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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22: Should you upgrade?

The S22 is a step up in some ways from the S21, but is it enough for an upgrade?
By
June 10, 2022
Sasmsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Samsung Galaxy S21 front on carpet
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The long-running Samsung Galaxy S phone lineup now has some new models with the Galaxy S22 series. That includes the standard S22 and the bigger S22 Plus. However, if you already have 2021’s Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus, should you rush out and grab these new editions? Here’s our first look at the Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22 phones, and we let you know if you should upgrade or not.


Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22

Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus Pink vs Samsung Galaxy S21 purple rear on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

On the surface, the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus look nearly the same, design-wise, as the older S21 and S21 Plus, with flat screens and rounded bodies for both sets of phones. You are getting a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED flat display on the standard S22, with a bigger 6.6-inch screen on the Plus model. Both displays have an FHD+ resolution, and both support a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate.

By comparison, the older S21 and S21 Plus are bigger phones with larger displays, at 6.2-inches and 6.7-inches, respectively. Both the S21 and S22 phones have a punch-hole front-facing camera on the top of the display.

See also: A history of the Samsung Galaxy S series

You may remember that the standard S21 model had glass on the front, and a “glassic” back, while the S21 Plus was all glass in an aluminum frame. S22 and S22 Plus buyers will be happy to learn that the phone has glass on both the front and back this time. The rear camera bump design, placed on the top left of the phone’s back, is the same on the S22 and S22 Plus models as it was on the S21 counterparts.


Hardware and cameras

Samsung Galaxy S22 in Pink with display
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The older Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip inside for the US market, and Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 chipset for other international markets. The new Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus models get the brand new powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC processor if you live in the US, and the new Samsung Exynos 2200 chip for other parts of the world. The old and new phones all come with 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB for onboard storage options.

Perhaps because the new S22 and S22 Plus phones are smaller than the older S21 models, Samsung decided to use smaller batteries. While the S21 had a 4,000mAh battery, the S22 has only a 3,700mAh battery. The S22 Plus has a 4,500mAh battery size, compared to the 4,800mAh battery found inside the S21 Plus. Both of the older phones support 25W wired charging, as does the new S22, but if you get the S22 Plus, you get upgraded to 45W charging support. All of the phones support 15W wireless charging, along with reverse wireless charging. However, none of them include a charger in the box, so you need to get a compatible charger on your own.

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

People who need better cameras in their phones should be pleased with the upgrades in the S22 models. While the S21 and S21 Plus had a 12MP main rear camera, the S22 and S22 Plus boosts that sensor up to 50MP. The telephoto lens on the S21 and S21 Plus had a 64MP sensor, but the S22 and S22 Plus lens goes down to just 12MP. However, the hardware inside that lens is still supposed to be an improvement. The S22 phones have the same 12MP ultrawide sensor as the S21. The front-facing camera gets a big boost, from just 10MP on the S21 models to 40MP on the S22 phones.

The Galaxy S21 phones went on sale with One UI 3.1, based on Android 11, pre-installed. They have since received an over-the-air update to the current One UI 4-Android 12. The phones will get at least two more major annual software updates and three more years of security updates. The Samsung Galaxy S22 phones will have One UI 4 based on Android 12 installed. Samsung claims the new phones will get four years of major software upgrades and five years of security upgrades.

Alternatives

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra angled with Chrome AA
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you are a Galaxy S21 owner that wants something bigger and more advanced than the S22 or S22 Plus, look no further than the Galaxy S22 Ultra. It has more storage and RAM options, better cameras, a larger screen, and it comes with an embedded S Pen.

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.

You might also want to consider getting the new Google Pixel 6 phone. It has a new custom processor, impressive camera hardware and software, and you should get the latest Android OS updates much faster. All of that comes with a pretty reasonable price tag.

Google Pixel 6 on Pixel Stand with phones in background
Google Pixel 6
The more affordable Pixel.
The Google Pixel 6 features a 6.4-inch FHD+ display and runs on the all-new Google Tensor SoC. It has an upgraded camera system, exclusive software features, and offers some of the best hardware Google has ever produced.

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22: Price and colors

Samsung Galaxy S22 family spread like cards
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 (8/128GB): $799 / £769 / €859
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 (8/256GB): $849 / £819 / €909
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus (8/128GB): $999 / £949 / €1,059
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus (8/256GB): $1,049 / £999 / €1,109
  • Galaxy S21 (8GB/128GB) – $799
  • Galaxy S21 (8GB/256GB) – $849
  • Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/128GB) – $999
  • Galaxy S21 Plus (8GB/256GB) – $1,049

The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus are available via Samsung.com, Amazon, various third-party retail sites, and many wireless carriers. The new phones have the same color choices, including Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Pink Gold, with some exclusive online colors like Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, and Violet.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
$999.00 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S22
$799.00 at Samsung

Launch prices for the S21 and S21 Plus were the same as this year’s new models. You can still get the S21 and S21 Plus on Samsung’s official site, although only in a re-newed condition. The 128GB model comes in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White, while the 256GB version is only available in Phantom Gray for the S21 and Phantom Black for the S21 Plus.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (renewed)
$507.00 at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S21
$799.99 at Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22:  Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21Samsung Galaxy S21 PlusSamsung Galaxy S22Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Display
Samsung Galaxy S21
6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 421ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat FHD+
2,400 x 1,080 at 394ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified
Samsung Galaxy S22
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
19.5:9 aspect ratio
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Processor
Samsung Galaxy S21
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
Samsung Galaxy S22
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or Samsung Exynos 2100
RAM
Samsung Galaxy S21
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S22
8GB
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
8GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy S21
128 or 256GB
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
128 or 256GB
Samsung Galaxy S22
128GB or 256GB
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
128GB or 256GB
Battery
Samsung Galaxy S21
4,000mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
4,800mAh
Fast wired and wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy S22
3,700mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
4,500mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy S21
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
- Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x "Space Zoom"

Front:
- 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Rear:
- Wide-angle: 12MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.8µm with OIS and dual-pixel AF
- Telephoto: 64MP, ƒ/2.0, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF
- Ultra-wide: 12MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with 120-degree FoV

3x hybrid optical/digital zoom
30x "Space Zoom"

Front:
- 10MP, ƒ/2.2, 1.22µm, with dual-pixel AF
Samsung Galaxy S22
REAR:
- 50MP wide (1.0μm, ƒ1.8, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.0μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)

FRONT:
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
REAR:
- 50MP wide (1.0μm, ƒ1.8, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
- 10MP telephoto (1.0μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)

FRONT:
- 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy S21
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
Bluetooth 5.0
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
Bluetooth 5.0
Samsung Galaxy S22
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Operating System
Samsung Galaxy S21
One UI 3.1
Android 11

Updated to One UI 4 and Android 12
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
One UI 3.1
Android 11

Updated to One UI 4 and Android 12
Samsung Galaxy S22
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Water resistance
Samsung Galaxy S21
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S22
IP68
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
IP68
Security
Samsung Galaxy S21
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Samsung Galaxy S22
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, face unlock
Color
Samsung Galaxy S21
128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Gray, Phantom Pink, and Phantom White

256GB only in Phantom Gray

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
128GB in Phantom Violet, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Black

256GB only in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Gold and Phantom Red
Samsung Galaxy S22
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

Online exclusives: Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, Violet
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Pink Gold

Online exclusives: Cream, Graphite, Sky Blue, Violet
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy S21
71.2 x 151.7 x 7.9mm
171g
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
75.6 x 161.5 x 7.8mm
202g
Samsung Galaxy S22
70.6 x 146 x 7.6mm
168g
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
75.8 x 157.4 x 7.6mm
196g

Samsung Galaxy S21 vs Galaxy S22: Should you upgrade?

Samsung Galaxy S21 owners don’t have a lot of incentive to upgrade right away. Yes, you are getting new processors with the S22 phones, and there are some solid camera hardware improvements. However, the older S21 phones are a bit bigger than the new S22 models, and have bigger batteries.

If you own the S21 or S21 Plus, we suggest you wait until next year’s S23 phones debut. There simply isn’t enough that’s new with the S22 phones to justify a switch, and, likely, you don’t want to trade in your older phone for a newer one that’s a bit smaller.

Will you upgrade from the Galaxy S21 or S21 Plus to the S22 or S22 Plus?

320 votes