The ultimate phone
Samsung put all it had into the Galaxy S22 Ultra in terms of specs and features. It has a very impressive camera system, a fantastic display, the hardware to handle any task, and a built-in stylus to boot. This phone earns the Ultra name like none before.
- Fantastic cameras
- Built-in stylus
- Will get four years of Android updates
- Excellent in daily use
- Amazing display that gets super bright
- Less RAM in the base model
- No MicroSD slot
- Boxy design
Showing its age
The Galaxy S20 Ultra has many features that helped it usher in the Ultra name with its 100x Space Zoom and impressive internal specs. But its age is starting to show two years later, with only one version of Android left in the tank and nagging photography issues.
- Supports Samsung's stylus
- Still has good performance
- Nice display
- Flexible camera system
- More memory
- Camera has focusing issues
- Only due to receive Android 13
- Fingerprint reader can be finicky
- Average battery life
When Samsung first unveiled the Galaxy S20 Ultra, it was the first of its kind for the brand. The Ultra moniker was brand new and would be where Samsung planned to put the best of everything it had to offer. That has continued now two devices later with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. But just because the latest version in this lineup is out doesn't mean the original is obsolete. Should you upgrade to Samsung's latest and greatest or stick with your older phone? Let's break down that decision.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. S20 Ultra: More than just a name
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For years now, Samsung has been cranking out some of the best Android phones, and it shows no sign of slowing down. In the past, when you wanted to get Samsung's most technologically advanced smartphone, you had to get a Note. The Note 20 was the last in that lineup, the same year that the Galaxy S20 Ultra came out, but its spirit endures in the Galaxy S22 Ultra.
With the Note line all but gone, Samsung has moved on to focus on the Ultra series to show off what it can do. When the S20 Ultra came out in March 2020, it was definitely an impressive device, from the design to the top-tier specs and the, at the time, mind-blowing 100x Space Zoom feature for the cameras. The base 12GB RAM and 128GB storage offered plenty of support for the Snapdragon 865 and the vibrant 120Hz AMOLED display.
For 2022, Samsung bolstered the Ultra lineup with the S22 Ultra by continuing to push the limits for power, functionality, and photography. The new phone utilizes Qualcomm’s latest and most powerful platform with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Though the phone has less RAM in the base model with only 8GB and lacks a MicroSD slot, it makes up for it in other areas.
|Spec||Galaxy S22 Ultra||Galaxy S20 Ultra|
|Chipset||4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or Exynos 2200||7nm Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990|
|Display||6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display 3088x1440 120Hz refresh rate (1-120Hz) with 240Hz touch sampling||6.9-inch Dynamic AMOLED 3200x1440 120Hz refresh rate|
|Memory||8 or 12GB||12GB|
|Storage||128/256/512GB or 1TB||128GB|
|Rear Camera||108MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.8μm 12MP, 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, 0.8μm 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4μm (120-degree ultra-wide) 48MP, ƒ/3.5, .8μm, 4Xoptical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom (telephoto)|
|Front Camera||40MP, ƒ/2.2, 80-degree wide-angle||40MP, f/2.2, wide-angle|
|Battery||5,000mAh 45W Fast Charging 15W Wireless Charging||5,000mAh 45W Fast Charging 15W Wireless Charging|
|Updates||Up to Android 16 Security through 2027||Up to Android 13 Security through 2024|
|Security||Ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor||Ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint sensor|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6 sub-6 and mmWave 5G UWB||Wi-Fi 6 sub-6 and mmWave 5G UWB|
|microSD card slot||🚫||✔️ (up to 1TB)|
|3.5mm headphone jack||🚫||🚫|
|Dimensions||6.43 x 3.07 x 0.35 in||6.57 x 2.99 x 0.35 in|
|Weight||8.04 oz||7.83 oz|
|Colors||Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold, Graphite, Sky Blue, Cream, Violet||Cosmic Grey, Cosmic Black, Cloud White|
|Protection||IP68 Gorilla Glass Victus+||IP68 Gorilla Glass 6|
Samsung took the already amazing display in the Galaxy S20 Ultra and made it better for the S22 Ultra with variable refresh rate, better colors, and a brightness level up to 1,750 nits. In comparison, the S20 Ultra maxes out at 1,342 nits. This extreme brightness level means you'll be able to easily see the display on the latest Ultra phone in any environment.
These two displays are nearly the same size and resolution, with the S22 Ultra coming in at 6.8 inches and a 3088x1440 resolution, and the S20 Ultra coming in at 6.9 inches and 3200x1440 resolution. The differences here are quite small, but the improved brightness and new variable refresh rate make a difference. Regardless of whether you choose the S20 Ultra or S22 Ultra, you're going to want to grab a screen protector to keep that display looking sharp!
Speaking of battery life, the two phones have the same size cells and charging capabilities. The daily usage on the S20 Ultra is going to get you through the day just fine — unless you have the 120Hz high refresh rate turned on. However, if you buy a phone with Ultra in the name you want all the features all the time. With the S22 Ultra and its variable refresh rate, you get buttery smooth scrolling whenever you want it and much less of a battery hit.
If photography is your thing, both of these devices possess some truly great cameras. While on paper, each of these phones sports similar sensors and zoom capabilities, the Galaxy S22 Ultra easily bests its predecessor in nearly every way. Aside from improved hardware on the new model, the software has also matured to help produce better photos in almost any lighting conditions and far better zoom photos than the S20 Ultra.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra has a rather unfortunate issue regarding focusing. With this device, Samsung went with a different system that it had been using for the auto-focus hardware, and it didn't work out too well. The camera, at times, would hunt to find a point of focus and would cause images to come out blurry. However, this isn't a constant issue, but it is an issue that comes of more often than it should.
However, when it comes to carrying on the spirit of the Note, there is a pre-requisite aside from having the best specs — the phone has to have an S Pen built-in. Thankfully, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has that. Like the Galaxy Notes before it, the S22 Ultra has the same silo for Samsung's stlyus to slot into. No matter if you want to doodle, jot down a note, sign a document, or anything else pen related, the S Pen is ready. The S20 Ultra is also compatible, but you'll need to purchase it separately and find a way to store it, like in a case.
Another significant area of difference between these two phones is in the software. Yes, both are running the latest Android 13, but the Galaxy S20 Ultra will only have one more OS update to Android 13. Though the phone will continue to get security updates in 2024, there's no guarantee it will get Android 14. The Galaxy S22 Ultra, on the other hand, will be updated through 2026.
Finally, there is a difference in design between the devices. Both phones are using metal frames with the S22 Ultra going with Gorilla Glass Victus+ and the S20 Ultra using the older Gorilla Glass 6. Samsung also changed its design language after the Galaxy S20 series, but it kept a similar style for the Galaxy S22 from the S21 series.
Curiously though, the Galaxy S22 Ultra got its design cues from the Note 20 Ultra in a squared-off, boxy style. Though it looks nice, the corners make the large phone less comfortable to hold than the Galaxy S20 Ultra's curved frame.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. S20 Ultra: Which should you buy?
If you already own a Galaxy S20 Ultra and are ready to upgrade, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a fantastic option. Even if you're considering picking up either of these devices, it's an easy choice: the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the way to go for the software updates on offer.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is newer and has seen a few discounts over the course of 2022, and that makes it an even more enticing deal. That said, it is still one of the costliest phones around, so if you want a better value, you may want to look at the S20 Ultra or one of the devices on the best Samsung phones list for something newer.
Do you plan to keep this phone for a long time? If so, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will last far longer from a software point of view. The Galaxy S20 Ultra will get at least one more Android version and security updates through 2024, so it could get you a couple of years before it's ready to be retired.
As for the cameras, both phones can take great photos. But, the improvements on the Galaxy S22 Ultra's hardware and software make it the clear winner here. The other downside of the Galaxy S20 Ultra, aside from the older hardware, is the poor autofocus.
So, if you want a lower-priced phone that could get you through a couple of years of software updates and photography isn't a high priority — the S20 Ultra will do. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra will do better.
The ultimate phone
From handwriting digital notes to taking amazing photos, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the powerhouse device that fans of the Galaxy S phones and Note devices have been looking for.
Showing its age
The Galaxy S20 Ultra launched the series for Samsung and was an impressive device for its time. The phone is still a great buy for the right price, but it can't hold up against the newest model.
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