I’m going to get some heat for this, but I don’t care.
Come at me, Samsung fans. Give me everything you’ve got. Because trust me – this is totally indefensible.
It isn’t your fault, either – in fact, if you’re a fan of Samsung, that company is letting you down, big time, with this product.
I’ve been using the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra for nearly two months now. I loved it at first; Samsung’s it-definitely-isn’t-a-Note flagship device was a phone that seemed to have everything going for it.
However, things quickly turned sour, and I can’t hide my frustration any longer.
It was supposed to be so easy
We decided to dust off the BBQ over the Easter weekend. I love this time of year; as the mercury gently rises and the trees begin to bloom once more, everything just feels better. The first BBQ of the year is the epitome of that.
As I tucked into my second beer and marvelled at the burgeoning feast in front of me, all was going rather swimmingly. Until I asked the S22 Ultra to do more than one thing at a time.
While turning my lovingly prepared chicken wings on the grill, I spotted the perfect opportunity for an addition to that day’s Instagram story. Long Train Runnin’ by the Doobie Brothers had just been unleashed from Spotify on my S22 Ultra, and it felt like the ideal soundtrack to the sizzling scene in front of me.
So, I headed over to Instagram and opened a new Story composition. I then pulled down the control centre screen (which stuttered and took a moment to register my swipe – standard) and hit the ‘back’ button to return Long Train Runnin’ to the start.
Nothing. The Doobie Brothers didn’t so much as blink as they continued hurtling down the tracks towards the end of the song.
That’s odd, I thought, because the S22 Ultra seems to have registered the touch and is now apparently playing from the start. Even though it isn’t.
A few more taps and a mild amount of swearing eventually resulted in the track starting from the beginning again. That meant I had mere seconds to switch back to the Instagram Story composition if I was to hit the ‘record’ button and zoom into the meaty goodness in front of me without missing the drum fill that followed the unmistakable opening guitar riff.
Trust me, this was a great idea. It would have looked incredible.
But it proved impossible on the S22 Ultra. Switching from the control centre screen and back to Instagram appeared to throw the phone into a hell hole of slow, jittery awfulness from which it could barely recover. As a result, I missed said drum fill by about four bars while the phone continued to run like a dog – presumably attempting to catch up with the sheer multi-tasked lunacy I’d asked it to perform.
This is just one example of what the S22 Ultra is like to live with on a daily basis. The BBQ incident was the worst I’ve experienced thus far, but it follows weeks of dealing with sluggish, jittery performance in both the OS and across multiple apps.
It’s why I constantly reach for the iPhone SE, rather than the S22 Ultra. The latter offers such an unsatisfying user experience that I’m rapidly entering the stage of ownership where I don’t want to touch it anymore.
That doesn’t say much for a phone that cost me £1,149, does it?
This has nothing to do with Android
If any Samsung or Android fans are still reading, I’d guess they’re probably already preparing their comments. That’s fine, but I need to reiterate something before they get too sweaty and furious.
This has nothing to do with Android.
It also has nothing to do with me being an iPhone user.
As I’ve noted on multiple occasions, I’m a huge fan of Android these days. I love its newfound fluidity, graphical style, and the fact that most phone manufacturers appear to treat it with respect, rather than butchering Google’s best intentions.
It is absolutely on a par with iOS. They are both as good as each other. I really, really like Android.
That won’t be enough for the Samsung crew, though. I know this because, despite the fact I explicitly stated that Samsung was fast becoming my favourite smartphone manufacturer during my initial review of the S22 Ultra, I still got lambasted by that lot for being an Apple ‘fanboi’.
That idiocy aside (seriously, guys – just pay closer attention to what I’m saying, please – I’m on your side), I want to make it abundantly clear that the issues I have with the S22 Ultra have nothing to do with Android or the fact I am an iPhone user.
Wow, I feel better now.
I’ll still get trolled, though – you watch.
Why is the S22 Ultra so useless?
Here’s the rub.
If you buy your S22 Ultra in the UK or Europe, you’ll end up with a phone that’s powered by Samsung’s own Exynos 2200 chip.
Having lived with this chip for nearly two months, I can confirm that it is utterly, totally, biblically shit. It really is absolutely horrible – like stuffing an actual dog turd through the speaker grills and into the belly of the phone in the hope that it’ll run ok.
If you live anywhere else, you’ll end up with an S22 Ultra that runs the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. I’ve experienced that chip in the brilliant OPPO Find X5 Pro, and I can confirm that it is utterly, totally, biblically great. In fact, it is iPhone silicon great – honestly.
This isn’t fair. In the UK and Europe, we pay the exact same price for the S22 Ultra as everyone else, but it comes powered by steam and what I presume is a tiny mouse running furiously inside a miniature wheel. Everyone else gets the full fat, fully-specced Snapdragon version which, as I’ve heard on the grapevine, is really great.
I cannot believe more tech reviewers aren’t making a bigger deal about this. Hence this blog post (and a forthcoming video!).
A frustrating missed opportunity
The reason I’m so dismayed with the S22 Ultra doesn’t just relate to the price – it’s because the rest of the phone is utterly brilliant.
I’d go as far as to say it’s the best smartphone I’ve ever owned when it comes to the screen quality, design, battery life, and camera. And, although I rarely use it, the fact the S Pen is tucked neatly away inside that beautifully constructed body makes it even more special.
But the S22 Ultra performs so poorly over here in the UK. And that is absolutely inexcusable; I challenge any ardent Samsung fan to tell me otherwise.
This isn’t a new problem, but I had no idea about the differing chipsets and how this dimwitted strategy has long plagued Samsung’s regional distribution of their S series phones. Why a company with such deep resources can’t give everyone the same chip is completely beyond me. Samsung deserves absolute derision, finger-pointing, and brutal death by meme for this.
But it’s the Samsung fans I feel sorry for – yes, even the clowns who seem incapable of actually listening to what I’m saying. Because Samsung is doing them a huge disservice with this stupid strategy. It continues to make S series phones a laughing stock in certain regions.
Again, that is totally unfair.
Samsung has issued two OS updates since I’ve had my S22 Ultra, and neither of them has made any difference – which clearly confirms that the Exynos 2200 is the bag of shit I suspect it is.
I’ve not been this angry about a product since accidentally buying Apple’s 3.5mm headphone jack cable for my AirPods Max.
I’d love to hear from you if you’re an S22 Ultra user – wherever you’re based in the world.
For instance, if you’re in the UK or Europe, have you encountered the same usability issues as me? If you’re based in the US, Asia, or Australia, is the Snapdragon version as dreamy to use as the OPPO Find X5 Pro?
Get involved in the comments, please!