Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus: Upgrade or not?

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus
The Galaxy S22 Plus takes the reins from the Galaxy S21 Plus, and arrives with the promise of improved camera image quality, updated and slightly more posh new design, better performance, and more. But what if you bought a Galaxy S21 Plus last year? 

Should you upgrade from the “old” Galaxy S21 Plus to the upcoming one? Has Samsung finally cracked the code behind the large affordable flagship?

To put things simply, the Galaxy S22 Plus touches upon some essential pillars of the smartphone experience. The changes in the image quality are mostly for the good, with some exceptions. Performance and battery life are also very much improved, as one would expect when jumping from one generation to the next one. 

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Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus design and colors

The Gorilla Glass Victus and Armor Aluminum sandwich that is the Galaxy S22 Plus definitely evokes callbacks to the iPhone 12/13 design language with its flat front and backplates and nearly flat side frame. The Galaxy S22 Plus feels extremely sturdy and solid, but admittedly, it is nicer to look at than use. 

The S22 Ultra is more ergonomic and comfortable to use than the Galaxy S22 Plus due to the design of the latter. Certainly, Samsung's inspiration from Apple's design language definitely looks cool, but doesn't add anything positive to the ergonomics of the device.

At the same time, the Galaxy S21 Plus definitely has the core Galaxy DNA etched deep into its exterior design. Unmistakably a high-end Samsung phone, the Galaxy S21 Plus fuses glass and metal in a premium blend that looks so posh. 

The matte frosted glass back feels good in the hands and holds no fingerprints, but it's certainly slippery. Yet, the Galaxy S20 Plus, yes the even older model, somehow feels better in the hand as its curvier exterior carves less into the palm.

When it comes to color combinations, the S22 Plus definitely has the upper hand with its more subdued and classy color selection. The Galaxy S22 Plus is available in White, Phantom Black, Pink Gold, Green, and a bunch of online-exclusive colors. You can find out more about the Galaxy S22 Plus colors here.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus display

We have a slightly smaller, 6.6-inch LTPO Dynamic AMOLED display on the Galaxy S22 Plus, a smidgen smaller than the 6.7-inch one found on the Galaxy S21 Plus. Both displays are completely flat and offer superb viewing angles. 

Gone are the days of curved displays, at least for Samsung, as these quickly fell out of fashion and everyone seems set to switch to the mostly flat, right-angle design that was reinvigorated by Apple with the iPhone 12-series and newer. 

In terms of display refresh, both the Galaxy S21 Plus and the Galaxy S22 Plus dynamically switch between 48 and 120Hz refresh rate depending on the on-screen content, though we were initially led to believe that the display could go all the way down to 10Hz. 

Subsequently, it became clear that while the GPU feeds 10Hz refresh data to the display, the actual panel still refreshes at 48Hz at the minimum. Still, this doesn't take away from the overall scrolling experience with either phone, which is super-smooth and rewarding. Once you go 120Hz, you can never go back!

Aside from that, the screens of both devices offer exceptional quality: superb vivid colors, awesome contrast and sharpness despite the FHD+ resolution that's common on both. Samsung's AMOLED displays have always been excellent, and neither the Galaxy S22 Plus nor the Galaxy S21 Plus will disappoint.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus camera

  • Galaxy S22 Plus: 50MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 10MP telephoto
  • Galaxy S21 Plus: 12MP main, 12MP ultra-wide, 64MP telephoto

The Galaxy S22 Plus comes with an improved camera setup from a purely hardware perspective, but the differences in image quality aren't that stark... with a few notable exceptions.

From the get-go, the Galaxy S22 Plus seems to have a slightly better dynamic range resolve and not burn the highlights that much compared to its predecessor, but there's the issue of noticeable over-sharpening. The S22 Plus is plagued by this issue resulting in images that appear more detailed but terribly over-sharpened, which isn't ideal to say the least. 

This over-sharpening is mostly visible when shooting near subjects and portraits in particular. It might not bother you, but in a direct comparison, the Galaxy S21 Plus will almost always output a slightly more natural-looking image, with less excessive sharpening. 

Galaxy S22 Plus

Galaxy S21 Plus

Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus Portrait comparison

Here are some more samples taken with the Galaxy S22 Plus and the Galaxy S21 Plus to demonstrate the differences in image quality. 

At lower light, the over-sharpening is also evident in some scenes, especially when using the telephoto lens, but overall, the Galaxy S22 Plus seems to be marginally better than the S21 Plus in capturing low-light photos. Some noise is common on both devices, though, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Selfies are exceptionally detailed on both devices. Subject separation in portraits is excellent as well, and credit where credit is due, the new Galaxy S22 Plus does much better subject separation than its predecessor.

Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus specs and performance

Despite the usual hubbub that the Exynos chipset might get featured in more regions than usual, the tradition of using Qualcomm chips globally has been kept alive and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset has remained a staple of most Galaxies outside of Europe.

In the latter, the Galaxy S22 Plus comes with the Exynos 2200 on deck, and that's what we have on hand for our synthetic benchmark tests. There's a marginal difference in performance in favor of the new chip, as is logical, though it's not as big as we'd hoped it would be.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset powers the Galaxy S21 models in the US, while the Exynos 2100 is used in the rest of the world. Both chipsets are based on the latest 5-nanometer process, which enables noticeable battery life improvements, and offer 5G network connectivity.

Performance benchmarks

GFXBench Car Chase on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+47
Samsung Galaxy S21+52
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screenHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+78
Samsung Galaxy S21+93
Geekbench 5 SingleHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+1156
Samsung Galaxy S21+1034
Geekbench 5 MultiHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+3292
Samsung Galaxy S21+3171
Jetstream 2Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+70.347
Samsung Galaxy S21+71.413

The Galaxy S22 Plus comes with 8GB of RAM and starts with 128GB of native storage. You can have it with 256GB of native storage as well, though the lack of a microSD card slot impedes the possibility for further hardware storage expansion.

As standard, the S21 Plus comes with 8GB of RAM, whereas you will find 12 or 16GB of RAM inside the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Samsung is betting on 128GB of storage as standard with the option of 256GB variants, as well as an extra 512GB model for the S21 Ultra.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus battery life and charging speeds

While the older device boasts a sizeable 5,000mAh battery, the Galaxy S22 Plus comes with a 4,500mAh juicer at the rear. Has this severely worsened the battery life of the new phone? Surely the new processors on board will bring additional power saving gains, but it's always sad to see batteries shrinking in size. Our custom battery tests show that the Galaxy S22 Plus has slightly better battery life than the Galaxy S21 Plus, though not in all tests.

Battery Benchmarks

Browsing test 120Hz(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+15h 16 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+10h 50 min
Video Streaming(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+8h 18 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+8h 27 min
3D Gaming 60Hz(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+10h 13 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+8h 36 min
3D Gaming 120Hz(hours)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+5h 40 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+6h 5 min

The Galaxy S22 Plus came with 45W wired charging on board, which puts it on par with some the fastest-charging phones available in the US. In comparison, the Galaxy S21 Plus only charges up to 25W, and with the stock 25W Samsung charger, it takes it roughly 70 minutes to go from 0 to 100%. Our real-life tests, conducted with the manufacturer-recommended stock chargers, show that the Galaxy S22 Plus charges faster than the Galaxy S21 Plus, albeit by a few minutes only. A small step, but a step in the right direction nonetheless. 

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Full Charge(hours)Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S22+1h 1 min
Samsung Galaxy S21+1h 10 min

Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus vs Galaxy S21 Plus Conclusion

The Galaxy S22 Plus is certainly better than the Galaxy S21 Plus in every way imaginable. Better display, performance, camera, and battery life make it a no-brainer pick over the Galaxy S21 Plus. 

The Galaxy S22 Plus should definitely be considered by those who are not enticed by the Galaxy S22 Ultra but still want to experience the best of Samsung's latest flagship advances. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 Plus remains an excellent device that could still offer excellent experience to its current and potential adopters.

Which one should you get? Depends on how long you intend to hold on to it, truly. If you don't really plan on using the phone for more than a year or two from now, the Galaxy S21 Plus will save you some money. 

However, if you don't see yourself parting with your future device anytime soon, the Galaxy S22 Plus will be supported for longer, not to mention that it's overall a better device, all things considered.

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