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

Let's look at all the differences.
By
September 8, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra black vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultre black rear on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

A QUICK LOOK AT THE DIFFERENCES

The main differences between the Galaxy S22 Ultra and S21 Ultra are in the chipset, memory, battery, and camera departments.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra has:

  • The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/Exynos 2200 chispet, as opposed to the older Snapdragon 888/Exynos 2100 SoC that powers the S21 Ultra.
  • Less base RAM at 8GB. The entry-level Galaxy S21 Ultra has 12GB of RAM.
  • More storage — up to 1TB. The high-end S21 Ultra comes with 512GB of storage.
  • An S Pen included in the box, unlike the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
  • Faster wired charging (45W vs 25W).
  • An improved camera system.

Read on to learn more about the differences in detail.

Samsung has unpacked its 2022 Galaxy S phone lineup with the Galaxy S22 series. That includes the high-end Galaxy S22 Ultra, which is also supposed to be the replacement for the Galaxy Note series. However, if you have 2021’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, should you upgrade to the newer model? Here’s our look at the Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra battle.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra


Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra bottom edge
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Like the older Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 6.8-inch display with rounded edges. Both phones have a QHD+ dynamic AMOLED screen with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Both phones also have a punch-hole front-facing camera placed on the top center of the display. However, the Galaxy S22 Ultra does not have an under-display camera similar to the Galaxy Fold 4.

Both also have an under-display fingerprint sensor. The front of the S22 Ultra more closely resembles the look of the older Galaxy Note 20 than its direct predecessor with its box-like design compared to the rounded look of the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Check out: The best Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra casesThe best Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra cases

These phones have glass on the front and back with an aluminum frame. However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a bump on the top left rear that houses its rear camera sensors, placed vertically. The S22 Ultra does away with this camera bump design completely, with the sensors just popping out of the rear. At the bottom, both phones have a USB-C charging port, along with a speaker and a SIM card tray.

However, the biggest difference on the bottom of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the embedded S Pen slot. Like the now-discontinued Note series, the Galaxy S22 Ultra includes a stylus, which you can take out of the phone with a quick push of the finger.


Hardware and cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra front on carpet
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The older Galaxy S21 Ultra has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip inside for the US market, and Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 chipset for other international markets. Inside the new Galaxy S22 Ultra, US buyers will get the phone with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC processor. Buyers in other parts of the world can expect the new Samsung Exynos 2200 chip inside. Oddly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has 8GB and 12GB RAM options, while the older Galaxy S21 had 12GB and 16GB RAM support.

Both phones have onboard storage options of 128, 256, or 512GB, with the S22 Ultra including a 1TB option as well. But there’s no way to add additional storage to these phones via a microSD card slot. Both phones have a large 5,000mAh battery, with the S21 Ultra going up to 25W wired charging speeds, while the new S22 Ultra supports up to 45W charging.

However, you will have to buy a charger for these phones yourself, as they don’t come with one in the box. Both handsets do offer fast wireless charging up to 15W.

More reading: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 vs Samsung Exynos 2200

Both phones have the same camera sizes in terms of megapixels, with a 108MP rear sensor, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and two 10MP telephoto cameras. Those telephoto sensors support up to 3x optical zoom for one camera, and the other supports up to 10x optical zoom, along with the software-assisted 100x Space Zoom. Both also have a 40MP front-facing camera.

Of course, the game-changer in terms of hardware for the S22 Ultra is the included S Pen. The Bluetooth-connected stylus is aimed at the smaller but very loyal number of Galaxy Note users who want to use it to take notes on the screen, draw artwork on the display, and operate apps without putting a finger on the screen. This version is also supposed to include lower latency than other S Pen-based phones, so it should act more like using a real pen on a real piece of paper.

The game-changer for the S22 Ultra is the included S Pen.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will come out of the box with One UI 4 based on Android 12 installed. Samsung is pledging that the phone will get four years of major software upgrades and five years of security upgrades, a huge software upgrade cycle improvement for any Android-based smartphone maker. The Galaxy S21 Ultra launched with One UI 3.1, based on Android 11, and has since been updated to One UI 4, based on Android 12. While it initially was expected to receive three years of version upgrades, Samsung extended its new pledge to the previous generation too. That means it’ll now receive the same four years of updates and five years of patches.

Alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S22 display in hand
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you are a Galaxy S21 Ultra owner looking for something a bit cheaper than the S22 Ultra for an upgrade, you might want to consider the new Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus models. Both have the same new processors as the Ultra model, and both share many of the more expensive phone’s other improvements.

Samsung Galaxy S22 in black rotated onb ook
Samsung Galaxy S22
The gold standard for Android smartphones.
The vanilla Samsung Galaxy S22 is subtly tweaked from its predecessor, the Galaxy S21. It has a glass back again (nice!) and features the latest 2022 silicon.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus angled in hand rear panel
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
The bigger and better (but not best) Galaxy S22.
The Galaxy S22 Plus is bigger than the vanilla Galaxy S22. It has a larger display, a larger battery, and charges faster with a wired connection. However, its cameras, processor, RAM, and internal storage options are the same as its little brother's.

For people who want a premium camera experience, there’s the Sony Xperia 1 IV. It has three Sony-made high-end 12MP rear cameras that can take great pictures, plus a ToF sensor. However, at a price of $1,599, it’s even more expensive than the S22 Ultra.

Sony Xperia 1 IV
Sony Xperia 1 IV
Stellar video capture • Superb camera autofocus • Unique creator apps
A Sony flagship aimed at content creators
The Sony Xperia 1 IV is a great phone for both content consumers and creators thanks to its great camera system, a large 4K display, best-in-class speakers, and a bunch of useful content creator apps.

Price and colors

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in black white and blue cards
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (8/128GB): $1,199 / £1,149
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12/256GB): $1,299 / £1,249
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12/512GB): $1,399 / £1,329
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12GB/1TB): $1,599 / £1,499
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: $950

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is available on Samsung.com, as well via third-party retailers like Amazon or Best Buy, and Samsung’s carrier partners. The phone comes in several colors — Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy. There are also exclusive online colors — Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.

When it launched a year ago, the Galaxy S21 Ultra had a starting price of $1,199, the same as the new S22 Ultra. However, it looks like Samsung has hit the EOL button on this phone as it is no longer available for sale on its official website. You might still find it on some third-party sites, and some wireless carriers might still have it on sale. It was available in only two colors, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, at launch, but more were added later.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra read in hand
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a throwback to the days of the Galaxy Note.
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra looks like a Galaxy Note phone. It has an S Pen just like a Note, a boxy shape just like a Note, and...well, you get the picture. It is by far the top dog in the Galaxy S22 lineup with the best display, biggest battery, best cameras, and most options for RAM and storage counts.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Samsung's best-ever camera system on one of its best-ever phones.
If you want the most powerful phone in Samsung's Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is for you. It comes with the largest display at 6.8-inches, the biggest battery at 5,000mAh, and the best camera setup with a primary 108MP sensor. It also comes with as much as 16GB of RAM. However, it's also the most expensive with a starting price of $1,199.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 UltraSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Display
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Processor
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
US: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Global: Samsung Exynos 2100
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
12 or 16GB
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
8GB or 12GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
128, 256, or 512GB
No microSD card support
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
128GB, 256GB, or 512GB with additional 1TB option
No microSD card support
Power
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

No charger in box
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

No charger in box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
REAR:
- 108MP Wide-angle, (ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF)
- 10MP Telephoto , (ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom)
- 10MP Telephoto, (ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom)
- 12MP Ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV)
- Laser autofocus

FRONT:
- 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
REAR:
- 108MP wide (0.8μm, ƒ2.2, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ4.9, 230mm, 11-degree FoV, 10x optical zoom)
- 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
- Laser autofocus

FRONT:
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Audio
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
Stereo speakers
No 3.5mm port
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm port
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
Bluetooth 5.2
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)
Security
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 years security updates
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
5 years security updates
Software
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
Launched with Android 11
Android 12 update available
One UI 4.1
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Android 12
One UI 4.1
S Pen support
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
Yes, without storage slot
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Yes, with storage slot
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
229g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra
128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Burgundy
Samsung exclusives: Sky Blue, Red, Graphite

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

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra black vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra black rear on carpet
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The battle between the Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra suggests that S21 Ultra owners should not upgrade to the new model. Aside from some boosts in performance from the new processors, and a few new camera improvements, S21 Ultra users will not see anything that might compel them to exchange the phone for the new Galaxy S22, at least not right away.

However, there is the matter of the new S Pen in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Owners of last year’s S21 might want the added functionality of that embedded stylus for work. If that’s the case, the S22 Ultra becomes a more attractive upgrade choice.

But if you have an older Samsung phone, getting the Galaxy S22 Ultra is definitely worth it if you’re a power user. But if the S Pen isn’t something that interests you, a phone like the Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus may be a better option.

Will you be upgrading from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the S22 Ultra?

832 votes