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Phones

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: Which should you buy?

Productivity Powerhouse vs Reliable Predecessor
By Aryan Suren February 19, 2022, 6:00 am
S22 Ultra vs S21 Ultra Camera Modules next to each other Source: Pocketnow Video

The Galaxy S21 Ultra was one of the best phones of the past year. And in that year without a Galaxy Note, it was at the peak of Samsung’s traditional smartphones. Well, this year, it is highly likely that once again, we will not see the launch of a Galaxy Note as Samsung has decided to fold the Galaxy Note's key features into the Galaxy S Series, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra — its latest and greatest in 2022.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra introduces a significant departure from the design of its predecessor, but, as you may expect, it packs some of the best mobile hardware available on the market. Although irrespective of Galaxy S22 Ultra being the latest device, it does share several aspects with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. So if you have been tossing around the idea of picking up either one, here is our comparison to help you note their differences and make the decision that is best for you.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY
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Design and Display

S22 Ultra's Display with S Pen Source: Pocketnow Video

Addressing the elephant in the room, Galaxy S22 Ultra and Galaxy S21 Ultra ship with drastically different looks. While the S22 Ultra does share a resemblance with the older Note 20 Ultra — leaving you with a feeling of familiarity — the departure from the S21 Series is significant.

But we are happy to report that the satin back finishes, introduced back in 2020, are still here, and so is its fingerprint-resistant nature. In most regions, the Galaxy S22 Ultra will be available in four colors, Phantom Black, Phantom White, Burgundy, and Green, with additional colors available if you place an order on the official Samsung website.

Now, coming to the physical aspects, the S22 Ultra has a flat top and bottom edge with rounded edges on its other two sides. Along the bottom, you will also find an embedded S Pen. The Galaxy S21 Ultra has a much simpler rounded rectangle look. The next noticeable change is on the back of the two devices. The Galaxy S22 Ultra sports a new no-camera island look with just the camera rings jutting out of the back, while the S21 Ultra has a camera island that merges into the metal frame.

While it is sad to see Contour Cut go away — the design language introduced last year — I am fond of the new look.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back panel Source: Pocketnow

Speaking of the displays, both phones feature 6.8-inch QHD+ AMOLED panels with an adaptive refresh rate, but there is a generational upgrade on the Galaxy S22 Ultra. On its predecessor, the display could modulate between 10Hz~120Hz, whereas the S22 Ultra pushes the range slightly wider, due to LTPO 2.0, giving it a scope between 1Hz~120Hz. What could this mean for end-users?

Effectively this can result in a more efficient Always-On Display and better modulation of displayed content. In terms of brightness, the S22 Ultra also sees an upgrade to 1750 nits, compared to the 1500 nits with the S21 Ultra.

Bringing your attention to the extras, both phones are covered with versions of Gorilla Glass Victus, the standard on Galaxy S21 Ultra, while the newer phone ships with Gorilla Glass Victus Plus. Samsung also upgraded the aluminum frame to Armor Aluminum on S22 Ultra. The S Pen on Galaxy S22 Ultra is also a much-improved unit and features an insanely low latency (2.8ms) that will improve the feedback you receive if you are into using the stylus. And like always, the devices are protected against the water with an IP68 water resistance rating.

What processor do these devices feature?

Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Chipset SoC Source: Qualcomm

Powering the Galaxy S22 Ultra are the latest processors from Qualcomm and Samsung. Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 based units are available in more regions than just North America this year, and Samsung seems to have limited the areas that feature Exynos 2200. The latter ships with the highly rumored — but now officially confirmed — AMD GPU, which Samsung calls Xclipse. We cannot wait to see how this device holds up over time. Its predecessor shipped with Snapdragon 888 and the Exynos 2100 in other regions.

For the Snapdragon version, users can expect to see anywhere between a 20% CPU performance improvement and 35% gains for the GPU when compared to 888, according to Qualcomm's claims.

But ringing the same bell as with every year-on-year upgrade. The differences you are likely to see in day-to-day usage between the two generations are minimal. And picking between either of these should not be based on the performance you might extract from them, as both phones will accomplish any task thrown at them with relative ease.

But one factor you should keep in mind is the RAM that your device ships with, as Samsung reduced the base quantity to 8GB on Galaxy S22 Ultra. So, if you know you're likely to stress your phone with several heavy applications, springing for a higher RAM variant might be worth your consideration. Galaxy S21 Ultra ships with 12GB of RAM by default.

Now, if you are someone who plans on using the camera extensively and wishes to eke out every inch of performance, the new generation is going to be your best bet! As it ships with a better Image Signal Processor and AI-based improvements. More on this in the next segment.

How does Galaxy S22 Ultra's camera hardware compare against Galaxy S21 Ultra?

In terms of raw numbers, the camera hardware on Galaxy S22 Ultra is hardly any different from its predecessor. Looking at the spec sheets, the only real difference that stood out to us was the varying field of view that the new lenses have, but we believe changes made on the software front are the ones that will affect the end-user experience.

Samsung boasts a new Night Mode due to a 23% larger pixel sensor and better HDR capabilities. There is also a new AI layer that works on high-resolution processing. These improvements possibly stem from the larger data package the new device captures — Samsung claims Galaxy S22 Ultra captures four times more data than its predecessor.

The new camera can even implement an auto-framing feature capable of detecting up to 10 subjects and optimizing focus and zoom angle. Apart from these changes, Portrait Mode has seen an improvement to its night-time functionality and also works for pets now, and lastly, the camera can provide 16-but RAW results with an Expert RAW app.

How does the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra compare to Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in terms of battery life?

Galaxy-S21-Ultra-review-9

Coming to the battery life of the two devices, in our testing, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra lasted for a day and a half consistently, even with moderately taxing usage (on a single charge).

The S22 Ultra features a similar 5000 mAh cell, so it would not be shocking to see it last just as long. There is also a more efficient panel on its front that will surely aid in allowing the device to stay away from the charger for a long while.

But if and when you do find yourself in need of plugging in, the S22 Ultra brings back 45W wired charging, a feature last seen on the S20 Ultra. Last year's model was limited to 25W, and it showed as many users expressed discontent with the safe play.

But except for the faster wired charging, the remaining features remain the same between the two devices. As both support 15W wireless charging and then reverse wireless charging to power accessories or other smartphones.

Verdict: Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra introduces a new design and a new set of features due to its absorption of the Note DNA. So, if you are a power user looking to get the most from their smartphone and have always desired an S Pen or even used one with your S21 Ultra last year, the S22 Ultra makes perfect sense.

But if you are someone who is just looking for a great smartphone experience that competes with the best, the S21 Ultra is a proven device. And if it is easily available at a lower price than its successor, it is one appealing option on the market.


Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Phantom Black

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Latest

The Galaxy S22 Ultra comes with a larger 6.8" QHD+ 120Hz AMOLED display, a versatile camera setup, and a large battery that will keep you going through a whole day! Pre-order your Galaxy S22 Ultra from Samsung's website and receive $200 in Samsung Credit.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

The Predecessor

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is the company's latest flagship. It sports a 108MP primary camera, which is accompanied by three more cameras. There is a flagship SoC in the form of snapdragon 888.


Technical Specifications

SmartphoneSamsung Galaxy S22 UltraSamsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Operating SystemOne UI 4.1 (based on Android 12)One UI 4.0 (based on Android 12)
Dimensions163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9 mm165.1 x 75.6 x 8.9 mm
Weight229g grams229 grams
Display6.8-inch Edge QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, Adaptive 120Hz Refresh Rate (1Hz~120Hz), 1440x3088, 1750 nits peak brightness, 240Hz Touch Sampling in Gaming Mode6.8-inch Curved QHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, Adaptive 120Hz Refresh Rate (10Hz~120Hz), 1440 x 3200, 1500 nits peak brightness
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (North America)
Exynos 2200 (Global)
Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 (North America)
Exynos 2100 (Global)
RAM8GB or 12GB12GB or 16GB
Internal Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB*128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
Expandable StorageNoNo
Rear Camera12 MP Ultra-Wide (f2.2, 120-degree FOV)
108 MP Wide (f1.8, 85-degree FOV, Dual Pixel Autofocus)
10 MP Telephoto (f2.4, 36-degree FOV, 3x Optical Zoom)
10 MP Telephoto (f4.9, 11-degree FOV, 10x Optical Zoom)
12 MP Ultra-Wide (f2.2, 120-degree FOV)
108 MP Wide (f1.8, 79-degree FOV, Dual Pixel Autofocus)
10 MP Telephoto (f2.4, 35-degree FOV, 3x Optical Zoom)
10 MP Telephoto (f4.9, 10-degree FOV, 10x Optical Zoom)
Front Camera40 MP (f2.2, 80-degree FOV)40 MP (f2.2, 80-degree FOV)
Battery5000 mAh5000 mAh
Charging45W Wired Charging
15W Wireless Charging
Reverse Wireless Charging
25W Wired Charging
15W Wireless Charging
Reverse Wireless Charging
SecurityUltrasonic Fingerprint ScannerUltrasonic Fingerprint Scanner
ConnectivitySub6GHz/ mmWave 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, UWBSub6GHz/ mmWave 5G, Wi‑Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, UWB
PortsUSB-CUSB-C
Water ResistanceIP68IP68
ColorsPhantom Black, Phantom White, Green, BurgundyPhantom Black, Phantom Silver
Samsung.com Exclusive: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, Phantom Brown
Price$1199.99$1199.99
*Availability may vary according to region

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