Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

Samsung galaxy s22 ultra black vs samsung galaxy s21 ultre black rear on table

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Samsung has unpacked its 2022 Galaxy S phone lineup with the Galaxy S22 series. That includes the high-end Galaxy S22 Ultra, which is also supposed to be the replacement for the Galaxy Note series. However, if you have 2021’s Galaxy S21 Ultra, should you upgrade to the newer model? Here’s our look at the Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra battle.


Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra


Design and display

Samsung galaxy s22 ultra bottom edge

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Like the older Galaxy S21 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a 6.8-inch display with rounded edges. Both phones have a QHD+ dynamic AMOLED screen with a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz. Both phones also have a punch-hole front-facing camera placed on the top center of the display. However, the Galaxy S22 Ultra does not have an under-display camera similar to the Galaxy Fold 3.

These phones have glass on the front and back with an aluminum frame. However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra has a bump on the top left rear that houses its rear camera sensors, placed vertically. The S22 Ultra does away with this camera bump design completely, with the sensors just popping out of the rear. At the bottom, both phones have a USB-C charging port, along with a speaker and a SIM card tray.

However, the biggest difference on the bottom of the Galaxy S22 Ultra is the embedded S Pen slot. Like the now-discontinued Note series, the Galaxy S22 Ultra includes a stylus, which you can take out of the phone with a quick push of the finger.

Hardware and cameras

Samsung galaxy s22 ultra vs samsung galaxy s21 ultra front on carpet

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The older Galaxy S21 Ultra has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip inside for the US market, and Samsung’s own Exynos 2100 chipset for other international markets. Inside the new Galaxy S22 Ultra, US buyers will get the phone with the latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC processor. Buyers in other parts of the world can expect the new Samsung Exynos 2200 chip inside. Oddly, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has 8GB and 12GB RAM options, while the older Galaxy S21 had 12GB and 16GB RAM support.

Both phones have onboard storage options of 128, 256, or 512GB, with the S22 Ultra including a 1TB option as well. But there’s no way to add additional storage to these phones via a microSD card slot. Both phones have a large 5,000mAh battery, with the S21 Ultra going up to 25W wired charging speeds, while the new S22 Ultra supports up to 45W charging.

Both phones have the same camera sizes in terms of megapixels, with a 108MP rear sensor, a 12MP ultrawide camera, and two 10MP telephoto cameras. Those telephoto sensors support up to 3x optical zoom for one camera, and the other supports up to 10x optical zoom, along with the software-assisted 100x Space Zoom. Both also have a 40MP front-facing camera.

Of course, the game-changer in terms of hardware for the S22 Ultra is the included S Pen. The Bluetooth-connected stylus is aimed at the smaller but very loyal number of Galaxy Note users who want to use it to take notes on the screen, draw artwork on the display, and operate apps without putting a finger on the screen. This version is also supposed to include lower latency than other S Pen-based phones, so it should act more like using a real pen on a real piece of paper.

The game-changer for the S22 Ultra is the included S Pen.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra will come out of the box with One UI 4 based on Android 12 installed. Samsung is pledging that the phone will get four years of major software upgrades and five years of security upgrades, a huge software upgrade cycle improvement for any Android-based smartphone maker. The Galaxy S21 Ultra launched with One UI 3.1, based on Android 11, and has since been updated to One UI 4, based on Android 12. While it initially was expected to receive three years of version upgrades, Samsung extended its new pledge to the previous generation too. That means it’ll now receive the same four years of updates and five years of patches.

Alternatives

Samsung galaxy s22 display in hand

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

If you are a Galaxy S21 Ultra owner looking for something a bit cheaper than the S22 Ultra for an upgrade, you might want to consider the new Galaxy S22 or S22 Plus models. Both have the same new processors as the Ultra model, and both share many of the more expensive phone’s other improvements.

Samsung galaxy s22 in black rotated onb ook

Samsung Galaxy S22

The gold standard for Android smartphones.

The vanilla Samsung Galaxy S22 is subtly tweaked from its predecessor, the Galaxy S21. It has a glass back again (nice!) and features the latest 2022 silicon. It also has an upgraded camera system that should be much better than the 2021 model.

Samsung galaxy s22 plus angled in hand rear panel

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus

The bigger and better (but not best) Galaxy S22.

The Galaxy S22 Plus is bigger than the vanilla Galaxy S22. It has a larger display, a larger battery, and charges faster with a wired connection. However, its cameras, processor, RAM, and internal storage options are the same as its little brother’s.

For people who want a premium camera experience, there’s the Sony Xperia 1 III. It has three Sony-made high-end 12MP rear cameras that can take great pictures. However, at a price of $1,299, it’s even more expensive than the S22 Ultra.

Sony xperia 1 iii press image

Sony Xperia 1 III

Premium product, premium price

The Xperia 1 III packs in the latest and greatest technology from Sony to create a smartphone purpose-built for multimedia, photography, and gaming.

Price and colors

Samsung galaxy s22 ultra in black white and blue cards

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (8/128GB): $1,199 / £1,149
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12/256GB): $1,299 / £1,249
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12/512GB): $1,399 / £1,329
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (12GB/1TB): $1,599 / £1,499
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra: $950

The Galaxy S22 Ultra will be generally available starting February 25, 2022, on Samsung.com, as well as third-party retailers like Amazon or Best Buy, and Samsung’s carrier partners. Pre-orders have already begun, and there are some nice offers for those willing to pre-order, including a free storage upgrade. The phone comes in several colors — Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, and Burgundy. There are also exclusive online colors — Graphite, Sky Blue, and Red.

When it launched a year ago, the Galaxy S21 Ultra had a starting price of $1,199, the same as the new S22 Ultra. However, it looks like Samsung has hit the EOL button on this phone as it is no longer available for sale on its official website. You might still find it on some third-party sites, and some wireless carriers might still have it on sale. It was available in only two colors, Phantom Silver and Phantom Black, at launch, but more were added later.
Samsung galaxy s22 ultra read in hand

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

The Galaxy S22 Ultra is a throwback to the days of the Galaxy Note.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra looks like a Galaxy Note phone. It has an S Pen just like a Note, a boxy shape just like a Note, and…well, you get the picture. It is by far the top dog in the Galaxy S22 lineup with the best display, biggest battery, best cameras, and most options for RAM and storage counts.

Samsung galaxy s21 ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung’s best-ever camera system on one of its best-ever phones.

If you want the most powerful phone in Samsung’s Galaxy S21 series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra is for you. It comes with the largest display at 6.8-inches, the biggest battery at 5,000mAh, and the best camera setup with a primary 108MP sensor. It also comes with as much as 16GB of RAM. However, it’s also the most expensive with a starting price of $1,199.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Specs

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Display

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Curved WQHD+
3,200 x 1,440 at 515ppi
Adaptive 120Hz refresh rate
HDR10+ certified

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
Edge display (curved)
19.3:9 aspect ratio
QHD+ resolution (3,088 x 1,440)
120Hz adaptive refresh rate (1Hz to 120Hz)
240Hz touch sampling rate

Processor

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

US: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Global: Samsung Exynos 2100

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

US: Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Global: Exynos 2200

RAM

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

12 or 16GB

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

8GB or 12GB

Storage

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

128, 256, or 512GB
No microSD card support

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

128GB, 256GB, or 512GB with additional 1TB option
No microSD card support

Power

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

5,000mAh battery
25W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

No charger in box

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

5,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging

No charger in box

Cameras

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

REAR:
– 108MP Wide-angle, (ƒ/1.8, 0.8µm with OIS and phase-detection AF)
– 10MP Telephoto , (ƒ/2.4, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 3x optical zoom)
– 10MP Telephoto, (ƒ/4.9, 1.22µm with OIS, dual-pixel AF, and 10x optical zoom)
– 12MP Ultra-wide (ƒ/2.2, 1.4µm with dual-pixel AF and a 120-degree FoV)
– Laser autofocus

FRONT:
– 40MP, ƒ/2.2, 0.7µm, with phase-detection AF

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

REAR:
– 108MP wide (0.8μm, ƒ2.2, 23mm, 85-degree FoV)
– 12MP ultrawide (1.4μm, ƒ2.2, 13mm, 120-degree FoV)
– 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ4.9, 230mm, 11-degree FoV, 10x optical zoom)
– 10MP telephoto (1.12μm, ƒ2.4, 69mm, 36-degree FoV, 3x optical zoom)
– Laser autofocus

FRONT:
– 40MP wide (ƒ2.2, 23mm, 80-degree FoV)

Audio

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

Stereo speakers
No 3.5mm port

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Stereo speakers
Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm port

Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

4G LTE support
5G (sub-6GHz, SA and NSA, mmWave)
Wi-Fi 6E support
Bluetooth 5.2

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

5G (mmWave + Sub6)
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz)
Bluetooth 5.2
NFC support
Ultra-wideband support (UWB)

Security

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
4 years security updates

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Ultrasonic under-display fingerprint sensor
5 years security updates

Software

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

Launched with Android 11
Android 12 update available
One UI 4.1

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Android 12
One UI 4.1

S Pen support

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

Yes, without storage slot

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Yes, with storage slot

Dimensions and weight

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
229g

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

163.3 x 77.9 x 8.9mm
229g

Colors

Samsung Galaxy S21 20 Ultra

128 GB in Phantom Silver and Phantom Black

256 and 512GB in Phantom Black

Future colors: Phantom Titanium, Phantom Navy, and Phantom Brown

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Phantom Black, Phantom White, Green, Burgundy
Samsung exclusives: Sky Blue, Red, Graphite

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra: Should you upgrade?

Samsung galaxy s22 ultra black vs samsung galaxy s21 ultra black rear on carpet

Eric Zeman / Android Authority

We have yet to get the Galaxy S22 Ultra in for a full review, so we can’t really give Galaxy S21 owners a definitive answer on whether they should upgrade. On paper, the battle between the Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Galaxy S22 Ultra would suggest that S21 Ultra owners not upgrade to the new model. Aside from some boosts in performance from the new processors, and a few new camera improvements, it’s likely that S21 Ultra users will not see anything that might compel them to exchange the phone for the new Galaxy S22, at least not right away.

However, there is the matter of the new S Pen in the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Owners of last year’s S21 might want the added functionality of that embedded stylus for work. If that’s the case, the S22 Ultra becomes a more attractive upgrade choice.

We’ll be putting the Galaxy S22 Ultra through its paces very soon in a review very soon. We’ll update this Vs when we’ve reached a firm verdict. For now, let us know in the poll below if you think it’s worth upgrading.

Will you be upgrading from the Galaxy S21 Ultra to the S22 Ultra?

8 votes

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