5 ways Samsung Galaxy S22 could steal the iPhone 13’s thunder

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra review
(Image credit: Future)

As we get closer and closer to the rumored iPhone 13 launch, we’re learning more about what Apple probably will (and won't) include this time around. And what's missing from the latest leaks is prompting some to wonder they should just wait for the iPhone 14.

But Samsung’s Galaxy S22 is also on the way, and even based on the early rumors it could beat the iPhone 13 in some key ways. 

Just this past week Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported that the new iPhone won’t include in-screen Touch ID, despite earlier rumors saying it could happen this year.

We’ve also heard that the iPhone 13 likely won’t offer faster charging this year and that some key upgrades could be reserved for the pricier iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. This opens the door for Samsung to make some noise when the Galaxy S22 debuts, which could be as early as January.

Here’s five ways the Galaxy S22 could steal the iPhone 13’s thunder.

1. In-screen fingerprint sensor that works

It looks like the iPhone 13 will stick with Face ID for this generation and not include a in-screen fingerprint sensor like the Galaxy S21 series and presumably the Galaxy S22. And that's a bummer because Face ID doesn't work when wearing a face mask, unless you're wearing an Apple Watch and using iOS 14.5 or newer. 

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, “While Apple had tested in-screen Touch ID for the next flagship iPhones, it won’t make the cut this year." Now, Gurman doesn't comment on whether the iPhone 13 might include a Touch ID sensor in the power button, similar to the iPad Air, but we haven't heard this rumor. 

The bottom line is that the ultrasonic sensor in the Galaxy S21 works quite well, and we presume it will perform just as well on the Galaxy S22 if not better.

2. Faster charging

While both Samsung and Apple have stopped including chargers in the box, the Galaxy S22 should have an advantage over the iPhone 13 in terms of charging speed. According to one rumor from trusted leaker Ice Universe, the Galaxy S22 could offer 45W charging speeds or even 65W. The latter would match the OnePlus 9 Pro, which got to 99% in just 30 minutes, making it the fastest charging phone out there. 

By comparison, the 25W Galaxy S21 got to 55% in 30 minutes and the iPhone 12's 20W charger got to 57% in the same amount of time. However, keep in mind that the iPhone 12 has a smaller battery than the Galaxy S21 (4,000 mAh vs 2,815 mAh), so Samsung's results are more impressive. A jump to 45W or higher would put Apple on the defensive. 

3. Killer cameras, plus continuous optical zoom

The Galaxy S21 Ultra sports a 108MP camera that gives users all sorts of flexibility when it comes to cropping in after you snap the photo. But Samsung could be going in one of two exciting directions for the Galaxy S22 Ultra. One is that the Galaxy S22 could adopt a whopping 200MP sensor, which would be the highest resolution ever on a camera phone.

Then again, we know that megapixels aren't nearly as important as other aspects, which is why I'm even more intrigued by Samsung's upcoming 50MP RGBW camera sensor. While most camera phones rely on red, green and blue sub-pixels to produce colors, this new sensor would add a fourth white sub-pixel. This could dramatically improve highlights in high-contrast scenes. 

Another rumor points to the Galaxy S22 offering continuous optical zoom, as opposed to two separate telephoto lenses at 3x and 10x. Meanwhile, the iPhone 13 Pro series is tipped to possibly offer a folding zoom lens, as well as improved computational photography features like portrait mode video and an astrophotography mode

4. AMD gaming might

Samsung and AMD are officially partnering on a new Exynos mobile chip that has AMD's RDNA2 graphics architecture. The custom graphics will apparently offer ray-tracing and variable rate shading while promising the most power yet from an Android phone. 

The Exynos 2200 chip with AMD muscle is expected to power laptops and tablets later this year, but it could also find its way to phones like the Galaxy S22 early next year.

According to Ice Universe on Twitter, the new Exynos chip netted a very impressive 3D Mark Wild Life benchmark score of 8,134 with 50.3 frames per second. By comparison, the iPhone 12 Pro Max hit 6,618 and 39 fps in our testing, which is well behind.

In another Exynos 2200 benchmark leak, the chip scored high across the board on GFXBench, hitting 170.7 fps, 121.4 fps and 51.3 fps on the Manhattan 3.1, Aztec Normal and Aztec High tests, respectively. The A14 Bionic notched just 120, 79.8 and 30 fps. However, it's hard to know at this stage how much faster the A15 Bionic expected to power the iPhone 13 might be. 

5. 120Hz is not a 'Pro' feature

With the iPhone 13, Apple is finally expected to offer a 120Hz refresh rate, but only on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Meanwhile, Samsung offers a 120Hz adaptive panel on the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S22 Ultra, and we don't see that changing for the Galaxy S22 series. In fact, the cheaper Galaxy S21 FE is also rumored to feature a 120Hz display, just like the Galaxy S20 FE. 

With the S21 series, Samsung differentiated the base model and the Plus from the Ultra by enabling the former two to scale down to 48Hz. The Ultra could get all the way down to 10Hz. We'll have to see if the S22 continues on a similar path, but regardless smooth scrolling shouldn't be a premium feature. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.