Samsung Galaxy S22: What we know so far
The arrival of Samsung's Galaxy S22 line of phone is expected within weeks. Here's what we expect to see from the new range.
Samsung works to a predictable pattern when it comes to phone upgrades. Its first major upgrade in a given year will occur roughly around the February/March timeframe, updating the Galaxy S line of phones, while Folds and Notes appear mid-year and in the August–October months respectively.
However, 2021 saw no refresh of the Galaxy Note line, although both the S21 Ultra 5G and Galaxy Z Fold 3 included S-Pen compatibility.
With the Galaxy S22 series, there's a lot of rumours that suggest that the Note line will in effect become part of the S series family for good. That's just part of what we already know about Samsung's new flagship phones.
When can I buy the Samsung Galaxy S22?
Samsung hasn't at this point given out specific timing for availability of the new Galaxy S22 phones, but what it has confirmed is that it's going to hold a Galaxy Unpacked event on 9 February 2022. International datelines being what they are, that equates out to 2am on 10 February 2022 AEDT.
Samsung hasn't actually and officially said that this Galaxy Unpacked event will be all about phones... but it's all about phones. Just watch the official trailer and you'll be left in no doubt there.
It's one thing to launch a phone, and another to actually put it on sale. Early rumours suggested that the on-sale date in some markets might be around 24 or 25 February 2022.
Some later rumours suggest that Samsung may need to stagger the release dates of specific models due to chip shortages and shipping issues, but we'll have to wait and see on that score. It's likely that some storage/RAM models may be unique to specific markets, because we've certainly seen that kind of play out of Samsung before.
Samsung's likely to preference South Korea and the USA first, although Australia is often an early availability market for the phone maker.
How can I watch the Galaxy S22 Galaxy Unpacked Event?
Like most launches, Samsung wants as many folks as possible able to watch its hype-laden launch events as it can. If you fancy burning the midnight oil to catch the news as it happens, it'll be broadcast on Samsung's website, press site and via YouTube for easy watching.
Don't fancy a 2AM start to learn about a new phone? We'll have every single detail you need to know right here on Finder on Thursday morning for you to catch up with.
How much will the Samsung Galaxy S22 cost?
This will vary by model and Samsung hasn't said anything concrete as yet. There are some signs that we may be in line for a slight bump upwards in prices.
The suggestion from one widely reported leak – still just a rumour – is that Samsung would look to up the prices for the Galaxy S22 range by around US$100 each compared to last year's Galaxy S21 range.
That's hardly concrete confirmation, but it would make a lot of sense of the recent release of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, which has pricing starting at $999 locally.
If Samsung kept to the same pricing for the Galaxy S22 family as it did for the Galaxy S21, then there would be precious little between its entry-level S22 and the cheaper S21 FE. That would make it much harder to sell Galaxy S21 FE handsets.
The flipside of that argument is that Samsung did manage to bring pricing down for the Galaxy Fold phones it announced in 2021, especially the Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Leaks suggest that the entry-level Galaxy S22 will retail for around US$899, the Galaxy S22+ for around US$1,099 and the premium Galaxy S22 Ultra at US$1,299. So how does that compare against existing Galaxy S21 pricing? I've converted at rates relevant at time of publication and added in 10% GST, but these are still grain-of-salt figures, to be clear.
|Samsung Galaxy S21 5G||$1,249|
|Samsung Galaxy S22 5G||$1,371|
|Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G||$1,549|
|Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G||$1,676|
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G||$1,849|
|Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra 5G||$1,981|
|Prices are with currency conversion at 17/01/2022 with 10% GST added; US list prices usually omit any sales tax|
With profit margins and currency fluctuations in mind, that suggests entry-level pricing for the Galaxy S22 phones at likely $1,399, $1,699 and $1,999 respectively.
What will the Samsung Galaxy S22 look like?
Every year, Samsung tries (or at least appears to try) to keep visual leaks around handsets to a minimum, and pretty much every year it fails. That certainly appears to be the case for the Galaxy S22 family, because we've seen quite a few leaks, hands-on photos and even a possible press photo appear well ahead of the formal launch of the family of phones.
As with prior years, there will be 3 Galaxy S22 handsets, with the entry-level Galaxy S22 joined by the Galaxy S22+ and premium Galaxy S22 Ultra. Those names are subject to change, with some rumours suggesting that Samsung might formally fold the Note family into the Galaxy S family with the Ultra phone instead being a "Note" handset. We'll have to wait and see on that score.
A leak from LetsGoDigital pointed to the S22 Ultra offering compatibility with Samsung's S-Pen, with a critical difference from the S21 Ultra.
That phone supported S-Pens, but had no cavity to store them, so you had to buy an extra case or just let it roll around in your bag if a stylus was important to you.
LetsGoDigital's picture suggests that the Galaxy S22 Ultra (or Galaxy S22 Note Ultra, or whatever) will at least support the S-Pen, but it's also rumoured that it'll incorporate a socket for the S-Pen, like Note phones of old.
That's a claim emboldened by Samsung's own early pre-hype for the new phones, with Samsung's President and Head of the MX Business, TM Roh writing in a blog post that "At Unpacked in February 2022, we'll introduce you to the most noteworthy S series device we've ever created."
Subtlety clearly isn't his strong point.
The other big design change across the field for the S22 phones is a change in the layout of the rear cameras. The S21 phones used a rectangular phone block at the rear, but for the S22 phones, what we see are instead individually protruding camera lenses across all models.
In terms of physical construction, it's expected that all models will feature glass backs – the base model S21 in 2021 only had plastic – with some tipping that Samsung will use a specially strengthened version of Corning's Gorilla Glass Victus, called Gorilla Glass Victus+ to keep its phones from breaking front or back.
It appears that the Galaxy S22 phones may be marginally smaller than the S21 family they're replacing. Leaker ICE Universe suggests that the Galaxy S22 will measure 146×70×7.6mm and weigh 167g, while the Galaxy S22+ will come in at 157.4×75.8x7.6mm and 195g. Finally the Galaxy S22 Ultra is said to measure 163.3×77.9×8.9mm and weigh 228g.
Why are they smaller? That would aid in fitting in the hand, but it's also because they may feature slightly smaller displays on the lower-cost handsets.
The Galaxy S22 may feature a 6.06-inch display, compared to the 6.2-inch screen of the S21. Likewise, the Galaxy S22+ is rumoured to feature a 6.55-inch display, down 0.15 inches from the 6.7-inch display of the S21+. The Galaxy S22 Ultra at least gets a screen size upgrade, albeit a minor one, jumping 6.81 inches from 6.8 inches on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
It's also quite likely that the S22 Ultra will get the prime choice in terms of screen quality. All 3 phones are rumoured to support 120Hz refresh rates, and at these prices we'd expect that. However, where the S22 and S22+ are rumoured to feature FHD+ resolutions, the Galaxy S22 Ultra gets QHD+ and possibly a very bright screen as well. It's also rumoured to be the only member of the family to feature a curved display.
Early renders of the Galaxy S22 family suggest that we'll see the new phones in green, gold, black and white variants at the very least. Samsung being Samsung, they'll have some kind of suffix – possibly "Phantom", but it might mix it up – for each of those colours. Given how it's moved into bespoke colours for the Galaxy Z Flip 3 phones, it's also quite likely that we might see even more colours, either at launch or later in the year.
What cameras will the Galaxy S22 have?
If you're after the best cameras Samsung can make, the smart money points towards the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra/Note as the phone to buy.
Tipsters suggest that it'll be rocking a primary high-megapixel sensor, possibly even as high as 200MP, although some rumours pour cold water on that level of hype, suggesting instead that we'll see another primary 108MP sensor, paired up with dual 12MP telephoto and a single 12MP ultra-wide lens. If that sounds a lot like the Galaxy S21 Ultra to you, you're not alone. Samsung has gone down the path of only lightly tweaking its camera optics across Galaxy S generations before, but we'd hope for a little more.
That little more may come in the form of the glass covering the 108MP sensor, said to be called a "Super Clear Lens", offering reductions in glare and reflection that could aid in getting even sharper pictures.
As with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, we expect to see up to 100x zoom as a feature on board. As with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, we expect it to be mostly rubbish for taking useful photos that don't make you feel like a creep, but Samsung did do good work in the middle zoom ranges for its 2021 handset.
Around the front, some rumours did suggest that Samsung might opt for an in-display selfie camera, a feature it included in the Galaxy Z Flip 3. The problem there is that the 4MP sensor on the Z Flip 3 is, to put it politely, not very good at all. Samsung has no doubt experimented with the technology, but unless it can seriously improve the quality, it seems likely that it'll copy the 40MP front-facing selfie camera found on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.
If you prefer a smaller phone, or a cheaper one, then you'll see a downgrade in rumoured camera quality relative to the Galaxy S22, as you'd expect.
However, there's not a lot of consensus around what the camera optics on the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ will actually be. Some rumours suggest that they'll ship with a 50MP primary, 12MP ultra-wide and 12MP 3x optical camera array at the rear, and just a 10MP selfie camera at the front.
If that pans out, it would not only be a downgrade from the S22 Ultra as you'd expect, but also an on-paper downgrade from the comparable S21 handsets. Samsung may have some back-end AI that makes that a less relevant issue – we'll have to wait and see.
Specifications: What's new in the Samsung Galaxy S22?
The biggest challenge facing any phone maker in 2022 is the worldwide chip shortage. Samsung is a big producer of chips in its own right, and in years past that has led to a 2-tiered phone strategy. In the US and China, Galaxy S phones have tended towards the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of the year. Internationally, the same phones have sold with Samsung's own Exynos processors on board. Typically speaking, Exynos models have tended towards better battery life but lesser actual processing power.
In 2022, that would point towards the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Exynos 2200 processors respectively. However, there's considerable mixed messaging from the rumour mill about who will get which variants, with some claiming that everyone will see Qualcomm chips due to the ongoing chip shortages, or possibly due to production issues for Exynos silicon generally. Again, it's a wait-and-see effort that won't entirely be helped by Samsung itself. The company tends to try to obscure which processor you're getting in official specification sheets by instead just referencing core counts rather than processor names.
Outside the processor, it's expected that the Galaxy S22 family will ship with 8GB of RAM for the S22 and S22+ phones, while the premium S22 Ultra will get either 12GB or 16GB of RAM. Samsung has quite often kept the upper-tier RAM models for very specific markets (usually South Korea) so don't be shocked if your only option in Australia is the 12GB variant.
On the storage front, it's expected that the entry-level models will start with 256GB of onboard storage. It's not clear if microSD card storage will be supported, with higher-tier models pitched at 512GB and possibly 1TB of storage respectively. Expect to pay a lot more for that 1TB phone if it hits our shores – and don't expect to see it available through telco carrier partners if past experience is any guide.
As we've already noted, it's expected that the Galaxy S22 Ultra will offer support for the S-Pen stylus, and that it may have an internal compartment to store it in. If that's true – and it's an if – then we'd expect the S-Pen to come as standard with the S22 Ultra only.
On the power side, rumours suggest that the S22 Ultra will maintain the 5,000mAh battery of its predecessor, but it's a less clear picture for the smaller handsets. Some rumours suggest that we might even see a slight downgrade in battery capacity, with 3,800mAh and 4,600mAh or 4,500mAh power packs in the Galaxy S22 and Galaxy S22+ respectively. That may relate to their smaller frames, but again we'll have to wait for final confirmation.
Where that gets interesting is in the choice of processors and what that ultimately means for battery life. My experiences testing out every Samsung flagship phone all the way back to the original Galaxy S has been an utter rollercoaster ride.
Some years Samsung has the best battery life money can buy. Other years it trails well behind the best in the market at the time.
If the Snapdragon processor is what we see, its purported battery life improvements could make smaller batteries of no real concern. Ultimately nobody really cares about the battery mAh numbers – they care about whether their phone goes flat before the end of the day.
Either way, that could lead to super-quick recharges of your handset when the battery does dip into low percentages. However, given Samsung has solidly gone down the path of no longer bundling chargers with its handsets, don't expect to get that fast charger for free in the box.
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