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Samsung Galaxy S22 series vs older Galaxy S phones: Should you upgrade?

Got an older Galaxy S phone? it might not be as necessary to upgrade as you'd think.

Published onMarch 2, 2023

Samsung Galaxy S22 Family in white spread on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy S22 series retains the pricing from the previous generation, which means a comparatively affordable base model, a slightly more expensive but bigger Plus iteration, and the packed-to-the-gills Ultra variant. The Galaxy S22 Ultra separates itself from the series even more now, with a new yet familiar design, and essentially takes the place of the likely discontinued Galaxy Note. If you already have a Galaxy S device, is it time to upgrade to Samsung’s latest and greatest? Here’s a look at the Samsung Galaxy S22 series vs older Galaxy S series phones!

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S9 and older

Galaxy S9 Plus Front shot of home screen

The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are still quite capable phones, despite being four years old at this point. Yes, the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and the Exynos 2200 are leaps and bounds faster than the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810-toting Galaxy S9 devices, as far as benchmarks go. But, the Galaxy S9 pair are still capable of everyday usage.

The processor isn’t the only upgrade that contributes to a faster feel with the latest phones, though. The new Samsungs come with 120Hz display refresh rates, making everything feel much more fluid. You get a far better camera setup, particularly with the Galaxy S22 Ultra and its 108MP primary shooter. The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus also have significant camera upgrades that make them worth the buy. And, of course, you get to enjoy blazing-fast 5G speeds with the new phones.

Another significant difference is on the software side. The Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus received their last updates with Android 10. While the One UI 2.1 update doesn’t make the phone feel too dated, and the phones are still receiving security updates, it will soon reach the end of that cycle. The Galaxy S22 series, with Android, 12-based One UI 4, and four years of version upgrades (plus five years of security patches), is definitely the better option from the software and security standpoint.

All that said, you don’t have to go out of your way to upgrade just yet if you have the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. With these older phones, you still get plenty of current flagship staples, like dust and water resistance, wireless charging, Quad HD displays, and excellent cameras. The Galaxy S22 devices are obviously better smartphones, and if you’re in the market for an upgrade, now’s the time to do so. But if you want to hold on to your S9 for a little longer, you could do so until its security update cycle ends.

The Galaxy S9 series is still a capable phone, but it's coming to the end of its lifespan.

The same can’t be said of other phones before the Galaxy S9. Suppose you’re still packing a Galaxy S8 series phone or older. In that case, you should definitely be looking to upgrade — partly to get away from that stupidly-placed fingerprint reader and to get some extra cameras, but also to make sure your daily driver is secure and up-to-date.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus Back

The Galaxy S10 series launched in 2019 but is still far from showing its age. The Snapdragon 855 or Exynos 9820 are perfectly capable, the phones have solid cameras, and they are the last Samsung flagships to come with expandable storage. Samsung also began rolling out the Android 12 and One UI 4 updates to these phones in January this year, so you aren’t missing out on the software side of things just yet.

Despite being a few years old, the Galaxy S10 series is still very capable.

Gamers and power users will enjoy the higher-end processing packages and faster display refresh rates with the new Galaxy S22 phones, but for the day-to-day, the Galaxy S10 series is more than up to the task. Whether you should upgrade also depends on which phone you have. Galaxy S10e users have more to gain with an upgrade right now, especially in the camera department. And even though the S10 and S10 Plus camera setups are good, they aren’t a match for the excellent cameras you get with the Galaxy S22 devices and the Galaxy S22 Ultra in particular.

The Galaxy S22 series has its fair share of advantages — faster processors, better displays, larger batteries, faster charging, 5G support, and a more refined design. The Galaxy S22 Ultra takes things to another level with a 108MP primary shooter and an S Pen slot. There are many improvements across the board, so if you want to upgrade, the Galaxy S22 is the way to go. But the Galaxy S10 devices are more than capable if you want to hold on to them to save up for something from the Galaxy S23 family.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra angled profile
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung jumped into the 2020s with the Galaxy S20 in, you guessed it, 2020. The Galaxy S20 series was a significant upgrade over its predecessor, introducing 120Hz display refresh rates, 5G support, and all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from the Galaxy S series since. It introduced the Ultra and its 108MP primary shooter to the range and brought the unseemly camera bump with it.

When you compare the Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus with their S22 counterparts, things actually favor the older smartphones, at least on paper. The two-year-old Snapdragon 865 or Exynos 990 are still as snappy as expected, and you get as much RAM and storage as you will with the Galaxy S22 phones. The Galaxy S20 and S20 Plus have a 64MP primary camera, Quad HD resolution displays, and the same charging capabilities as the base Galaxy S22. While the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, and S22 charge at 25W, you get 45W charging with the Galaxy S22 Plus and the two Ultra models.

Of course, all of these upgrades made the S20 series among the most expensive flagships that year, something that Samsung had to course correct with the Galaxy S21 and S22 ranges, albeit with compromises to the base models to match the lower prices.

The Galaxy has faster processors, larger batteries, and a more refined design. But that’s about it, and that’s not a lot considering there’s a two-year gap between the two phones. The one-year release cycle is too soon, and if the S20 proves anything, even a two-year upgrade cycle isn’t essential. Only the Galaxy S22 Ultra makes a compelling case for an upgrade, especially if you want the S Pen. If you are considering an upgrade, Samsung offers decent trade-in values for the Galaxy S20 Ultra and lower-end models.

The Galaxy S20 FE was an exciting addition to the S20 lineup in late 2020. It brought the best features of the flagship series to a more affordable package and quickly became a fan favorite. But this is the one S20 series phone that you might consider upgrading to the Galaxy S22. You get a faster processor, much better cameras, and a more premium design for a price not much more than what the S20 FE launched at.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21

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

There’s no reason to upgrade from the Galaxy S21 series to the Galaxy S22 phones unless you absolutely want to. But there are a few improvements across the board that are worth knowing about. The S22 series comes with the 2022 flagship processor of choice, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Qualcomm says there is a 20% improvement in performance from the older Snapdragon 888 to the new processor, even though our initial tests don’t quite reach those levels.

The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus bring some key updates over their predecessors, with a better camera setup headlined by a 50MP primary shooter. The Galaxy S22 also gets the premium glass and metal build of the rest of the series, compared to the “glasstic” body of the standard Galaxy S21. Other than that, the two smaller flagships look the same. The Galaxy S22 Plus also gets 45W fast charging like the two Ultra models, while the base S22 and the two smaller Galaxy S21 phones charge at 25W.

There's no reason to upgrade from the Galaxy S21 series unless you really want to.

On the surface, the Galaxy S21 Ultra and Galaxy S22 Ultra look like entirely different smartphones. Samsung ditched the Contour Cut design of the camera bump for one where the lenses sit flush with the flat back of the phone. You also get a more rectangular, boxy design with sharp corners and rounded sides.

Of course, the most significant difference is the S Pen. While the Galaxy S21 Ultra featured S Pen support, you had to buy it separately and figure out a way to store it, likely with a case. With the Ultra essentially morphing into a Galaxy Note, it now comes with an S Pen slot. But things remain essentially the same under the surface, from the cameras to the RAM, storage, and battery.

Are any of the new features so compelling that you’d upgrade from the S21 to the S22? Probably not. You can safely hold on to the S21 devices for at least a couple of more years before you need to think about changing things up. Especially now that Samsung has changed its software update cycle for the S21 series as well to cover the phone for four years of version upgrades and five years of security patches. That means they’ll get to at least Android 15.

Should you upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy S22?

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus family colors on wood
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung has retained the starting prices of the Galaxy S21 with its 2022 flagships. That makes the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus quite enticing options. The new-look Galaxy S22 Ultra is an odd one. It’s as powerful and feature-packed as can be, but not everyone is a fan of how it differentiates itself from the rest of the series.

Read our full reviews: Galaxy S22 Ultra review | Galaxy S22 Plus review

It’s certainly worth considering upgrading to the S22 series if you have an older Galaxy S phone. But as long as you’re not going beyond the Galaxy S9, there’s no reason why you couldn’t hold on to those phones for a little bit longer either, as many still have software support.

Things are even trickier as we get to Samsung’s more recent flagships. There are certain upgrades and improvements in key areas, from the Galaxy S20 and Galaxy S21 series to the S22 series, but none of those might be enough to tempt someone to upgrade. The exception is the Galaxy S20 Ultra, which didn’t age well at all. Of course, one reason you might want to upgrade so soon is to take advantage of Samsung’s trade-in deals.

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Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22
Compact design
Impressive camera setup
Unrivaled software support
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Excellent display
Powerful camera package
Top-notch performance
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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Ultra-premium build quality
Gorgeous screen
Solid performance

Will you upgrade from an older Samsung Galaxy smartphone to an entry in the new Galaxy S22 range? Let us know in the comments below and learn more about the complete history of the Samsung Galaxy S series.

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