How will Samsung improve on the best phones of 2021?
After a summer filled with mid-range phones, we’re expecting to see some major flagships this fall, from the Pixel 6 to the iPhone 13. Naturally, we expect these phones to sell like hotcakes, but if Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy phones stay on schedule, they’re also not that far off. So should you wait for them?
We don’t have any hard information on the successor to the Galaxy S21 lineup. But the Samsung Galaxy S22 leakers are already out in full force, many of which have proven prophetic in the past. Rumored to have features like ray tracing and vapor cooling, the Galaxy S22 may be a full-fledged gaming machine masquerading as a phone if Samsung has its way. Then again, production shortages could prevent Samsung from adding some cool features, as you’ll see below.
It’s slim pickings on Galaxy S22 rumors this early, but we know plenty of people are eager to learn more. So here’s everything we know about Samsung’s upcoming flagship, which is near-certain to join the ranks of the best Android phones.
With nearly half a year to wait 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.
The Galaxy S21 arrived in January 2021, while the previous two Galaxy series — the S20 and S10 — shipped in March. Last year could have been an aberration, meaning the S22 could return to the original March slot. Given Samsung’s recent declining sales, it makes sense the company would push out a new phone as quickly in 2022 as possible. On the other hand, who knows how recent chip shortages will affect the timeline.
We won’t beat around the bush: we don’t know anything about the S22 price yet. No rumors have touched it, making it likely that even Samsung hasn’t decided how much to charge this early. However, recent leaks suggest the S22 and S22+ will decrease in size and battery life while leaving internal specs relatively unchanged, making us dubious that Samsung will increase pricing at the same time.
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 price differences for the S22, but we can’t know for certain how high the S22 will start.
Our first major Galaxy S22 specs rumor suggested that Samsung will downgrade the S22 Plus compared to the S21 Plus, swapping from glass to the same ‘glasstic’ material as the S21. The leaker also suggested that both the S22 and S22+ will shrink compared to their predecessors — from 6.2″ to 6.06″ and 6.7″ to 6.55″, respectively. Meanwhile, the S22 Ultra will stick to the same 6.8-inch display as last year’s flagship.
As you might expect, smaller sizes could correspond to lower battery sizes. Leaker FrontTron concurred with those display sizes, then said the S22 and S22+ would have 3,800mAh and 4,600mAh battery life, respectively; both would lose 200mAh of capacity compared to the S21s if this proves true. Meanwhile, the S22 Ultra could stick with a 5,000mAh model.
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, while the S22 Ultra will keep its QHD+ resolution, S Pen support, and LTPO tech for variable refresh rates.
While most signs point to a smaller but otherwise unchanged design, we were excited to read this report from DigiTimes about a potential gamer-centric S22 redesign. Specifically, local manufacturers believe the S22 will have vapor chambers and have begun to mass-produce them in preparation. Samsung previously added them to the Note 10+, so this isn’t far-fetched. As a result, your S22 may be less prone to overheating when running graphically intensive games at super-fast refresh rates.
In May, we learned Samsung and AMD had partnered on the Exynos 2200, a 5nm chip meant to power Samsung’s upcoming phones and Chromebooks. We then learned AMD planned to add RDNA2 tech to Samsung phones, which would add “ray tracing and variable rate shading” to “high performance mobile devices” like the S22 series. Given that Samsung typically uses Snapdragons for US phones and homemade Exynos chips internationally, the new Exynos could have given the latter version the edge in performance.
Unfortunately, another recent Naver leak suggested Samsung is struggling to create enough Exynos 2200 chipsets to scale, possibly due to chip shortages. That means the S22 will likely run off of the Snapdragon 895 in most markets. Given that the PS5 and Xbox Series X use the same AMD GPU tech found in the Exynos chip, gamers will likely find this disappointing.
That same leaker claimed that the Galaxy S22’s RAM and storage won’t change from 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.
Mysteries about the S22 chipset aside, all of the other major rumors have concerned the S22 Ultra cameras. One S22 Ultra leak suggested it would have continuous optical zoom technology, which shifts the position of lenses in the camera in real time to provide better shots regardless of the focus; it also claimed it would have an under-display selfie camera.
Our Galaxy Z Fold 3 review said its under-display selfie cam blended in really well with the display, but also that its camera quality was “horrible.” So we’re unclear whether the technology is ready for a flagship phone or not.
Since then, we learned that Samsung is developing a 200MP Olympus camera, rumored to appear in the S22 Ultra. The same leak suggested the S22 and S22+ would upgrade their main cameras to 50MP.
However, a subsequent leak confirmed the 200MP sensor’s existence but said Samsung would stick with a revamped 108MP sensor for the S22 Ultra; instead, a 2022 Xiaomi Mi device will use Samsung’s 200MP tech before any other phone.
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 4.0 — or possibly 4.1, if Samsung has made significant changes to the new interface by then.
We know that the One UI 4.0 beta — based off of Android 12 — will begin in September with the S21 series and move on to older Galaxy phones in October. From there, it’s highly likely the first initial One UI 4.0 version will come to the S21 by the end of 2021, making it primed and ready for the S22 in January.
Again, why wait?
We hope the Galaxy S22 will be an Exynos-powered gaming machine mixed with a 200MP camera, but recent rumors suggest the S22 could tread water in many ways. So you can safely buy the Galaxy S21 now if you want an amazing flagship device with powerful cameras, QHD+ resolution with VRR, and S Pen support.
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