A month ago, Samsung announced three new Galaxy S22 series smartphones, including the redesigned S22 Ultra. The trio of smartphones offer a wide array of features and specs. The top-end S22 Ultra features a large 6.8-inch display and looks – and works – much like Samsung’s Note series. However, looks can be deceiving. Is the S22 Ultra more of the same for Samsung, or are there interesting novelties under the hood? The repair gurus at iFixit have taken apart the new Galaxy S22 and the flagship S22 Ultra to see what’s really going on with Samsung’s latest smartphones.
Looking first at an x-ray comparison between the S22 Ultra and the base S22 model, the smartphones appear familiar. Unsurprisingly, each phone includes a large battery. The S22 Ultra’s battery is a 5,000mAh battery, whereas the vanilla S22 has a 3,700mAh battery. You can also see the camera arrays, with the S22 Ultra’s larger four-camera array strutting its stuff. The S22 Ultra, like last year’s S21 Ultra, includes a 108MP main camera, a 12MP ultrawide camera, a 10MP camera with 3x zoom and a 10MP camera with 10x optical zoom. The 10x zoom camera is unique to the Galaxy S22 Ultra in the lineup. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, has a triple camera array with 50MP, 10MP telephoto (3x zoom) and 12MP ultrawide cameras.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (left) versus Galaxy S22 (right). Image credit: iFixit and Creative Electron
With the x-ray imaging complete, it’s time to crack open the S22 series phones and see what’s different this year. Although it remains a time-consuming process, the new phones were slightly easier to take apart than in prior years. After removing the rear panel and some standard coil and covers, the team found the Ultra’s new connector for the Samsung S Pen stylus. The S22 Ultra is the first Galaxy S-series phone to include a stylus.
The S22 Ultra’s camera array is interesting, especially the 10x optical zoom camera. It uses a periscope lens design. It features a stabilized prism that bends light 90 degrees and through a stack of lenses to the image sensor. It’s a wildly different design than the other cameras and takes up considerable space in the phone.
Where Samsung tries to save space relative to the competition is with its vibration motor. Compared to Apple’s iPhone models, the haptic feedback parts in the Galaxy S22 series phones are quite small. Does that result in worse performance? Hopefully, some readers with the new Samsung smartphones will let us know in the comments below.
The teardown also shows off Samsung’s vapor chamber cooling system. The new design promises significantly improved heat transfer, helping keep the powerful SOC in the smartphones cool during extended use. The phones utilize graphite sheeting and double-bonded stainless steel, too.
While parts of the new Galaxy phones aren’t too bad to take apart – the device does include some standard screws, for example – that doesn’t mean it is a highly repairable device. The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Ultra score a mere 3 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scale. It’s challenging to remove the battery in the S22 series phones, which is a major issue given that it’s a consumable part if you intend to use your phone for a long time. Screen repairs will also prove challenging.