February is officially new phone season, and Samsung is kicking things off with the launch of the Galaxy S22. After all the leaks, the big news items today are the prices and release date. The phones cost the same as last year: $799.99 for the S22, $999.99 for the S22+, and $1,199.99 for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. Preorders for the phones start today, and the ship date is February 25.
On the base and “Plus” models, there aren’t many design changes to talk about. The Ultra model is getting a big change, though—it’s basically turning into the Galaxy Note. Samsung killed the stylus-equipped Note line in 2020, choosing instead to focus on foldable smartphones rather than launching two nearly identical slab smartphones every year. The Galaxy S22 Ultra isn’t called a Note, but it’s picking up the design and features of one, with taller corners and an integrated S-Pen. The Ultra model also has a new look for the camera bump, which goes with individual lenses instead of last year’s big corner bump.
Figuring out the differences from year to year is mostly a game of millimeters. The base-model S22 is a bit smaller than last year’s version; it has a 6.1-inch, 120 Hz, 2340×1080 display and a 146×70.6×7.6 mm body (down from 6.2 inches and 151.7×71.2×7.9 mm from last year). It also has a smaller battery—3700 mAh versus the 4000 mAh battery of the S21. The phone has 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of storage. You get three rear cameras on the base and plus models: a 50 MP main camera, a 12 MP ultra-wide, and a 10 MP 3X optical zoom camera. There’s a 10 MP front camera.
The Plus model upgrades to a 6.6-inch display, a 4500 mAh battery, 45 W quick charging, and ultra-wideband tracking tech. Again, this is smaller than last year’s 6.7-inch, 4800 mAh device. The S22 Ultra is the only model that doesn’t get a battery downgrade (which is impressive, since the phone now has to house a big, plastic pen) and is still a 6.8-inch, 5000 mAh behemoth. Besides the baseline 8GB/128GB specs, the phone adds a larger 12GB of RAM tier and 512GB to 1TB of storage. The Ultra model gets upgraded cameras, too: a 108MP main camera, 12MP ultra-wide, and two zoom lenses. The zoom lenses come as either the standard 10 MP 3x optical zoom or 10 MP 10x optical zoom.
In the US, the phone will have the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Qualcomm’s flagship SoC for 2022. This is a primary ARM Cortex X2 core, with three medium Cortex A710 CPUs and four small Cortex A510 CPUs, all built on a 4 nm process. It’s an ARM v9 chip, and all the cores are new, with the X2 and A510 only supporting 64-bit apps.
Some countries will get Samsung’s Exynos 2200 SoC instead, which has the headline feature of a “Samsung Xclipse” GPU that was co-developed with graphics powerhouse AMD. This would normally be a huge win for Samsung, but we can’t overstate how bad the rollout of this chip has been. Samsung scheduled a big unveiling for January 11 and then made the unprecedented move of no-showing its own press conference. As far as the rumor mill can tell, the delay is due to problems with the chip’s development, and even when Samsung surprise-announced the chip a few days after missing its own event, it couldn’t provide any concrete performance numbers.
The phones ship with Android 12, and one big surprise is a new-and-improved update policy for the S22 line. Samsung is now offering four years of major OS updates, which is even better than Google’s support cycle.