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Samsung Galaxy S22 could be first phone with ray tracing — why that’s a big deal

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra renders
(Image credit: Digit/OnLeaks)

With 2022 approaching, hype for the Galaxy S22 is already ramping up. Feeding the flames of anticipation, Samsung allegedly confirmed that its upcoming Exynos 2200 system-on-chip, which could debut with the Galaxy S22, will support ray tracing graphics in games thanks to its partnership with AMD.

We say "alleged" because we could not find the post on Samsung Exynos' Weibo account at time of writing. But according to Wccftech, Samsung's social media teams let this bit of news slip early. Even so, we believe that this tidbit of news is legit. It would, after all, make sense given the technology behind the Exynos 2200's GPU.

Earlier this year, we wrote about Samsung partnering with AMD to create a mobile gaming powerhouse for 2022. AMD is well-known in the PC and console gaming space, both for its CPUs and GPUs. AMD is also the mastermind behind the Xbox Series X and PS5's power, since its RDNA 2 technology powers both consoles' graphics hardware.

Typically, Samsung uses its Exynos chips in the international models of its phones, often going with Qualcomm's chips for US variants. If what we've heard about the Exynos 2200 pans out, Qualcomm better have something seriously good up its sleeve for the next Snapdragon 8-series system-on-chip.

But what would ray tracing actually offer on mobile? To our knowledge, there is not a single game available on the Play Store that could take advantage of the technology, nor would there likely be any for a long time following the Galaxy S22's launch. Developers would need time to either incorporate ray tracing options in their existing games or develop new ones with the technology as a possibility. There's no magic switch to enable ray tracing in a game just because you have the requisite hardware for it.

While Samsung Galaxy S devices often have some of the best displays you can buy on a phone, the fine details that ray tracing typically offers might be a bit lost on a handheld device. We see the effects of ray tracing on TVs and monitors, not phone screens. We struggle to think of how noticeable things would be in this form factor.

Beyond just the ray tracing, however, is something more exciting: the graphics horsepower to support the technology. To us, that means a seriously powerful mobile GPU that could challenge Apple's dominance — potentially setting up the Galaxy S22 to be at the top of the best gaming phones list. With AMD's help and the company's RDNA 2 architecture, the Exynos 2200 could become an industry leader for mobile gaming.

We'll have to wait to see if this all comes to pass. Worse yet, it's unlikely that we in the US will see an Exynos 2200-powered Galaxy S22 unless Samsung finally parts ways with Qualcomm like Google has done with the Pixel 6. If the Exynos 2200 is as powerful as rumors say it is, we sincerely hope that Samsung will let US buyers experience it.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter.