Samsung may be planning plenty of improvements for next year's Galaxy S22 release. But a bigger battery reportedly won't be among them.
A report by Dutch site Galaxy Club claims the power pack slated for the Samsung Galaxy S22 will be smaller than the one that powered this year's Galaxy S21 flagship. The report, spotted by Android Headlines, doesn't provide a source for the battery change other than to cite "new information that reached us."
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Galaxy Club's report lists the rated battery size for the Galaxy S22 as 3,590 mAh. That translates to around 3,700 mAh in terms of advertised capacity. According to the spec sheet for the Samsung Galaxy S21, advertised capacity for that phone's battery is 4,000 mAh, while the rated capacity is 3,880 mAh. No matter which number you want to use, the Galaxy S22's is smaller.
If accurate, that would be a curious move on Samsung's part, as the Galaxy S21 didn't exactly set a high bar with its battery life. On our test, which involves continuous web browsing over a cellular connection until a phone runs out of power, the Galaxy S21 turned in a time of 9 hours and 53 minutes, which is about average for a smartphone. However, that result came with the screen's refresh rate set at 60Hz. When we enabled the adaptive display feature on the S21, its result in our battery test fell by more than 3 hours.
The rumored drop in battery size for the Galaxy S22 comes at the same time that Apple is introducing new iPhone models with bigger batteries. Like the S21, Apple's iPhone 12 struggled on our battery test with the standard model turning in a below average time. We haven't had a chance to test out how the larger battery in this year's iPhone performs, but Apple has said that the iPhone 13 can last up to 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12.
Galaxy Club's report is in line with earlier rumors that the Galaxy S22 Plus battery would also shrink, dropping to 4,500 mAh from the 4,800 mAh. The Galaxy S22 Ultra battery looks likely to remain at 5,000 mAh. The Galaxy S21 Ultra was the only one of the three S21 models to fare well on our battery test, landing on our best phone battery life list.
If Samsung isn't going to increase battery size for the S22 and S22 Plus models — and we should reiterate that those are just rumors at this point — it's going to have to find another way to bolster battery life for next year's flagships. That could include a more power-efficient processor running the phone. Galaxy Club also points out that the Galaxy S22 lineup could adapt Samsung's Eco2 OLED panel, which is supposed to be 25% more power efficient than previous screens.
The Eco2 OLED panel made its debut with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, so it would stand to reason that the Galaxy S22 lineup could also put that display technology to use. Of course, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 also struggled in our battery test, though that foldable phone has got a much larger screen to keep powered up.
At any rate, the Galaxy S22's battery situation bears watching as we get closer to the launch date for the new flagship phone, which is expected to happen in early 2022.
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Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.