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Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. S21 Ultra: Which one is the better deal?

Here's how the new S22 Ultra holds up against last year's highly rated S21 Ultra.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
2 min read
$919 at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra: $890


  • Test

Don't like

  • Test
$1,200 at Best Buy
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


  • Gorgeous phantom black finish
  • Two telephoto cameras
  • The screen is spectacular
  • S-Pen support

Don't like

  • It's heavy
  • Lacks a microSD card slot
  • $1,200 is still expensive

Samsung's brand-new flagship Galaxy S22 Ultra, unveiled Wednesday at its Unpacked event, replaces last year's Galaxy S21 Ultra. We loved the S21 Ultra for its awesome performance and stellar camera system -- particularly its amazing 10x optical zoom. 

But how do the specs stack up between last year's model and the new one? You can see the full breakdown in the chart below, but there's not a huge difference between the two phones, based on specs alone, which may come as a disappointment if you were you hoping for a radical new vision for the Galaxy S series in 2022.

Watch this: Comparing Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and S21 Ultra specs

Both phones have 6.8-inch displays with pretty much the same resolution, they both have 12GB of RAM (although the S21 Ultra can be configured up to 16GB), both support 5G, both have pretty much the same camera hardware (including that 10x optical zoom, 8K video and 108-megapixel main sensor) and the same size battery. 

Read more: Where to buy Galaxy S22: Preorder deals for Samsung's newest phones

The S22 Ultra comes with the latest Android 12 software (the S21 Ultra got an update to Android 12 late last year), along with Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor -- or Samsung's new Exynos processor, depending on the region. How these two chips really compare to the Snapdragon 888 chip in the S21 Ultra remains to be seen in our testing. 

The biggest physical difference is the S22 Ultra's addition of the S Pen stylus, something typically only seen on the now-retired Galaxy Note series. If you loved doodling on Note phones then that's one reason to consider the S22 Ultra over its predecessor. 

Galaxy S22 Ultra vs. Galaxy S21 Ultra specs comparison

Galaxy S22 UltraGalaxy S21 Ultra
Display size, resolution 6.8-inch AMOLED (3,088x1,440 pixels)6.8-inch AMOLED (3,200x1,440 pixels)
Pixel density 501 ppi515 ppi
Dimensions (Millimeters) 77.9x163.3x8.9 mm75.6x165.1x8.9mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 229g8.07 oz.; 229g
Mobile software Android 12Upgraded to Android 12
Camera 108-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide) 10-megapixel (telephoto) 10-megapixel (telephoto)108-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 10-megapixel (3x telephoto), 10-megapixel (10x telephoto)
Front-facing camera 40-megapixel10-megapixel
Video capture 4K8K
Processor Snapdragon 8 gen 1Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM/Storage 8GB + 128GB ; 12GB + 256GB; 12GB+512GB; 12GB+ 1TB 12GB, 128GB/256GB, 16GB, 512GB
Expandable storage NoNo
Battery 5,000 mAh (45-watt wired charger)5,000 mAh
Fingerprint sensor In-displayIn-display
Connector USB-CUSB-C
Headphone jack NoNo
Special features 5G (mmW/Sub6), bundled S Pen, 100x Space Zoom (digital), 10x optical zoom, 47-watt charging supportIP68 rating, 5G-enabled, 100x Space Zoom, 10-watt wireless charging, 10x optical zoom
Price off-contract (USD) $1,200$1,200 (128GB), $1,250 (256GB), $1,380 (512GB)
Price (GBP) £1,149 £1,329
Price (AUD) AU$1,849

Samsung's latest flagship superphone, the Galaxy S22 Ultra has an impressive lineup of specs, including a quadruple rear camera, a big, vibrant display and the S Pen stylus you might remember from the Galaxy Note series. It comes with a high price, but those of you looking for one of the best Android phones around should have this on your short list.

Read our Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Its replacement might have arrived, but last year's Galaxy S21 Ultra is still available to buy and many of the key specs aren't that different, so don't worry about it feeling outdated. The camera is superb, with a mind-blowing 10x zoom lens, while the processor will put up with anything you're likely to throw at it. You might want to wait until discounts kick in, however.

Read our Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G review.