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Look past the Ultra, Samsung's Galaxy S22 upgrades are surprisingly great

Noteworthy improvements, same great price.
By
February 12, 2022
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus pink vs Samsung Galaxy S21 purple rear on bench
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Based on their virtually identical aesthetics, you’d be forgiven for thinking not much has changed between 2021’s Samsung Galaxy S21 and the new Galaxy S22. But peel back the exterior, and you’ll find that Samsung has made some significant tweaks and improvements to what was already a very successful hardware formula.

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus sport some surprisingly extensive upgrades over their predecessors. Granted, there’s one notable downgrade (we’ll get to that) and the phones are overshadowed somewhat by the S22 Ultra, but these are well-balanced trade-offs that ensure Samsung’s non-Ultra flagships remain competitively priced.

Galaxy S22 vs S21: Some big improvements

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus in blue angled camera closeup
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus feature notably improved camera setups for starters. The old 12MP 1/1.76-inch primary sensor that we saw on both the non-Ultra Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 phones makes way for a larger 50MP 1/1.56-inch affair for superior light capture. Likewise, a new 10MP telephoto snapper with an actual 3x optical zoom level and associated focal length replaces the old hybrid zoom camera. So both your regular and zoomed-in snaps should look much better on the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus.

Samsung has also kitted out the entire Galaxy S22 range with real glass this time around. The cheaper “glasstic” material is gone, lending a much more premium feel to the line-up. Speaking of glass, the two phones feature Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Plus protection on the front and back too, which should improve robustness from drops and scratches.

Real glass, better cameras, and improved displays, what's not to like?

A less tangible but equally welcome improvement comes with the new display. While the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus offered 120Hz displays, they lacked the variable refresh rate technology packed into the more recent models. Their refresh rate now drops as low as 10Hz in some instances, which is a boon for battery life when viewing websites and other primarily static content. The displays also benefit from Samsung’s Vision Booster feature to improve contrast outdoors and in different lighting conditions.

Checkout: The history of the Galaxy S series

The Galaxy S22 Plus also offers faster charging speeds too. 45W wired charging, up from 25W previously, will help top up the phone a little faster. However, you’ll have to buy your own PD PPS-compatible charger to make the most of this new capability.

Only one (worthwhile) trade-off for the price

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus Pink vs Samsung Galaxy S21 FE front on table
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Combined, these add up to some significant improvements that keep these phones right near the top of the flagship hardware pecking order. Best of all, the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus cost the same as last year’s models.

The only drawback is that both phones have smaller batteries than their predecessors. The Galaxy S22 Plus features a 4,500mAh cell, down from 4,800mAh last year. The regular Galaxy S22 sees a similar reduction to 3,700mAh down from 4,000mAh, which raises our eyebrows for all-day battery life. Although the new variable refresh rate should help alleviate this drawback.

Our early verdict: Samsung Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus impressions — next-gen flagships for everyone

Of course, neither phone quite matches the super-premium hardware on offer with the Galaxy S22 Ultra. There’s no QHD+ display, larger memory configurations, or S Pen, but those are easy enough to live without, especially for the price Samsung is charging. Priced at $799 and $999 respectively, the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus offer some surprisingly remarkable hardware improvements that make them noteworthy flagships in their own right.

Will you upgrade to the Galaxy S22 series from the Galaxy S21 series?

1018 votes