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The Galaxy S22’s design is perfect for those who prefer a smaller device if you’re willing to compromise on battery life.
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Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for Mobile Coverage. He has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining, Lisa worked at Insider as a senior technology correspondent covering Apple and the broader consumer technology industry. He was also previously a technology columnist for Time magazine and began his career as a contributor to Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide.
As phones get bigger, Samsung shrinks. The Galaxy S22, which starts at $800 and launches on February 25, is the smallest (and cheapest) phone in Samsung’s new lineup. It has a 6.1-inch display, which makes it slightly smaller than last year’s Galaxy S21, and is otherwise identical to the Galaxy S22 Plus.
It’s best to think of the Galaxy S22 as a mild upgrade over the Galaxy S21. It has a new design and a new processor, but it’s actually the camera upgrades that are the star of the show. The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus both have a 50-megapixel main sensor that improves color and clarity. Samsung’s three new Galaxy phones are also better at taking photos in the dark.
It’s a welcome update that makes the Galaxy S22 more enjoyable to use. But they’re also not game-changing updates that will bring substantial new features to the Galaxy S22. They simply improved Samsung phones on most of what they could do before, especially in photography.
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Between the Galaxy S22 and the S22 Plus, I think the Plus has the right balance of screen size and battery life for most people. The Galaxy S22 is perfect for those who want a phone that’s easy to use with one hand or in a tight pocket. But beware that you have to sacrifice battery life.
The Galaxy S22 is slightly more compact than last year’s Galaxy S21 and noticeably smaller than the Galaxy S22 Plus and S22 Ultra. Its 6.1-inch display also makes it the same size as the iPhone 13, though it’s only technically thinner.
It reminds me of a combination of Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10E in terms of design. The screen is the same size as the Galaxy S10, but the flat edges are reminiscent of the smaller Galaxy S10E. The Galaxy S22 personally feels a bit cramped for me after moving from the 6.6-inch Galaxy S22 Plus, especially when typing text messages or email replies.
But I imagine people who normally prefer smaller phones will feel right at home using the Galaxy S22. After all, there aren’t many small phones for Android fans to choose from. Most high-end phones from Google, Motorola, and OnePlus have larger screens that measure around 6.4 inches or larger.
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The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus also receive general changes. Both the phones have an attractive glass and metal design that looks like an upgrade over last year’s devices. It also feels a lot more premium than the $700 Galaxy S21 FE, which looks relatively quiet.
You might not really care about the design if you’re just going to stick the case on top of your device. But a phone that costs nearly $1,000 has to live up to it in terms of quality and aesthetics, and the Galaxy S22 certainly delivers on that front.
Not much has changed in terms of overall display quality. Like the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 FE, the Galaxy S22 features a 2,340 x 1,080-pixel flat AMOLED display that’s bright and sharp enough for watching videos, reading, and gaming. Samsung has also added a new feature called Vision Booster, which aims to adjust the display to the lighting around you. But it doesn’t make much difference in my experience.
The Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus both get notable camera upgrades. Both phones now have a 50-megapixel main camera, compared to the Galaxy S21’s 12-megapixel main camera. This puts it more on par with the Google Pixel 6 Pro, which also has a 50-megapixel primary camera.
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Both phones have excellent cameras that deliver colorful and sharp images. In many situations, especially when shooting in the sun, it can be difficult to decide which one takes the better photo. But there are circumstances when one phone is better than another. For example, take this photo of a bouquet of flowers. Samsung does a better job of keeping the sheets in focus, making them sharper than Google Photos. However, the Pixel 6 Pro’s photos are brighter.
But I prefer the Pixel 6 Pro’s portrait mode photos to the Galaxy S22’s. The perspective is closer and I think Google does a better job of preserving detail, especially in faces. But both are still high quality photos.
But of course, the Galaxy S22 camera is an improvement over the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 FE. The Galaxy S22 produces photos that generally have better contrast, sharper and richer colors in most cases. I didn’t notice much of a difference when taking photos with the telephoto lens. That’s surprising considering the Galaxy S21 has a higher-resolution 64-megapixel zoom lens compared to the S22’s 10-megapixel zoom lens.
The Galaxy S22 also takes better photos at night, as do the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra. Take a look at the portrait below, which was taken in my apartment with all the lights on. You’ll notice that the photos taken on the Galaxy S22 are much brighter and more colorful than those taken on the Galaxy S21 and Pixel 6 Pro.
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The Galaxy S22 sometimes struggles to focus on still subjects when shooting in very dark conditions, like the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra. But in my experience so far, it can focus a little faster than its more expensive sibling in similar situations.
The Galaxy S22 has a new design and a better camera, but the battery life is not impressive. Lisa Eadichiko/
The Galaxy S22 line is powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. Everyday tasks like playing games, swiping and launching apps feel as fast as you’d expect from a high-end phone. All three of Samsung’s new phones can also boost the refresh rate to 120Hz, another factor that makes these phones feel fluid.
Check out the results below to see how the Galaxy S22 fares in benchmark tests that measure general computing (Geekbench 5) and graphics performance (3DMark).
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But I just wish the Galaxy S22 had a better battery. The Galaxy S22 has a 3,700 mAh battery, which is significantly smaller than the 4,500 mAh and 5,000 mAh offered on the S22 Plus and Ultra. I can get through the day with the screen refresh rate set to the adaptive 120Hz setting, but just barely. With this option turned off, I was able to get about a day and a half. But that’s about the same longevity I usually get from the Galaxy S22 Plus or Ultra, with adaptive refresh rate enabled. I also didn’t spend a lot of time on video calls or streaming media—both tasks that would inevitably drain the battery faster—in anecdotal testing of the S22’s battery.
The Galaxy S22 also has the lowest battery test scores compared to the Galaxy S22 Plus, Galaxy S22 Ultra, and Galaxy S21 FE. It lasted 15 hours and 21 minutes, while the Galaxy S21 FE lasted 15 hours and 46 minutes. The Galaxy S22 Plus and S22 Ultra each last more than 18 hours. Compared to the similarly priced iPhone 13 Mini, Apple’s phone lasted 18 hours and 19 minutes in our test, but it’s worth noting that the iPhone 13 Mini doesn’t have a high-refresh-rate display. The battery test involved playing a video continuously, with the screen brightness set to 50% and airplane mode on.
The Galaxy S22 supports 25W fast charging, unlike the S22 Plus and S22 Ultra, which both support 45W fast charging. But luckily, a compatible charging adapter, which must be purchased separately, costs a much more reasonable $35 on Samsung’s website than the $50 45-watt charger. Other USB-C power adapters will likely charge the phone as well, but speeds may vary.
All Samsung Galaxy S22 phones run on Android 12 and the latest version of Samsung’s One UI 4 software. Samsung released One UI 4 in late 2021 and the software brings many new features such as more control over app permissions,
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