Photo: Tom's Guide
Photo: Tom's Guide

The Galaxy S22 is a long ways off, likely six months or so. In the meantime, we'll have the new foldables from Samsung, the iPhone 13, and Pixel 6 to deal with. But rest assured, Samsung is already looking ahead to 2022 and has probably already finalized many details for what will become the Galaxy S22.

We've heard some interesting rumors, like a collaboration with Olympus for the camera and an AMD GPU in the next Exynos chip. There's a lot of wishlisting and daydreaming over the next version of anything, so it's best to temper expectations now. It's way too early to say if the Galaxy S22 will be game-changing or not.

Having used both the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy S21 Plus, I have a few things I'd like to see the S22 address to make it more than just an iterative upgrade over its predecessor. Some may surprise you.

Galaxy S22 release date: January 2022?

Samsung typically launched its S-series phones in March, but it bucked that trend in 2021 by launching the S21 line in January. The company typically follows a 12-month cycle of updating its handsets so we currently expect the S22 to be announced in January 2022, possibly at, or around the CES tech show in Las Vegas.

However, it's also possible that Samsung might want to give the S21 line a bit more breathing room and could return to a March launch schedule. With COVID-19 restrictions hopefully being a bit easier by then, Samsung could hope to do an in-person launch event, which it often does simultaneously in cities across the globe.

Price: How much will the Galaxy S22 cost?

Sales of the Galaxy S20 line didn't impress and it's likely it had a lot to do with the generally high prices, coupled with widespread financial uncertainty for many people due to the pandemic. The S21 offered handsets at slightly more affordable prices by swapping glass back panels for toughened plastic. Here are all the differences between the Galaxy S21 and S20.

At launch, the base S20 came in at $1,000 in the US, while the base S21 undercut that at $800. While we don't expect Samsung to try and make the S22 line even cheaper, we do think it's a safe bet that the company will try and match the price point of the S21, rather than increase it back to S20 levels.

What we expect to see

Galaxy S22 camera: 200-megapixel resolution?

Photo: Tom's Guide
Photo: Tom's Guide

Rumors suggest it's the hero S22 Ultra that will see the most exciting camera upgrades this time round. That's good to hear, as the S21 Ultra's camera is superb, but wasn't a big upgrade over its predecessor.

Some of the current rumors suggest that it'll be the first Samsung phone with a whopping 200-megapixel resolution, based on a teaser tweet from Samsung's own Exynos account showing a 200-megapixel phone camera. That would be a big upgrade from the already pixel-packed 108-megapixel S21 Ultra and would theoretically allow for crisper zoomed-in images.

Speaking of zoom though, the S22 Ultra is also rumored to get a continuous optical zoom, rather than simply having set 3x or 10x optical zoom lenses to switch between. Currently, if you zoom to, say, 7x zoom on the S21 Ultra that will use a combination of optical zoom and digital cropping, resulting in images that look lower quality than when you use the 10x optical lens. A continuous zoom would allow for uncropped optical zoom throughout the entire zoom range.

The base S22 and S22 Plus models aren't expected to get similar camera boosts, ensuring that the S22 Ultra stands out and justifies spending the extra cash. Expect to still see multiple lenses and a 50-megapixel main sensor.

Improved refresh rate range

While Samsung makes most of the displays for the best phones, I found the ones on the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus to be simply adequate. The S21 Ultra's is fantastic, but upstarts like the OnePlus 9 Pro surpassed Samsung's own flagship in my opinion. Part of this comes down to the refresh rate range.

That means how far the phone's display dips to save battery life. On the Galaxy S21 and S21 Plus, the lowest the screen falls is 48Hz in the adaptive mode. Compare that to the S21 Ultra or OnePlus 9 Pro, both of which will clock down to as low as 1Hz for static images. This can have noticeable effects on battery life (which I'll get to in a bit).

I'd like to see all of the Galaxy S22 models to feature the 1Hz-120Hz range, not just the Ultra model. This is more than just a premium feature — it could also have an impact on improving battery life for all of the models we'll eventually get.

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Better battery life

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

This applies more to the non-Ultra Galaxy S22 models, since the Galaxy S21 Ultra has superb battery life. The S21 Plus was decent, too, but the little S21 wasn't great. In order to see acceptable battery life on the little guy, you had to use the 60Hz refresh rate mode. What's the point of having something as nice as a high refresh rate if the phone's battery life notices a significant decline?

Granted, the smaller Galaxy S21 is, as you might have guessed, a small phone by today's standards. But the Pixel 5, which is also a compact phone, can last for almost three hours longer in our battery life test with the display set to 90Hz.

I'd like to see Samsung figure out why the cheapest S21 saw subpar battery life and address it with the S22. If the company improves the refresh rate like I mentioned above, I think that would help things by letting the display clock down to a lower refresh rate, thus saving battery life. Regardless, Samsung can do better in this regard.

Galaxy S22 processor, Android version and display

Photo: LetsGoDigital
Photo: LetsGoDigital

Samsung tends to use both Qualcomm Snapdragon chips and its own Exynos processors in its S series phones -- depending on region -- and we fully expect it will do the same again in the S22 line. But it's safe to assume that it'll be the next generation of both chips, possibly the Snapdragon 895 (which is expected to launch in December this year) and the Exynos 2200.

Back in 2019 Samsung partnered with graphics chip company AMD for better mobile graphics power, but so far we haven't seen any Samsung phone equipped with dedicated AMD hardware. It's possible that the S22 (or more likely, the S22 Ultra) could be the first AMD phone, boasting superior graphics performance for gaming.

It's also a safe bet that the S22 line will run Android 12 -- announced in June this year at Google's I/O event and currently in beta form -- with Samsung's own user interface tweaks over the top including additions like Samsung Health, Samsung Pay and its Bixby virtual assistant software.

Display size will almost certainly differ depending on which model you opt for. With the S21 line, the base S21 was the smallest at 6.2 inches and the S21 Plus pushed things further to 6.7 inches, while the S21 Ultra ballooned ever further out to 6.8 inches. Some early rumors suggest that Samsung will make the S22 and S22 Plus slightly smaller -- 6.05 and 6.5 inches, respectively. The same rumors suggest the S21 Ultra will stay pretty much the same size and, like the S21 Ultra, will be the only one in the range that will offer variable refresh rates up to 120Hz.

Galaxy S22's extra features

Additional features like wireless charging, NFC for contactless payments, 5G connectivity and in-display fingerprint scanners are pretty safe bets for all the S22 models. It's also likely that Samsung will continue to offer base storage options of 128GB on all models, with upgrades up to 256GB or even 500GB available for those who want the extra space.

Don't expect to expand that storage though as the S21 series removed the option to add microSD cards. That was a real disappointment, particularly on the S21 Ultra as its high resolution images and 8K videos take up a lot of space. Fingers crossed for a return, but don't get your hopes up.

Samsung Galaxy S22 news (updated July 18)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 could come with AMD graphics power, which could make is a stealthy Xbox gaming phone.

A report from DigiTimes claims Samsung's 2022 phones, potentially including the Galaxy S22, could come with vapor chamber cooling as seen on gaming handsets. And to keep all of that filled with juice 45W fast charging is reportedly onboard.

A new rumor has shot down claims that the Samsung Galaxy S22 will get a 200MP main camera, with the company instead tipped to focus on improving the current 108MP sensor. This follows on from the news that the Galaxy S22 and S22 Plus models may downgrade the camera resolution, with a 50MP main lens and two additional 12MP lenses, meaning on pure camera specs along the Galaxy S22 might no impress.

Better cooling

Photo: Future
Photo: Future

The Galaxy S21 features high-end specs for an Android phone, making all of three of the models excellent gaming machines. But if you've used one for a long session, you'll likely have noticed how hot the phone can get. This isn't as big of an issue on some other phones, especially the best gaming phones.

While I don't think anyone expects the Galaxy S22 to be the ultimate gaming phone, it would be nice to have better cooling onboard. Rumors suggest that the S22 will have vapor chamber cooling, which would be really nice for heat dissipation during extended gaming times.

Galaxy S22 outlook

We're still a few months out from serious leaks for the Galaxy S22, but that doesn't mean we can't think about what the phone needs to be better. And not just better than its predecessor, but better than the upcoming iPhone 13.

Samsung leads the charge each new year for new phones, but it should capitalize on that position to set a high bar for the year. A lot of us use the Galaxy S phones as the baseline comparison for many other phones that follow and it wouldn't be in anyone's best interest for Samsung to get lazy.

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