than the Pixel 6 Pro — but power users will likely notice the battery life on the Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t as good as some had hoped.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Google Pixel 6 Pro: Which should you buy?
The Google Pixel 6 Pro might be a really excellent phone that sells for a better price than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but Samsung’s software expertise along with its added features and an additional year of support make the Galaxy S22 Ultra the best phone you can buy.
If you need the best camera, a phone with lots of quality-of-life add-ons that’ll just make your experience better, and the magic of the S Pen, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the phone for you. While the design isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, the best Galaxy S22 Ultra cases will fix that problem right up.
There’s still no replacing a Pixel for users who want to be on the bleeding edge of software updates — which can already test out Android 13 if you’re feeling particularly brave — but this subset of users is likely pretty small. Combine that with a general lack of features and some seriously buggy software releases since the Pixel 6’s launch and you’ll see why it’s easy to recommend the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
Ultra all the way
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is the most ultra phone Samsung has ever made. With the S Pen inside and four amazing cameras on back, the S22 Ultra is ready for anything you could possibly want to do.
Pixel perfect camera
Google's most premium flagship phone offers incredible photography prowess that can capture your pets or kids better than any other phone. It's also got a great, unique design that's sure to turn heads.
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