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Samsung Galaxy S21 vs S22: Are the differences worth an upgrade?

Should you upgrade? We break it down.
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Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer on
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Image: Samsung

With Samsung's Galaxy S22 release, the smartphone maker added three new phones to its lineup. There are two base models, the S22 and S22 Plus, and then a high-end model that's more like a Galaxy Note in the form of a Galaxy S22 Ultra

I'm going to focus solely on the Galaxy S22 and how it compares to last year's Galaxy S21. If you're curious how the rest of the S22 lineup compares and contrasts against its 2021 equivalent, make sure to check out Matthew Miller's breakdown of the S21 Ultra and S22 Ultra.

Back to the S21 and S22. 

Reviews: 

Design

The most notable change is the overall design. The S21 has a more rounded look to it, while the S22 ditches the rounded edges in favor of a flat-edge design. Next is the display size. The S22's screen shrunk just a touch, going from 6.2-inches on the S21 to 6.1-inches on the S22. 

Performance

Internally, the S22 uses Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, while the storage and memory options have remained the same. Just like the screen size, however, the battery inside the S22 has also decreased. The S21 has a 4,000mAh battery, while the S22's battery comes in at 3,700mAh. I'm not sure how much of an impact the drop in battery capacity will have on overall battery life, though. 

Camera

Another big change is in the camera system on the back of the phone. The S21 has two 12-megapixel cameras -- one wide, one ultra-wide -- and a 64-megapixel telephoto camera. Based on the specs alone, it's clear Samsung focused its efforts on giving Galaxy S21 owners a better experience when zooming in to take photos. 

With the Galaxy S22, Samsung has reversed course. There are still three cameras on the back of the phone, but this time there's a single 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera, a 50-megapixel wide camera, and a 10-megapixel 3x optical zoom telephoto shooter. I'd be curious to see Samsung's usage analytics and how often S21 owners were taking full advantage of the 64-megapixel telephoto camera. Based on the S22's camera setup, I'd venture to guess that it wasn't being used often. 

Verdict

So, if you're deciding whether or not to upgrade from an S21 to an S22, I'd recommend holding off. 

Also: The Samsung Galaxy S22 can lose half its value in a month

There are differences between the two phones, but the differences aren't likely to translate into a meaningful impact on the experience. That is, of course, unless you take a lot of photos and would benefit from the 50-megapixel main (wide) camera on the S22. 

If you're upgrading from an older iPhone or Galaxy phone, then the S22 seems (on paper) like a worthwhile option. It's running the latest version of Android, has a spec sheet that's sure to provide a consistently impressive experience, and it costs $799. 

Tale of the Tape

Speaking of the spec sheet, while it won't tell the entire story of what you should expect, it provides some extra insight when you're comparing two devices side-by-side. With that in mind, here's the specification sheet for the S21 versus S22:

FeatureGalaxy S21Galaxy S22
Operating System:Android 12, One UI 4Android 12, One UI 4.1
Display:6.2-inch FHD+ AMOLED, 120Hz6.1-inch FHD+, AMOLED, 120Hz, Vision Booster
Proceessor:Qualcomm Snapdragon 888Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Memory:8GB8GB
Storage:128GB, 256GB128GB, 256GB
Battery:4,000mAh3,700mAh
Rear Cameras:12MP ultra-wide, 12MP wide, 64MP telephoto12MP ultra-wide, 50MP wide, 10MP 3x telephoto
Front Camera:10MP10MP
Connectivity:5G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.05G, LTE, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Colors:Phantom violet, phantom gray, phantom white, phantom pinkPhantom black, phantom white, pink gold, green
Pricing:$799.99$799.99

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