For the past few weeks I’ve been trying out the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, and although it’s a fantastic phone, it failed to grab my attention the way I thought it would.
It’s because I’m kind of in love with the iPhone 13 Pro after switching from Android to iOS, especially because it offers such a consistent experience. And my primary Android phone is slowly changing from the Google Pixel 6 Pro to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, thanks to its foldable screen that really shakes up the way I think about using a smartphone.
So while the Galaxy S22 Ultra is truly the spiritual successor to the Galaxy Note that I’ve always wanted it to be, it hasn’t found its way into my tech-savvy heart or pocket. But he has a trick up his sleeve.
And it’s in the game.
Now, I’ve never been a big mobile/smartphone gamer, preferring to use a dedicated handheld, like the Nintendo Switch or even the old Nintendo 3DS which still has some life left in it. But I think the Galaxy S22 Ultra might just be the best gaming phone you can get today, even if it doesn’t try to win that accolade.
Many flagship phones are excellent for mobile gaming, as many of them feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which very few can bring to their knees. And many have big, bright displays with 120Hz refresh rates.
But the Galaxy S22 Ultra has a handful of specs that make it a bit better for gaming than the myriad high-end Android phones I’ve used over the past few years.
Let’s start with the obvious: the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a powerhouse. The model I have uses Samsung’s Exynos 2200 chip, which may not beat the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon on US and Chinese models, but I couldn’t find any game that really slows it down. The phone can heat up for long periods of play, but it doesn’t get unbearable.
As such, I was treated to super smooth games in Call of Duty Mobile and Asphalt 9. But again, the Oppo Find X5 Pro I recently tested was no slouch either, so fast performance is a given.
Where the Galaxy S22 Ultra has the edge is in its design and display. This one is just adorable. Like many Samsung Galaxy phone screens, it’s bursting with vivid color and contrast, although Samsung has done a good job of not going overboard with saturation. But its upside is that it has a peak brightness of 1,750 nits, which I think is significantly brighter than any other phone screen I’ve looked at, and that really helps for gaming.
In Asphalt 9, every spark of my clumsy steering is extremely bright, while Deus Ex Go’s more stylized and muted hues have an added level of depth.
Add 120Hz and a touch sampling rate of up to 240Hz, and the screen is incredibly smooth and responsive; LTPO panel technology is also available to dynamically increase or decrease the refresh rate based on the games supported refresh rates.
Yes, a 120Hz refresh rate is nothing new in flagship phones. So that’s where Note-like design comes into play here.
I’ve enjoyed using a lot of large-screen phones over the past couple of years, but nothing has been as enjoyable for playing games or watching videos as the squared-but-slightly-curved rectangular screen of the Note phones. I think that’s why my interest in mobile gaming dwindled when I switched from a Galaxy Note 10 Plus to the Oppo Find X2 Pro because the latter had a 120Hz screen while the former was stuck at 60Hz – yes I know the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a 120Hz panel but I’ve never had a chance to use it.
The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s large 6.8-inch AMOLED display has the design and feel of the Note, but with all the upgrades a 2022 flagship should have.
And I think it’s the best phone screen out there, not least because its boxy rectangular shape looks a lot like a Samsung TV, making it easy to be immersive when it comes to gaming; comparatively, some other phones can look like slippery oblongs.
Speaking of slippery, the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s slick, matte back panel is soft to the touch, but never quite as slippery as some glossier phones. I also think the Note-like shape means it’s more comfortable to hold in landscape mode, with the flat top and bottom slides feeling less likely to slip out of its grasp when thrust into shooting action The first person. (However, one of the best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra cases would definitely improve your grip.)
And speaking of FPS games, the size and shape of the screen makes it ideal for shooters when using touchscreen controls. There’s plenty of room to move your fingers around as you deftly follow an enemy’s head as you look through the iron sights of a CoD Mobile Assault Rifle, all without obscuring what’s going on in-game; it’s not so easy to do with smaller phones.
The screen is also great for strategy games like Homeworld Mobile, where plenty of space and a crisp QHD+ resolution come in handy for games that don’t skimp on text and icons.
The same goes for the mobile redesign of Company of Heroes, one of the best WWII real-time strategy games, where the bigger the screen, the better; you could say the Galaxy Z Fold 3 would come into its own here, but the game isn’t optimized for foldables yet.
So that’s where the Galaxy S22 Ultra takes the main features of the flagship phones and makes it feel a bit better than competing phones. But the surprising feature that’s the icing on the cake for my smartphone gaming experience comes in the form of the S Pen.
Not all games will play well with Samsung’s stylus, but those that do make it a joy to use. Navigating the pixel art world of Stardew Valley and clearing a patch of dirt filled with shrubs and rocks is just more accurate with the tip of an S Pen than my clumsy numbers.
And using a combination of the S Pen and my fingers makes Company of Heroes’ potentially complex controls somewhat intuitive. Samsung may have marketed the S Pen as a tool for taking notes and creating digital art, but I think it’s an underrated smartphone gaming accessory.
I feel like I’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg in this return to Android gaming. But the Galaxy S22 Ultra was the catalyst to get me interested in playing smartphone games rather than slouching on a couch and firing up the Xbox Series X or PS5 or getting caught up in the scrolling doom game. on Twitter.
So if you’re unsure which of the best phones you want to go for, consider this another feather in the Galaxy S22 Ultra’s cap. And if you have any Android games to recommend, don’t hesitate to contact us.