• samsung-galaxy-s21-colors-render

    Source: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

    The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G may be old news in the world of smartphones, but it still provides a ton of value. However, when compared to the S22, it’s not a necessary upgrade for most people.

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Colors

    Samsung Galaxy S22

    While the Samsung Galaxy S22 is more widely available, it’s not a huge upgrade from its predecessor. The camera array is certainly better, but the battery is smaller, the displays aren’t much different, and the new chipset doesn’t provide a noticeable difference in power.


The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra stole the limelight among Samsung flagships with its Note-inspired design and S Pen capabilities. But the smaller sibling — the Galaxy S22 — makes for a more practical and sensible choice for most buyers.

While the S22 and S22 Ultra phones look very similar to the outgoing Galaxy S21 line, there’s more to the changes made on the inside than meets the eye. Samsung may have cut a few corners with the Galaxy S22, but it brings a few meaningful improvements over its predecessor. The real question here is: Are those changes enough for you to consider making the switch?

My colleague Zachary Kew-Denniss answered that question for those tempted to upgrade from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the S22 Ultra. But here, we’ll see if folks using the Galaxy S21 are missing out on anything.

Galaxy S21

Galaxy S22


Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/Exynos 2200





128/256GB UFS 3.1

128/256GB UFS 3.1


Android 12 with One UI 4.1

Android 12 with One UI 4.1


6.2-inch OLED, 2400×1080, 48~120Hz, 1300 nits, Gorilla Glass Victus

6.1-inch OLED, 2340×1080, 48~120Hz, 1300 nits, Gorilla Glass Victus+

Cameras (rear)

12MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1/1.76″ (main) 12MP, f/2.2, 120° FoV (ultra-wide) 64MP f/2.0 1.1x optical zoom, OIS (telephoto)

50MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 1/1.56″ (main) 12MP, f/2.2, 120° FoV (ultra-wide) 10MP f/2.4 3x optical zoom, OIS (telephoto)

Camera (front)

10MP, f/2.2

10MP, f/2.2


5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC

5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC


4000mAh, 25W charging

3700mAh, 25W charging


151.7 x 71.2 x 7.9mm, 171g

146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm, 168g


Starting at $800 (at launch)

Starting at $800

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Price and availability

As with every update to the Galaxy brand, last year’s models aren’t as easy to find brand new, so if you’re looking for a Galaxy S21, you may have to do some digging. Both phones started at about $800 at their launches, but you can get the S21 for about $685 from the Samsung website, or even cheaper if you want to look into refurbished options. Amazon’s refurbished options start as low as $299 for the S21.

The S22 is newer and less easy to find on the second-hand market, but you can find refurbished models on Amazon for a significant discount. Or, go through Samsung for a healthy deal on the S22 if you have a device to trade in. If you want to upgrade from your S21, you could save close to $300 through Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Display

Looking at the Galaxy S21 and the S22 side by side, you will find it hard to tell which is which. While the general design language doesn’t give it away, there are more subtle changes to the exterior. The front glass and the sides are flatter on the Galaxy S22 phones, probably taking inspiration from the iPhone 12/13 range. These refinements indeed give the handsets a nice feel when you hold them.

Samsung experimented with a plastic back on its base Galaxy S21 last year, but it thankfully had a change of mind this time, with the Galaxy S22 using a glass back. And not just any glass — it’s Gorilla Glass Victus+, the one used to protect the display on all three S22 models. The S22 also uses a new aluminum alloy that is supposedly more resilient to scratches and drops (we’re taking Samsung’s word for it). While all of this built-in protection is nice to have, it won’t matter as much if you use one of the best cases for your Galaxy S22.

Samsung Galaxy S22: Top-class displays – but smaller

You’ll also notice that the S22 has shrunk slightly compared to the S21 phones. This is great news for anyone looking for smaller Android flagships to easily slide into their pockets. The difference in the phones’ size and weight isn’t all that significant though, which leaves one wondering why Samsung even bothered going down that road. Shrinkage is not such great news when it comes to one key component of the phone — the battery — which we’ll discuss later.

The displays on Samsung phones are the best in the business; in the last few generations, the company has routinely impressed us with its top-notch displays. There was little scope for improvement on that front, but Samsung managed to make the displays even better, offering much higher peak brightness on the S22+.


The Plus model can hit 1750 nits using a special “extra brightness” option that comes in handy when under the glaring sun. That’s quite a difference compared to 1300 nits on the Galaxy S22, S21, and S21+. This boosted brightness is helpful in certain environments, but it isn’t essential or something you’d feel is missing, especially considering how good the Galaxy S21’s display is. Also, the OLED screen on the Galaxy S22 and the S22+ has gotten smaller by 0.1 inches, a size so negligible that you probably won’t even notice.

Samsung, however, did have a little controversy with the display refresh rate varying from what its initial marketing material led us to believe. The displays on the S22 and the S22+ were said to be capable of dialing down to 10Hz (the S22 Ultra can go as low as 1Hz), but it was later clarified that the phones could only do 48Hz at the lowest end — the same as the Galaxy S21 and S21+. So essentially, the displays are pretty much the same, and the second-gen ultrasonic fingerprint reader remains.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Performance


The Galaxy S22 line uses the same uber-powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 silicon (or the Exynos 2200 in Europe). We found it fast under all circumstances, including when playing demanding games like Genshin Impact, and it can handle your regular apps without breaking a sweat. But at the same time, it was pretty tricky for us to tell any difference between it and the previous flagship chip, the Snapdragon 888.

Benchmarks may be able to quantify that gap, but for regular users, the trivial performance gain doesn’t even matter. There aren’t even a handful of apps that can fully utilize the extra headroom the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 offers. Using a Galaxy S21 series phone feels just as fast, and it most likely will for at least a few more years, given the ample performance headroom the SD888 came with. Plus, it doesn’t underperform as severely as the Galaxy S22+ did in our extreme stress test using 3DMark, nor does it produce as much heat — and heat could be an issue on the smaller Galaxy S22.

One good thing about the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 is its X65 modem that supports more 5G bands and has better signal reception, which could be helpful if you’re struggling to get proper cell connectivity in your area.

What works in favor of both the Galaxy S22 and the S21 is their software support. Samsung has promised an industry-leading four Android updates for both. Since the Galaxy S22 comes running the newer Android 12 version out of the box, it will be supported for a year longer. That’s one reason to pick a Galaxy S22 if you want to keep the phone for more than four years. But if you typically switch your phone in fewer years than that, the extra year of support makes no difference.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Cameras

The Galaxy S22 Ultra may be the camera champ among the S22 trio, but the two smaller Galaxy S22 phones also get an all-new camera array, with the Galaxy S22 and the S22+ using the same camera arrangement.

Gone is the S21’s 12MP main shooter. A new 50MP Samsung GN5 sensor replaced it and produces binned shots using a much bigger sensor. From natural bokeh coming from a larger sensor to improved night mode photography, everything has gone up a notch since the last-gen Samsung flagships.

The Galaxy S21+

The photos we took when we tested the Galaxy S22+ looked identical to the last-gen Galaxy S21 Ultra and even came close to the Google Pixel 6 Pro, which is a great testament to how things have improved this year. It’s just a shame that Samsung couldn’t completely do away with issues like the smoothing effect on faces.

None of this takes away from how good the cameras on the two previous Galaxies are, though. The Galaxy S21 and S21+ camera gets a more modest 12MP primary sensor. It has large 1.8um pixels and a wide aperture that allow the phones to take good photos in various lighting conditions, and it even manages a decent dynamic range in low-light shots. While the cameras have their fair share of issues with getting the details right under challenging light and that unmistakable over-saturated color science from Samsung, the two Galaxy phones are still among the best.

The cameras on the Galaxy S22 are undoubtedly better than the Galaxy S21, but that alone cannot be the reason to switch. There’s more critical stuff that’s not up to the mark on the newer models.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Battery

Galaxy S22 and S22+

The Galaxy S22 and the S22+

As you might’ve guessed, a major downside of a smaller phone is that you lose a lot of space for the battery, mostly because most other components remain the exact same size. So while the Galaxy S22 and the S22+ haven’t gotten smaller on paper, their battery capacities surely have. The S22 has gone down to 3700mAh from 4000mAh.

A more efficient 4nm processor brings some advantages to the battery life, but it cannot completely compensate for the lost physical battery capacity. While 4500mAh on the S22+ is a decent size, it still doesn’t let you end the day with enough juice to spare. It’s worse for the baby Galaxy S22, which will need mid-day recharges if you go even a little hard on the phone or are constantly hooked to a 5G network.

The upgraded 45W PPS charging on the Galaxy S22+ (the S22 sticks with 25W charging) was supposed to be a welcome change for users who wanted faster-charging speeds. As it turns out, the difference with a Samsung 45W charger isn’t all that big compared to the older 25W tech. With a variation of just 5%, it was a big letdown for most. At the end of the day, you aren’t getting a real upgrade on this front, either.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Should you upgrade?

Galaxy S22 spread

Of course not. The Galaxy S21 is just a year old and still has the potential to keep going for a few more years. Samsung’s update commitment is a prominent driving force behind its extended life, while the Snapdragon 888 is also capable enough to support your future needs for years to come. And you cannot deny that the Galaxy S21 phones are similar to, or even better than, their follow-ups in cases like battery capacity. It makes sense to pick a Galaxy S21 over a Galaxy S22 if you can snag a nice discount.

It could be a good idea to trade your Galaxy S21 for an S22 if you’re in Samsung’s upgrade program (offered in certain countries) or a similar arrangement from your carrier that lets you upgrade your phone every year without extra charges. However, if you’re coming from the Galaxy S20 series phones launched way back in 2020, the decision to make the switch isn’t going to be as simple.


Source: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Although it’s a little harder to find, saving money and going with the Galaxy S21 is not a band choice considering the S22 doesn’t provide a considerable upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Colors

Samsung Galaxy S22

Upgrading to the S22 from last year’s S21 doesn’t seem necessary for most people, but if you truly do care about having the best camera array you can on your phone, then it might be worth a look.

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