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Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21: which smartphone is for you?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 has been announced, representing the first major mainstream phone launch of 2022. So how does it compare to its pre...

The Samsung Galaxy S22 has been announced, representing the first major mainstream phone launch of 2022. So how does it compare to its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S21?

We haven’t had a chance to review the Galaxy S22 as yet, but we do have the official lowdown on its specifications. There have been advances in certain areas, interesting alternative choices in others, and some instances where things have stayed the same.

We’ll be updating this piece with a more in-depth breakdown once we’ve spent some quality time with the Galaxy S22. For now, let’s take a look at how these compact flagships stack up, feature for feature.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21 price and availability

Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 was unveiled on February 9, 2022. Prices start from $799.99 / £769 / AU$1,249 for the 128GB model, and move up to $ 849.99/ £819 / AU$1,349 for 256GB.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 arrived on January 29, 2021, and was most notable for taking a more affordable approach than the Galaxy S20 before it. Prices started from $799 / £769 / AU$1,249 for the 128GB model, while the 256GB model cost $849.99 / £819 / AU$1,349.

It’s very similar pricing, then, but of course you’ll be able to get the Galaxy S21 for much less money now that its successor is imminent.

Design

Samsung has taken the interesting step of reducing the size of the Samsung Galaxy S22 compared to its predecessor.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 was hardly a big phone at 151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm. But the Galaxy S22 is smaller in every department at 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm.

They share a very similar weight, with the Galaxy S21 weighing 169g, and the Galaxy S21 tipping the scales at 168g.

Essentially, though, Samsung is doubling down on the Galaxy S21’s status as a compact flagship. This is the phone to get if you’re sick of super-sized phablets hogging all your pocket space.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 face down on a table.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image credit: Future)

In terms of appearances, the Galaxy S22 might just induce a case of deja vu. It’s mostly the same design as the Galaxy S21, with the same ‘Contour Cut’ camera flowing from the side frame to the rear of the phone.

Not that we’re complaining – no manufacturer has handled the thorny issue of the sticky-outy camera module better than Samsung in recent years.

Both phones have managed to acquire an IP68 rating, meaning they’re equally dust- and water-resistant. No complaints here.

The Galaxy S21’s rear cover is formed from a plastic material that Samsung calls ‘Glasstic’, which we’ve always felt was a little cheap. The S22 switches that for glass on the rear, which feels more premium than the S21.

Display

As part of the Samsung Galaxy S22’s shrinking process, Samsung has downsized its display.

Again, the Galaxy S21 was far from a titan in this department, and its 6.2-inch display was considered small by 2021 flagship standards. But the Galaxy S22 goes even more petite to the tune of 6.1 inches.

Both phones have the same FHD+ resolution, however, and both are punchy Dynamic AMOLED 2X Displays. This means they’re bursting with vibrant color output and can refresh at up to 120Hz.

Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Future)

There is a subtle difference here in the refresh rate that both phones can drop to. While the Galaxy S21 could only stoop to 48Hz when the situation required it, the Galaxy S22 can drop all the way to 10Hz.

This means that the Galaxy S22 screen is more power efficient than its predecessor, which should have positive ramifications for battery life. We’ll get into that a little later.

Both Galaxies sport a 240Hz touch sampling rate in Game Mode. This isn’t class-leading by any means, but it should make for a nice responsive screen during gaming nonetheless.

Camera

Both phones sport triple camera systems, but Samsung changed its hardware for the Galaxy S22.

While the Samsung Galaxy S21 leads with a 12MP wide sensor, the Samsung Galaxy S22 ramps up the pixel count to a full 50MP. This is the ISOCELL GN5 sensor that Samsung announced in September, which features Dual Pixel Pro autofocus technology for quicker autofocusing.

Switching to the ultra-wides, both phones give you a 12MP 120-degree sensor with an f/2.2 aperture.

The telephoto sensors are where the differences manifest again. Samsung gave the Galaxy S21 a particularly sharp 64MP telephoto the used hybrid zoom technology to attain a 3x zoom effect.

The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, uses a 10MP telephoto, which is lower megapixel, but can hit a 3x zoom optically. No cropping required. Both Galaxy phones pack 10MP selfie cameras around front.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 series of phones lying face down.

Samsung Galaxy S21 (Image credit: Samsung)

Both phones feature 12MP ultra-wide sensors, though the Galaxy S22’s f/2.2 aperture is slightly larger than the iPhone 13’s f/2.4.

But the biggest hardware difference here is the telephoto sensor. The Samsung Galaxy S22 has a 10MP sensor capable of a 3x optical zoom, whereas the iPhone 13 offers no telephoto provision whatsoever.

Around front, the Samsung Galaxy S22 has a 10MP selfie camera, while the iPhone 13 features a 12MP example.

Hardware comparisons aside, this is all going to come down to color science and image processing. Samsung traditionally has a distinctive vibrant look, while Apple is known for its more balanced and naturalistic palette.

Specs and performance

The main advantage the Samsung Galaxy S22 has over the Samsung Galaxy S21, at least on paper, is performance.

While the Galaxy 21 supplies either the Snapdragon 888 or the Exynos 2100, depending on region, the Galaxy S22 gives you the next generation of both chips. That’s the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 or the Exynos 2200.

This doesn’t seem to be the biggest leap forward in raw performance terms. Last year’s chips were build using a 5nm process, whereas this year’s use 4nm.

Samsung Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S22 (Image credit: Future)

Early reports suggest that CPU performance is quite similar, but the newer chips seem to hold more of an advantage when it comes to GPU performance. In the case of the Exynos 2200, AMD has supplied the same RDNA2 architecture that you’ll find in the PS5 and the Xbox Series X.

We’ll have to wait and see what kind of advantages these meatier GPUs hold out for the Galaxy S22, as well as its potential AI/machine learning advantages.

Both phones back their chips with 8GB of RAM as standard, and both give you a choice of 128 or 256GB of storage.

Battery

As part of the downsizing process, Samsung has reduced the size of the Galaxy S22’s battery from 4,000mAh to 3,700mAh.

That’s a little worrying, as the Galaxy S21’s was hardly considered massive. What’s more, as we’ve just discussed, the Galaxy S22’s upgraded processors aren’t hugely more efficient than their predecessors.

Additionally, we were a little underwhelmed with the Galaxy S21’s battery life in our review. We found that we could generally get through a full day of light to moderate usage without having to plug in, but more intensive days would see us coming up short before lights out.

Samsung hasn’t changed its underwhelming charging provision from the Galaxy S21, either. Both phones support up to 25W wired charging, which is well short of the 45W charger supplied in the Galaxy S21+, not to mention the 80W charger of the OnePlus 10 Pro.

Neither Samsung gives you the relevant power brick in the box, either.

In terms of wireless charging, both the Galaxy 22 and Galaxy S21 support up to 15W. Again, rival phones will give you much faster

Takeaway

It’s early days for the Samsung Galaxy S22, but based on the initial specs and press materials, it seems to be a case of holding station for the company.

There are few material differences that we can spot here, with a similar design and display front and center. On the plus side, we’re intrigued to see what the Galaxy S22’s new 50MP camera can do, and we’re generally all for Samsung’s decision to slim its new flagship entry point even further.

The accompanying reduction in battery capacity is undoubtedly our biggest area of concern at this early stage, and will be one of the key areas we seek to address come review time.

In a year that doesn’t seem to be promising any great smartphone surprises, the Galaxy S22 looks like another solid pick – especially if you’re done with super-sized phones.



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