Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21 FE: Samsung’s newest phones, compared – CNET

Galaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21 FE: Samsung’s newest phones, compared – CNET

The wait for Samsung’s Galaxy S22 phone (and the Galaxy Tab S8) is over. At the company’s Unpacked event on Wednesday, the standard Galaxy S22 made its grand entrance alongside the larger Galaxy S22 Plus and S22 Ultra. But you might be wondering how the Galaxy S22 compares with the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung’s more affordable phone that launched just last month. 

If you’re a Samsung fan looking to buy a new phone this year, there’s a good reason why you might find yourself deciding between two devices. The Galaxy S22 is the successor to the Galaxy S21, meaning it’ll be the least expensive model in Samsung’s new Galaxy S family. So the S22 is on the lower end of the premium spectrum when it comes to price, starting at $800 (£769, converts to about AU$1,450). The $700 Galaxy S21 FE, on the other hand, is a more budget-friendly version of the Galaxy S21. 

There are notable differences between them, though. The Galaxy S22 includes a higher resolution camera and faster processor to justify the higher price. Still, the Galaxy S21 FE has the edge when it comes to screen size and possibly battery life.

Here’s a closer look at how the two smartphones compare. 

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE vs. Galaxy S22

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE Samsung Galaxy S22
Display 6.4-inch AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels; 120Hz 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED; 2,340×1,080 pixels; 120Hz
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Camera 12MP, 12MP, 8MP 50MP, 12MP, 10MP
Front camera 32MP 40MP
Battery and charging 4,500 mAh (no bundled charger); fast-charging 3,700 mAh; fast-charging
Storage 128GB or 256GB 128GB or 256GB
Memory 6GB or 8GB RAM 8GB

The Galaxy S22’s screen is smaller than the Galaxy S21 FE’s

The Galaxy S22 is shaping up to be Samsung’s option for those who prefer a compact phone, like the Galaxy S10E. The Galaxy S22 has a 6.1-inch screen, while the Galaxy S21 FE has a 6.4-inch display (screen sizes are measured diagonally). That’s a 0.3-inch difference between the two displays. For reference, 0.3 inch is about the same size as half an aspirin. 

The Galaxy S22 is also smaller than the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20, which are both 6.2 inches. In comparison, the Galaxy S21 FE falls between the sizes of the Galaxy S21 and the Galaxy S21 Plus. Both the Galaxy S22 and S21 FE sport a display refresh rate of up to 120Hz. 

One of the first things you’ll likely notice about the Galaxy S22 is its new glass-and-metal design, which feels more elegant and polished than the Galaxy S21 FE’s build.

Read moreGalaxy S22 vs. Galaxy S21: Everything that’s new

But the Galaxy S22 has a higher-resolution main camera 

For cameras, the Galaxy S22 has a 50-megapixel wide, 12-megapixel ultrawide and 10-megapixel telephoto lens on the back of the phone. Samsung’s budget Galaxy S21 FE is also fitted with a triple-lens camera, but it’s less extreme with a 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12-megapixel wide and 8-megapixel telephoto lens. 

Samsung also says the Galaxy S22 family comes with other internal camera upgrades that should enhance the phones’ autoframing and night photography capabilities. 

As for the front-facing camera, the Galaxy S22 outspecs the Galaxy S21 FE once again. The standard model of Samsung’s latest flagship line features a 40-megapixel selfie camera, while the Galaxy S21 FE has a 32-megapixel front-facing lens.

Read moreThe Galaxy S22 Ultra fails to excite this pro photographer. And that’s a problem

104-samsung-galaxy-s21-camera
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Galaxy S22 runs on a newer and faster processor 

Performance is one area where the Galaxy S22 shines over the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung’s latest major Galaxy S entry runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, which is built by Samsung Foundry and its latest 4nm process, in areas where Samsung’s Exynos chips aren’t available. 

Samsung makes its own line of Exynos processors, but those chips are available only in certain areas — not including the US. And that’s a shame, because the newest version of Samsung’s Exynos chip sounds like it could potentially bring a big leap forward in graphics performance, and high-end gaming features like ray tracing to Samsung phones. Samsung and AMD unveiled its new chip last month, but it’s unclear if this is the one in the Galaxy S22 series.

The Galaxy S21 FE, by comparison, runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, the same processor that powers the Galaxy S21. That means the phone’s performance is similar to the Galaxy S21, which is now considered a previous-generation product. 

Read moreSamsung Galaxy S22 vs. S22 Plus vs. S22 Ultra

But the Galaxy S21 FE has a bigger battery

Samsung was seemingly focusing on screen size and battery life with its most recent budget phone. The Galaxy S21 FE has a 4,500-mAh battery capacity. The Galaxy S22, on the other hand, has only a 3,700-mAh battery. That makes it smaller than the Galaxy S21’s 4,000-mAh battery. But keep in mind that the Galaxy S22 is also smaller than the Galaxy S21 FE.

In terms of memory and storage, the standard Galaxy S22 has 8GB of RAM and the options of 128GB or 256GB of space. The amount of RAM we see in the Galaxy S21 FE is similar, with options for either 6GB or 8GB. The Galaxy S21 FE has 128GB or 256GB storage options, as well. 

Read moreSamsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Pixel 6 Pro

The Galaxy S22 is more expensive than the Galaxy S21 FE

With a starting price of $800, the standard-model Galaxy S22 is $100 more than the Galaxy S21 FE. The Galaxy S21 FE is priced at $700 for the base model, which has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The price increases to $770 for the 8GB/256GB version. This mirrors the price difference between the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S20 FE at launch. 

In comparison, the Galaxy S22 Plus and S22 Ultra, with their beefed-up specs, cost $1,000 and $1,200, respectively.

Read moreWhere to buy Galaxy S22: Preorder deals for Samsung’s newest phones

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Should you buy the Galaxy S22 or the Galaxy S21 FE?

Now that both the Galaxy S22 and S21 FE are available, choosing between them comes down to what you need from a smartphone. The Galaxy S22 is best suited for those who want a more premium device with a sharper camera, faster performance and a more pocket-friendly design. The Galaxy S21 FE is better for those who prioritize screen size and battery life and staying well below the $1,000 threshold. 

For more, check out CNET’s Galaxy S21 FE review and how the Galaxy S22 Ultra compares with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. You can also take a look at what Samsung’s calling Nightography and what the Galaxy S22 line means for the Galaxy Note. Want to learn more about Samsung’s latest flagship phones? Check out everything you should know about the Galaxy S22 and S22 Ultra.

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Richard Peterson/CNET

Samsung’s newest flagship phone is the Galaxy S22, which starts at $800.

Lisa Eadicicco/CNET

Samsung’s more affordable Galaxy S21 FE was just released earlier in 2022, for $100 less than the S22.

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