Samsung Galaxy S22 vs Galaxy S21: the predicted upgrades

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: specs differences to expect
(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is nearly here. Samsung's next flagship phone is set to launch today, 9th February, and it should bring some big improvements in terms of specs and design.

We're expecting significant new screen tech, greater photographic prowess and a new, faster processor. The pricier variants should also be big improvements, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra said to be replacing the Galaxy Note phone that Samsung retired last year, complete with Note-inspired design and a slot for the S Pen stylus.

The rumours and leaks have been coming thick and fast, giving us plenty to digest. In fact, they have been so full on we think we've got indigestion. Join us as we pop a Rennie and sift through what to expect from the Galaxy S22, and see how it might differ from Samsung's current flagship, the S21.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: price rumours

It's worth noting that at the moment the S22's price – like every aspect of the device – hasn't been confirmed by Samsung. But we do have some leaks from some pretty reliable sources to go on.

Leaker Roland Quandt tweeted what he claims to be the range's European pricing recently. One of the most eye-catching details was that the S22 Ultra could come in two models: one with 8GB of RAM, and one with an S21 Ultra-matching 12GB.

Quandt claims that the S22 range will cost broadly the same as the S21 family. Here are his predictions:

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 €849 (around £710)
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus €1049  (around £875)
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra €1249 (around £1042)

And for comparison, here are the S21 devices' starting prices.

  • Samsung Galaxy S21: £769 ($799, AU$1249) 
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus: £949 ($1049, AU$1449)
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: £1149 ($1200, AU$1849)

Another leak swaps the Euro sign for the dollar symbol, and claims that all three S22 handsets will be pricier than their predecessors. According to this rumour, the entry-level S22 will reportedly carry a starting price of $849 (around £630, AU$1150), the S22 Plus $1049 (around £780, AU$1425) and the S22 Ultra $1249 (around £930, AU$1700). That would make the S22 and S22 Plus $50 more than the S21 equivalents, and the S22 Ultra $100 more. That could be due to the global chip shortage causing supply issues for all kinds of devices.

Don't forget, the S21 could well become cheaper once the S22 launches, so it could prove to be the better bet. And Samsung recently launched the S21 FE, which is an even cheaper take on the S21. Or of course you could opt for one of the best Android phones, or even go to the dark side with one of the best iPhones.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: release date news

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: release date news

(Image credit: Evan Blass / Samsung)

Again, it's important to stress that Samsung hasn't explicitly said that the S22 will launch on 9th February. But it has named that date as when its Galaxy Unpacked event will take place (traditionally, Samsung launches its next Galaxy S smartphone at Galaxy Unpacked). Prior to that announcement, Samsung also said in a blog post that it would launch its next Galaxy S device in February. 

So it looks highly likely that the Galaxy S22 will launch today, which is a little later in the year than the S21. Samsung announced the S21 on 14th January 2021, and it then went on sale on the 29th of the same month.

Previous years have seen Samsung's Galaxy S device launch as late as March, in order to get the jump on the Mobile World Congress trade show. But with more and more phone brands dropping out of Mobile World Congress again this year due to the ongoing pandemic, the show has less impact. So increasingly, Samsung is 'doing an Apple' and ploughing its own furrow.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: design rumours

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: design rumours

(Image credit: MySmartPrice / Ishan Agarwal )

The Galaxy S21 range comprised three models: the standard S21, S21 Plus and S21 Ultra. The S21 Plus is bigger than the S21, and the S21 Ultra even bigger still. If the rumours are correct, the Samsung Galaxy S22 family will take the same tack.

Though the phones themselves might be a little smaller. One early rumour said the S22 range would shrink slightly compared to the S21. The S22 is said to have a 6.06-inch screen compared to 6.1 inches on the S21. It says the S22 Plus will measure 6.5 inches (down from 6.7 for the S21 Plus) and the S22 Ultra 6.81 inches (down from 6.9 inches for the S21 Ultra).

Though these were disputed by a more recent leak. This one suggests the S22 will stick with a 6.1-inch screen, the S22 Plus will have a 6.6-incher and the S22 Plus a 6.8-incher. As with all of these details, we won't know for sure until the phones are announced.

Some device renders have leaked as well. If these are accurate, the S22 and S22 Plus look very similar to their S21 counterparts, though with glossy rather than matte backs and camera lenses that protrude a bit further. The S22 Ultra is expected – as shown in the renders above – to resemble the discontinued Galaxy Note device, complete with squared-off corners and a slot for holding the S Pen stylus. Which should make it less likely to get lost.

These renders all point to thinner bezels and a flat, rather than curved, display.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: camera leaks

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: camera leaks

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Galaxy S21 has one of the best cameras of any phone around. The star of the show is the 108MP main lens, which sits in the quad camera configuration on the back. If there's one thing you can guarantee going on its track record, it's that Samsung will kit the S22 out with even greater imaging prowess.

Though on first glance, it looks like not all that much will change. Rumours say the top-of-the-range S22 Ultra will have the same rear camera arrangement as the S21 Ultra (a 108MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide and two 10MP telephoto lenses, plus a periscope lens) along with a 40MP selfie snapper. The camera specs might be the same, but the S22 Ultra is rumoured to have improved image processing, along with a new Super Clear lens (opens in new tab). This new lens should reduce glare and reflections while also providing more image detail.

The standard S22 and S22 Plus are expected to boast a 50MP main shooter, along with a 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP telephoto lens, with a 10MP front-facing camera for selfies and video calls. That's a significant step up from the S21's 12-megapixel main camera.

Samsung has hinted at better low-light performance. In its blog post announcing that the new Galaxy S would arrive in February, it said the device would "take the best and brightest photos and videos you’ve ever captured with a phone."

Other credible rumours suggest that Samsung has teamed up with Japanese camera giant Olympus to overhaul the S22's camera. With OnePlus collaborating with Hasselblad, Huawei linking up with Leica and Nokia using Carl Zeiss lenses, a Samsung-Olympus collaboration could be a match made in heaven.

Samsung is also said to be testing 8K video at 60fps on the Galaxy S22 Ultra (the S21 Ultra maxes out at 24fps when shooting in 8K). That could be good news for anyone thinking of buying an 8K TV.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: screen rumours

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: screen rumours

(Image credit: Digit/OnLeaks)

Samsung's phones are renowned for their beautiful screens. The company has a separate display arm, after all, and it has pioneered various screen tech like the Edge panels that cascade over the edges of a phone. It also has a toe in the TV waters, and has innovated with QLED screen technology too. So hopes are high that the S22's screen will be something special.

We've already covered the rumoured screen sizes earlier in this article, but what of the actual screens themselves? How will they stand apart from the excellent panels seen on the S21 range?

It would make sense for Samsung to kit out the top-of-the-range S22 Ultra with the most advanced screen technology. According to well-respected leaker Ice universe, the S22 Ultra will feature the brightest OLED screen ever seen on a Samsung phone. We even have a figure of how bright the screen is expected to go – according to separate rumours from both SamMobile (opens in new tab) and WinFuture (opens in new tab), the S22 Ultra will have a maximum brightness of 1750 nits. That's significantly brighter than the 1500 nits maximum seen on the S21 range.

Like all three phones in the S21 family, the S22 handsets are expected to have 120Hz refresh rates, but the S22 Ultra is rumoured to be a little bit extra special. Because while it's capable of hitting 120Hz, it's also said to be capable of going right down to just 1Hz, if the content demands it. In other words, it should be a screen that responds to what it's showing like never before. Pretty special, in our view.

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: specs and features news

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: specs and features news

(Image credit: Samsung)

The S21 is one of the most powerful smartphones around. And if the rumours are correct, the S22 should be even more of a powerhouse.

It's rumoured to feature Samsung's 4nm Exynos 2200 chip with an octa-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and AMD RDNA 2 graphics. Samsung only unveiled the Exynos 2200 last month, so it would make sense to put it to work in its newest and best phone.

However, other rumours say the device will run on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 895 chip. For some of its devices, Samsung uses different chips in different regions, so chances are we'll see some countries get an S22 featuring the Exynos chip, and others with a Snapdragon-powered S22.

Both chips are super powerful, so performance should be on a par.

It could be a treat for gamers, too. AMD's RDNA 2 architecture (rumoured for the graphics chip inside the S22) is also the backbone of the graphics chip in the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. That doesn't mean the S22 will have the power of a next-gen games console, but it could turn out to be one of the most powerful gaming phones around.

What about battery? According to the huge leak that came our way recently, the S22 will have a 3700mAh battery, the S22 Plus a 4500mAh and the S22 Ultra a 5000mAh battery. In the case of the S22 and S22 Plus, those capacities are actually slightly lower than their S21 counterparts (4000mAh and 4800mAh, respectively). The S22 Ultra should remain unchanged, with the same 5000mAh battery as the S21 Ultra.

A lower capacity doesn't necessarily mean a shorter battery life, though. Chances are Samsung will make the processor work more efficiently in order to squeeze as much life out of the device as possible. 

Ice universe also claims Samsung is testing 65W, 45W and 25W fast charging (via MyFixGuide). The company previously introduced 45W fast charging when it launched the Galaxy S20 Ultra in 2019 – could it bring it back? Or will Samsung go a step further and introduce 65W fast charging capability?

Samsung Galaxy S22 vs S21: early verdict

Again, it's worth stressing that Samsung hasn't officially announced any of these details yet. All we know for sure is that a new Galaxy S device will launch in February, and that the company is holding its annual Unpacked event on the 9th. But based on the consistency of these rumours, we would be fools to ignore them.

If they're right, the S22 looks like it will improve on the S21 in almost every way. The screen should be better, the processor faster, the cameras more adept. And the differences should only become more stark as you go up the range, especially with the S22 Ultra taking the place of the Galaxy Note, complete with stylus holder. Roll on the launch event, when we'll finally get to see what Samsung has been working on.

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Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.