Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra back (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Official Render Green Front Back

The Galaxy S22 Ultra may be an S series phone, but its design and built-in S Pen make it a Galaxy Note in all but the name. With this device, Samsung takes the best of its S21 and Note lineup and merges them into one superphone that can almost do it all, thanks to its large 6.8-inch AMOLED display and 108MP quad-camera array. Not to mention it's available in some gorgeous colorways. However, it's still not a perfect phone, and there are some notable downgrades compared to its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The new Note

Great cameras
Improved S Pen
Decent battery life
Four years of OS upgrades
Less base RAM
No SD card slot
Prone to dust around cameras
Large and fairly unwieldy

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra may be a 2020 smartphone, but it still holds its own in 2022 thanks to its fantastic performance, great cameras, and reliable updates from Samsung. While it may not have the same versatile camera array as the S22 Ultra, the 5x telephoto zoom is a nice balance between the 3x and 10x cameras on the S22. Plus, you get more base RAM and expandable storage.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Still powerful

Still offers excellent performance
Competent triple camera setup
Built-in S Pen
Expandable storage
Still expensive
Curved display can be annoying
Less attractive camera design
Likely one OS upgrade remaining

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is the spiritual successor of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra in almost every way but the name. It features a similar chassis with square corners and rounded edges, a large display, impressive cameras, a built-in S Pen for note-taking, Bluetooth controls, and more. The two phones are very similar, making upgrading from Note 20 Ultra a tough decision for many reasons. That said, the Galaxy S22 Ultra also takes some of the best features from the Galaxy S21 Ultra and adds them into the mix, which could make for a more compelling smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra The upgrades

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra S Pen Screen Off Note

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

As you might expect from a modern flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra features some of the best specifications you can find in 2022. Not to mention, the built-in S Pen gives it that extra kick to stand out among Android flagships. That said, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was no slouch when it launched in late 2020 and continues to impress today.

The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset in the Galaxy S22 Ultra is two generations ahead of the Snapdragon 865+ found in the Note. The 3GHz primary core gives it plenty of horsepower, while the 4nm node makes for a much more efficient device. Aside from Qualcomm's new chip, Samsung also outfits the device with the new Exynos 2200, which also builds on a 4nm process while paired with an AMD-powered GPU for improved gaming performance. The new chips mark a boost in performance over the previous generation of flagship chipsets, which themselves are also more powerful than the Snapdragon SoC in the Note.

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Alongside the new chipset is an upgraded 108MP primary camera sensor. While this is the same size as the Note 20 Ultra, Samsung brings some new capabilities to the sensor to improve its output. Both phones capture 12MP nona-binned images, which combines nine pixels into one for improved light capture, but the S22 Ultra adds an extra ingredient to the concoction with Adaptive Pixel. This captures both a full 108MP image and a 12MP image, combining to bring both improved detail and light. Samsung also touts its Nightography, which brings low-light photos to life.

The S22 Ultra brings a much more capable and versatile camera array with two telephoto lenses at 3x and 10x.

Both phones are outfitted with built-in S Pens, which is the main draw. The stylus brings more functionality to the smartphone for productives and artists and even works as a handy Bluetooth remote for taking images and other functions. The S Pen on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra was already impressive thanks to its low 9ms latency. However, Samsung has pushed the envelope even further with the S22 Ultra, bringing the latency down to just 2.8ms, which makes it feel like you're writing on paper. This is further enhanced by the improved LTPO display, which adjusts the phone's refresh rate from a high 120Hz to just 1Hz.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Galaxy S22 UltraGalaxy Note 20 Ultra
Chipset4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 22007nm Snapdragon 865+ or Exynos 990
Display6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display3088x1440120Hz refresh rate (1-120Hz) with 240Hz touch sampling6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display3088x1440120Hz refresh rate
Storage128/256/512GB or 1TB128/256/512GB
Rear Camera108MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.8μm12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm (120-degree ultra-wide)10MP, ƒ/2.4, 1.0μm, 3x optical zoom (telephoto)10MP, ƒ/4.9, 1.12μm, 10x optical zoom (telephoto)108MP, ƒ/1.8, 0.8μm12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm (120-degree ultra-wide)10MP, ƒ/3.0, 1.0μm, 5x hybrid zoom (telephoto)
Front Camera40MP, ƒ/2.2, 80-degree wide-angle10MP, f/2.2, 80-degree wide-angle
Battery5,000mAh45W Fast Charging15W Wireless Charging4,500mAh25W Fast Charging15W Wireless Charging
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6sub-6 and mmWave 5GUWBWi-Fi 6sub-6 and mmWave 5GUWB
microSD card slot🚫✔️
3.5mm headphone jack🚫🚫
UpdatesUp to Android 16Security through 2027Likely up to Android 13Security through 2023
Dimensions163.3 mm x 77.9 mm x 8.9 mm164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1 mm
ProtectionIP68Gorilla Glass Victus+IP68Gorilla Glass Victus
SecurityUltrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensorUltrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor
ColorsPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold, Graphite, Sky Blue, Cream, VioletMystic Bronze, Mystic Black, Mystic White

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra The downgrades

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Camera Dusty

Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

Comparing the specs of the Galaxy S22 Ultra with the Note 20 Ultra isn't exactly cut and dry. While the newer S22 Ultra features some of the latest display, camera, and chipset advancements, there are also some downgrades when compared to the Note 20 Ultra, making for a confusing package.

Sure, you get a more powerful chipset found on many of the best Android phones of 2022, but the tradeoff here is that the base model S22 Ultra only comes with 8GB of RAM as opposed to 12GB on the base Note 20 Ultra. And you'll have to fork over more dough if you want that 12GB variant, which is a tough pill to swallow given the already expensive price tag. And unlike the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the S22 doesn't reach the 16GB max, only topping out at 12GB of RAM.

That said, this may not be a big deal for some. In fact, our Jerry Hildenbrand notes that more RAM isn't really necessary, although it's nice to have. Still, this could be a dealbreaker for power users, given the phone's price tag.

There are some tradeoffs with the newer phone that make it a tough sell.

There's also no microSD card slot meaning your storage options are limited to what Samsung offers. Pre-order deals meant you could purchase the phone at its base price and get a nice upgrade on both storage and RAM at no extra cost, but that's only for anyone that purchased the device before February 24, 2022.

Other annoyances you'll have to deal with have to do with the design. While it may appear much improved to some (although that's subjective), the phone is a bit heavier than the already hefty Galaxy Note 20 Ultra at 229g, and that's not including a case. You'll also likely want to check out some of the best Galaxy S22 Ultra cases because the new rear camera design can get very dusty.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Note 20 Ultra Should you upgrade?

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra camera interface

Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Hayato Huseman / Android Central)

Deciding between these two phones isn't exactly simple because they're so similar. If it weren't for the rear camera design, you'd think these were the same phone. As far as performance and camera quality, they also are pretty much on par, given the age of the Note 20 Ultra and certain hardware tradeoffs with the S22 Ultra. That said, with the S22, you get the added benefit of four OS upgrades and five years of security updates, meaning you may be holding onto this phone for a long time. The Note 20 Ultra is promised three OS upgrades, which means Android 13 may be its final version.

The S22 Ultra isn't cheap, landing in at $1,200, though there are plenty of promotions and deals that can help lower that price to make it more affordable. The question for those that already own the Note 20 Ultra is whether or not it's enough of an upgrade to justify the cost. If you do opt for the S22 Ultra, make sure that you're protecting your investment with a quality screen protector and phone case!

If you're looking to upgrade from the Note 20 Ultra, we might recommend it, depending on your needs. Those looking to purchase a new phone may prefer the S22 Ultra simply because it's newer and gives you the latest and greatest that Samsung has to offer for 2022. However, if you're adamant about the expandable storage and RAM situation, and wary of the extra cost, then this phone may not be right for you. That said, if you manage to find the S22 Ultra cheap, it may be worth a second look.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.