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Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21 FE: Which one should you buy?

Does the cheaper Fan Edition stand a chance?
By

Published onFebruary 14, 2023

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

Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Fan Edition just passed its first birthday. It barely beat the Galaxy S22 series to market, but how has it held up over the course of 12 months? The designs may look quite similar, but some critical differences are under the hood. Let’s compare the Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21 FE to help you pick your next phone.

Note: We’ll be looking at the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22 Plus in this comparison rather than the Galaxy S22 Ultra, as it’s aimed at a slightly different group of users. You can read more about the Galaxy S22 Ultra right here.


Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21 FE


Design and display

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus pink vs Samsung Galaxy S21 FE black rear on bench
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
S22 Plus vs S21 FE

One look at the Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus next to the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, and you might not be able to tell them apart. Yes, the sizing is slightly different, but Samsung’s Contour Cut design makes its return once again. The camera bump blends into the corner on both models and matches the frame color. You’ll also find a trio of lenses on both series, covering the wide, ultrawide, and telephoto trifecta — but more on that later.

Once you move away from the camera bump, you’ll notice what might be the most significant difference between the devices — the materials. Samsung carried its “glasstic” finish to the Galaxy S21 FE, but the Galaxy S22 series marks the return of a glass panel on the back. Despite the different rear materials, both the Galaxy S21 FE and Galaxy S22 carry aluminum frames, offering better durability.

The Galaxy S22 series marks the triumphant return of glass, while the Galaxy S21 FE offers a glasstic alternative.

Taking the similarities a step further, all three devices offer flat AMOLED displays with 120Hz refresh rates and Full HD+ resolutions. Once again, the best way to tell them apart is the size. Samsung’s vanilla Galaxy S22 is the baby of the bunch at 6.1 inches, while the Galaxy S21 FE lands in the middle at 6.4 inches. The Galaxy S22 Plus comes out on top at 6.6 inches, and both of the newer handsets sport Gorilla Glass Victus Plus compared to the standard Victus of the Galaxy S21 FE.

All three panels offer Infinity-O designs, with a single, central-mounted selfie camera. This time, the Galaxy S21 FE is much more powerful with its impressive 32MP shooter compared to the 10MP sensor on both the S22 and S22 Plus.

We loved the Phantom finishes on the Galaxy S21 series, and it’s nice to see a few options return. The new Galaxy S22 series comes in Phantom Black, Pink Gold, green, and white. Over on the Galaxy S21 FE, your color options include white, Graphite, Lavender, and Olive, but the matte finish doesn’t catch light quite as well as the Galaxy S22 series.

Complete your setup: Our guide to all the phone accessories you’ll ever need


Hardware and cameras

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

We’ve pretty well established that the Samsung Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy S21 FE look an awful lot alike, but now it’s time to go under the hood. While the Galaxy S21 FE can hold its own with 2021’s Snapdragon 888 processor, the Galaxy S22 series has a slight advantage thanks to the newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. You can grab up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage on any of the three models, and there’s no microSD slot in sight.

We briefly mentioned that the Galaxy S22, Galaxy S22 Plus, and Galaxy S21 FE carry three rear cameras, but not all trios are created equal. Where the Fan Edition device offers a 12MP wide, 8MP telephoto, and 12MP ultrawide lens, the S22 duo packs far more megapixels. The phones swap to a 50MP wide lens and a 10MP telephoto lens and record up to 8K video at 24fps.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Samsung Galaxy S22 offers the smallest battery of the three. However, it makes the curious decision to carry a smaller battery than the Galaxy S21. Samsung’s small flagship offers just a 3,700mAh cell, while the Galaxy S22 Plus and Galaxy S21 FE offer 4,500mAh options. The Galaxy S22 Plus is the only way to go if you’re worried about charging. It tops out at 45W wired speeds, while the others stop at 25W. No matter which way you go, you’ll get 15W wireless charging. Unfortunately, neither device includes a charger.

While all three devices pack fingerprint readers in their displays, the Galaxy S21 FE once again lags behind a bit. It offers an optical fingerprint reader compared to the ultrasonic option on Samsung’s flagships.

Yet another similarity to consider is the software support. All three devices arrived with Android 12 and Samsung’s One UI skin onboard. The Galaxy S22 duo comes out slightly ahead with One UI 4.1 compared to 4, but the difference is minimal. Samsung’s update policy actually tops Google with four major Android OS updates and five years of security patches. That means we should see up to Android 16 and patches through early 2027.


Price and colors

  • Samsung Galaxy S22: $799
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus: $999
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 FE: $699/£699/€759

Samsung hasn’t changed its flagship pricing structure from last year — the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus start at $799 and $999, respectively. However, the Galaxy S21 FE with 128GB of storage undercuts them at $699. If you want additional storage, the Galaxy S21 FE will cost $769 for 256GB. Over on the Galaxy S22 series, the 256GB version of the Galaxy S22 will set you back $849, while the S22 Plus comes in at $1,049.

As for colors, the Galaxy S21 FE offers a simple slate of matte selections. You can grab it in white, Graphite, Lavender, or Olive. All four are single-tone finishes, so you won’t get contrast for the camera bump like you will with certain Galaxy S22 finishes.

Both of Samsung’s Galaxy S22 options come in the same set of colors. If you’re shopping from Amazon or a mobile carrier, your options include Phantom Black, white, pink gold, and green. While the four base colors are single-shaded, Samsung also offers a few exclusive designs. You can grab Sky Blue, Violet, or Cream and bring back the two-toned look from the Galaxy S21 series. Each version adds a gold finish to the camera housing.

Galaxy S21 FE Green Back RGB
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
Samsung's 2021 flagship finally gets a "fan edition"
The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is very similar to the vanilla Galaxy S21. However, it pares things down a bit in order to slash $100 from the MSRP.
Samsung Galaxy S22Samsung Galaxy S22
AA Recommended
Samsung Galaxy S22
Compact design • Impressive camera setup • Unrivaled software support
MSRP: $849.99
The smallest and cheapest phone in the series
While it's the entry phone of the Galaxy S22 series, this handset still offers plenty of power, a gorgeous screen, great cameras, and a fantastic software promise. It's also compact enough to easily use with one hand.
Samsung Galaxy S22 PlusSamsung Galaxy S22 Plus
AA Editors Choice
Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
Excellent display • Powerful camera package • Top-notch performance
MSRP: $999.99
A great all-rounder
The Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus can do just about anything. It has more than enough power under the hood, sports a terrific camera system, offers great battery life, and also looks great. The fantastic software support is worth a mention as well.

Specs

Galaxy S22Galaxy S22 PlusGalaxy S21 FE
Display
Galaxy S22
6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Galaxy S22 Plus
6.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Flat display
FHD+ resolution (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (10Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate
Galaxy S21 FE
6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED
FHD+ (2,340 x 1,080)
120Hz refresh rate
240Hz touch sampling in gaming mode
Processor
Galaxy S22
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
Galaxy S22 Plus
US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200
Galaxy S21 FE
US: Snapdragon 888
Global: Exynos 2100
RAM
Galaxy S22
8GB
Galaxy S22 Plus
8GB
Galaxy S21 FE
6GB or 8GB
Storage
Galaxy S22
128 or 256GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S22 Plus
128 or 256GB
No microSD card support
Galaxy S21 FE
128GB or 256GB
No microSD card support
Power
Galaxy S22
3,700mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S22 Plus
4,500mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
No charger in box
Galaxy S21 FE
4,500mAh
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
No charger in box
Cameras
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)
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)
Galaxy S21 FE
Rear:
-12MP primary (ƒ1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS, 79-degree FoV)
- 12MP ultrawide (ƒ2.2, 123-degree FoV)
- 8MP telephoto (ƒ2.4, 3x optical zoom, OIS, 32-degree FoV)

Front:
- 32MP single (ƒ2.2, 81-degree FoV)
Connectivity
Galaxy S22
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6 (ax), Dual Band
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Galaxy S22 Plus
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)
Galaxy S21 FE
5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
NFC support
Security
Galaxy S22
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
Galaxy S22 Plus
Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 x 9mm size
Galaxy S21 FE
In-display optical fingerprint sensor
Software
Galaxy S22
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Galaxy S22 Plus
Android 12
One UI 4.1
Galaxy S21 FE
Android 12
One UI 4
S Pen support
Galaxy S22
No
Galaxy S22 Plus
No
Galaxy S21 FE
No
Materials
Galaxy S22
Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back
Armour Aluminum frame
Galaxy S22 Plus
Gorilla Glass Victus Plus front and back
Armour Aluminum frame
Galaxy S21 FE
Gorilla Glass Victus front
Metal frame
Plastic rear panel
Durability
Galaxy S22
IP68 certified
Galaxy S22 Plus
IP68 certified
Galaxy S21 FE
IP68 certified
Dimensions and weight
Galaxy S22
70.6 x 146 x 7.6mm
168g
Galaxy S22 Plus
75.8 x 157.4 x 7.6mm
196g
Galaxy S21 FE
155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm
177g
Colors
Galaxy S22
Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, Pink Gold
Galaxy S22 Plus
Phantom Black, Phantom White, green, Pink Gold
Galaxy S21 FE
White, Graphite, Olive, Lavender

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21 FE: Which should you buy?

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

The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE offers a great way to get your hands on Samsung’s latest hardware and software at a slightly lower cost. However, $100 goes a long way for the Galaxy S22 series. The newer devices carry updated processors, better build materials, and significantly improved rear cameras — even if the selfie cameras take a step back.

That said, there are a few features that you’ll have to drop $1,000 to match on a Galaxy S22 device. The Galaxy S21 FE tops the vanilla model in battery size and display size, even if the Galaxy S22 Plus offers the fastest charging and largest display of the three.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21 FE: Which one should you buy?

2135 votes

If we rule out the similar design languages and identical RAM and storage options, it makes your decision a lot easier. Those looking to load up on selfies should choose the Galaxy S21 FE, while users hoping for a rear camera experience should drop the extra $100 for the Galaxy S22 series. We’ve given you our thoughts, but now it’s up to you to vote in our poll above and choose your next device.

While we’ve focused on the Galaxy S22 as a rival to the Galaxy S21 FE in this article, you might also consider the brand-new Samsung Galaxy S23, too. It makes a few improvements on the Galaxy S22, including the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and a slightly larger 3,900mAh battery. More importantly, it doesn’t come with a price increase over its predecessor.

Save some money: The best Samsung Galaxy deals

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