Samsung Galaxy S22 — wait or buy Galaxy S21 now?

Samsung Galaxy S22 renders cameras
(Image credit: LetsGoDigital)

Now that Samsung has officially revealed the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, the next big highlight on its release calendar is likely to be the Galaxy S22. 

Expected in early 2022, the Samsung Galaxy S22 has already been the subject of plenty of leaks and rumours. Samsung will be keen to pitch the phone as a big upgrade when it’s officially announced, but any improvements will undoubtedly come with a big price tag. 

As smartphone upgrades feel increasingly incremental for the average user, should you hang on for the Galaxy S22 or just go ahead and buy a Samsung Galaxy S21 today? Below, we weigh up the pros and cons of each option, based both on what we know and what we expect.  

5 reasons to wait for the Samsung Galaxy S22 

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Olympus

(Image credit: Technizo Concept/LetsGoDigital)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 could set a new standard for Android gaming performance

The company is reportedly working with AMD on an Exynos chip with RDNA 2 graphics, and that could mean huge things for gaming performance. Leaker Ice Universe posted some hugely impressive looking benchmarks last month, and, assuming this chip finds its way into the Samsung Galaxy S22, my colleague Roland Moore-Colyer believes that the phone could offer “true console quality games natively on a smartphone.”

The Samsung Galaxy S22 could be more pocket friendly

According to recent leaks, Samsung will be reversing its smartphone screen size inflation, with the smallest handsets since the 5.8-inch Galaxy S10e. Rumors point to a 6.06-inch and 6.55-inch S22 and S22 Plus, down from 6.2-inches and 6.7-inches on the S21 equivalents. If you like larger phones, the S22 Ultra will apparently have you covered, as it will reportedly maintain the same 6.8-inch form factor as the current flagship Galaxy S. 

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra could benefit from Olympus cameras

One persistent rumor is that Samsung will follow in the footsteps of OnePlus and Huawei by partnering with an established camera brand — in this case Olympus. Samsung’s smartphone cameras have been consistently excellent, but this could be a partnership to take the company’s photography to the next level. We're yet to hear anything official on this front, but it's a rumor we very much hope has some basis in fact.  

The Samsung Galaxy S22 offers better future proofing 

Whether the S22 ends up using the Exynos 2200, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 898 or something else entirely, it will undoubtedly give a performance boost on the current model. But the futureproofing doesn’t stop there: Samsung now offers four years of guaranteed security updates with its flagship phones, meaning you’ll be covered until 2026 – just in time for that Galaxy S26 upgrade.  

Even if you don’t buy, it pays to wait

If you end up sitting stony-faced during Samsung’s S22 launch event, unimpressed by the upgrades on offer, you’ll still ultimately have won. Research shows that Samsung phone prices don’t just depreciate over time, but drop significantly with the release of a new handset. The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G reportedly lost 72% of its value after 12 months, and while you may not see quite such a bargain with the S21, it doesn’t hurt to wait and see. 

6 reasons to buy a Samsung Galaxy S21 now instead 

Samsung Galaxy S21 review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Some Galaxy S22 handsets may have different hardware

That big AMD graphics boost I mentioned above? According to leaker @FrontTron, not all regions will benefit thanks to “low yield,” with “most markets” instead getting the Qualcomm Snapdragon 898 plus a more familiar Adreno GPU. If true, the new phone would undoubtedly still be powerful, but might arguably not offer enough over the current model to make it worth hanging on for, if you live in the wrong place.  

The Samsung Galaxy S21 is still one of the most powerful phones around

Yes, the S22 will doubtless be faster, as mentioned above, but for most users there’s a sense of diminishing returns with annual upgrades. You could well find that the raw power offered by the Galaxy S21’s Snapdragon 888 processor is more than enough for your needs — and likely will be for the duration of a two-year contract. 

The S21 and S22 will reportedly look extremely similar

According to leaker Ice Universe, the Samsung Galaxy S22 will feature a “modified version of [the] S21 design.” In other words, nobody’s likely to notice you’re not rocking the latest version.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 will almost certainly be more expensive

While we don’t know the exact pricing Samsung has in mind, it would be astonishing if we saw a big price cut for the next flagship. And even if we do, there’s next to no chance prices will match the enticing price point available with the best Samsung Galaxy S21 deals available now. At the time of writing, you can buy an S21 from just $99.99 if you trade in an older handset.

The Samsung Galaxy S21 may offer better battery life

The Samsung Galaxy S22 will reportedly be smaller, as mentioned above, but that could also have a knock-on effect on battery capacity. The S22 and S22 Plus will reportedly lose 200mAh on their equivalent 2021 models, and while the impact of that would likely be partly mitigated by the allegedly smaller screen sizes, you could still need to visit the charger more often.

You can definitely buy a Galaxy S21 today, but the S22 could be in short supply

The global chip shortage is impacting everything from PS5 stock to cars, and phones are by no means immune to this trend. If it proves popular — and that seems likely even at this early stage — the Samsung Galaxy S22 could be subject to shortages and price inflation, with scalpers ready to take full advantage. In other words, waiting could ultimately lead to frustration that could be averted by buying today.  

Bottom line 

With six reasons to buy the Galaxy S21 right now, versus five to wait, this may seem an open and shut case. Well, maybe, but that’s more a reflection of how excellent the Samsung Galaxy S21 family of phones is, rather than a criticism of the S22 per se. 

Plus, of course, the pros and cons aren’t evenly weighted. The promise of the AMD GPU alone could be enough to persuade you to hang on — if the rumors are accurate, and if it shows up in your region, that is. For that reason, it may be worth holding off your purchase decision until next year, even if you ultimately end up buying the S21 in the end (with the accompanying savings you unlock by being patient).

There’s also an alternative option: the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE didn’t show up during Samsung’s recent event, but it is said to be coming soon. That could offer a sweet spot between price and performance, while still giving you the warm glow of having a shiny new product in your pocket. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.

  • MarvelUK
    To be honest I don't care about many of these specs, what I want to know is whether it will bring back the 3.5mm headphone jack, SD memory card support and if they will include a charger and if the battery will last the day.
    I love the adaptive audio on Samsung phones and the ability to cast to a TV, but these are the reasons I put off upgrading and held on to my S10. Bluetooth headphones are just not practical for everyone.