Now that the Pixel 6 and the iPhone 13 have closed out 2021, the Samsung Galaxy S22 (and Galaxy S21 FE) are the next highly anticipated releases on the calendar. While we don't have a hard release date yet, we expect the Galaxy S22, S22+, and S22 Ultra to arrive in February 2022 — their release date pushed slightly back to make room for the latest Fan Edition phone.
The Galaxy S21 and S21 Ultra both topped our list of the best Android phones for most of the year (before the new Pixels supplanted them); how will Samsung follow up on such great hardware? Based on leaked info, the baseline S22 will mostly tread water with a smaller display and similar specs — though the new Snapdragon will give it a boost. It's the S22 Ultra that will make waves, thanks to its alleged S Pen slot and hard-edged design reminiscent of the Galaxy Notes of yore.
If you're deciding whether to buy an S21 for cheap during the upcoming Black Friday Android phone deals or hold out a bit longer for the S22, we're here with all the info available.
The best for months to come
Samsung Galaxy S21
With months to go until the S22 arrives — and rumors that it won't change that much from the S21 in specs and design — there's no reason to wait on the Galaxy S21, which we consider the best Android phone available. Especially if you find it on sale.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Release date
The Galaxy S21 arrived in January 2021, while the previous two Galaxy series — the S20 and S10 — shipped in March. This year, it looks like Samsung could split the difference, all thanks to the confusing Galaxy S21 FE launch.
Samsung initially delayed (and considered canceling) the S21 FE due to production issues. Now, the latest rumors suggest the S21 FE will launch in early January, pushing the S22 launch into February to avoid overlap. The most recent leak suggests the S22 will launch on February 8, with pre-orders opening that day. If this leak is accurate, the S22 ship date will be February 18.
Given the early November leak that the S22 is fully in production, it tracks that the new phones will arrive in early 2022, regardless of the exact launch.
Whenever the S22 does appear, other recent leaks have suggested the Galaxy Tab S8 will also ship around the same time. One massive phone/tablet push could help Samsung overcome its recent financial setbacks with its smartphone sales.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Price
Recent leaks suggest the S22 and S22+ will decrease in size and battery life while leaving internal specs relatively unchanged. This makes us dubious that Samsung would increase pricing while shrinking the sizes of the phones.
The S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra cost $799, $999, and $1,199, respectively. For comparison, the S20 phones ranged from $999 to $1,399 with the same $200 gaps. You can likely count on the same $200 price differences between the three S22 phones; we just can't guarantee where its pricing will start.
The S22 will compete primarily with the $799 iPhone 13 in sales, so it could easily stand pat — unless the $599 Pixel 6 spooks Samsung into dipping its prices lower. Given Samsung's international sales dominance over Google, we find the latter unlikely.
While releasing Galaxy S22 renders and specs, @OnLeaks and Zouton claimed the phones will retail between $799 and $1199, which fits with Samsung sticking to the status quo next year.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Design
Several leakers have gotten their hands on the Galaxy S22 — or photos of it — already. According to one, the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus resemble the iPhone 13 with flat displays, symmetrical bezels, and flat backs. As with the S21 series, only the Ultra will have a curved display.
The Galaxy S22 will keep the glasstic material from the S21 while shrinking from 6.2 inches to 6.06 and from 4,000mAh to 3,700mAh, making it the "smallest flagship phone in recent years." Meanwhile, another specs rumor suggested that Samsung will also downgrade the S22 Plus, removing its glass back in favor of a glasstic one and shrinking the display from 6.7" to 6.55", respectively. This will make the 6.8-inch, glass-backed Galaxy S22 Ultra more of an upgrade.
Zouton and @OnLeaks recently unveiled Galaxy S22 and S22+ renders that show both phones' potential designs. In short, the phones look very similar to the S21 and S21+, except that the camera module is raised slightly higher than before.
As you might expect, the shrunken Galaxy S22 and S22+ will likely have smaller battery capacity than their predecessors. Leaker FrontTron claims the S22 and S22+ would have 3,800mAh and 4,600mAh battery life, respectively. Meanwhile, GalaxyClub had a less optimistic outlook, suggesting 3,700mAh and 4,500mAh for its S22 battery estimates.
Considering the Galaxy S21 and S21+ hit 4,000mAh and 4,800mAh, this is a fairly decent downgrade on both fronts. We can only hope the smaller displays will negate this difference, and the phones retain the S21 series' respectable battery life.
Otherwise, Samsung may shrink the designs of its S22s but otherwise leave the display tech unchanged. Every rumor we've seen suggests the S22 and S22+ will have the same FHD+ 120Hz displays as their S21 counterparts.
DigiTimes claimed that Samsung considered incorporating vapor cooling into the S22, which it hadn't used since the Note 10+. Since then, FrontTron claims upper management nixed the design idea to "save costs," so we'll have to wait and see.
Samsung Galaxy S22 The return of the Note Ultra?
Samsung may shrink the S22 and S22+, but the S22 Ultra should stick to the same 6.8-inch display size and 5,000mAh battery as the Galaxy S21 Ultra. More importantly, it could get a significant redesign that would convert it into a replacement for the deprecated Galaxy Note lineup.
Multiple leak sources have suggested the Galaxy S22 Ultra will have an S Pen slot and will be the only S22 model with S Pen support. Those same leaks suggest the S22 Ultra will have less rounded edges than the S21 Ultra but won't be quite as rectangular as the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
In recent smuggled photos of the device, you could see its 6.8-inch curved AMOLED display and a P-shaped camera sensor arrangement, with the sensors sticking directly out of the backplate instead of being housed in a traditional camera module. The phone itself looks remarkably thick, but the curved design should help make it less unwieldy to hold.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Specs and cameras
For months, we've been intrigued by the Exynos 2200, a 5nm chip co-made by Samsung and AMD with RDNA2 tech for "ray tracing and variable rate shading." Exynos chips usually appear in the international Galaxy phones, though various leaks indicated the 2200 would only release in Europe or could appear in the S22 for specific carriers.
The most recent leak suggests that Samsung will employ the Snapdragon 898 in the S22 in all markets, not just in the United States. Samsung chose the rumored 4nm chip over its own design (allegedly) due to chip shortages, ensuring it wouldn't have enough of the Exynos 2200 for international S22 demand.
Another leaker countered with a claim that Samsung will still use the Exynos "in some countries and regions." We'll have to wait and see who's right.
For all three S22 phones, we expect RAM and storage to remain consistent with the S21 lineup. That would mean 8GB and 128/256GB for the S22 and S22+, and an upgrade to 12/16GB of memory and up to 512GB SSD with the Ultra.
The S22 and S22+ should also have the same FHD+ AMOLED displays with 120Hz refresh rates and HDR10+ certification as before, while the S22 Ultra will have QHD+ resolution. All three phones should retain IP68 water/dust resistance, but none are likely to have 3.5mm headphone jacks, and dual SIM support will vary by country and carrier.
Allegedly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra could support 45W charging, while the S22 and S22+ could stick with the 25W charging of their antecedents.
Mysteries about the S22 chipset aside, all of the other major rumors have concerned the S22 lineup's cameras. The Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ should have the 50MP ISOCELL GN5 sensor for their main cameras, according to a recent leak.
Meanwhile, the Galaxy S22 Ultra allegedly will sport a 108MP main sensor, a 12MP ultra-wide lens with optical image stabilization, two 10MP telephoto lenses — one with 10X zoom and one with 3X zoom — and a 40MP selfie cam with a hole-punch cutout. Most of those numbers match the S21 Ultra, with the exception of the revamped 108MP lens.
Samsung Galaxy S22 Software
Just as the S21 series shipped with One UI 3.1 out of the box, it's virtually guaranteed the Samsung Galaxy S22 will come pre-installed with One UI 4 — or possibly 4.1, if Samsung has made significant changes to the new interface by then.
The One UI 4 Beta has run for several weeks on the S21 series. Its initial launch was full of bugs, but has since added plenty of fixes and new features, including Samsung's spin on the Material You color picker tool.
The official One UI 4 launch on the S21 series begins in December 2021, and Samsung will certainly have a clean version of the OS ready for the S22 by February.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Again, why wait?
How you feel about the Galaxy S22 Ultra will depend on whether or not you miss Samsung's old Galaxy Note phones. If you don't care about the S Pen slot or care for the new boxy design, the S21 Ultra still absolutely holds up in performance, display quality, and camera quality. You can even buy a case with an S Pen slot if you want.
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