Samsung Galaxy S22 launch may be delayed for the Galaxy S21 FE

An unofficial render of the Galaxy S22 Ultra, showing the phone's front, back and S Pen in burgundy red on a black background
(Image credit: Technizo Concept/LetsGoDigital)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 is expected to show up in early 2022, but that date may not be as early as some people have expected. And the reason for the delayed Galaxy S22 launch appears to be Samsung trying to find some room to bring a different phone to market.

That would be the Galaxy S21 FE, the long-rumored but rarely seen version of the Galaxy S21 that's supposed to give Samsung fans a low-cost alternative to this year's flagship. We were expecting the Galaxy S21 FE in October, but that's not happening — well, unless you like last-minute October surprises — and the absence of the S21 FE had some people speculating the phone had been cancelled.

Now Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech is reporting that the Galaxy S22 pre-orders will occur in February, suggesting that the flagship won't debut in January as the Galaxy S21 did last year. Instead, Prosser points to an earlier report that the Galaxy S21 FE would get a Jan. 11 launch. 

A separate report from Sammobile earlier this month made a similar claim — the Galaxy S21 FE would get a January launch date, pushing back the S22's arrival to make room.

It seems like a lot of fuss to create a launch window for the Galaxy S21 FE, which we'll remind you is supposed to be a scaled-back version of a flagship phone that will be around a year old by the time the S21 FE is rumored to arrive. Its predecessor, the Galaxy S20 FE, proved to be a popular phone, but that was because it was $300 cheaper than the Galaxy S20 that came before it. 

With Samsung dropping the starting price of the Galaxy S21, while boosting the features of its midrange Galaxy A phones, there's not a lot of room for a phone with the price tag and capabilities rumored for the Galaxy S21 FE, which is supposed to have the same Snapdragon 888 chipset and 120Hz display as the S21 with a less powerful camera.

Samsung has some priors in releasing a lite version of one of its flagships just before a big product launch. It did precisely that with the Galaxy S10 Lite in January 2020, just before the debut of the Galaxy S20 in February of that year.

Of the rumored phones coming from Samsung, the Galaxy S22 would clearly be the bigger deal. It's expected to have a newer processor as well as a brighter screen, under-display camera and S Pen support. Samsung will need to make the case that this phone is an improvement over the Galaxy S21 — if it's not already busy trying to justify the release of the Galaxy S21 FE a month earlier.

Another rumor has the Samsung Galaxy S22 lineup is slated to get a price increase, with the Galaxy S22 Ultra getting a notably hike in price. So we'd hope there are some solid improvements in place to justify this rumored price rise. 

Philip Michaels

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.