Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Should you upgrade to the 2022 flagship?

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Should you upgrade to the 2022 flagship?

The Galaxy S22 is one of the best Android smartphones for anyone that wants a mix of exceptional cameras and flagship performance in a compact package under $1000. We recently revisited the Galaxy S22 in a longer-term review, and it’s quite amazing how it has held the test of time, especially considering so many great flagships have launched since the device came out. But how does it compare to its predecessor? Being a successor, the Galaxy S22 is obviously going to be better than the Galaxy S21 in most areas. But the question is, how much better? Is it worth upgrading to the Galaxy S22 if you’re already using the S21? Should you get the older model and save money or pick up the latest model?

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Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Samsung Galaxy S21: Specifications

Specification Samsung Galaxy S22 Samsung Galaxy S21
Build
  • Glass back
  • Aluminum frame
  • Plastic back
  • Aluminum frame
Dimensions & Weight
  • 146 x 70.6 x 7.6mm
  • 167g for the non-mmWave model
  • 168g for the mmWave model
  • 155.7 x 74.5 x 7.9mm
    169g
Display
  • 6.1-inch AMOLED 2X Display
  • 2340 x 1080, 425 PPI
  • HDR10+ certified
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Always On Display
  • 6.2-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
  • 2340 x 1080
  • HDR10+ certified
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 240Hz touch sampling rate
SoC
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (US, select other regions)
  • Samsung Exynos 2200 (most other countries)
  • USA: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • International: Exynos 2100
RAM & Storage
  • 128/256GB internal storage
  • 8GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • No microSD card slot
  • 6GB + 128GB
  • 8GB + 256GB
  • No microSD card slot
Battery & Charging
  • 3,700mAh battery
  • 25W USB PD 3.0 PPS wired charging
  • Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (only available with Samsung Super Fast Wireless Charger and Super Fast Wireless Charger Duo)
  • Wireless PowerShare (reverse wireless charging)
  • 4,000mAh
  • 25W fast charging
  • 15W Qi wireless charging
  • 4.5W reverse wireless charging
Security
  • Ultrasonic Fingerprint sensor
  • In-display fingerprint scanner
  • Samsung Knox
Rear Camera(s)
  • 50MP main (F/1.8, 1.0μm, 85˚ FOV), binned
  • 12MP ultra-wide (F/2.2/1.4μm/120˚ FOV)
  • 10MP telephoto (F2.4/1.0μm/36˚ FOV)
  • Primary: 12MP, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, f/2.2, 123° FoV
  • Telephoto: 64MP, f/2.0, 1.1X optical zoom
Front Camera(s) 10MP (F2.2/1.22μm/80˚ FOV) 10MP (F2.2/1.22μm/80˚ FOV)
Port(s)
  • USB Type-C
  • No headphone jack
  • USB Type-C
  • No headphone jack
Audio
  • Stereo speakers
  • Bluetooth Dual Audio
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Dolby Atmos
Connectivity
  • 5G: Non-Standalone (NSA), Standalone (SA), Sub6 / mmWave
  • LTE: Enhanced 4×4 MIMO, Up to 7CA, LTE Cat.20
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5/6GHz)
  • Bluetooth v5.2
  • NFC
  • GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou
  • Sub6/mmWave 5G
  • 4G LTE
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/x (dual-band)
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Ultra Wide Band (UWB)
Software
  • Android 12 with One UI 4.1
  • Four major Android OS updates promised
  • Five years of security patches
OneUI 4.0 based on Android 12
Other Features
  • Samsung Pay (MST in some countries, NFC)
  • Samsung Pay with NFC
  • IP68 rating

Design & Display

You’ll have a hard time telling the Galaxy S22 apart from Galaxy S21 with a cursory glance. Both phones look pretty much identical except for a few minor differences. While the Galaxy S21 has a wrap-around camera module that extends over the back and blends into the middle frame, the camera module on the Galaxy S22 stops at the edge of the middle frame. Another difference is that the Galaxy S22’s camera module is color matched to the back while the Galaxy S21 has a different color module than the back.

A person holding a Samsung Galaxy S22 in Phantom Black color over a table

While both models follow the same general design, they differ when it comes to the build quality. The Galaxy S21 features a plastic back and aluminum frame while the Galaxy S22 uses more premium materials, which include a glass back with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus protection and an armor aluminum frame. The Galaxy S22 also comes in more colorways: Phantom Black, White, Pink Gold, Green, Graphite, Sky Blue, Violet, Cream, and Bora Purple. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 comes in Gray, White, Violet, and Pink.

Galaxy S21

In terms of overall durability, the Galaxy S22 is better; it packs Gorilla Glass Victus Plus on the front and back. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 has Gorilla Glass Victus on the front but not on the back. Both phones are IP68 rated for water and dust resistance. We’d still recommend grabbing a case for these phones, so check out the Best Galaxy S22 Cases and Best Galaxy S21 Cases.

Display-wise, the Galaxy S21, and Galaxy S22 are pretty similar. Both use Samsung’s best AMOLED panels with FHD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rates, and HDR10+ content support. The Galaxy S22 packs a slightly smaller 6.1-inch panel compared to the Galaxy S21’s 6.2-inch panel. Otherwise, both panels are similar in color reproduction, saturation, contrast, and brightness. No matter which phone you pick, you’re guaranteed to get one of the best smartphone displays on the market.


Cameras

galaxy s22 camera module

The camera hardware is one of the biggest differences between these two phones. The Galaxy S21 uses the same camera hardware as its predecessor, Galaxy S20, featuring a 12MP primary shooter, a 64MP telephoto lens, and a 12MP ultrawide camera.

The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, packs a new triple camera system, comprising a new 50MP main sensor, a 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom, and a 12MP ultra-wide camera.

While both devices offer competent main shooters, the Galaxy S22 has an edge when it comes to low-light performance. The Galaxy S22’s new 50MP ISOCELL GN5 primary sensor is 23% larger than the 12MP sensor found in the Galaxy S21. Increased sensor size and pixel binning mean the Galaxy S22 can produce better low-light and night shots with much more detail and lower noise than the Galaxy S21. However, you’re not going to see a huge difference in daylight shots between the two phones.

The Galaxy S22 also offers better zooming capabilities as it comes with a new 10MP telephoto lens with 3x optical zoom. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21’s 64MP telephoto lens relies on cropping when taking zoom shots.

Check out image samples from both phones to judge the photo quality for yourself.

Galaxy S22 image samples

Samsung Galaxy S22 camera samples

Galaxy S21 image samples


Performance, Battery Life, and Software

As you would expect, the Galaxy S22 packs more raw power than the S21. Those in Europe get Samsung’s in-house Exynos 220 chipset, while the rest of the world, including the US and India, gets a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip. As far as the Galaxy S21 is concerned, the US and Chinese models come with a Snapdragon 888 chipset, while other markets have an Exynos 2100.

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 only offer marginally better CPU performance than the Snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100. That means the performance gap between the two phones isn’t huge and unlikely to be noticeable in everyday tasks. However, it’s a different story when it comes to graphics performance. The new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset delivers 35% faster graphics performance while consuming 20% less power than the Snapdragon 888. Still, you can expect the Galaxy S21 to handle graphics-intensive games without issues. Just that, it might not be able to deliver sustained smooth gameplay on max graphics settings in games like Genshin Impact.

Both the Galaxy S22 and S21 pack the same amount of RAM and storage: 8GB RAM and 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 internal storage.

galaxy s22

Although the Galaxy S22 is a superior phone overall, the battery is one area where it loses out to the Galaxy S21. The S22 packs a 3,700mAh cell, which is a step down from the 4,000mAh battery on the Galaxy S21. One might think that the smaller display and the more efficient chipset would compensate for the smaller battery. It’s true to some extent, but as we noted in our review if you’re a heavy user, the Galaxy S22 will struggle to get you through a full day. Both phones offer similar charging speeds: up to 25W wired and 15W wireless.

The Galaxy S22 ships with Android 12, while the Galaxy S21 runs Android 11 out of the box (but it’s upgradable to Android 12). When it comes to software support, both phones are promised to get four major OS updates and five years of security updates. But since the Galaxy S21 came out in 2021 with Android 11, it will only be supported till Android 15, while the Galaxy S22 will receive OS updates till Android 16.


Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Which one should you buy?

At the time of writing this article, the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S21 are available at the same price on Samsung.com, so the choice is quite obvious if you’re planning to buy one from the official site. However, both models can be found at discounted prices from other sources, such as Amazon.

If you’re upgrading from an older Galaxy S model, we would recommend picking up the Galaxy S22 (don’t forget to take advantage of the best Galaxy S22 deals). Although the Galaxy S22 may not be much different than the S21 from the outside, it offers several notable upgrades over its predecessor and will get one more year of software updates compared to the S21. You get a more durable and premium design, a more powerful chipset, and upgraded cameras that deliver better low-light shots. That said, if you’re getting a great deal on the Galaxy S21, there’s nothing wrong with picking it up over the S22.

    The Galaxy S22 offers a delightful mix of powerful performance and exceptional cameras in a compact package.
    The Galaxy S21 offers a beautiful AMOLED display, triple camera system, and a 4,000mAh battery.

As for those using the Galaxy S21, there’s no need to upgrade for full price as you’re not missing out on anything substantial. It would be better to wait for the Galaxy S23 or S24 as it would likely bring more meaningful upgrades. Samsung does offer some insane trade-in discounts, so if your numbers for the Galaxy S22 come down substantially after trading in your Galaxy S21, it would be worth dropping in about ~$200 to get a newer, more futureproof device. So, no, don’t upgrade for full price, but do assess if you can jump up with just a small number.

If you’re looking for a flagship experience at a cheaper price, we recommend checking out the Galaxy S21 FE, which offers many of the premium features of the S21, including a bigger battery, for just $599.

About author

Kishan Vyas
Kishan Vyas

A loyal Android user since Android 2.1 Eclair. Direct inquiries to [email protected]

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